AN historic church is set to kick off celebrations for its 350th anniversary next month.

Tockholes United Reformed Church was first built in 1662, and despite being rebuilt 218 years later, it still stands on its original site to this day.

Church secretary Kathleen Knowles said some previous ministers would be coming back as part of the celebrations.

She said: “We are 350 years old this year, which is a big occasion.

“We are starting on Sunday, March 4, with a big civic service. And harpist Lucy Nolan will be coming from Oxford University to perform.

“And in June, we are hosting a history day, followed by a visit from the general secretary of the United Reformed Church, who will be coming all the way from London to give a service.

“We will be holding events almost every month up to the end of November.

“We will have past ministers coming back to deliver services and Eric Kirkman will deliver the Remembrance Service.”

The building was rebuilt in 1880 on the foundations of the original site. The original was knocked down after falling into disrepair.

The church, which has seven members and a regular congregation of about 10, is currently without a minister, after Rev Sarah Moore left for Cumbria.

Kathleen said: “It is sad that she left as she has been such a good help.

“But we had all this planned long before she decided to go.”

Darwen Town Councillor John East, who does some lay preaching at the church, said: “It is a remarkable achievement and Kathleen and everyone else at the church deserves congratulating.

“It is an idyllic church with a wonderful history.”