On 26 March the National Heritage Memorial Fund announced the first round of historic UK places of worship to benefit from the Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund. A total of 502 places of worship will receive between £10,000 to £100,000 to meet the costs of urgent repairs to roofs and rainwater disposal systems. Church of England parishes account for 372 of the total number of awards, such as St Mary, Childrey, Oxon (pictured) which was awarded £29,000. Funds are also being provided for structural investigations, specialist reports and bat surveys. A full list of the successful churches is available here; unsuccessful applicants are expected to receive individual notification in April.
The visit of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to Wells Cathedral on 26th provided a timely opportunity for the Press Release Churches and Cathedrals across the UK receive government funding to ensure they are maintained for generations to come: Wells Cathedral will receive an £160,000 share from the third and final round of the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, on top of £160,000 it received in previous rounds. Also included in the Press Release is the Chancellor’s statement:
“Churches and Cathedrals are a unique part of our national heritage, and play a vital role in community life – we want to support them, and thanks to our long-term economic plan, we can. Whether it’s our country’s future or these important buildings, the sun is shining and we’re starting to fix the roof.”
and the response of the Rt Revd Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester and lead bishop for the Church of England’s cathedrals and church buildings,
“The cathedrals and parish churches of our land are jewels in the crown of our national heritage. As such, though cared for by the Church of England, they are everyone’s heritage and we are grateful that this has been recognised by the Government through these grants for essential repairs. This will enable these wonderful buildings the better to be used to serve the communities at the heart of which they stand, now and in the future.”
Other funding that has been made available is also listed, although a more focussed picture is presented by ChurchCare, which describes the roof fund and welcomes:
“£6.9 million of grants for urgent repairs announced today [26 March] for 24 Church of England and seven Catholic cathedrals in the final phase of the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund.
The cathedrals are being provided with grants of between £12,000 and £800,000 for essential and urgent repairs ranging from repairs to roofs and stonework through to complete re-wiring.”
The ChurchCare press release for the cathedrals announcement, including a detailed list of grants, is available here; that relating to the church roofs announcement is here; and more information about the church roof repair fund here. This will be updated to include information on the second round of applications, when this becomes available.
The Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund was set up in December 2014 with £15 million set aside for repair works &c, and was subsequently extended in the 2015 Budget, with an additional £15million allocated for the initial round and £25million set aside for a second round that will open later in 2015. On 6 March, ChurchCare reported that
“despite the short timeframe, [i.e. 39 working days in E, W & NI and 38 in Scotland], almost 1,900 applications were received, testament to the tremendous commitment of clergy and volunteers in parishes across the UK, as well as the archdeacons, DAC staff, architects and surveyors that supported applicants.”
We would add that the preliminary work by ChurchCare and others in the provision of guidance, templates for letters &c will have appreciably reduced the burden on churches seeking funding under the Scheme.
The Fund will reopen to new applications later in 2015, making awards from the remaining £25M during 2016. Applicants who were unsuccessful during the first round will be required to reapply.
Alternative funding for listed places of worship is available from other sources, such as the Heritage Lottery Fund; a government-sponsored fund administered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.