AN attempt to install 50ins televisions in a Grade One listed church have been thwarted following concerns they would destroy the heritage of the medieval building.

The plans to install four 50ins screens on ancient pillars at St Mary and St Cuthbert’s Church in Chester-le-Street were rejected following objections by people worried about the impact on the heritage of the church, which dates from the 13th century and is on the site of a wooden church which housed the body of St Cuthbert prior to being moved to Durham.

In February, rector David Tully and two church wardens petitioned for the installation, but were met by opposition from a number of people from the congregation, Chester-le-Street Heritage Group and Historic England.

The church said it wanted to install the screens because it wanted to make it attractive to young families and they would enable more people to be able to see what was going on during busy services.

At present, when the church is full around a quarter of people cannot see because of the pillars.

Following two formal hearings of the Church of England’s Consistory Court, a decision has now been made by the Rev Rupert Bursell QC, Chancellor of the Diocese of Durham.

He said: “Bearing in mind that there is a strong presumption against proposals which will adversely affect the special character of a listed building, I find on a balance of probabilities that the reasons put forward for the main proposals fall far short of outweighing the serious harm.”

Dorothy Hall, from Chester-le-Street Heritage Group, said the group was pleased by the news.

She said: “Everyone was concerned in case there was irreparable damage to the pillars as well as that it would change the feel and the view.

“Although we do understand the church wants to extend its mission, part of our heritage group is to record history and we don’t want one of our main assets to be damaged or altered out of all recognition.”

A Historic England spokesperson described the church as having “powerful solemnity and special atmosphere.”

She added: “We recently advised on a proposal to install large TV screens inside the church, fixed onto the historic columns.

“We recommended that the parish explore options for screens which could be removed from the columns because whilst we appreciate the church’s mission to engage more people in its activities, in our view the permanently fixed screens would cause harm to the church’s atmospheric and remarkably intact historic interior.”