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Field invokes Thatcher on funding for cathedrals

26 June 2015

durham cathedral

Two fonts: Ian Font, chairman of Mustard Research, which has made a donation to Durham Cathedral's Open Treasure Appeal, places a font in Durham's Lego Cathedral, a project that aims to raise £350,000 for the appeal

Two fonts: Ian Font, chairman of Mustard Research, which has made a donation to Durham Cathedral's Open Treasure Appeal, places a font in Durham's L...

THE beneficiaries of Margaret Thatcher's Britain should be contributing to the upkeep of the nation's cathedrals, the outgoing Chair of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission, Frank Field MP, said this week.

Mr Field was speaking on Tuesday at St Paul's Cathedral at the launch of Cathedrals of the Church of England, a new book produced to celebrate funding for cathedral fabric repairs, including the £20 million allocated by the last Government (News, 21 March 2014).

He spoke of Lady Thatcher's "greatest disappointment" being that cutting taxes did not create a giving society. There was a task before us, he said, to "get those who have made huge sums of money to fulfil Mrs Thatcher's dream".

Cathedrals were to be praised for "reinventing their roles so more people can experience what a cathedral is, and what it does", he said. They would play a "huge part" in "how we reinvent our English identity".

Mr Field paid tribute to the Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, who had lobbied to secure the First World War Centenary Cathedral Fabric Repair Fund, he said, increasing it from the £5 million proposed by the Deans.

Mr Vaizey said that he felt "very strongly and passionately about heritage", and that both the last Labour government and the Coalition had "not necessarily given heritage the funding it deserves. I have always taken the view that when you are up against it you try to be as imaginative as possible in extracting cash in other ways."

He paid particular credit to two sources of philanthropy: the Wolfson Foundation and the Pilgrim Trust.

Cathedrals of the Church of England has been written by Janet Gough, director of ChurchCare, the Church of England's Cathedrals and Church Buildings division, who said that she had been "struck by the huge activity and energy in our cathedrals today".

Mr Field's successor will be Dame Fiona Reynolds, director of the National Trust from 2001 to 2012, before becoming Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

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