A WHARFEDALE church has had its ancient bells restored thanks to a £7,500 grant.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) money has enabled All Saints Church at Weston to hang the two bells high up on the rear, inside wall.

The restoration marks the final chapter in a saga which started with the original bells - which date back to the 13th and 14th Centuries - being stolen from the bell cote back in March, 1990.

They were replaced with new ones but the originals were later retrieved and, following expert analysis, identified as being among the oldest in Britain.

The older bell is believed to date from about 1200 while its slightly younger cousin is dated to about 1370.

Their restoration followed an application to the HLF by Weston Parochial Church Council.

Parish Administrator for the Washburn and Mid-Wharfe United Benefice, Hazel Pullan, said: "Thanks to National Lottery players the bells have been hung on fixtures designed by Overton Architects in conjunction with Taylors Bell Founders, Loughborough, for security - and for everyone to view their splendour.

"We are developing a web site and leaflets about the church and bells and invite local groups to visit by appointment.

"The Right Reverend James Bell, Bishop of Ripon will join us in our celebrations on Tuesday, November 1 at 7pm to bless the bells at our All Saints, Patronal Festival."

Weston Church is a Grade 1 Listed building protected for its outstanding architectural and historical significance.

The earliest written reference to a church and priest at Weston is found in The Domesday Book of 1086, but there is evidence to suggest the site was used as a place of Christian worship before that.

The building has box pews from the 18th Century and an unusual three-decker pulpit along with some 14th Century stained glass.

Its churchyard meanwhile contains the remains of a 9th Century Anglo Saxon Cross and a Neolithic/Bronze Age cup and ring stone.