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Bard church springs leak

London, June 25 (Reuters): The church where William Shakespeare was baptised and buried is falling apart and needs to be repaired urgently, its trustees said today.

They have set up a charity to raise money to restore the building — the Holy Trinity Church — in Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon in central England. “When it rains the water comes in,” said Jane Darby, one of the church’s five trustees.

“The worst damage is on the parapet,” she said. “Bits of masonry were coming down and could have been a risk to tourists or anyone walking past. They’ve had to seal that area off.”

The church, founded in 1210, is made of crumbly sandstone and has weathered over the years.

Contributions towards its upkeep have fallen, due to dwindling attendances and the worldwide downturn in the tourist industry.

The trustees are hoping to raise £100,000 ($167,000) to mend the parapet and then collect more money for work on other parts of the building.

They have set up a website, www.shakespeareschurch.com, to publicise their appeal.

The first recorded mention of a church on the banks of the river Avon comes as early as 845 although work on the current building did not start until the early 13th century.

Several extensions, including a steeple, have been added since then.

Shakespeare was baptised at the Holy Trinity Church on April 26, 1564, three days after his birth.

He prayed there as a boy and was a lay rector towards the end of his life, when he returned to Stratford from London.

He was buried inside the church on April 25, 1616, two days after his death.

His wife Ann Hathaway lies alongside him.

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