WHITTINGTON Church has been recognised by English Heritage as a rare survivor and has been granted listed status.

Its vicar, the Revd Clare Griffiths said: "We are delighted because it is a beautiful example of a church of its kind. It has box pews and a gallery, and is an excellent example of of the period of transition between the 18th and early 19th century type of church.

"We are also in a very idyllic setting, with views over farmland."

She said of the newly-awarded Grade II listed status: "It is all about preservation; we very much wish to preserve what we have got."

As with many English churches, the present appearance of St Phillip and St James's Church belies a more ancient past.

Much of present church building dates from 1844, but it has older features, such as the box pews which would have been familiar to the late Georgian and Regency congregation, and there is a stone altar and medieval font.

The churchyard is 1000 years old, at least, and has been extended twice.

And the present church is on the site of an ancient chapel, dating from Saxon times.

It was actually mentioned in a charter of 816AD.