Cash strapped historic churches helped by the National Churches Trust

Published: Monday, August 24, 2020

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on the finances of many churches.

Many have been unable to raise money from worshippers, visitors or from the hire of church halls. 

With the help of its Friends and supporters, including the Wolfson Foundation,  the National Churches Trust is supporting 45 of the UK's historic churches and chapels with a grant payout of over £500,000, money which will help fund repairs, maintenance and the installation of community facilities.

Churches being helped include: 

Selby Abbey, Selby, Yorkshire. A £25,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund repairs to the Grade I listed Selby Abbey, Selby, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.  Built on the banks of the Ouse, the Abbey is on a grand scale and to a high level of architectural and artistic mastery. It was founded in 1069 by William the Conqueror, the first monastery in the north after the Norman Conquest predating both York and Durham. 

St Mary and St Melor Church, Amesbury, Wiltshire. A £30,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund roof and masonry repairs at the Grade I listed St Mary and St Melor church, Amesbury, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric. The church is a building of national significance which dates back to 979AD.  

Ipswich Unitarian Meeting House, Suffolk. A £40,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund structural repairs at the Grade I listed Ipswich Unitarian Meeting House making it watertight and preserving its historic fabric. The church is currently on the Historic England ‘At Risk Register’. The Ipswich Unitarian Meeting House built in the 17th century is regarded by various sources as the ‘finest timber framed meeting house of its kind in Britain’.  

Urgent repairs

Broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards, Vice President of The National Churches Trust, said: 

“The UK's historic churches and chapels are a vital part of our national heritage. During the coronavirus pandemic churches have done so much to help vulnerable local people and boost morale”. 

“Many churches need to carry out urgent repairs and install modern facilities to ensure their buildings can continue to be used well into the future. But the cost of this work is often far beyond what most congregations can pay for themselves and many are facing funding shortages because of the coronavirus lockdown.” 

“So I’m delighted that the Trust is providing grants of over half a million pounds to keep more churches and chapels in good repair so that they can remain open and benefit local people.” 

Wolfson Foundation

£100,000 of funding for 18 of the grants has been provided by the Wolfson Foundation.   

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive at the Wolfson Foundation, said: “Churches play a central role in the spiritual life of a community but they are also an integral, much loved, part of our cultural heritage. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the National Churches Trust on this important programme supporting the preservation of these remarkable and wonderful buildings across the UK.” 

Full details


Full details of 20 Cornerstone Grants for fabric repairs and the installation of modern facilities  can be found below, listed in alphabetical order of Counties. A photo gallery can be viewed at the bottom of this page and on Flickr.  

Additional Gatweway Grants to fund a range of church building maintenance, small repair and development projects have been awarded via the National Churches Trust and by the Wolfson Foundation

These are the second-round of grants made by the National Churches Trust in 2020. To date this year, the Trust has awarded or recommended 145 grants totalling just over £1 million. 

FULL LIST OF CORNERSTONE GRANTS 

Berkshire 

Church of England - Diocese of Oxford - Grade II

A £15,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund tower and spire repairs at the Grade II listed St Peter’s church, Woolhampton, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric. 

The church  

St. Peter's church was originally built in the 13th century and was valued in 1291 at £4.13s.4d. It was probably associated with the Knights Hospitalliers (founded 1133), who owned the Woolhampton and Brimpton estate from 1159 to 1544. The church was extended in 1861 by London architect, James Johnson.  

The church’s stained glass is perhaps its greatest treasure. The west end window, dated 1861 and donated by the Dowager Lady Falmouth, one of the largest and best in any parish church, is by Thomas Willement, the heraldic artist to George IV and artist in stained glass to Queen Victoria. 

Bristol 

Church of England - Diocese of Bristol  - Grade II* 

A £15,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund roof repairs at the Grade II* listed Holy Trinity church, Bristol, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.  

