May 8, 2001 12:28: One of Richmonds most historic landmarks has uncovered a long-standing link to governments, past and present, following the chance discovery of its archives.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, once used the crypt at the Vineyard Church to promote rock bands during his gap year, between college and university.

Records, dating back to 1830, have been preserved in a cabinet in the church and were discovered by the new pastor Nigel Hurley.

They provide a detailed picture of the history of the Vineyard and have not only survived the test of time but also a major fire in 1851, which destroyed the building.

It was rebuilt a couple of years later and has remained largely unchanged.

The documents will provide the basis of a permanent exhibition detailing some of the quirkier aspects of the churchs history.

Amateur historian Peter Flower, has taken on the task of sifting through the minutes and has been amazed by some of his discoveries.

The former Prime Minister, Harold Wilson attended the church with his wife Mary during his term in office, and outspoken MP Tony Benns mother, Lady Stansgate, was a parishioner during the 1940s.

Most recently Tony Blair regularly used the church with a friend to promote his band and other rock groups playing in the capital.

The Prime Minister lived in a house in Twickenham in 1972, which he rented from a church member, and used the Vineyards crypt every Sunday for promotional events.

Mr Flower said: This is a unique record of the church and it has uncovered some interesting themes.

It also, in a sense, features in the history of the town and the country.

The exhibition opens on June 30, marking the 150th anniversary of the fire that destroyed the church.

Mr Flower is appealing to residents who may have artefacts that can be included in the exhibition to contact him at the church in The Vineyard, Richmond.

By.Helen Jones