Catholic Church thanks Government for 'lifeline' heritage fund

An external view of Westminster Cathedral, in central London.Photo: Westminster Cathedral

The Government's Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage has thrown historic churches a "lifeline", the Catholic Church has said.

The first major tranche of grants from the Government's £1.57bn fund include the Catholic Bishops' Conference, which is to receive £3m. 

The Most Rev George Stack, Chair of the Patrimony Committee for the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said the grant was coming at a time when many historic churches are struggling after the pandemic forced them to close their doors.

The grant will be distributed to its Grade I and II* historic churches through the Catholic Trust for England and Wales. 

The Catholic Church said the money would go towards keeping venues open for congregations and the wider community, and helping churches restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance after the pandemic halted many plans. 

Rev Stack said: "We are hugely grateful for this magnificent award. With our churches closed during lock down many planned repair projects were unable to go ahead.

"Other churches have simply not had the resources to carry out much needed repairs. Grants from this award will bring new hope to congregations struggling to raise funds at this very difficult time."

Some 445 heritage organisations are to receive a boost from the Culture Recovery Fund. 

Other sites to benefit from it include Blackpool's Winter Gardens, Blyth Tall Ship, the Severn Valley Railway, the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincolnshire, and the Piece Hall in Halifax. 

The Church of England has also received £10.7m to support 16 cathedrals and 50 parish churches. 

Becky Clark, the Church of England's Director of Cathedrals and Church buildings, said Covid-19 had had a "devastating impact" on communities, including worshipping communities at historic churches that rely on events and donations from visitors to stay afloat. 

"There is a great deal of uncertainty ahead, but this funding will help churches and cathedrals to be places of refuge, rest and strength for all," she said.