The church  

There has been a church on the site for at least 500 years. The original dedication was to St Giles, but between 1691 and 1720 the old church was demolished and a new one, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, erected in its place. In 1854 the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, Bishop Monk offered to rebuild the church at his own cost and the new church was dedicated on 15 April 1857.  

The architect was John Norton (1823–1904), a Bristolian by birth, also responsible for Tyntesfield, near Bristol. It is in the Decorated style and was described by John Betjeman as the “finest Victorian Gothic Church in Bristol”.  

County Durham 

St Andrew church, Winston  

Church of England - Diocese of Durham  - Grade I  

A £15,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant , together with an additional £7,000 grant made by the Trust on behalf of the Wolfson Foundation, will help fund roof repairs at the Grade I listed St Andrew’s church, Winston, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.  

The church  

There has been a parish church in Winston since the 13th century but there was almost certainly a Saxon building on the site – a Saxon cross head is just inside the church door.  

An intriguing feature is the font. It is probably 13th century, with tracery on the sides, and has caused much debate. Oak leaves, acorns, two dragons and flowers appear which left even Pevsner searching for an explanation.  

It is the view from the church across the valley of the river Tees that entices couples to have their wedding here. In the 18th century a village notable said no incipient bachelor shortly to be married should consider coming to St. Andrew’s for fear his beloved might feel more married to the site and situation than to him.  

Derbyshire 

Edale Methodist Chapel, Edale  - Grade II  

A £8,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund external repairs and also the installation of kitchen and toilets at the Grade II listed Edale Methodist chapel enabling it to better serve its community. 

The chapel 

Built in 1811, Edale is one of the oldest Methodist chapels still in regular use. John Wesley certainly preached at nearby Sparrowpit and his longtime sweetheart, Grace Bennett is buried in nearby Chapel-en-le-Frith.  

The Chapel is in an unusual late Georgian style of Methodist vernacular architecture. Looking like two cottages, the chapel has original iron framed windows with small leaded rectangular panes of old clear glass and opening casements.  

Herefordshire 

St Peter church, Withington  

Church of England - Diocese of Hereford  - Grade II*  

A £14,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund connecting mains water and the installation of kitchen and toilets at the Grade II* listed St Peter’s church, Withington.  

The church  

The nave and chancel of St Peter’s were originally built in the late 12th century, the evidence being the thickness of the walls and the two simple Norman nave doorways.  

The church’s tower, probably late 13th century is notable for its diagonal buttresses. The graceful octagonal stone spire was added in the 14th century and renovated in both Victorian times and in 2006. The steps and base of the churchyard cross are from the 14th or 15th century.  

Kent 

St Mary the Virgin church, Willesborough

Church of England – Diocese of Canterbury -  Grade II*  

A £10,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund spire repairs at the Grade II* listed St Mary the Virgin church, Willesborough, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.  

The church  

It is thought that the church may date from Saxon times when a noble in the time of King Alfred called Æthelfurth, left land of Willesborough to the Abbey of St Augustine. The church remained in the possession of Augustine’s Abbey  until the dissolution of the monasteries, when it was settled on the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury.  

During the English civil war this part of Kent was largely in the hands of the Puritans and St Mary’s suffered greatly from their attention. A fine collection of coloured glass was smashed, the altar pieces burned and monuments destroyed. 

Leicestershire 

Church of England - Diocese of Leicester  - Grade I

A £10,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant , together with an additional £4,500 grant made by the Trust on behalf of the Wolfson Foundation, will help fund repairs to rainwater goods, masonry and roof at the Grade I listed All Saints’ church, Loughborough. The work will make the church watertight and preserve its historic fabric.  

The church  

Loughborough parish church is one of the major churches in Leicestershire. Its handsome 14th century proportions are crowned by its elaborate and pinnacled tower and clerestory, which date from the 15th century. But the history goes back further than this, and the church almost certainly sits on both Norman and Saxon predecessors.  

