A Catholic church reduced to just one service a week is to close its doors after 111 years within three months due to a dwindling congregation and expensive maintenance costs.

Holy Rosary Church, in Main Street, Stapenhill, is also struggling against the success of nearby Catholic churches in Winshill and Swadlincote – all three of which are officiated by the same priest, Father John Paul Leonard.

For more than five years Holy Rosary, which is being put up for sale, has held just one mass a week on Saturday nights, attended by an average of just 40 people.

In comparison, Winshill's St Joseph's Church, in Mount Street, attracts more than 80 people to each of its masses at 9am and 5pm on Sundays, and more than 100 at St Peter and Paul's Church, in Newhall Road, Swadlincote at 11am on a Sunday. Both also hold masses throughout the week.

Holy Rosary Church, Main Street, Stapenhill
Holy Rosary Church, in Main Street, Stapenhill

It has been decided to close Holy Rosary following a recent building survey which would see its upkeep costing between £5,000 and £10,000 over the next 20 years.

Father Leonard said the sum was too costly for a church only open one day a week.

He added: "The future of Holy Rosary Church has been ongoing for about the last decade perhaps from the highwater mark of practising Catholics in the 1960s.

"For more than five years we have had just the one mass per week on a Saturday night attracting about on average 40 people.

Holy Rosary Church, Main Street, Stapenhill
Picture: GOOGLE STREET VIEW Holy Rosary Church, Main Street, Stapenhill

"Since I arrived three years ago we have had an increase in families practising at St Joseph’s so I introduced a 5pm mass and we regularly attract more than 80 people.

So when we had the recent building survey and also when the permission to celebrate four masses per weekend expired it was decided, with sadness, to end the Saturday night mass at Holy Rosary and therefore also put the church up for sale."

Father Leonard had been originally offered a temporary permission by the Bishop to celebrate four masses a week to meet the needs of the three churches.

He said: "It is always sad to close a church but we hope the congregation will transfer to either the 9am or 5pm at St Joseph's or 11am at St Peter and Paul."

He added parishioners could also attend the Sunday masses at St Mary and St Modwen, in Guild Street, Burton, at 9am, 11am or 6pm or a 2pm mass in Polish, all on a Sunday, and officiated by Father Stephen Wright.

Father Leonard said: "The congregation is sad at the closure but hopefully will make that two mile journey to St Joseph's or St Modwens.

"We hope the church may be purchased by another denomination but we are open to good creative suggestions as to the best use of the building and site for the local area. Closure could be within two to three months."

Holy Rosary Primary School, in Alexandra Road, on the edge of Winshill and Stapenhill, will still celebrate Feast Day masses in school with Father Leonard. It will convert into an academy on September 1 this year.

Other churches in the area which have closed:

Holy Rosary is not the first place of worship in the Burton area to face an uncertain future.

Swadlincote Methodist church and adjoining church hall, in West Street, were recently sold at auction along with the graveyard.

Meanwhile, a former church in a village on the outskirts of Burton whose foundation stone was laid by the grandfather of the disgraced leader of the British Union of Fascists, Sir Oswald Mosley, will be turned into a home after a dwindling congregation forced its closure.

Rolleston Methodist Church, in Chapel Lane, will be converted into a five-bedroom home after plans to preserve the building for community use failed to reach fruition.

And another church which became victim of a dwindling congregation will also be turned into a family home.

The Stanhope Bretby Methodist Church, in Bretby Road East, Bretby, was recently purchased at auction for £77,000 and now plans have been approved to turn it into a three-bedroom home. Plans also include an extension to the former church.

The Trinity Methodist and United Reformed Church, in George Street, Burton, closed in 2011 due to unaffordable maintenance costs and a declining congregation. It later reopened as The Trinity, a licensed cafe bar with adjacent businesses.