The Bishop of Exeter led a ceremony at St Helen’s Church on Lundy Island on Saturday to mark the end of a nine-year restoration project.

The Right Reverend Robert Atwell visited Lundy Island to celebrate the completion of the St Helen's Church restoration project. Picture: Lundy IslandThe Right Reverend Robert Atwell visited Lundy Island to celebrate the completion of the St Helen's Church restoration project. Picture: Lundy Island

Work has been ongoing to restore the church, originally built in 1896, after it fell into disrepair.

A Heritage Lottery grant of £996,000 awarded last year helped the project on its way, alongside £667,000 raised by the Lundy Parochial Church Council (PCC) to rescue the building.

As well as construction work to restore the church building, it has become home to a new education centre which will be a base for visiting schools.

To mark the opening, The Right Reverend Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, visited the island.

The Right Reverend Robert Atwell visited Lundy Island to celebrate the completion of the St Helen's Church restoration project. Picture: Lundy IslandThe Right Reverend Robert Atwell visited Lundy Island to celebrate the completion of the St Helen's Church restoration project. Picture: Lundy Island

He led a ‘moving’ ceremony, and island manager Derek Green said the church was packed.

He said of the church: “St Helen’s has stood as a beacon for those visiting Lundy for 120 years and in recent years it has fallen into a bad state of repair.

“It’s a real relief and joy to be able to restore it back to its original condition and give it a new lease of life for future generations to enjoy.”

The church was first built by The Reverend Hudson Heaven and the repair work has fixed holes in the roof, broken windows and vegetation growing inside.

The Right Reverend Robert Atwell visited Lundy Island to celebrate the completion of the St Helen's Church restoration project. Picture: Lundy IslandThe Right Reverend Robert Atwell visited Lundy Island to celebrate the completion of the St Helen's Church restoration project. Picture: Lundy Island

St Helen’s centre project manager, Jeremy Dunn, said: “The refurbishment of the church has been challenging but very rewarding.

“A strong roof is now in place with, amongst other works, the east window restored by bringing the top of the windows back after they were damaged previously in a gale.”

As part of the project, a new exhibition has been installed and Siân Scott has been given a full time role as education officer.

Lundy PCC secretary, Michael Williams, added: “St Helen’s was a fragile island treasure, and the Rev Hudson Heaven’s ambitious 19th century vision for Lundy was at real risk of being lost forever.

The Right Reverend Robert Atwell visited Lundy Island to celebrate the completion of the St Helen's Church restoration project. Picture: Lundy IslandThe Right Reverend Robert Atwell visited Lundy Island to celebrate the completion of the St Helen's Church restoration project. Picture: Lundy Island

“Thanks to the National Lottery and all our supporters, we have been able to restore the church to its former glory, maintaining a place for worship, as well as creating a new centre for education, research and study.”

The vestry of the church has also been refurbished and provides comfortable accommodation for visiting clergy and research students.