English Heritage and HLF announce £15.5 million to repair places of worship

By Culture24 Staff | 03 March 2009
photo of stained glass windows two of which are concreted up

Brookfield Unitarian Church

English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund have announced more than £15.5 million to support urgent repair work at 150 grade I and II listed places of worship across the country.

In London seven buildings have received £1,281,000 under the organisations’ joint Repair Grants for Places of worship scheme.

Many of the churches are battling with leaking and unsafe roofs and drains – with rainwater running down the walls of the buildings and damaging the interiors and wiring.

Not only are they places of great historic interest, many play important roles in their communities by hosting a whole range of projects to benefit local people.

photo of a large red bricked synagogue

New West End Synagogue in Bayswater

Rabbi Geoffrey Hisler of New West End Synagogue, Bayswater, was delighted that the synagogue, one of only three listed synagogues in England, would be receiving a repair grant.

He said: “We are extremely grateful to receive this grant. It is not just important to our Jewish community, but important for the whole of England to have historic buildings, like our magnificent synagogue, that we can be proud of.

“We are open to the public every day and received hundreds of visitors every week from all over England and abroad.”

St Mary Magdalene's church, Paddington, is the most at risk Grade I building in Westminster and suffers from wiring problems as well as a collapsed drain that floods the crypt.

Reverend Henry Everett said: “Our church is one of the most important "at risk" buildings in Westminster. Ten years ago, our electrical wiring was condemned, so we use an emergency power source.

“Now we can re-wire and repair the drain that floods the crypt. With these changes, we can make use of the crypt and host even more community projects. We can't wait to get going!”

a phot of an apex roofed church with small central spire

Brookfield Unitarian Church

One of the East End’s landmarks, The Union Chapel Western tower has been surrounded by scaffolding to prevent it from collapsing. The situation had become so bad that the tower would have had to be dismantled in the interests of safety.

Minister Fionnaigh Reid, said: “We are thrilled to receive this grant to repair our tower, a well-loved landmark in Islington that is teetering on the edge of collapse. Our Chapel is used by so many different local and London organisations that it would be sorely missed if it had to close.

“We run a centre for homeless people and provide about 150 meals every week. The Chapel is also a regular venue for the Scouts, art and skills classes, concerts, rehearsal space for schools and colleges hold exams here. This grant really has given us a lifeline!”

a phot of an ornate synagogue interior

Inisde the New West End Synagogue in Bayswater

Since 2002, £107.7million of grants has been awarded through the partnership scheme to more than 1,000 grade I and II listed places of worship and a massive £25million is available this year with £7.5 million going to Grade II listed places of Worship in May alone.

Diana Evans, English Heritage's Head of Places of Worship, said: “Each of these buildings, like the thousands of Places of Worship throughout the country, has huge local and national significance. English Heritage greatly admires the faithful work done by volunteers to care for them, keeping them in use for worship and countless other activities that sustain the buildings and enhance community life.”

Go to www.english-heritage.org.uk or www.hlf.org.uk for more information.

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