English Heritage And HLF Roll Out £15m For Historic Churches

By Caroline Lewis | 06 March 2008
Photo of a man and a woman on on wither side of a priest dressed in black before a church with classical columns and iron gates

Wesley Kerr (HLF), Father George Zafirakos and Diane Evans (English Heritage) at All Saints Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Camden, London. © English Heritage

English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) have announced grants totalling £15,067,355 to support urgent conservation work on places of worship in England.

All the buildings are Grade I or II* listed, with the majority being Anglican churches, but other denominations and faiths are also represented. The work will tackle decaying masonry, leaking roofs and damaged stained glass, helping congregations secure the future of cherished places of worship, some of which date back to Anglo-Saxon times.

"Places of worship in all corners of the country are being maintained by volunteers,” said Diana Evans, English Heritage's new head of Places of Worship. “These buildings make a vital contribution to our national heritage, local environment, and personal well-being. Today's grants will help sustain them for the benefit of the whole community."

The 160 buildings that have received a share of the major funding round range from a church in the tiny, 20 house village of Brandon Parva, Norfolk, to the ‘cathedral in miniature’ designed by EW Pugin at Barton-upon-Irwell, Trafford.

Photo of a ceiling with paint flaking away

The grand exterior belies an onerous task of upkeep inside the 19th century Greek Orthodox Cathedral, originally an Anglican building. © English Heritage

The West Midlands is sharing around £2million between 40 buildings. The Church of St Peter ad Vincula, Hampton Lucy, Warwickshire, will use £123,000 to repair its 1856 chancel added by George Gilbert Scott. Built in 1822-26, St Peter’s is a highly decorated church with a tall, elegant tower that rises out of the Warwickshire countryside.

"The site of an imposing church on the skyline, such as that at Hampton Lucy, is a quintessential feature of the English landscape,” said Tim Johnston, English Heritage Regional Director for the West Midlands. “However, many of these time-worn treasures are only maintained through the hard work of small and hard pressed communities. Today's grants will go some way to providing much-needed support."

Other churches to receive grants include St Andrew’s in Kirkby Grindalythe in the Yorkshire Wolds, eulogised by Betjeman as one of the nation’s finest, and All Saints in Camden, now home to London’s Greek Orthodox community and appropriately built in the Greek Revival style with Ionic columns, reflecting 19th century, Byronic tastes.

Photo of a censer hanging from gold chains inside a church heavily decorated in Greek Othodox style

Places of Worship are not only the heart of many communities but incredible architectural gems. © English Heritage

In the West, St Andrew’s of Blunsdon St Andrew, Swindon, will have its roof of handmade clay tiles, designed by Victorian architect William Butterfield, made watertight, thanks to a grant of £100,000; and in the South West, rotten wooden pegs fixing Cornish scantle slates to the roof of Newton Tracey’s 13th century St Thomas a Beckett (Devon), will be replaced.

Cumbria’s church of St John at Skirwith is receiving a major grant of £431,000 for a project to temporarily remove its 150-year-old Gothic spire in order for the tower walls to be repaired.

One more notable church on the list is All Hallows By the Tower in the City of London, which can trace its origins back to 675AD, and still retains one 7th century arch. Not only that, it survived the Great Fire of London in 1666, and heavy bombing in the Second World War. A grant of £25,000 will go towards urgent repairs.

The Places of Worship grant scheme, run jointly between English Heritage and the HLF, has awarded more than £118 million to more than 1,000 Grade I and II* buildings since 2002, amking it the largest single source of funds for repairs of this kind. However, it is still heavily oversubscribed, with twice as many applicants per year as can be funded.

Grants for repairs being made available for England’s Grade II listed places of worship will be announced in July.

As part of the Inspired! campaign, English Heritage is seeking to expand its practical support for historic places of worship beyond the existing grants scheme. The key element will be funding for the provision of support officers. These will work with congregations, to help them care for and make the most of their buildings and funding opportunities. This initiative is being developed over the next three years.

For more information see the English Heritage Inspired website

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