Listed buildings win funding reprieve
Posted: 17 Feb 2011 @ 00:00
THE funds available to Grade I and II* listed churches for urgent repair work will not be cut this financial year, despite the difficult economic climate, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and English Heritage announced this week.
The HLF has provided an extra £9 million to the Repair Grants for Places of Worship Scheme, meaning that the grants budget for 2010-11 will remain at £25 million. HLF confirmed that it would “continue its increased level of support in future years”.
“Despite English Heritage having to withdraw most of its contribution for new awards from now on, the scheme can continue in its current form,” a joint statement from HLF and English Heritage said. “There will be no reduction in [the] expert advice English Heritage staff and local support officers give to congregations all over the country.”
HLF has launched a consultation on its website on the future of Lottery funding for heritage sites for 2013-19. The consultation, which runs until 26 April, “is people’s chance to tell us what they think our priorities should be, what we should continue to do, and what we should do differently”, the statement said.
The chief executive of English Heritage, Dr Simon Thurley, said that without the “generosity” of the HLF “many brave but struggling congregations would be faced with watching their beloved churches and chapels falling into ruin.”
With the extra funding from HLF, he said, historic churches in urgent need of repair would “still have the vital safety net of the Repair Grants scheme”.
The chief executive of the HLF, Carole Souter, said: “Places of worship are one of the most instantly recognisable features of our cultural landscape, and they continue to inspire people to get involved with and learn about their shared history. This is . . . the reason we have substantially increased our investment to the programme.”
One of the churches to receive a grant for urgent repairs this year is St Michael and All Angels, Haworth, in Yorkshire, the church of the Brontë family, which has been given £115,000 towards the cost of reroofing the south nave, side aisle, and tower.
The honorary treasurer at St Michael and All Angels, Averil Kenyon, said: “The church roof is leaking badly, and that in turn is causing serious damage to 19th-century wall-paintings inside.
“Overall, we will need about £240,000 to complete the project, which will be the first large-scale repairs carried out on the roof since the 19th century. But getting this grant under our belts is a tremendous lift, and will give us more leverage with other grant-giving bodies.”
MORE than £700,000 is being spent on rescuing a Grade II* listed church that is in danger of being destroyed by its own avant-garde design, writes Paul Wilkinson.
St Wilfrid’s, Halton, in Leeds (below), has mixed construction styles from three different periods. Its almost Gothic exterior in Yorkshire stone hides a shell of 1930s concrete — a fashionable and “modern” building material when it was constructed, but fraught with problems as it ages.
Rainwater has penetrated the church’s flat concrete roof, endangering the interior, which is created in the pre-1914 Arts and Crafts-style favoured by its architect, Arthur Randall Wells.
The congregation of 40 faced an impossible repair bill of £798,220. Yesterday, however, English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund announced funding of £480,000 — the biggest single grant of almost 200 awarded nationally under their Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme.
“It is a tremendous boost, but we still have some way to go,” a churchwarden at St Wilfrid’s, Audrey Sugden, said. “We are doing our bit with fund-raising events, but we are hopeful of unlocking more funding from other public and charitable sources.”