A church has been closed and left with a £150,000 bill after part of their ceiling fell on a coffin during a funeral.

The Church of Christ in Christchurch will now have to foot the bill for the damage caused by the chunk of plaster.

Church warden Helen Chappell said: “The family involved are a local family and they know about the damage so they were sympathetic to us."

The building also has damaged Victorian drainage systems put in place around 150 years ago when the church was built.

“There’s water rising through the floor and certain parts of the church get wet," explained Helen.

“It’s beginning to collapse, tree roots are growing though it, the water isn’t getting far enough away from the building. The church is standing in an underground pond of water basically.

“I think the maintenance of a listed Grade 2 building is quite complex and a lot of what goes on for maintenance of a church is carried out by volunteers who are not necessarily trained but have the time to do it.”

The decision has been made to temporarily close the church after it was deemed unsafe by contractors.

The plaster ceiling is too expensive to repair so it will be replaced with insulation and boarded up, in keeping with the building’s style.

The church is applying for grants to repair the church and it has a GoFundMe page.