A HUGE fire has destroyed the roof and bell tower of a Grade II listed church.
The fire was discovered at St Peter’s Church in Ropley, a village near Petersfield, at around 8.50am.
As many as 12 fire engines were called to the scene to battle the rapidly developing fire.
The church dates back to Norman times.
Steve Foye, the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service officer in charge of the incident, said: ‘This was a significant fire that has seriously affected a prominent building within the village.
‘Crews have worked hard in arduous conditions to bring the fire under control.
‘We are still working with partner agencies to bring this incident to a close. We would like to thank the local community for their support during this time.’
Reverend Royston Such, of St Peter’s Church, said: ‘Although we have tragically lost our church building, the real value of a church is its congregation and community and these, thank God, are all safe.’
Firefighters have visited local residents to offer reassurance.
They are also working with the local primary school to ensure that parents can safely collect their children at the end of the school day due to road closures throughout the village.
Fire engines were deployed from Alton, Winchester, Alresford, Bishops Waltham, Droxford, Basingstoke, Rushmoor, Overton, Eastleigh, Wickham, Petersfield, Whitchurch and Portchester.
Crews on the scene are currently dampening down.
A fire investigation will take place in due course.