The church was built around 1330, the decorated Gothic period, and is the town’s oldest parish church. The tower height was increased and nave clerestory added in 1450, the Perpendicular period. The oak nave roof has 18 carved gilded angels and 65 gilded roof bosses.  In Georgian times the church had box pews and galleries and triple deck pulpit. In 1859-1862 the church was reordered and restored by Gilbert Scott.  

Lincolnshire

St Benedict church, Scrivelsby

Church of England - Diocese of Lincoln  - Grade II*  

A £12,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant, together with an additional £4,500 grant made by the Trust on behalf of the Wolfson Foundation, will help fund repairs to rainwater goods and the installation of kitchen water and electricity at the Grade II* listed St Benedict church, Scrivelsby. The church is currently on the Historic England ‘At Risk Register’.  

The church  

St Benedict’s dates from the 13th and 15th centuries with extensive restoration in 1860 and 1876. It is strongly associated with the Dymoke family who have owned the estate since the 14th century under the Dymoke name, and since Doomsday under the previous family line of Marmion.  

The powerful Marmion family were Champion to the Dukes of Normandy of France and came to England with William when he invaded in 1066. The duty of the King's Champion was to challenge anyone who doubted the new monarch's right to the throne. The Champion would throw down his gauntlet to prove he would fight to the death anyone who did. The title of Champion has stayed with the family. 

Notable is the plaque on the wall which identifies St Benedict’s as the Ancestral Church of American President George Washington, who was the four times great-grandson of Frances Dymoke (1545-1613).  

London

Church of England - Diocese of London - Grade II

A £10,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund repairs to the stonework at the Grade II listed Christ Church, Highbury, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.  

The church  

Built on a site given by John Dawes, a local landlord and benefactor, Christ Church was completed and consecrated in 1848. The building was designed by architect Thomas Allom, a founder member of what would become the Royal Institute of British Architects.  

Christ Church was originally built as a preaching church in a cruciform shape with short chancel, transepts and nave. 

Norfolk

Church of England - Diocese of Norwich - Grade II* 

A £5,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund toilets at the Grade II* listed St Mary church, Docking, enabling it to better serve its community.  

The church  

The oldest visible parts of St Mary’s are in the chancel, which was built shortly before the Black Death in 1348. It is likely that there was a church on the site long before that as the village is named in the Domesday Book and cited in documents written in 1038 by Aelfric, Bishop of Elmham.  

The 15th century font is the church’s greatest architectural treasure. It carvings were mutilated at the Reformation possible on the orders of the regents of the boy king Edward VI. Around the stem are eight female saints including St Catherine, St Margaret, St Elizabeth, St Mary and St Apollonias. The latter is the patron saints of dentists and can be identified by the rather large pair of forceps that she holds in her hand. Around the bottom of the bowl are the emblems of the gospel writers St Mark, St Luke, St Matthew and St John, the bull, lion, winged man and eagle.  

Church of England - Diocese of Norwich  - Grade I  

A £10,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund the installation of kitchen and toilets at the Grade I listed St Catherine’s church, Ludham, enabling it to better serve its community.  

The church  

St. Catherine's church is a fine and large building standing in the very centre of its village, reflecting the former wealth of the population. It is built of flint with limestone dressings and consists of a 14th century Decorated style west tower and chancel and 15th century nave and aisles in a Perpendicular style. It replaced an older smaller and far less impressive chapel.  

St Catherine’s has a number of special features. An unusual 15th century decorated octagonal stone font featuring two ranks of figures below the bowl, a fine oak hammer beam roof dating from 1466, the chancel arch with its carved capitals of grotesques and seaweed foliage and a rare Royal arms of Elizabeth I.  

More spectacular is one of the finest rood screens in Norfolk, dating to 1493 and thought likely to be unique in the Church of England.  

Suffolk

Ipswich Unitarian Meeting House, Ipswich

Church of England - Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich - Grade I 

A £40,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund structural repairs at the Grade I listed Ipswich Unitarian Meeting House making it watertight and preserving its historic fabric. The church is currently on the Historic England ‘At Risk Register’. 

