The traditional sight of fathers walking the bride down the church aisle is to remain banned for the foreseeable but the oldest church in Warminster has taken its first steps towards serving its congregation.

St. Denys Church in Bath Road has opened its doors for one day a week for private prayer and reflection on Wednesdays for six hours starting at 10am.

Rev Jacques Desrosiers said: “Weddings, funerals, baptisms, holy communion are all tricky and we are now reading the detail of how we can now move forward.”

The 400-year-old Minster Church looks very different as almost everything but the pews have been removed or sealed off to prevent cross-contamination.

There is a solitary candle burning and the altar is lit up but the votive stand which is usually full of candles for individuals to light up in memory of a loved one has been removed.

Those wishing to say a prayer have to bring their own bible and observe the two-metre social distancing request.

“We have put up clear signage about social distancing, washing hands with sanitiser before and after visits, and the pews have been pushed together creating two-metre distancing,” he added.

Weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies were all stopped when the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March.

Under new guidance, socially distant weddings will be allowed shortly with newlyweds having to wash their hands before and after exchanging rings.

No more than 30 people – including the photographer – can attend weddings and other ceremonies.

“We have a lot to think of as we prepare to move forward,” added the rector of Minster Church.

“St. Aldhelm’s Church at Bishopstrow is popular for weddings.”

Currently, there are weddings on lockdown hold with two now planned for the Minster and one for Upton Scudamore by Christmas.

The House of Bishops endorsed a statement made by the Bishop Of London, the Rt. Rev. & Rt. Hon. Sarah Mullally stressing ‘this would not be an immediate return to normality, and the government advice is permissive, not prescriptive'.

St. Aldhelm’s, St. John’s Church in Boreham and St. Mary’s Church in Upton Scudamore remain closed as time is needed to carry out a careful risk assessment.

“We hope to hold our first Sunday services on July 12 and I am giving a lot of thought to how we proceed,” said Rev. Desrosiers.

“We will use common sense when it comes to issues like singing which will not be allowed at the moment.

“The organist will play some music as he is safely distanced to provide some ambience.

“I know that I am going to be doing a lot of handwashing.”