THE congregation of a church which suffered fire damage is encouraging whoever is responsible to seek help.

The fire damage was discovered at St Nicholas Church in Standish - a Grade 1 Listed building - in the early hours of Tuesday, June 11.

A spokesman for Standish Parish Council said: "Sometime after dark on Monday, June 10 someone entered the porch of St Nicholas Church, Standish, which is a Grade 1 Listed 696 year old historic building."

The notices and announcements on both the notice boards were removed and set alight in one corner of the porch.

In addition some of the door matting was cut up and added to the flames.

The spokesman said: "It is unclear whether this was a genuine attempt to demolish the church or a cry for help, but should it be the latter we would encourage the person concerned to seek help either via the information on the new notice posted in the Standish porch, via another local church, or from the health services."

He added: "There was considerable smoke damage to the walls and ceiling, and scorching to one of the notice boards.

"Some of the burning matting fell in front of the main door which was, fortunately, undamaged.

"A further very large mat was added to the fire which, either by luck or design appears, to have smothered the flames.

"Cleaning the oily smoke damage, replacing the notices and redecorating will probably be quite expensive."

Anyone who can help with information about the incident is asked to call Gloucestershire Police on 101, giving the reference of No.461 11 June.