The Meeting House 

The Ipswich Unitarian Meeting House built in the 17th century is regarded by various sources as the ‘finest timber framed meeting house of its kind in Britain’.  

What makes it particularly important in terms of its architectural significance and importance in the context of Unitarianism is the fact that the Meeting House remains almost exactly as it was originally built in 1700 with the plan form, fittings and interior details almost all original. The building therefore represents a unique expression of the architecture of Protestant dissenters and the early evolution of Unitarianism.  

The building has a number of interesting features which include a  fine carved three decker pulpit reputed to be carved by Grinling Gibbons, one of the most renowned carpenters of the time, or from his school. The involvement of Gibbons' workshop in the Meeting House has led to speculation that his great collaborator on London's City Churches, Sir Christopher Wren, might have had a hand in this building too.  

Church of England - Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich  - Grade II*

A £15,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund repairs to the roof at the Grade II* listed St Mary church, Dallinghoo, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.  

The church  

St Mary’s church in Dallinghoo is a well-maintained 14th century church with, unusually, the tower at the east end of the church. Originally it was a central tower but the chancel connected to it collapsed. Herringbone masonry shows that it is structurally early Norman. The west and east arches date from 1300 or a little earlier.  

The church has an interesting Jacobean pulpit described as “exceptionally splendid,” by one church architect. The back includes an earlier panel with the arms of Catherine of Aragon. Its wide nave is spanned by a shallow arch-braced roof and the base of the tower serves as the chancel. The 18th century communion rails have twisted balusters and fluted gate-posts.  

Yorkshire

Church of England - Diocese of York  - Grade I 

A £25,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund a number of general repairs at the Grade I listed Selby Abbey, Selby, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.  

The church  

Although Selby Abbey is now a parish church, it was one of England's great monastic churches, one of the three most important Benedictine Houses in the north of England and traditionally the earliest.  

Built on the banks of the Ouse, the Abbey is on a grand scale and to a high level of architectural and artistic mastery. It was founded in 1069 by William the Conqueror, the first monastery in the north after the Norman Conquest, predating both York and Durham. It is a key building illustrating the transition from Romanesque or Norman to a fully developed Gothic style. In addition to its architectural merits it was the birthplace of Henry I, the only Norman king born on English soil.  

Selby Abbey is one of the few churches to survive the 1530s' Dissolution of the Monasteries almost intact. Along with Westminster Abbey both churches were converted into cathedrals.   It is one of the largest parish churches in England. The view from the Abbey's nave has been described as one of the most beautiful, powerful and intriguing church interiors in the land. The Abbey has survived centuries of political and religious turmoil as well as two disastrous fires.  

St Michael and All Angels church, Skelbrooke  

Church of England - Diocese of Sheffield  - Grade II  

An £8,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund repairs to roof at the Grade II listed St Michael and All Angels church, Skelbrooke, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.  

The church  

Skelbrooke is mentioned in documents of 1086, which prepared information for the Domesday Book. In 1338 there was a record of an ordination in the Chantry Chapel of Saint John the Evangelist. It is believed that for the next 200 years, the little church was served by teams of just two priests; one who rode over from South Kirby to say mass, and the resident Chantry Priest.  

The church suffered during the Reformation of 1549. The chantry chapel was pulled down and goods were confiscated from church. A fire in 1870 destroyed the church. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1872. The walls and roof timbers of the chantry chapel are richly adorned with finely detailed high Victorian paintings, including gilding and applied stars. Most of the internal features are Victorian, including stained glass windows by Heaton, Butler and Bayne, although there are medieval remains including the chancel piscina, thought to date to the 14th century. 

Warwickshire

St Peter ad Vincula church, Ratley  

Church of England - Diocese of Coventry - Grade II*  

Ac £8,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant, together with an additional £5,000 grant made by the Trust on behalf of the Wolfson Foundation, will help fund roof repairs at the Grade II* listed St Peter ad Vincula church, Ratley. The church is currently on the Historic England ‘At Risk Register’.  

