Wall paintings in a church dating back more than 1,000 years are under threat – from bats.

Those in charge at St John the Baptist Church in Clayton, near Hassocks, have been forced to pay out more than £1,500 to remove bat droppings from some of the historical paintings.

Bat urine has also been damaging the church’s woodwork and staff clear droppings from the church before every service.

Reverend Christopher Powell, priest in charge of St John the Baptist, said: “We were concerned that the paintings would be damaged by the excrement but a recent survey said they were in a good condition.

“But there is that danger, the paintings are more than 1,000 years old and are delicate and so any intervention is potentially damaging.

“The church has to meet the costs of this cleaning.

“We are prevented by law from removing the bats or preventing them from accessing the church.”

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