Exeter and Birmingham Cathedrals – Lottery Funding

17th May 2022

Exeter and Birmingham Cathedrals have received substantial funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in grants totalling £5.5m announced today to protect and conserve some of the greatest cathedrals and churches across the UK and allow them to engage with more people within their communities.

Two Cathedrals announce substantial funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Exeter Cathedral has been awarded a grant of £4.3million. Their 2020s Development Appeal will reimagine the space at Exeter Cathedral, particularly focusing on the East End of the Cathedral, the Pearson Building and a new Cloister. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the new interpretation of the building will enhance the visitor experience and offer greater accessibility for visitors.

In recent years, Exeter Cathedral has diversified its offer to engage with new audiences within the community. Events such as the Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram attracted huge numbers of people who might not have recently been to visit. Using the space in new ways means that the local community can be involved in the ever-evolving life at the Cathedral. Through this project, Exeter Cathedral will be able to continue to host events such as these and build a greater revenue stream to support its future.

Lottery Funding for Exeter Cathedral


The Very Revd Jonathan Greener, Dean of Exeter said:

“We are thrilled to receive this incredible support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Exeter Cathedral has stood at the heart of the community for nearly a thousand years. Now, thanks to National Lottery players from across the UK, we can continue to serve the people of Devon and beyond for many more years to come.

“Our 2020s Development Appeal project is focused on making this wonderful building and its fascinating collections more accessible, welcoming and engaging for a wider range of people. This grant means we can move forward with confidence to deliver an innovative new programme of events and activities, along with some of the most significant improvements to our visitor experience in over a hundred years.

“We can’t wait to welcome more people through our doors to experience for themselves this incredible piece of UK heritage.”

Half of this Grade I listed building will be conserved and refurbished as part of the ambitious project – in total a substantial 1,633 sqm – protecting the Cathedral for years to come. Alongside this, the space will become more inclusive and sustainable for the future. Project highlights include:

  • a new Cloister will be built to connect the Cathedral to the Chapter House and Pearson building
  • a new Treasures Exhibition will bring together currently inaccessible collections from the Cathedral’s Library & Archives, for everyone to enjoy
  • an interpretation of 50 medieval misericords, one of only two complete series surviving in England before 1290
  • providing essential and accessible facilities for all users, including new toilets and lifts
  • a new activity plan including a Domesday project and ‘Riddler Residencies,’ which will draw on the Cathedral’s historically significant 10th century Exeter Book for inspiration. An anthology of poetry and riddles, the Exeter Book has been granted UNESCO status as one of the world’s principal cultural artefacts


Birmingham Cathedral has received a grant of £641,200 for their project, Divine Beauty. The project will focus on conserving some of the stunning stained-glass windows by Pre-Raphaelite artist and Birmingham local, Edward Burne-Jones.

These world-famous windows were made in the workshop of William Morris and are said to be some of the finest examples of Victorian stained-glass in the world. The windows were created between 1885 and 1897 on four themes and have several features in common, including Burne-Jones’ love of vibrant colours.

  • The Ascension – 1885: this was the first window that was installed at St Philip’s, in 1885. It depicts Jesus parting with his followers and ascending into heaven forty days after Easter
  • The Cruxifiction – 1887: the window displays the death of Christ. It is a powerful, emotive image. Christ’s arms span the width of the window as they are stretched out on the cross
  • The Nativity – 1887: represents the birth of Jesus
  • The Last Judgement – 1897: is viewed to be the finest example of Burne-Jones’ work in stained glass. It displays the return of Christ and his judgement on humanity

As well as conserving the stained-glass windows, the project will engage with both existing and new audiences in innovative ways. This will involve performances, tours, work with artists, and schools’ engagement. There will be an exciting range of activities taking place this summer to coincide with the Commonwealth Games in the city, offering enjoyable opportunities to learn about the significance and heritage of these remarkable stained-glass treasures.

St John the Baptist RC Church, a Grade Il* Byzantine-style masterpiece in Rochdale, has been awarded a grant of £678,400. This will be used to complete essential renovations to the iconic dome and also engage new audiences from the local community with the space. The dome can be seen for miles around and is the setting for a magnificent mosaic masterpiece on the theme of eternal life. These are currently on the Heritage at Risk Register but will be protected for future generations to enjoy.

St John’s stands at the gateway of Rochdale’s Heritage Action Zone and has always been a popular working church in this multi-cultural community. As part of this project, they hope to engage with more people from the community through a series of activities. These include mosaic masterclasses, oral histories, a nature project and guided tours along with digitalising its heritage so it is accessible for all.

Also awarded, St Macartan’s, The Forth Chapel in Augher, County Tyrone which has been granted £123,539 to complete essential repairs to the bellcote. The project will also develop a marked heritage trail that will recount the history of the site from an early Irish Hill Fort to the church that stands there today. Alongside this, Stottesdon Parish Church in South Shropshire has been granted £271,500 for repairs to its Grade I listed building. This rural church has a community focus and will deliver a varied programme of activities and events to enable people of all ages to have fun and to develop new skills.

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“We’re proud to continue to support the great cathedrals and churches within our communities. They not only offer people a space for worship and a quiet space for reflection, but are a core focus in our cities, towns and rural communities. We are seeing a new movement of using these spaces in new ways – to engage with more people within our communities and ensuring a sustainable future by providing different sources of revenue to support their upkeep. Thanks to National Lottery players, the funding to these projects will ensure these precious buildings are conserved for the future but will also continue to evolve and provide a vibrant future at the core of their communities.”   

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is the UK’s largest funder of heritage projects, with over £43billion being awarded more than 635,000 projects since 1994. They support a wide range of projects including historic buildings and monuments; community and cultural heritage; and landscape and nature.

Exeter Photos – Emma Solley.