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Friday, October 21, 2016
£17.5 million blessing for English places of worship
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¬†English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund have announced grants worth £17.5 million for repairs to Grade I and II listed religious buildings across England. The two bodies, which are the biggest national funders of historic places of worship, also announced that their joint Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme would continue in its present form until 2007 - two years longer than was originally planned. The vast majority of grants go to Church of England parish churches, but the scheme has also helped non-Anglican places of worship such as St Dominic's Catholic Priory Church in north London, Brighton Synagogue and Sheffield Buddhist Centre. The grants unveiled today will help to repair 165 historic places of worship and give a new lease of life to buildings which have, in many cases, been at the heart of the communities they serve for centuries. Among those which have been offered a grant is St Barnabas, Pimlico in London. St Barnabas was served a Dangerous Structure Notice by the local authority following storm damage to the church spire in January 2004. The church plays an important role in the community and serves two congregations, the Anglican Parish, and also the Melkite Greek Catholic community in London. St Barnabas has been offered £25,000 to develop proposals with up to £601,000 available for the full repair programme. All Saints in Beckingham, Lincolnshire, a fine medieval church in a particularly poor condition, is set to receive £149,000. The church, which forms the centre of a small rural community and contains high quality work in coursed rubble and ashlar stonework dating from the 12th century, has been closed for some time and was at serious risk of redundancy. Holy Trinity, one of the major landmarks of Stratford-upon-Avon and the burial place of William Shakespeare, has been offered an initial £16,000 to evelop proposals. Up to £34,000 has been made available for a major repair project. Some serious structural problems have been found at the church and the first priority is the celebrated tower and spire where cracks have appeared and the stonework is decaying. Richard Halsey, from English Heritage, said: "The grants announced today should fill the funding gap faced by congregations in maintaining some of England's finest buildings. In return, the public is guaranteed access and we can pass on this national inheritance in good repair to future generations." Stephen Johnson, Director of Operations at the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "Places of worship have been the focal point of communities for generations. We are glad that funds from English Heritage and from the National Lottery can continue to play such a vital part in ensuring that these cherished buildings in the cities, towns and villages of England are safeguarded for the future." Frank Dobson MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Historic Churches, said: "These new grants are a very welcome contribution towards the restoration of religious buildings in real need of urgent attention. Movements in population and changes in religious belief have left many buildings in a really bad way with little prospect of local people being able to raise the money needed to look after them properly. People of all religions and none recognise that these buildings form the major part of our architectural and artistic heritage. We must make sure they get the attention they deserve." All listed places of worship in England are eligible to apply for a grant under the Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme. The programme supports urgent repairs to the fabric of listed places of worship and priority is given to single repair projects costing less than £200,000. There is a two stage application process with development funding available after Stage 1 to help work up proposals. Source: English Heritage
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