UNLESS you are a keen gardener, you may never have heard of St Botolph's 13th-century church.

It was deconsecrated in 1557 but still exists in the grounds of the Ruxley Manor Garden Centre, Maidstone Road, Sidcup.

Now, English Heritage has agreed to award a £35,000 grant towards £62,000 of structural work to help preserve it.

The building is Grade II Listed and a scheduled ancient monument.

After its deconsecration by Cardinal Reginald Pole, the building was used as a barn to store farm equipment for more than 400 years.

However, it still has some of its original features, such as a large twin sedilia where the priest and his assistant sat during the lengthy sung part of the Mass.

And there is a small wall-mounted piscina which held water used to rinse the chalice and the priest's fingers before and after communion.

Rokesley (Ruxley) was mentioned in the Domesday Book and there may have been a previous Saxon church on the same site, as archaeological work in the 1960s revealed evidence of an earlier timber building.

Ruxley's owners, the Evans family, are working with English Heritage and plan to renovate the building and bring it into commercial use.

Centre director James Evans says the family is delighted with the grant which would help maintain the future wellbeing of the historic building.