WORK to restore the cupola on a Grade I-listed church will take the building back to the 18th century.

Volunteers at Blandford’s parish church, St Peter and St Paul, are working to secure £3million for the Cupola Project, an initiative that will see the landmark domed structure restored to its former glory.

First installed on the church tower in 1749, the cupola was clad in sturdy weatherboarding with curlicues on the corner vanes and decorative gilding on the weather-vane at the top.

Successive repairs over the years were mostly done with poor materials, including marine plywood.

However, that will be replaced with solid oak and a coating of paint by specialists.

Plans to restore the entire church have already been part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, but residents of Blandford are now being asked for their support.

Chairman of the project Sara Loch is asking for help to raise the £5,000 needed for the reinstatement and regilding of the weather vane.

She said: “It’s a sum that we can work together towards raising and then we will all be able to see and appreciate the results – on the top of the cupola, visible for miles around.”

Scaffolding is expected to go up next spring for work to start on the first phase of the restoration.

The cupola and the tower on which it stands have priority as they are the most at risk and in the same phase improvements will be made beside the west door to give access to wheelchairs and buggies.

All the plans and background information will be displayed in a Cupola Project exhibition in the church from August 7 to 17.

To support fundraisers, email .uk or call Sara Loch on 01258 450278.