News from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference: £3m grant funding for repairs to outstanding Catholic churches and cathedrals announced
Following the award of a grant of £3m from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, the Patrimony Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference is delighted to announce that funding has been offered to 29 Grade I and Grade II* listed churches and cathedrals throughout England.
This includes £92,900 of funding for a much-needed new fire alarm system at St Chad’s Cathedral.
Steve Baylis, Head of Development at the Archdiocese of Birmingham, was involved in writing the £3m funding application.
“This is great news for many dioceses across England, including the Archdiocese of Birmingham,” he said.
“We are absolutely delighted that St Chad’s Cathedral is getting almost £100,000 towards a new fire alarm system from the £3m awarded nationally to the Catholic Church.”
Churches in England were eligible to apply, and applications submitted, together with those submitted for Church of England churches and cathedrals, were presented to an Expert Panel comprising a range of national heritage specialists, and also reviewed by Historic England.
This grants programme is part of the government’s Heritage Stimulus Fund, administered by Historic England and is aimed at supporting major repair projects which either stalled earlier this year because of Covid -19, or where loss of income due to many months of closure put urgently needed projects on hold. Architecturally outstanding Catholic churches and cathedrals are being supported across England, many in areas of severe deprivation where funding for repairs is beyond the means of the local congregation.
As well as seeing roofs, gutters and stonework repaired and churches made watertight, the grants will support many jobs in the historic buildings and conservation sector and protect much needed craft skills. The focus of the grants is on urgently needed repairs and works to enable buildings to remain open and in use for worship and as places of prayer.
Westminster Cathedral is to receive nearly £300k for brickwork conservation and to address urgently needed repairs. St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham will be able to install a much-needed new fire alarm system with a grant of £92,900 and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral will be able to restore the stained glass of its beautiful Blessed Sacrament Chapel designed by Ceri Richards.
Other Cathedrals being supported include Nottingham where a 40-year-old boiler urgently needs replacing and Norwich Cathedral which has a number of targeted repair projects including the long overdue renewal of its main power supply cabling.
In Preston, the Cathedral of St Alphonsa – formerly the Jesuit church of St Ignatius where the priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins once served – is to receive just over £135k for urgent roof repairs and to address a serious outbreak of dry rot. St Alphonsa is the Cathedral of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy.
Churches where repairs are being supported include the beautiful Georgian church of St Patrick’s, Toxteth, built in 1821; EW Pugin’s masterpiece, All Saints, Barton-upon-Irwell at Trafford Park, Manchester; the magnificent St Michael’s, Elswick in Newcastle-upon-Tyne; St Joseph’s, Pontefract; St. Mary’s, Great Yarmouth where water is getting in through a failed valley gutter and damaging an important mural of Our Lady of Yarmouth; the much visited Shrine of Our Lady and St Simon Stock at Aylesford in Kent and churches in Bournemouth, Lyme Regis, Torquay and Launceston.
In welcoming the announcement of these grants, The Most Rev George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff and Chair of the Patrimony Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said:
“It is marvellous that so many of our outstanding historic churches will be helped with the cost of much needed repairs through the award of this grant. We are deeply grateful to the Government and Historic England for awarding the funds to make this happen.
“It is enormously reassuring to those charged with the privilege and responsibility of caring for these outstanding buildings which are so much part of our heritage, that the urgent work of repairing leaking roofs and failing gutters may begin. The much-needed protection measures to the fabric of these “glimpses of heaven” is a challenge and reassurance in these complex times.”