Historic England awards grants to repair churches

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Historic England awards grants to repair churches

Three churches in the Diocese of East Anglia have received a total of nearly £600,000 for urgent repairs out of £3m awarded to Catholic churches in England.


St John the Baptist Cathedral has received grants for repairs to guttering over the north transept, improving security of rainwater goods, and replacement of old electrical supply cables and distribution panels. St Mary’s in Great Yarmouth received grants for re-roofing of the sanctuary side chapels and the old sacristy.

St Peter’s in Gorleston received a grant for replacement of tower windows and transept windows. Historic England recently added this Grade II* listed church, which was designed in 1938-9 by sculptor Eric Gill, to its Heritage at Risk Register 2020. Historic England was concerned that decay, neglect or a lack of money for conservation could threaten the future of such churches.

Director of Finance and Resources for the Diocese, Matthew Fernandez-Graham, commented: “We are delighted at these three churches being granted this much needed funding. The success of these bids is testament to the hard work of our Diocesan Architect, Suzi Pendlebury, and her team at Caroe Architects who put together the required information in a very short timeframe.”

The Secretary of the Historic Churches Committee, Cedric Burton, said: ‘’This is great news! Restoring and safeguarding our important historic church heritage is a challenge for Parishes and for the Diocese, particularly in these difficult times. These grants will make a huge difference and help encourage all those volunteers who work hard to sustain our Patrimony. We are immensely grateful to the Patrimony Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Expert Panel and to Historic England.”

The grants are part of a £3m from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund for Grade I and Grade II listed churches and cathedrals throughout England. Applications were presented to an Expert Panel comprising a range of national heritage specialists, and also reviewed by Historic England.

This programme is part of the government’s Heritage Stimulus Fund, administered by Historic England and aimed at supporting major repair projects which stalled because of Covid-19, often because of lost income due to many months of closure. Architecturally outstanding Catholic churches and cathedrals are being supported across England, many in areas of severe deprivation where funding for repairs is beyond the means of the local congregation. 

Tony Calladine, regional director for Historic England in the East of England said: “It is the varied tapestry of our historic places that helps us define who we are. In testing times such as these, heritage gives us a sense of belonging, continuity and comfort. We also know that investing in historic places can help boost our economic recovery.”

As well as seeing roofs, gutters and stonework repaired and churches made watertight, the grants will support many jobs in the historic buildings and conservation sector and protect much needed craft skills. The focus of the grants is on urgently needed repairs and works to enable buildings to remain open and in use for worship and as places of prayer.

Pictured above is St Peter’s Gorleston (picture by Simon Knott). Below is St Mary’s Great Yarmouth (image from Caroe Architecture Ltd) and a mural from St Mary’s which has been suffering water damage due to a failed valley gutter.

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