DAWN French's former church which was branded sexist for passing a resolution not to have female vicar is getting its first woman in the role, writes Lauren Beavis.

Reverend Carol Edleston is taking up her post on March 11 as priest at St Finbarrus Church in Fowey after the town has gone four years without one.

Church records which began in 1260 show Ms Edleston is the first female Fowey parish priest.

Dawn French - star of The Vicar Of Dibley - was once one of its flock.

This decision follows the overturning of a church council decision in 2023 to ban women from applying for the role.

Though Ms Edleston told the BBC: "There's no animosity at all."

Fowey Parochial Church Council (PCC) made the initial decision to employ a new priest in March but barred women from taking up the role as they advertised for a male vicar - despite Church of England laws allowing female vicars since 1922.

It divided locals at the time as the decision from Fowey Parochial Church Council (PCC) came after a minority of the congregation were alleged to have said they could not remain within the church on a "theological basis" - unless the priest was a man.

But many others were angry over the 'sexist' decision - and believed it was ironic given actress and comedian Dawn French, who played a female vicar in one of her most famous roles, is a former resident of Fowey.

The PCC insisted then move was "not sexist", adding there was "debate over the roles women play within a church".

It said it welcomed women priests to teach the Bible and lead communion, but wanted a male priest.

But in May 2023, the chairman and two members of the PCC stood down which allowed for a new administration in July which said it wanted the church to be "accessible to all".

It added it was "keen to recruit the best candidate to meet the needs of Fowey parish church, regardless of gender".

Ms Edleston was chosen by the new PCC after a selection process to fill the vacancy - which has been unfilled for the last four years.

Though Ms Edleston said it was "not a surprise at all" when the former PCC said it wanted a male priest.

Telling the BBC: "I knew their views and I knew how sincere their views were," she said.

"It wasn't anything personal to do with me.

"It really was just a different way of looking at the Bible.

"There's no animosity at all.

"I'm not sure it was even sexism, it was do with their real desire to follow what they believe in and that is an area where we agree to differ."