The church  

The Grade II* parish church is one of a few churches in England dedicated to St. Peter ad Vincula. The most eminent example of this unusual dedication, in Britain, is the chapel in the Tower of London. The name means ‘St Peter in chains’ and refers to the disciple’s escape from prison as told in the Acts of the Apostles.  

Ratley parish includes the hamlet of Edge Hill, site of the famous Civil War battle.  

Wiltshire 

Church of England - Diocese of Salisbury - Grade I

A £30,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund roof and masonry repairs at the Grade I listed St Mary and St Melor church, Amesbury, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric. 

The church

St Mary and St Melor church is Grade I listed; a building of national significance. The origins of the church date back to 979AD, but the building we see today dates from the 12th century, including the original structure of the nave. In the 15th century a new nave roof was added during a major re-building of the church.  

The church was a former abbey. Queen Eleanor of Provence was a nun here from the death of her husband Henry III and is likely to have been buried on the site. The west end of the nave was reconstructed in the 15th century at the same time as the roof, but the present elevation can be attributed to William Butterfield’s major ‘restoration’ in 1852-3. 

WALES 

Ceredigion 

St Michael church, Llanfihangel Y Creuddyn  

Church in Wales - Grade II*  

A £15,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant, together with an additional £7,000 grant made by the Trust on behalf of the Wolfson Foundation, will help fund repairs to prevent water ingress and damp at the Grade II* listed St Michael church, Llanfihangel Y Creuddyn, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.  

The church  

St Michael’s is an important medieval church. It was founded and built in the 13th century following the example of the royal church of nearby Llanbadarn Fawr. It is characteristically plain but dignified and is one of very few complete Welsh Romanesque churches of cruciform plan with a central tower.  

In the 16th century there was an ambitious and prolonged programme to re-roof the church and refit the tower. The timber for the bell frame was felled in 1537-8 on the very eve of the Reformation, when most church building had stopped. The sixteenth century work at the church is thus important for preserving one of the last demonstrations of pre-reformation piety in Wales.  

In 1295 Edward I, on his tour of Wales following the revolt of 1294 along with 2500 of his soldiers, spent the night in the village on the way from Aberystwyth to Strata Florida. 

Pembrokshire

Church in Wales  - Grade II* 

A £15,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund repairs to the tower at the Grade II* listed St Brynach church, Nevern, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.  

The church  

St Brynach is a large parish church featuring a Norman tower, a long nave and 14th century chancel. There is a remarkable lofted south chapel. The west tower has a winding stair leading to a Priest's room in the roof. The church is home to the Vitialanus Stone with Ogham Script (an early medieval alphabet) dating from the 5th or 6th century. The churchyard boasts the Nevern Cross, an ancient Celtic cross, and “the bleeding yews” a line of ancient trees, some believed to be 700 years old. 

NORTHERN IRELAND 

St Luke church, Loughgall  

Church of Ireland  - Grade B1  

A £15,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund repairs to the tower and roof, at the Grade B1 listed St Luke’s church, Loughgall, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.  

The church  

St Luke's parish church is situated in the heart of County Armagh's apple growing countryside. An ‘Old Church’ which is visible as ruins today, is located close to the present church building and has been in existence since 1622. It is said to have been built on the site of a 13th century church.  

Following burning in the 1641 rebellion, the church was rebuilt in 1740 and was in constant use up to 1795. Select vestry minutes from 1786 show that the condition of the church was giving cause for concern and the erection of a new church was considered. Research suggests that Francis Johnston working under the strong influence of the famous architect Thomas Cooley designed St Luke's.  

The church was built on land granted by Arthur Cope of Drumilly and the cost was met chiefly from levies placed on each family in the parish. Work began in 1795, with a gallery added in 1822 and the addition of two transepts in 1863-1866 at a cost of £1,400. The completed St Luke’s was consecrated in October 1866 by Archbishop Marcus Gervais Beresford.