A PETITION has been launched to save a medieval church facing closure.

St Leonard’s Church in New Church Road, Hove, has suffered from falling congregations and mounting maintenance bills.

Now the parochial church council wants to consult on its future.

Jenny Watts recently joined the campaign group Saving St Leonard’s.

She said: “It’s interesting how many local people, who are not worshippers at the church, regard it as ‘their’ church and have a great affection for it.

“Many people compare the site to that of a rural church because it’s so peaceful.”

She said people accept that St Leonard’s cannot be sustained as a church only.

She added: “We think St Leonard’s should be a real focus for the community and we hope the Church will agree with us, too.”

On May 19 the Parochial Church Council of the Parish of Aldrington passed a resolution to ask the Diocese of Chichester if it could begin a consultation on the future of St Leonard’s.

The Diocese of Chichester looks after all the Anglican parishes in Sussex.

Now the campaigners hope that when the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee next meets on July 25 it will have helped secure the church’s future.

The Rev Stephen Terry, rector of the Parish of Aldrington, said the consultation would last at least six months.

He said: “Nothing is going to happen quickly and everyone will get a chance to have their say.

“People have a right to their opinions and a right to express them. The parish needs to consider how best to serve the community.”

The Parish of Aldrington also runs St Philip’s in the same road, which is not under consultation.

The consultation is expected to look into whether the needs of the parish can be met by shutting one of the churches.

The Rev Terry said that St Leonard’s will not be demolished or altered externally.

The church was built in the 13th century but fell into disrepair. The walls collapsed but it was rebuilt in the late 1800s.

It contains the ashes of Sir C Aubrey Smith, a cricketer and 1930s Hollywood actor.