Thirteen churches in the Diocese of Leicester have received a financial boost from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help fund repairs during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lifeline grants from the Culture Recovery Fund are designed to protect heritage sites and ensure that jobs and access to culture and heritage in local communities are protected during the months ahead. The £88m Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage is a joint fund, allocated by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The 13 churches across the county of Leicestershire have been awarded grants totalling £227,500 towards essential repairs and investigation works.
St Thomas, Frisby-on-the-Wreake, St Mary, Elmesthorpe, and St Michael and All Angels, Harston have received grants for reroofing works to replace end of life roofs. At Holwell, a permanent roof on St Leonard’s church will now be possible after two years of temporary covers following lead theft in 2019.
Structural investigations at St Bartholomew, Foston and St Peter, Redmile to establish the cause of long-term issues with cracking and movement have been funded at these churches. Architectural services at St Peter, Higham-on-the-Hill will enable the church to obtain accurate costings for the restoration of the Norman tower as the first phase of work.
The ‘Lady of the Vale’ spire at St Mary’s Bottesford will undergo a steeplejack inspection with repairs to open joints. At St John the Baptist, South Croxton where incoming water through the tower openings has rotted the floors, new louvres will be fitted and the floors replaced.
Grade I Listed Owston, St Andrew and Stoke Golding, St Margaret, will see essential stonework repairs carried out along with similar works at Measham, St Lawrence and St Mary, Nether Broughton.
Grants of up to £25,000 are being allocated to cherished heritage sites across the country to cover urgently needed maintenance and repairs. This vital funding comes from a part of the Culture Recovery Fund called the Heritage Stimulus Fund and is administered on behalf of the government by Historic England.
As well as rescuing precious heritage buildings in need, the injection of cash will protect livelihoods for some of the most vulnerable heritage specialists and contractors working in the sector.
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture in our towns and cities. We’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it's there for future generations to enjoy.”
Simon Headley, Historic Churches Support Officer for the Diocese of Leicester, commented: “Church buildings play a vital and significant role in and beyond their immediate community, as recently demonstrated in the National Churches Trust House of Good report. However, the repair costs of these historic buildings fall primarily upon local congregations, so the grants awarded are an important lifeline which will enable vital repairs to be carried out. Much hard work behind the scenes has gone into these applications, not least from the dedicated volunteers at each church, so this is a huge encouragement to all concerned.”
Bishop of Leicester, The Rt Reverend Martyn Snow added: “This news is a great boost to our church communities who work so hard to fundraise and care for our church buildings in the hope that they will continue to provide a visible sign of God’s presence among us.”
Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive said: “Historic places across the country are being supported by the Government’s grants awarded under the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding is a lifeline which is kick-starting essential repairs and maintenance at many of our most precious historic sites, so they can begin to recover from the damaging effects of COVID-19.
“It is also providing employment for skilled craft workers who help keep historic places alive and the wheels of the heritage sector turning. Our shared heritage is an anchor for us all in these challenging times and this funding will help to ensure it remains part of our collective future.”