VISITORS to St James’ Church in Trowbridge on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day will have found the gates temporarily locked.

They were barred from passing through the churchyard for 24 hours from noon on New Year’s Eve until noon on New Year’s Day.

The Rev Rob Thomas, Rector of St James’ and Keevil, said: “We do this once every year for legal reasons as it’s not a public right of way, although we welcome any and all to walk through as much as they like at all other times.

“We’ve chosen that time with the aim of minimising inconvenience to members of the public.

“We normally do it from noon on Christmas Day but this year that would have inconvenienced anyone taking part in the Trowbridge Christmas Nativity Trail, which ran from December 20 to 27 and which included a tableau in the south porch, which people needed to be able to see to take part.”

He added: “Although we lock the gates once a year, people are free to walk through the churchyard on the other 364 days of the year.”