Catholic Cathedrals to receive over £1m in final phase of grants from First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund

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The final phase of a two-year grants programme to English cathedrals for urgent repairs was announced yesterday. Grants totalling £5,423,000 have been awarded to 24 Catholic and Church of England cathedrals for repairs including to stained glass windows, stone pinnacles, and roofs as well as drainage and lighting.

Heritage Minister, Tracey Crouch said:

“The First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund has done fantastic work to help revive and restore stunning cathedrals across the country.

“Cathedrals are not only beautiful pieces of architecture, they hold centuries of our nation’s history and are centrepieces in our communities. This important fund will help maintain and repair these historic buildings so they can be enjoyed for years to come by everyone.”

In total, £40 million has been allocated through 146 awards to 57 cathedrals, with twelve cathedrals awarded more than £1 million each and the average award being £274,000. The largest number of projects (approximately a third) are for roof repairs, followed by high-level stonework repairs, then repairs to towers and stained glass windows. A number of essential infrastructure projects (rewiring, drainage, heating systems) have also been supported.

Plymouth’s Roman Catholic Cathedral will get £100,000 to repair and upgrade its heating system.

The Dean of Plymouth Cathedral, Monsignor Bart Nannery, explained:

“The present heating system is more than twenty years old and has let us down on a number of occasions, usually when we need it the most!”

Installed as part of the Cathedral’s re-ordering in 1994, it circulates warm air around the vast interior of this elegant, historic building.

Plymouth Cathedral opened for worship in 1858 and is a remarkable survivor of both World Wars and especially the Blitz. It was designed by Charles and Joseph Hansom of ‘Hansom Cab’ fame but it is situated in one of the ten most severe areas of poverty in England and Wales, making fundraising difficult.

“This third and final grant from the Centenary Fund is a real bonus for us,” said Monsignor Nannery. “It means that all the recent work to make the building’s exterior wind and water proof will be assured by keeping the interior warm and dry as well.”

Dame Fiona Reynolds Chair, Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, said:

“These grants have enabled our Cathedrals to take another step forward in the task of ensuring they are in good shape to offer future generations the extraordinary experiences that inspire so many of us today”.

Caroline Spelman MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, said:

“This announcement shows the Government’s continuing commitment to supporting the national role of cathedrals as community centres, places of education and training, as well as peaceful retreats and places of great beauty. The £40m Fund is a farsighted investment that will bring a return to cities across the country.”

Sir Paul Ruddock, Chair of the Expert Panel of the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, which assessed the grant applications, said:

“England’s cathedrals are at the heart of its communities and this second tranche of funding has enabled essential repairs for buildings, some of which are almost 1,000 years old. In every case, the repairs funded have prevented much more costly problems developing and we are very grateful for the government’s continued support.”


Plymouth RC Cathedral from Wyndham Street. © The Dean & Chapter of Plymouth Cathedral.