THE search is on for funds to restore a 16th Century church porch, which has partially collapsed.

The stone entrance is all that remains of the old St Helen's Church, in Colne.

Last October, parishioners, under instruction from the Diocese of Ely, cut through ivy which stretched up its side and on to its roof.

But the work resulted in several pieces of stone falling from the structure, leaving it a "danger area" which had to be taped off.

Reverend Sheila Anthony, Colne's parish priest, said the removal of the ivy followed a meeting in the churchyard in August with representatives from the diocese and Huntingdonshire District Council.

"We were asked to remove it because it's not safe to have a building held up with ivy," she said.

"In the process, some stones which were loose fell. We had to find out what state it was in. It looked as though that was what was going to happen.

"It's still a danger area but the fact they have fallen means it's safer than it was before."

Adrian Gibbs, who wrote Reflections of Colne, a history of the village where he grew up, said: "Obviously, when alive, the ivy carried its own weight but when the ivy had its main trunk cut at the bottom, the ivy on the top, unsurprisingly, died and as such became a dead weight on the top of the porch."

Mr Gibbs said the church was built during the 13th century but fell into disrepair towards the end of the 19th century, resulting in the collapse of the tower and the nave in 1896.

The rest was taken down and used to build the new church, completed in 1900.

A spokeswoman for the diocese said it was working closely with the parish and HDC.

Reverend Anthony said she hoped to bid for cash to pay for the work. She said: "It's a beautiful porch and we are looking at how best to maintain it but it's a slow process.

"There are grants available and I'm hoping I can get grant funding. I cannot imagine it's going to take a huge figure."