The AEC is delighted by the announcement of a new two-year £20 million fund for repairs to cathedrals, announced in the Chancellor’s Budget today.
Cathedrals are a key part of forming the cultural identity of many of England’s cities, and are powerful symbols of our shared history. But this does not mean they are just icons of the past. They are active community hubs and are at the centre of several urban regeneration plans, including Peterborough, Leicester and Blackburn, which are all creating cathedral quarters.
The Church of England’s 42 cathedrals alone welcome over 11m visitors a year with only 6,000 staff but over 15,000 dedicated volunteers; demonstrating how much cathedrals contribute to, but also depend upon, the communities around them. This has been part of their historical resilience. However despite this admirable support, upkeep and restoration costs often fall disproportionately on small dedicated local groups. As a result the Church of England predicts a £87m repair funding shortfall over the next five years.
£20m of grants will help meet the costs of urgent repairs to these great buildings and support local fundraising efforts by Church of England and Roman Catholic Cathedrals.
The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York, says:
“As Chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, and Dean of one of the cathedrals which is eligible to apply to this fund, I appreciate the incredible heritage of these internationally important places. However I am particularly happy to welcome this fund as it is about much more than just beautiful buildings. Whether great or small cathedrals are part of the lifeblood of their cities. From back-to-work schemes at Manchester, to concerts at Liverpool, to apprentices and training opportunities at Canterbury and York, they are highly important sources of on-going regeneration. They also bring in millions of visitors and millions of pounds a year, right across England. They are a source of community spirit and local pride. They are part of the identity of England.”
The grant will be available over a two year period for not only the 42 English Anglican cathedrals but also the cathedrals of the Roman Catholic church in England.
Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner said:
“I am delighted to see the budget announcement of this £20m fund. Cathedrals are a vital part of our cities and are of inestimable worth to the country in terms of their cultural capital. The money this grant provides will go a long way to continue to preserve and protect these living monuments to our Christian heritage.”
Frank Field MP, Chair of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, said:
“The Chancellor scores a double first here. There will be widespread support for the Government making a direct contribution to the glories of English cathedrals, places which millions of us enjoy each year. In addition I am very pleased in that the money is to be spent on Roman Catholic as well as Anglican cathedrals.”
Janet Gough, Director of Cathedral and Church Buildings for the Church of England said:
“The Church of England’s has 12,500 listed cathedrals and church buildings which comprise unparalleled glories and a history of architecture. They tell stories of kings, battles and wars, of brave men and women and of everyday life. One hundred years on from the beginnings of World War One, giving cathedrals the means to repair their buildings and provide the best possible setting for national and local acts of remembrance is particularly poignant. We are delighted that this announcement now makes it possible for every cathedral to apply to receive support for repairs to their buildings, which will help enable their continued worship and local ministry.”