LIGHT is returning to a fire-struck chapel eight months after a dangerous blaze turned it into a ‘burnt out shell’.

The Bishopswood Chapel was built in 1874 and stood strong until it burnt down on February 27 this year.

Since that dark day, the church’s members have worked tirelessly to bring the building back from the ashes.

Jean Watkis, one of the members, said: “Left with nothing but a burnt out shell and the loss of all fixtures and fittings, including a piano and organ, the members unanimously agreed that it should be rebuilt as their place of worship.

“Trustees of the Blackdown Hills Mission undertook to oversee the renovation in consultation with the members.

“Plans were drawn up and work started in earnest in July with the clearance of the burnt interior, floor and remaining roof timbers.

“August saw roof trusses fitted. Felting and slates made sure the building was water tight by mid-September, just before the first downpours after the hot summer.

“Floor joists came next followed by windows at the beginning of October together with a new entrance door, affording better wheelchair access and security.”

In the absence of their beloved chapel, the congregation has been holding Sunday services in Otterford Village Hall.

The group’s recent Macmillan Coffee Morning saw them raise £511 for the cause, and their harvest supper was attended by more than 70 people.

Jean added: “The chapel members have not allowed this catastrophe to beat them.

“Floorboards should go down soon and a new ceiling and plastered walls then it will be time for curtains to be made and chairs, lectern and other fixtures and fittings to be ordered and installed.

“It really is a case of ‘phoenix rising from the ashes’ with the members hoping that a much loved Chapel will be open again in time for Christmas.”

The Blackdown Chapel is one of two remaining chapels of the Blackdown Hills Mission, which dates back to 1787.