A 12th Century North Yorkshire church which inspired some of Lewis Carroll’s most famous characters is turning to 21st Century social media to raise £70,000 for a heritage centre.

St Peter’s Church at Croft-on-Tees has already won 11 grants totalling £90,000 for the centre and has all the necessary permissions in place – including to excavate under the graveyard - but this week it launched a crowdfunding and Facebook page to get it nearer its £160,000 target.

Work is scheduled to start in the spring, and as well as creating an interactive display about Carroll’s connections, the project will include an extension into the churchyard for a kitchen and toilet.

There will be extensive repairs to the elaborately carved 14th Century sedilia, which may have been Carroll’s inspiration for the Cheshire Cat. The sedilia – a set of three stone seats for clergymen – was damaged by water following the theft of lead from the roof in 2014, but the project has already seen the church made sound once more.

In the churchyard, the table tomb of John Todd of Halnaby Hall will be opened up for the first time since he was buried in it in 1854. The tomb is itself Grade II listed, but is in need of restoration.

“It is a very exciting project because it is extremely unusual for a church to create a heritage centre within its walls like this,” said project manager Steve Hill. “We hope it will attract visitors, give them information, and so help preserve the future of this unique church.”

A video explaining the project has gone live this week on the church’s Facebook page, and pupils from Polam Hall School are to film events as they unfold to keep social media fully up-to-date.

A justgiving page has also been set up, but the church is also trying more conventional fund-raising methods: £10 tickets for a gospel choir concert on November 18 have just gone on sale.

Lewis Carroll’s father, the Reverend Charles Dodgson, became rector at Croft in 1843 when the boy was just 11. The rectory opposite the church was therefore Carroll’s family home until his father died in 1868, a couple of years after Wonderland had been published but just before the follow-up, Through the Looking Glass, went to press.

The grin of the cat carved into the sedilia appears to move as the worshipper kneels down at the altar, and as well as the Cheshire Cat, the church is said to be the inspiration for characters including Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the White Rabbit and, of course, the Jabberwocky – the sword which killed the dreadful Sockburn Worm is still presented to a new Bishop of Durham on the bridge outside the church.

The crowdfunding page is at justgiving.com/stpeters-croftontees, and the church can easily be found on Facebook. The new initiatives will be celebrated at the gospel choir concert at 7pm on November 18. Tickets are available from churchwardens or by calling 07918-140952 or email alisonmkennedy777@gmail.com