THE cremated remains of people interned at a disused church are to be exhumed.

A notice to move the remains from St Simon and St Jude’s Church in Great Lever comes after the church, which has not operated as a place of worship since 2008, was sold by the Diocese of Manchester to an unnamed bidder.

A planning application to convert the church, in Rishton Lane, into a community theatre was approved by Bolton Council in February.

When permission was granted, the building was under offer and up for sale for £150,000.

It is understood the intention for the church building is still for it to be used as as theatre and performance centre.

Remains from the churchyard and columbarium are to be reinterred at The Church of St Michael with St Bartholomew in Manchester Road, Great Lever.

Among them will be remains from inside the building of Canon Charles Henry Saunders, a former minister of the church.

Families and residents have until July 11 to register any objections to the proposals to reinter the remains.

Reverend Bob Horrocks, rector for the Parish of New Bury with Great Lever, which contained St Simon and St Jude, said: “We need to make sure the cremated remains are made safe.

“They will be removed by a specialist company and we will be having a service of rededication when they are reinterred, to which relatives are invited.

“We have been in touch with the relatives that have sent their contact details to the diocese.

“If any others come to light they can make decisions on what to do with the cremated remains in the future.

“Some families have decided they want them in a different church nearer to where they now live.”

A spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester confirmed the building has been sold but said the identity of the buyer could not be disclosed.