Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Friday, 6 June 2008 17:11 UK

Appeal for 2m to save old priory

Exterior St James Priory
The St James Priory project has helped people with drink and drug problems

Supporters of one of Bristol's oldest buildings have started a campaign to raise 2m to carry out vital repairs.

St James Priory, built in 1129 as a Benedictine Priory, is a Grade I listed building and is on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register.

The Heritage Lottery Fund recently awarded a 3.2m grant to carry out vital repairs to the main structure.

The appeal aims to enable not just the repairs but regeneration of the church to open it up to the local community.

Mass is celebrated every Sunday at 0800 BST and the building is open to the public.

For the past 12 years the St James Priory Project has been based in buildings attached to the church, which provides rehabilitation to people with drink and drug problems.

Susan Jotcham, director of the project said: "The church is in serious disrepair and, especially in the winter, the rooms are freezing cold, damp and smelly.

"We want to see new life breathed into this hidden gem and to encourage more people to experience this very special place."

The renovation plans include a new cafe and outside piazza area and a conversion of the north aisle.

Martin Appleby, chairman of the trustees, said: "This building was standing while Cabot sailed to the New World, through the siege of Bristol, through the great plague and the Blitz.

"Through all these times, people came to St James to find comfort, companionship and peace and we want this magnificent building to continue in this role for generations to come."

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