Outstanding historic Catholic churches given further funding for urgent repairs

  • 142 historic sites across England – including 17 buildings listed Grade I or Grade II* in the care of the Catholic Church in England – are to receive grants worth £35 million through the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
  • Funding will help bring all these 142 heritage sites back to life by paying for vital repairs and major building programmes and bolstering local economies and supporting jobs across the country. Money from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund is intended to open up heritage and the benefits it brings to everyone, helping to level up and improve life and opportunities for people in places that need it most.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, through the Catholic Trust for England and Wales, is one of 14 organisations across England to receive funding for church repairs thanks to the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund. An award of £2.9m to support the 17 repair projects has been made.

The Heritage Stimulus Fund, Grants for Programmes of Major Works, is administered on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by Historic England.

Among the 17 buildings to be funded is the landmark Grade I listed St Walburge’s church in Preston which will receive £252k towards the urgent re-roofing of part of the nave. St Walburge’s was built in 1850 and designed by Joseph Hansom – who also designed the Hansom cab. It was built on a vast scale with its spire second only in height to that of Salisbury Cathedral.

St John the Baptist, Rochdale, famous for its imposing dome and stunning mosaics, will receive a grant of £218k to carry out urgent repairs to its flat roofs which are currently leaking causing damage to the mosaics.

Quarr Abbey in the Isle of Wight, an important and unusual early 20th century complex of buildings, will receive nearly £230k for roof and window repairs to the Abbey church. Both the Abbey and its extensive grounds draw large numbers of visitors each year with the grounds remaining open to the public throughout the pandemic.

In Norfolk, Our Lady of Consolation and St Stephen at Lynford, currently leased to the Norfolk Churches Trust and the only Catholic church in its care, will be granted almost £120k towards urgent high level repairs. This church was paid for by Mr Stephens Lyne-Stephens who made a fortune in the Victorian period as the manufacturer of glass eyes for dolls.

Harvington Hall near Kidderminster in Worcestershire, a Grade I listed Elizabethan moated manor house and once the home to Catholic recusants during the penal period, has been awarded around £117k to carry out vital restoration work to the two bridges which cross the moat. Harvington Hall is run as a museum and is the only project amongst the 17 which is not a church, The grant will ensure that the Hall remains accessible to the many visitors, pilgrims and tourists who visit each year.

A number of churches which received grants in the first round have been awarded further funds in order to enable them to complete projects started in that round. Among these is The Holy Name in Manchester, listed Grade I, which will be able to finish much-needed repairs to the roofs of its outstanding side chapels, and the Syro-Malabar Cathedral of St Alphonsa in Preston. This church, originally built for the Jesuits in the 1830s and where the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins served as a curate, is undergoing major roof repairs to eradicate dry rot. At Aylesford Priory in Kent, home of the Carmelites, and at St Mary’s, Great Yarmouth, grants will support completion of urgent roof repairs commenced in the first round.

A full list of projects can be found here:

This second round of funding from the ‘Cultural Recovery Fund’, follows on from the grant of just over £3million that the Catholic Trust for England and Wales received in the first round last year.

This brings the total funding for outstanding Catholic church buildings in England to just over £6million under this grant stream. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is enormously grateful to Historic England for making this possible.

Archbishop George Stack, Chair of the Patrimony Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference said:

“As Chair of the Patrimony Committee of the Conference, I express my heartfelt gratitude for the generous allocation of £2.9 million in the second round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund to 17 listed buildings in various parts of England. This grant funding round, together with its predecessor, has provided a much-needed lifeline for these historic and important buildings.

“The essential works being made possible by these grants would not have been able to proceed without the assistance which has been given via Historic England and the Culture Recovery Fund.”

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said:

“From local churches to ancient buildings and landscapes, the UK’s unique heritage makes our towns, cities and villages stronger, more vibrant and helps bring communities together.

“This latest funding - £35 million from our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund – will help protect sites including Jane Austen’s House and Hampton Court Palace for future generations and help them build back better from the pandemic.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive, said:

“Funding from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund is hugely welcome at a time when the people and organisations who look after our vast and varied array of heritage urgently need support to carry out essential repairs. Heritage is a fragile eco-system, with an amazing cast of characters who keep our historic places alive, with specialist skills that take time to learn and experience to perfect. These grants will protect their livelihoods, as they use their expertise to help our heritage survive.”

About the Culture Recovery Fund

The government’s record-breaking £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund is the biggest ever one-off cash injection into UK culture. Since the start of the pandemic, almost £2 billion has been invested to tackle the crisis facing the country’s most loved arts organisations and heritage sites.

About the Heritage Stimulus Fund

The Heritage Stimulus Fund is part of the Culture Recovery Fund and is administered by Historic England on behalf of the government. The first round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund has already enabled repair and maintenance work at more than 800 of the country’s treasured heritage assets and has protected the jobs of expert crafts workers in the sector. Grants allocated in this latest round of the Heritage Stimulus fund will continue to support a large number of projects carried out by a variety of specialists and workers across the country, thereby supporting this vulnerable sector as the nation re-opens.

Funding for urgent capital repair projects has been awarded to organisations which manage a portfolio of nationally important listed heritage sites, with national distribution, that are open to the public. Funding will be used for a portfolio of by recipients. 14 organisations have received grants in Round Two.

They are: The English Heritage Trust, the National Trust, Historic Royal Palaces, Treasure Houses of England, The Church of England, National Churches Trust, Canal and River Trust, Landmark Trust, Friends of Friendless Churches, Churches Conservation Trust, Historic Houses, The Methodist Church, The Catholic Trust for England and Wales, Historic Houses Foundation.

Funding has also been distributed through Historic England’s existing Major Repair Grants for Heritage at Risk scheme, focusing on bringing historic buildings back into use in areas where funding is most needed to help enrich people’s lives.

Story www.cbcew.org.uk

Pic: Quarr Abbey