A historic church in Little Missenden, which has appeared on film and television, has been awarded more than £300,000 to “preserve its heritage”.

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist is being supported by the National Lottery grant’s Heritage Lottery Fund for its Christopher Project, which aims to clean, protect and conserve a series of ancient wall paintings, which have been described as an “exceptional ensemble of paintings of different periods and certainly of national importance” by the Courtauld Institute of Art.

The church will receive £305,000 for the project, which will also see the installation of new lighting, plaster repairs, the limewashing of the walls, and improved environmental controls, all designed to “maximise the presentation of the paintings and to ensure their long-term conservation”, plus the creation of an information and education area for visitors.

Earl Howe, minister of state for defence and deputy leader of the House of Lords, who is patron of the church and project, said it would give existing church visitors “opportunities for deeper engagement with the wall paintings and church heritage”.

He added that the project would also attract new audiences, such as schools, families and young people.

He said: “Little Missenden Church is one of the oldest churches in the county, indeed among the oldest in the country.

“The combination of Saxon, Norman, and later medieval architecture, as well as the presence of the 13th century wall paintings, makes this church a nationally important treasure in which we all share a responsibility, nationally and locally, to ensure its conservation and good repair, both now and for future generations.”

The church has been a focal point of the community for more than 1040 years, having been built in the year 975.