15 October 2020, The Tablet

Historic Catholic churches to get £3 million funds

Historic Catholic churches to get £3 million funds

Our Lady of Yarmouth is among the churches that could benefit from the new grants.
Nicholas Warns Architects

Historic Catholic churches are to get £3 million from a government fund to help heritage groups through the coronavirus pandemic.

The award is a lifeline for churches, many of which have built up a huge backlog of urgent repairs.

Historic England announced on Monday that the Catholic Trust for England and Wales (CaTEW) has been given the money to fund work on Grade I and II* churches across England. Priority will be given to those in deprived areas including the Diocese of East Anglia and the Archdiocese of Liverpool.

It is estimated that churches have lost between half and three-quarters of their income during the pandemic and essential repairs have stalled.

One church that is hoping to get a share of the £3 million is St Mary’s, Great Yarmouth, which is running an appeal to replace a leaking roof. The Grade II* listed building dates from 1850 and was designed by the acclaimed Catholic architect, JJ Scoles. Water has seriously damaged a mural in the Shrine of Our Lady of Yarmouth painted by Archibald Jarvis in 1921. 

Photographs taken in 2014 and 2020 show how the painting has deteriorated. Parishioners have raised £12,000 towards repairs but substantially more is needed.

Archbishop George Stack, Chair of the Patrimony Committee said: “We’re extremely grateful to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage for this grant of £3 million to help with the maintenance, upkeep and repair of a number of our Grade I and II* listed buildings in England.

“The recent closure of churches during lockdown has impacted seriously on the many planned projects which have been unable to proceed. A significant number of churches have simply not had the resources to carry out much needed repairs.

“This grant will give encouragement and support to local congregations determined to preserve and enhance these churches which are so important a part of our national heritage.”

The £3 million awarded to CaTEW is part of the £34 million Heritage Stimulus Fund awarded to 12 organisations. The fund is designed to support important historic buildings and help them to remain open for their regular visitors and the wider community.

The Church of England is the biggest beneficiary receiving £6.5 million just ahead of the National Trust which has £6.02 million. The Friends of Friendless Churches have received £1 million.

There are 34 Grade I listed Catholic churches in England and Wales. Another 141 churches are Grade II*. The Church of England has more than 12,000 listed church buildings. A large number of these are Grade I.

In an important first for the sector, Historic England, which advises the Government on the built environment, was tasked with distributing the grants on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.


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