Cathedrals secure £5 million for repairs as part of First World War Centenary Fund

29 Nov 2016 11:44 AM

Government support for cathedrals recognises importance of these historic buildings as community hubs.

Cathedrals across England will benefit from over £5 million for urgent repairs, it has been announced by Heritage Minister Tracey Crouch.

The grants have been awarded to 24 Church of England and Catholic cathedrals for repairs to stained glass windows, stone pinnacles, and roofs as well as drainage and lighting.

It is the final phase of a two year grants programme to fund repairs to English cathedrals.

Heritage Minister, Tracey Crouch said:

The First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund has done fantastic work to help revive and restore stunning cathedrals across the country.

Cathedrals are not only beautiful pieces of architecture, they hold centuries of our nation’s history and are centrepieces in our communities. This important fund will help maintain and repair these historic buildings so they can be enjoyed for years to come by everyone.

Tracey Crouch visited Southwark Cathedral on 29 November. The cathedral has benefited from grants from the Fund for re-roofing works to prevent leaks and damage to internal stonework and improvements to drainage. Standing at the earliest crossing point of the tidal Thames, Southwark Cathedral is the oldest Gothic church building in London.

In total, £40 million has been allocated through 146 awards to 57 cathedrals. The average award was £274,000, with 12 cathedrals receiving more than £1 million each. The largest number of projects - approximately one third - are for roof repairs, followed by high-level stonework repairs, then repairs to towers and stained glass windows. A number of essential infrastructure projects, such as rewiring, drainage, heating systems, have also been supported.

Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester and lead bishop for the Church of England, said:

Cathedrals are not only the jewel in the crown of our built heritage, they are at the heart of our nation’s common life – through commemoration, remembering, celebration and grief. People can find space and solace in them, both in large acts of worship and solitary contemplation. These welcome grants ensure that they continue to enrich our society in the future.

The Church of England’s 42 cathedrals are estimated to contribute around £220 million to the national economy every year through employment and tourism. They welcome more than 11 million visitors annually, employ more than 7,000 people and are supported by 15,000 dedicated volunteers.

Dame Fiona Reynolds Chair, Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, said yesterday:

These grants have enabled our Cathedrals to take another step forward in the task of ensuring they are in good shape to offer future generations the extraordinary experiences that inspire so many of us today.

The grants have brought work to specialist trades such as stonemasonry and glazing as well as training partnerships such as at Southwark where the work from the grants will include a training partnership with the City and Guilds of London Art School.

Caroline Spelman MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, said:

This announcement shows the Government’s continuing commitment to supporting the national role of cathedrals as community centres, places of education and training, as well as peaceful retreats and places of great beauty. The £40m Fund is a farsighted investment that will bring a return to cities across the country.

Sir Paul Ruddock, Chair of the Expert Panel of the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, which assessed the grant applications, said:

England’s cathedrals are at the heart of its communities and this second tranche of funding has enabled essential repairs for buildings, some of which are almost 1000 years old. In every case, the repairs funded have prevented much more costly problems developing and we are very grateful for the government’s continued support.