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National Churches Trust grants for urgent repairs top £½m

06 May 2022


St Mary’s, Stoke-by-Nayland, in Suffolk

St Mary’s, Stoke-by-Nayland, in Suffolk

SIXTY-FOUR churches in the UK in urgent need of repair are beneficiaries of the National Churches Trust’s (NCT’s) latest round of grant funding.

‘And what specifically is it that you’d like done’

Many of the projects are to repair spires, roofs, and towers, including the roof of the Grade I listed St Walburge’s, Preston, a Roman Catholic church with the tallest parish-church spire — rising to 309 feet — in the UK. Work is already under way. The church is in the diocese of Lancaster, and was entrusted to the care of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a community originally from Gabon, and now based in Florence.

Hexham Abbey, Grade I listed and one of the oldest surviving Christian foundations in Britain, will receive £15,000 towards chancel repairs; works include the restoration of decorative detail and the prevention of falling masonry. The John Wolfson Foundation, which is a partner of the NCT, has granted a further £6000 for fabric repairs.

The 100-foot-high Tudor-era tower of All Saints’, Brightlingsea, also benefits from a grant, as does a project to restore the nave roof of All Saints’, Maidstone, one of the largest parish churches in England. Both grants will help to ensure that the churches are removed from Historic England’s “Heritage at Risk” register.

St Mary’s, Stoke-by-Nayland, in Suffolk, features in several paintings by John Constable. It is awarded £12,000 for urgent roof repairs, and £8000 for fabric repairs.

One of the largest individual grants goes to St John the Baptist, Hatherleigh, in Devon: £30,000 towards repairs to the roof and tower, as well as £5000 in a fabric-repair grant.

Other grants will help to provide facilities, such as lavatories, at St John the Baptist, Great Bolas, in Shropshire, and St Elli’s, Llanelli, in Carmarthenshire.

The TV journalist and presenter Huw Edwards, who is vice-president of the NCT, said: “The latest funding from the National Churches Trust is a much-needed lifeline for the UK’s churches, many of which have found it hard to raise money for building projects during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The funding will help fund urgent repairs and modern community facilities, safeguarding unique local heritage and keeping churches open and in use for the benefit of local people.”

Grants totalling £584,000 have been awarded in this round. The Wolfson Fabric Repair Grants programme is to receive £134,000.

The chief executive of the Wolfson Foundation, Paul Ramsbottom, said: “Churches play a central role in the spiritual life of a community, but they are also an integral, much-loved part of our cultural heritage. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the National Churches Trust on this important programme supporting the preservation of these remarkable and wonderful buildings.”

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