CHARITY bosses have welcomed "vital" funding which they say will help to protect the future of a 500-year-old building.

The Finchingfield Guildhall Charitable Organisation has been handed nearly £23,000 by the Government to help it get through the coronavirus crisis.

The charity is responsible for the upkeep of Finchingfield Guildhall and has been struggling to make ends meet since the pandemic began in March.

Bosses say the cash will also allow the trust to protect the library and museum, support community events and introduce new digital initiatives.

Spokesman Deborah Sheridan said: "Our income has been hard hit by the financial impact of the pandemic, so this investment is vital and enormously welcome at this critical time.

"We can now continue to deliver on our charitable objectives, to support the community and to preserve and maintain an important piece of our heritage, at a time when many communities and organisations face difficult challenges.

"This is our chance to continue on the road to recovery."

Finchingfield Guildhall was built around 1470 to house a guild of priests and to provide a schoolroom for the boys of the village.

The guild room has been used as a place of learning for more than five centuries.

Braintree Council's culture, tourism and communities boss Frankie Ricci said: "These grants will ensure that access to this heritage site in the heart of our local community is protected over the foreseeable future.

"The guildhall is an important place for the people of Finchingfield and is a stimulating heritage based facility open to all which supports tourism and jobs.

"It’s important that we do as much as we can to make sure that it remains part of our collective future."