A WEDDING dress festival is being held in Rosedale Abbey as part of a drive to raise £90,000 to save the village church.

Residents launched the Save Rosedale Church campaign last year after it was found that the roof of the 180-year-old St Mary and St Lawrence Church needed to be completely replaced because of rotten timbers.

Built on the site of a nuns’ Cistercian priory which was founded in Rosedale in 1154, the church is stepped in history. Parts of the priory are still on view in the church.

So far they have raised £22,798 and hope to attract grants to reach their target.

As part of the fundraising campaign the Rosedale Wedding Dress Festival will be held for nine days in the church from May 25 to June 2.

The exhibition will be a mixture of vintage and modern, with one dress dating back to the 1030s and another a replica of the dress worn by the Duchess of Kent on her wedding day in York in the 1960s.

Resident Linda Blackburne, one of the organisers, said: “We put out a request on Facebook and we’ve had a fantastic response. We hope to show up to 30 dresses and possibly one groom’s uniform, although the men have been a bit slow in coming forward with their wedding attire.

“Supporters of the Save Rosedale Church campaign have been climbing into their lofts to find old suitcases of wedding dresses which haven’t been looked at for years. It’s going to be a really fun, nostalgic event.”

The church will be decorated with flowers and the dresses will be accompanied by descriptions and stories. There will also be a display of wedding photographs from the Rosedale History Society archive.

A renewal of vows service will also take place on Sunday, June 2, for couples who want to bless their marriage.

Rosedale Wedding Dress Festival will be a cross-community effort with help from Pickering Flower Club and the loan of mannequins from Ryedale Folk Museum and Thirsk Church.

The festival opens with a preview evening at 6pm on May 24 with entertainment by the Northern Ryedale Singers.

Entrance to the festival is free, but visitors are encouraged to make a donation.