CHURCHES and cathedrals in England which are struggling to cope during the pandemic are to receive a share of the £14-million second tranche of grants from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, announced last weekend.
In addition, Church House this week identified the 68 Anglican houses that need urgent maintenance, and will share almost £10 million of the Government’s Heritage Stimulus Fund grants announced last month (News, 16 October, 30 October).
The Recovery Fund helps organisations that have suffered severe loss of income as a result of Covid-19. Among the top beneficiaries are St Paul’s Cathedral, which normally earns 90 per cent of its income from visitors, and is to receive £2,125,000, and Durham Cathedral, which is given £1.9 million. Other, non-ecclesiastical, organisations to benefit include Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, in London (£1.27 million), and the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, in Macclesfield, Cheshire (£125,600).
“This money goes into the very heart of local communities, preserving architectural and cultural heritage for a new generation while safeguarding highly skilled jobs in a volatile economy,” the Director of the Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division, Becky Clark, said. “Investing in these projects is an investment in people’s lives. Whether that’s those who rely on tourism, heritage-specific employment, or people who enjoy the peace and serenity offered by these buildings.”
With restrictions in place, St Paul’s was receiving just five per cent of its normal visitor numbers. The Dean, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, described the effects as “catastrophic”. He said: “This funding will help us to adapt to new ways of working, and provide enhanced mental-health support to the community that we serve. It will allow us to reach new audiences, essential to our future sustainability, as well as being able to keep the iconic building open into 2021.”
Welcoming Durham’s grant, the Dean, the Very Revd Andrew Tremlett, said: “Durham Cathedral has served its community as a place of worship, learning, and wonder for almost 1000 years, and this grant will ensure that the doors of one of the most iconic buildings of the north remain open to all.”
Besides helping with operating costs, it will cover staff wages, and additional cleaning and equipment, such as PPE, hand sanitiser, and signage. Durham’s head of development, Gaye Kirby, said: “The temporary closure of the cathedral earlier this year prompted us to create a new vision for the cathedral: one which recognises the changes we need to make to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our visitors and worshippers.
“The Cultural Recovery Fund grant will be instrumental in helping us to make those changes, putting people at the heart of everything we do and becoming a more responsive, collaborative, and resilient organisation.”
Among those receiving Heritage Stimulus Grants is the Two Churches, One Town project in Beverley, East Yorkshire: a joint venture involving the town’s minster; its Grade I listed parish church, St Mary’s; and the town. It receives £600,724 to replace the lead roof and gutters over the minster’s nave, and £139,280 towards the £309,280 bill for restoring St Mary’s Tudor clerestory.
Tim Carlisle, who chairs the project, said: “The churches ‘bookend’ the town, and between them they determined the layout, the character, and the history of Beverley. The minster is the largest parish church in England, and is equal to the greatest of our cathedrals; St Mary’s is often described as one of the most beautiful parish churches of England, and of the highest quality.
“Today, these two buildings are among the top places to visit in the East Riding of Yorkshire, attracting more than 100,000 visitors and attendees at festivals and events — excluding church services — each year.”
St Margaret’s, Edgware, north London, will receive £23,300 towards the cost of equipment to ensure a Covid-safe environment for community and cultural events held in the church and its adjoining Truth Hall. The grant will also cover administration, staff salaries, and insurance for six months. The Team Vicar, the Revd Sally Baily, said: “St Margaret’s has been the central focus for community and cultural events in Edgware for centuries. We look forward to hosting community events in December and next year.”
At Gloucester Cathedral, a £169,055 grant will fund emergency window repairs. The Dean, the Very Revd Stephen Lake, said: “It allows us to undertake repairs to two windows in key locations within the cathedral: one high above the cathedral quire, where daily worship has taken place for centuries, and the other above our main visitor route.”