Worshippers are aiming to raise £1million to save an iconic church, which has been put on the 'at risk' register.

This week the centuries-old Our Lady and St Michael's church, in Workington, was added to the Heritage at Risk Register 2019 held by Historic England and concerned churchgoers have now set up a group to try and raise the seven-figure sum needed to save it.

Led by Parish Priest Canon John Watson and chaired by John Garner, the Workington Stella Maris group has been formed to lead the fight and they are appealing to the local community to join them.

Mr Garner said: "We are desperate for a local funder and for the community to get involved.

"It is a magnificent building with stained glass and carvings and is of huge social significance being one of, if not, the best in the county.

"We would encourage people whether of faith or not to go and see it. It isn't just about religion, anyone interested in architecture should go, the church has a great history."

The church, attached steps, walls, gates and gatepiers in Banklands, joins St Mary's church in Gilcrux on the register.

Mr Garner explained the seriousness of the problems they face: "There are serious problems to the structure, the ecclesiastical east end - altar end - which has three altars needs half a million pounds alone to rectify.

"There is sandstone erosion, delamination and the transept into the north walls is bowing out.

There is also significant deterioration to the Lady and Sacred Heart altar, a crack in the east end and work required to the transept. Other work includes re-roofing, work to the baptistry and entrance. There are problems with each elevation.

The group has made several applications to the heritage lottery fund, but have so far been unsuccessful.

A Community Capital appeal is being set up and will be launched next month with leaflets placed in outlets throughout the town, John stressed the need for the community to get involved to avoid the town losing another historic building.

He said: "We've lost a lot of fine buildings if we don't invest we'll end up with a ruin and that's the last thing I want. If it's gone it's gone forever.

"We are working to protect the church for this and future generations. It is a community asset."

The church, which is connected to the nearby St Joseph's RC High School, was designed by architect Edward W Pugin, son of Augustus Pugin - who also designed the interior of the palace of Westminster and its clock tower which houses Big Ben.

Though many thousands have already been spent on issues such as replacing the heating system, much more work is envisioned on a rolling agenda until 2026 (which is the church's 150th birthday).

Parish priest Canon John Watson said: "It is an architectural gem in the town, many come to visit it. We are happy that the local community share it."

Visitors to the church to appreciate the early English architecture even includes Andrew Lloyd Webber, who appeared without warning at the beginning of Summer this year.

On November 23 the church will hold a Christmas market from noon to 5pm, where they hope to raise funds for the restoration through selling mulled wine, hot mince pies, Christmas cakes, homemade Christmas gifts, and by holding a raffle, decorate a gingerbread man or reindeer, children's treasure hunt and more.

More details on the work being done by the group can be found at https://stellamarisproject.co.uk/hello-world and the fundraising page for restoration of Our Lady Star of the Sea and St Michael is at: justgiving.com/fundraising/workingtonstellamarisproject