THE roof is set to be raised on a historic abbey near Blandford later this month with a special fundraising Songs of Praise event.

Milton Abbey, which in part dates back to 933, is currently undergoing a major restoration and transformation.

Works were required after its roof needed urgent attention when it was damaged in the winter storms of 2013/14.

The damage caused was so bad that the abbey was put on English Heritage's At Risk register.

Since then some of the works have been carried out - largely funded by a grant from Viridor Credits.

Church leaders have also been funded a £1.2 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to continue restoring the building.

But there is still nearly 500,000 left to be raised from elsewhere so it is hoped that the Songs of Praise event - not to be confused with the TV programme - will give the public a chance to see the ancient building while singing some of their favourite hymns and raise some much-needed cash in the process.

The event takes place at Milton Abbey at 4pm on Sunday, November 20, and will be led by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam.

The Revd John Simmons, chair of the Milton Abbey standing committee, hopes to see as many people at the event as possible.

He said: “Milton Abbey is rarely more beautiful than it is as dusk falls on a Dorset midwinter afternoon. This is a wonderful opportunity to see the abbey in is spectacular Capability Brown landscape, and to see some of the work that has already begun.

“Milton Abbey was once a centre for scholarship and pilgrimage whose influence, led by its community of Benedictine monks, reached across England and beyond. The restoration and transformation scheme is about more than restoring the physical side of the building, important as that is, but restoring the spiritual character of the abbey as a place of hospitality, learning and dialogue in the Benedictine spirit.

“While there is no charge for the event, members of the public will have a chance to contribute to the restoration they have seen through a retiring collection.”