Parish councillors have declined to accept direct responsibility for repairs to the Chobham churchyard wall, turning down a request from the village vicar for financial help.

They have decided that the duty to restore the 17th-century brickwork lies with the St Lawrence parochial church council.

The church should find proof that Chobham Parish Council had accepted responsibility for full maintenance of the churchyard and then serve notice on the authority to fund repairs.

Councillors were told at their January meeting that extensive checks of the minutes and records had failed to find any agreement to take over looking after the church grounds when they ceased to be used for burials in 1952.

The council had arranged for the grass to be mowed and had carried out repairs over several decades but this was not under a formal certificate that transferred responsibility from the church to the council.

The search followed the Rev Dan Stork Banks telling the council at its meeting in September that urgent repairs were needed to the rear wall due to vandalism, wear and tear and children playing on the brickwork. The front and side walls also needed some restoration.

Mr Stork Banks said he understood maintenance of the churchyard was transferred to the council in the 1950s. “If we had the money we would contribute to the cost of repairs but we haven’t got the money,” he said. The Church of England was in decline and in Chobham it was just managing to keep its head above water.

The council led the last wall restoration project, in 2004. It contributed £25,000 but most of the cost was met by a £50,000 National Lottery grant.