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Multi-million-pound lottery grants to boost cathedrals’ outreach

17 May 2019

£8 million awarded to Leicester, Lichfield, Newcastle, and Worcester

Newcastle Cathedral

An artist’s impression of the churchyard at Newcastle Cathedral

An artist’s impression of the churchyard at Newcastle Cathedral

FOUR cathedrals — Leicester, Lichfield, Newcastle, and Worcester — are to receive more than £8 million in grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The awards, announced on Sunday, will fund multi-million-pound community outreach, arts, heritage, and learning projects.

Half of the funding — £4.2 million — has been allocated to Newcastle Cathedral to bolster its £6-million project Common Ground in Sacred Space. “Significant improvements” will be made to the grounds and the interior to accommodate more visitors, activities, and events.

This includes removing the pews, installing underfloor heating, landscaping the south and east churchyards, and providing new staff, volunteer, and visitor facilities in the basement beneath the cathedral hall. A new events programme for schools, families, and community groups will include art, architectural, and heritage exhibitions.

The Dean, the Very Revd Geoff Miller, said: “After years of careful planning, we are confident that our project will embrace and meet the needs of the people of Newcastle and the region — including the vulnerable, residents, and tourists — by making sacred space common ground.”

Work is scheduled to begin early next year, and the transformed cathedral is due to reopen at Easter 2021. The project is expected to create seven new jobs and 100 volunteer opportunities, and to attract more than 100,000 visitors to the cathedral each year.

The Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, said: “This will inspire people for generations. . . The funding will see the cathedral greatly enhanced as a place of welcome and worship, and its presence in the city centre will be transformed.”

The remaining funds have been donated via match-funding from cathedral supporters, benefactors, and charitable trusts. The chairman of the Newcastle Cathedral Trust, John Squires, said: “Our deep appreciation goes to the generosity of the many trusts and donors.”

Leicester Cathedral received £3.3 million from the National Heritage Lottery Fund, bringing it £3 million short of the £11.3 million needed to restore the cathedral and build a two-storey heritage learning centre. Work is due to begin next year, to be completed in 2022.

The Dean, the Very Revd David Monteith, said that the project would “protect the historic setting of the cathedral, free up the sacred spaces, provide inspirational interpretation and learning facilities, and be a safe place of hospitality and refuge for those in need”.

Worcester Cathedral has been awarded £1 million to facilitate learning, arts, and heritage in its 12th-century crypt, and to install a lift. Lichfield Cathedral has been given £156,400 to carry out a year of research, planning, and assessment on its future — including an environmental sustainability policy — and possible building projects for the medieval building and the Close.

The director of Churches and Cathedrals for the C of E, Becky Clark, said: “This is tremendous news for these four cities and their wider communities. . . These funding awards highlight the enduring importance and appeal of cathedrals and their ability to maintain traditions of worship and openness.”

Ten million people visit cathedrals in England every year. The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, who chairs the Association of English Cathedrals, said: “Our cathedrals are one of our country’s greatest assets and at the heart of our history, our culture, and our social fabric; and a testament to our faith. This funding will help some of our cathedrals better realise their ambitions.”

Music appeal. Norwich Cathedral has raised more than £1.7 million of its £1.87-million target to fund the restoration of its organ and the education of its boys’ and girls’ choirs.

The Earl of Wessex, who is the patron of the cathedral music appeal, attended a celebratory evensong last week, before meeting choristers and attending a reception in the Nave, where the cathedral choir performed Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”.

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Jane Hedges, said: “Like all things that are worth while, producing music to such a high standard is expensive, and so, 18 months ago, we launched our appeal outlining the challenges which lay ahead of us.”

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