Leaving No Stone Unturned

Published: Friday, August 8, 2014


St Cuthbert's Church in Durham reports on the successful completion of its Stonework Project.

Susan Penswick, Fundraising Secretary of St Cuthbert's church in Durham, writes:

"St Cuthbert’s Church in Durham opened in 1827, and is one of the oldest Catholic churches in the country. Its sandstone walls were so close “to crumbling down” that the church was on English Heritage’s At Risk register - the stonework problem had been bubbling beneath the surface for a number of years, but when the stones actually fell off the walls on to the porch and the garden, the urgency was unequivocal."

A big job and a huge expense

"The sheer scale of St Cuthbert’s Stonework Project – at least a quarter of a million pounds when we first looked at it --was overwhelming. Maybe many parishes face the same dilemma – how can you organise such a big job and take on such a huge expense? We were lucky; a couple of years ago, the “team” created itself and found working together a real joy. The team is small; five on a good day, more often three. Enthusiasm and determination to see it through seeped into our minds and hearts and we were off! "

"To repair the deeply eroded  walls meant conservation architects, stone masons, and glaziers; lots of high level scaffolding; structural engineers; bat surveys; health and safety; diocesan approvals; business plans – and all that costs money as well as being demanding for a few retired parishioners and a busy parish priest to manage". 

Help us to help more churches like St Cuthbert's. Become a friend, make a donation, or leave a legacy in your will: http://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/support-our-work

"The key to the Stonework Project was being awarded a grant from English Heritage (takes hours to apply correctly and on time, but if you get through the meticulous screening, they turn out to be on your side!). That left us with only a couple of hundred thousand pounds more to raise! Recruiting an architect, tendering for the main contract, coordinating the work, the congregation and the finance were all helped greatly by the pertinent experience of team members and by the diocesan property manager’s know-how."

Strong support

"Weekly site meetings with the contractors were important, and keeping the congregation informed (web-site, notice board, videos over coffee after Sunday mass) was essential. The parish began to support the project strongly and many parishioners proved very generous donors as well as participants in the fund-raising campaign. Indeed, as a parish experience, the Stonework Project has been very positive and uniting."

"The National Churches Trust, which provided a £40,000 Cornerstone Grant, has been a valued funder and friend. We have also been able so far to raise funds from six other trusts beside English Heritage and National Churches Trust. We still have about £35,000 to find, but having broken the back of nearly £300,000, we are committed to completing the task."

"The Stonework Project is completed now, after seven months of scaffolding, dust, noise and mud. There were some crises along the way: a collapsing parapet, an unsound tower, increasing costs, but the church now looks to be able to be a witness to its Christianity for at least another generation or two. A thanksgiving mass in May, celebrated by the bishop and starting in the now restored garden on a sunny June evening, was a joyful occasion and an opportunity to remember the tremendous generosity of all who gave to the Project."

For more details and ways to support St Cuthbert’s, please visit www.stcuthberts-durham.org.uk



The National Churches Trust relies solely on the generosity of our supporters to fund our work. Last year we helped to rescue over 140 churches, chapels and meeting houses with grants totally close to £1.5m, but sadly we currently receive far more requests for help than we can possibly answer and have to turn down three out of every four places of worship that apply for a grant. 

The good news is that there are many ways in which you can help us to help churches; by becoming a friend, making a donation, or leaving a legacy in your will. Please visit our website to find out more about how you can support our work and Britain’s churches:http://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/support-our-work

  • St Cuthbert's RC Church, Durham

  • St Cuthbert's RC Church, Durham

  • Friends of St Cuthbert's Church celebrating completion of repair project

  • Friends of St Cuthbert's Church celebrating completion of repair project

  • Mass of Thanksgiving for completion of repair project

  • Choir in action at Mass of Thanksgiving for completion of repair project

  • Mass of Thanksgiving for completion of repair project

  • Mass of Thanksgiving for completion of repair project