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Government support for vulnerable church buildings welcomed by Church of England

Nearly 300 Church of England parishes are to receive grants for urgent repairs to their church roofs in the second round of awards from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund.

Awards between £10,000 and £100,000 have been offered towards the urgent repair of roofs, gutters and drains, failure of which is the principal cause of decay in historic churches. In total, 401 listed places of worship will benefit from awards from the £25 million funding package given by the Treasury. This follows the 501 awards announced in the first round in Spring 2015.

The full list of awards under the second round can be accessed on the Roof Repair Fund website: here.

Visiting St Philip & St James, Hallow, building of which was partly funded originally by Lea & Perrins, makers of Worcestershire sauce, the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, lead bishop for cathedrals and church buildings said: “These grants will be an enormous help to church communities who take care of some of this country’s most precious built heritage. It is very good that the Government has recognised that help is needed.” Hallow church has received £94,700 under the scheme.

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Peterborough was one of the dioceses to receive the highest number of awards, with 22 of its churches notified of successful grant applications. One of the churches to benefit is St Mary & All Saints, Fotheringhay, in Northamptonshire, which is currently on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register. Fotheringhay is one of England’s most celebrated late Gothic churches and has a dramatic history. Richard III was born and Mary Queen of Scots executed in the neighbouring castle. In the church itself are memorials to two Dukes of York who were buried here in the 1400s. Part of the church was pulled down during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The church today attracts more than 3,000 visitors a year and various community events are hosted there. The parish applied, unsuccessfully, for a grant in the first round of the Roof Repair Fund. The £100,000 grant will fund essential works, enabling the parish to pursue its vision of introducing improved facilities for its visitors, with the peace of mind of a watertight building.

Another church with a strong community focus which has been awarded one of the largest grants is St Mary, Stoke Newington in the Diocese of London. This is the only surviving Elizabethan church in London and one of the oldest in the country to have been built as an Anglican rather than a Roman Catholic church. The parish remodelled the church interior in 2013 to create flexibility and improved facilities, and it is now extensively used as a flexible arts and community space alongside continued use for worship. The family crest of the Lord of the Manor responsible for the church’s building is mounted above a chapel and reads ‘look forward’ in Latin – something which the church community can do today, thanks to the grant it has received.

The Rt Hon Canon Sir Tony Baldry DL, Chair of the Church Building Council, said:
‘It is fantastic that almost 300 more church buildings will receive significant help with roof repairs from government and we are hugely grateful to the Chancellor. We now need to ensure a sustainable way of funding church buildings in the future and this is a question which I hope the government’s English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review will find viable and deliverable answers.’

The Fund, administered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, was announced by George Osborne in the 2014 Autumn Statement and subsequently extended for a second round due to heavy oversubscription. Overall, the Treasury has allocated £55 million to the scheme.