A VILLAGE mentioned in the Domesday Book will see one of the most significant changes in its history after landing a £440,000 grant.

Residents in Grewelthorpe, between Masham and Ripon, are celebrating winning funding from the Big Lottery Fund to supplement a donation from the Methodist Church and money raised at local events to convert a chapel into a village hall, community centre and cafe.

Mark Exelby, chairman of Grewelthorpe Village Hall and Community Centre Ltd, a new charitable company set up to oversee its construction and management, said residents had discussed building a hall since the 1950s.

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The plan presented to lottery bosses emphasised the practical value of the centre, as a social and networking venue and as a facility which would enable local services to be provided, either on a voluntary basis or by local providers.

Mr Exelby said The Big Lottery Fund had been particularly interested in the idea for a community cafe, as it would provide a meeting place for residents, an opportunity for local producers and businesses to sell their goods and for residents to receive work-based training.

The farmer and businessman said: “It was this determination to make the centre not just a village hall, but a stimulus for rejuvenated village life which is believed to have set the proposal apart from many other schemes.

“Another of the elements of the proposal which helped to obtain the funding is that it is truly intergenerational and provides benefits for people at every life stage.”

The Methodist chapel, which was built in 1866, closed in 2004 after a covenant was agreed between the Methodist Church and Anglicans in the village to share services, buildings and mission.

Mr Exelby said the scheme, which is one of the first projects in Yorkshire to be awarded funding from the fund’s Reaching Communities Buildings scheme, would also bolster proposals for the development of a community orchard and allotment, to provide produce for use in the community café or for sale locally.

To equip the centre, the charity is appealing to local firms and residents to sponsor items ranging from cookers to computers.

For details call (01765) 650149.