The church of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena, in New Brighton, Wallasey, has been awarded more than £300,000 by the National Lottery to restore the dome of the basilica.
The church, built in 1933, is marked by a distinctive dome, which can be seen from across the Wirral peninsula and gained the nickname of the “The Dome of Home” in the mid-20th century, when returning sailors would see the dome from the river Mersey.
The total amount assigned to the church by the National Lottery Heritage Fund is £362,900, which covers the cost of a renovation of the Church’s famous dome, as well as a number of heritage activities.
Those activities will include a dementia-friendly heritage package, a memory book, on-site workshops for local students, and a conference for local churches who are also seeking heritage grants. The roof of the basilica has received significant attention in previous years, but the cupola itself has been threatened by water damage and concrete bursting from the ring forming the base of the dome. The new grant will allow the church to be structurally strengthened and fully waterproofed.
Anne Archer, project director, said it will be the largest single program of renovation the church has yet seen: “The grant will ensure the dome becomes a living, lasting legacy for the New Brighton community.” The focus of the application on issues such as dementia, community awareness, and education illustrates the new approach in appealing for help repairing historic buildings taken by many churches in recent years.
The rector of the church, Canon Amory Montjean, welcomed the news whilst stressing the ongoing nature of fundraising for the Art Deco church, one of the few buildings of its time to survive redevelopment. Canon Montjean said that the All Churches Trust awarded £12.5k in March 2019 for the project, and they have received £15,000 in private donations. We still have another £17,000 to raise and intend to launch a further fundraising campaign today.”
The basilica is currently in the stewardship of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, a traditionalist order with a strong track record of restoring historic church buildings across Europe and America. In Britain, their successes include St Walburge’s in Preston, a Gothic Revival church that boasts the tallest spire of any English parish church.