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£2m is awarded, but Salisbury misses out

07 February 2008

by Rachel Harden

SALISBURY CATHEDRAL has protested at being left out of the latest round of grants by English Heritage.

In all, English Heritage announced grants of £2.1 million, split between 28 cathedrals. Grants range from £250,000 each to Lichfield, Lincoln, and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, to £5000 to Blackburn for repointing and investigating guttering.

Salisbury, which is in the middle of a large-scale repair programme, said on Thursday of last week that it appeared to have been penalised over a disagreement about the high quality of stone the cathedral wishes to use for masonry repairs. The standards had previously been agreed with conservation bodies, among them English Heritage.

“Now it appears English Heritage are trying to impose a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach across Britain’s cathedrals,” said the Dean, the Very Revd June Osborne. The cathedral, which has so far received £6.25 million from English Heritage for its ongoing repair programme, also criticised the grant-giving body for its “overly bureaucratic and flawed” decision-making process.

On the other hand, the Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, said: “We are pleased that Lichfield’s case has been heard. . . The news of the grant could not have come at a better time for us. We are about to embark on a multi-million pound programme of repair, conservation, and building that will not only preserve the cathedral but will provide the facilities that help to welcome visitors.

“Lichfield is a perfect example of the dilemma most cathedrals find themselves in: they are charged with the stewardship of an architectural masterpiece, possibly a regional, national, or European icon, but with inadequate resources for repair and conservation.”

Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: “A huge amount of work has to go into securing this grandeur and majesty for generations to come. The grants announced today will go some way to helping the custodians of these titans in this task.”

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