Elderly members of a historic Methodist chapel in Oxford are heartbroken by the news their church is to close.

The last service at Headington Quarry Methodist Chapel - the first nonconformist church to have its own building in Headington - willl be held on Sunday evening.

Congregation members, many of them aged over 80, likened the emotional impact of the closure to a bereavement.

The church was forced to shut because the 15 to 20 regular congregation members are all too old to keep it going.

Its first building was in Trinity Road, but the congregation grew, and the larger Quarry High Street building opened on Whit Sunday, 1860.

Betty Jones, 80, was christened and married at the chapel, and she and her late husband Bill were caretakers for 30 years.

She said: "We are all very upset at the church closing, but although it's hard, we accept that it has to be.

"Most of the congregation are now old and in poor health.

"We worked hard for our church, but no longer are able to do the work.

"After this Sunday part of the history of Quarry and the Methodist Church which my ancestors started will be gone.

"We just hope that another religious group will take it over and and love it as much as we have loved it.

"The church closing is like the death of someone you know."

Former church steward, Cyril Cooper, 87, of Franklin Road, said: "My wife Mabel, 86, was christened there and and we were married there 63 years ago.

"My daughter Patricia was christened and married there. I know we don't worship the church, we go there to worship God, but it has always been a very happy church family."

He said as a memorial to the church, donations had been made to two Methodist charities.

The Rev Linda Wisheart, who is responsible for Quarry, Lime Walk, Cowley Road and Horspath Methodist Churches, said: "It is a very sad situation for many of those people who have been associated with the church since infancy."

Ms Wisheart said the churchyard would remain available for burials, but the building was to be sold.

Littlemore Baptist Chapel in Chapel Road is being knocked down because it is structurally unsafe. Eight flats are being built on the site, and church services will be held in a communal living room on the site.