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Cathedral’s demise ‘greatly exaggerated’

by
17 May 2013

By a staff reporter

SHUTTERSTOCK

REPORTS that Canterbury Cathedral might be facing closure, after it failed to win a £10.5-million bid from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for repairs, have been "greatly exaggerated", the cathedral's PR officer, Christopher Robinson, said.

The cathedral had made a bid for the grant as part of a £17-million structural-repair package to parts of the nave, two towers, and Christchurch Gate - the main entrance to the close, through which one million visitors pass each year. The cathedral held talks with Lottery officials on Tuesday, to find out why the bid had failed.

In a statement, HLF said: "After careful consideration, it was decided that the Fund was unable to support the project."

The head of HLF South East, Stuart McLeod, said: "We know this news must be very disappointing, but our recent board meeting was over-subscribed and highly competitive, meaning we sadly did not have enough money to support all the applications we looked at on the day."

The cathedral played down reports that said it might have to "close for business" if a piece of stonework fell from Christchurch Gate. The Receiver General of the Cathedral, Brigadier John Meardon, said that there was "no thought" of closing the cathedral, or the gate. The cathedral had just raised £2 million to conserve the gate's wooden doors, he said.

"We have raised £17 million in the last four-and-a-half years, from donors big, medium, and small. But we are in a difficult environment for fund-raising."

After this week's feedback meeting with the HLF, the information would be discussed at the cathedral's next Chapter meeting, Brigadier Meardon said. "There is an opportunity to make an application in November this year for 2014.

"It is true that HLF is the only large grant-making body out there. But we are certainly not in the business of closing, even though, yes, bits do fall off old buildings all the time."

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