AN APPEAL has been made for residents to share their memories of Cirencester’s historic parish church.

St John the Baptist, in Cirencester's Market Place, is shrouded in plastic while work continues on its multi-million pound restoration.

The project to repair the exterior of the Town Hall, otherwise known as the South Porch, has focused attention on the history of the building. Standard readers are now being asked to share their memories of the church, and in particular the South Porch, so that volunteers can piece together a picture of what the building has meant to the town over the last 100 years.

Ailsa O’Connor, who is coordinating Heritage Lottery Funded community participation, said: "we want to pull together memories and memorabilia which will help bring the building to life and act as a record for the future.

"We have begun to collect postcards and photographs that depict various stages of the building’s life and times Ultimately, we hope to have the makings of a fascinating exhibition."

Mrs O’Connor said she had already received stories including an account from 80-year-old Janice Lea who attended meetings in the Town Hall in the 1940s.

Renovation work is expected to last until November 2011 and has included repairs to the roof and masonry including several of the historic gargoyles.

Alison Giles, fundraising director, said: "We are really delighted to create a project like this to involve people and capture their memories.

"The congregation and Friends of Cirencester Parish Church have recently raised over £12,000 for new chairs, a really important initiative to make the church a flexible and multi-use space for the community."

She added that the next priority would be to repair areas of the nave roof.

The renovation means that for the first time in the church's history, visitors can get close to the architectural detail of the building thanks to a 17-metre viewing platform.

The platform is open on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am to 3pm and open the second Saturday of the month from 10am to 3pm.

Admission to the tour is free of charge.

If you have a story to tell about the church, call 01285 656206 or email