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More than £15.7 million for England’s historic places of worship

Nationally, since 2002, almost £140 million of grants have been awarded for more than 1500 projects at Grade I and II* historic places of worship through the joint  scheme, which is the largest single source of funds to help congregations to care for historic churches, chapels, synagogues and other historic places of worship.

Despite the challenging economic climate, HLF and English Heritage have been able to maintain the planned level of funding and support for places of worship in the current financial year. The Heritage Lottery Fund has provided an extra £9 million to maintain the £25 million value of the total grants budget for 2010 – 11 (further funds will be offered to Grade II places of worship in March).

HLF has also confirmed that it will continue its increased level of support in future years. This means that despite English Heritage having to withdraw most of its contribution for new awards from now on, the scheme can continue in its current form.  There will be no reduction in expert advice English Heritage staff and local support officers give to congregations all over the country.

Places of worship getting grants for urgent repairs this year include:

•St Wilfrid’s, Halton in Leeds, an Arts and Crafts church built as recently as 1937-39, receiving £498,000 for repairs to roofs and windows
•St Michael and All Angels, Haworth in Yorkshire, the Brontë family’s church, receiving £115,000 towards reroofing the south nave, side aisle and tower
•Church of St Augustine in Ramsgate, Kent, a church designed by AWG Pugin receiving £110,000 for repairs to the roof, the chancel and electrics
•Church of St Catherine, Hoarwithy, Herefordshire, a rare example of a church built in the Italian Romanesque and semi-Byzantine style receiving £80,000 to repair the tower, stonework and floors

Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said;

“Thanks to the generosity of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and ultimately therefore of Lottery players, our historic places of worship in direct need still have the vital safety net of the Repair Grants scheme. Without it, many brave but struggling congregations would be faced with watching their beloved churches and chapels falling into ruin. Instead, the combination of Heritage Lottery Fund money and English Heritage advice is seeing these wonderful buildings revived and restored and becoming ever more central to their communities as places of prayer and celebration and as a hub for local services.”

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the HLF, said;

“Historic places of worship are one of our most treasured cultural assets. They occupy a unique position at the heart of communities up and down the country, and are a focus for so many civil and social activities in addition to their central purpose as a place for prayer and contemplation. Places of worship are one of the most instantly recognisable features of our cultural landscape, and they continue to inspire people to get involved with and learn about their shared history. This is at the very core of what the Heritage Lottery Fund wants to achieve and the reason we have substantially increased our investment to the programme.”

Averil Kenyon, Honorary Treasurer at St Michael and All Angels, Haworth, said;

“The church roof is leaking badly and that in turn is causing serious damage to 19th century wall paintings inside.  Overall we will need about £240,000 to complete the project, which will be the first large scale repairs carried out on the roof since the 19th century.  But getting this grant under our belts is a tremendous lift and will give us more leverage with other grant giving bodies.  Today is a very good day for our historic church, which is visited by people from across the globe because of its Bronte connection. This grant from the HLF and English Heritage will go a long way in protecting it for future generations.”

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