St Machar, Aberdeen wins the 2020 Friends' Vote

Published: Friday, November 20, 2020


The church will receive a special grant of £10,000.

St Machar cathedral in Aberdeen has been awarded the 2020 Friends of the National Churches Trust grant, worth £10.000.  The award was announced as part of the Trust's Local Treasures event on 20 November 2020.

St Machar, which despite its name is in fact a parish church, received a £40,000 grant from the National Churches Trust in November 2019 to fund extensive roof repairs to the A-listed building, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.

The good news for the other three churches that were shortlisted for the Friends' Vote in 2020 is that, in recognition of the exceptional challenges posed by COVID-19, they will all receive a special Friends Vote grant.

St Peter's church, Appleshaw, Hampshire the runner up will receive £5,000 and the other two churches, St Nicholas, Churchstoke,  Powys and St James, Leckhampstead, Berkshire will each receive £2,500.

Professor David Hewitt, on behalf of St Machar cathedral, said:

" Winning a prize as a result of the Friends' Vote is a great surprise.  I greatly admire the work of the National Churches Trust and I appreciate its understanding of the life of churches.  On behalf of the church, the congregation and indeed the people of Aberdeen, thank you very much."


However, partly due to the difficulties in raising funds during COVID, the church has not managed to raise all the money needed to complete the work.

Belonging to the Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian church, which has neither bishops nor cathedrals, St Machar is a cathedral only by name.

The oak ceiling, the church's most important feature, was erected in 1520 and is of international importance. It is supported on all four sides by a deep wooden frieze. It is decorated with 48 carved and painted heraldic shields; both carving and painting are of very high quality.

The southern rank of shields represents Scotland led by James V, King of Scots; the northern the monarchs of Europe led by the Emperor; and the middle rank the Church led by the Pope, Leo X. That the arms of a Pope can still be found above the communion table after 330 years of Presbyterianism is a matter of great celebration, given that the church was despoiled of much of its statuary in the century after the Reformation.

Catherine Townsend, Head of Church Support for the National Churches Trust said:

"We invited churches to whom we had awarded a Cornerstone Grant in 2019 to let us know if they needed any additional funding prior to starting work on their project and four were shortlisted for the vote."

"We were delighted that this year more Friends than ever took part in the vote.  It is great news for St Machar, a remarkable and historic church, that it really caught the affection of our Friends and won the vote. "