Seven of the 66 churches and cathedrals awarded grants from Heritage Fund UK and Historic England are in the Diocese of Bath and Wells. In all grants amounting to £10.7m to 66 were awarded to churches and cathedrals across the country. In Bath and Wells, Wells Cathedral, Bath Abbey, St Michael’s Without in Bath, St Mary’s Bridgewater, St John’s Glastonbury, St John the Baptist Frome and Castle Carey and Ansford.
A total of 16 cathedrals and 50 parish churches will receive grants under the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, a scheme designed to support organisations in England from across the heritage ecosystem that were financially viable prior to COVID-19 and who are now at risk of failure. The programme has today announced grants of between £10,000 and £1million, with all funding awarded to be spent by the end of the financial year.
The grants will help them continue the wonderful work they do to support and serve their communities.
Emma Brown is the Church Buildings Adviser for Bath and Wells.
“Delighted to receive the fantastic news that 6 parish churches and Wells Cathedral in Somerset have been awarded grants under the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, a scheme designed to support organisations in England from across the heritage ecosystem that were financially viable prior to Covid-19 and who are now at risk of failure.
The Covid-19 crisis has had a devastating impact on our parish churches, with income and fundraising decimated and the buildings closed, resulting in a loss of visitors and planned activities and events, there will undoubtedly be long lasting repercussions. The grants will make a real difference, to keep those churches open, viable and able to serve at the heart of their communities.
Our parishes churches are run by and cared for by local volunteers, thanks to the commendable hard work and dedication, this achievement has been made possible. ”
Roger Driver, Rector of St. Michael’s Without which was awarded a grant from the fund said: “It was a difficult period when our building was closed. For our core Church family we could keep in touch, move services online and enable people to engage with those as much as we could; there were many positives that came from this, but we were always conscious that there were other people we were missing.
Being open again has been positive and we see how our space is valued every day so it’s a huge blessing to be awarded this grant which will enable us to maintain and even improve our covid mitigation measures, support our staff and volunteers and give our visitors confidence that we are a safe space to come to. Being a place of sanctuary, of community is as much a part of our heritage as the stone and stained glass that form our beautiful building; thanks to the DCMS and the Heritage Lottery Fund this will continue.”
Revd Colin Alsbury from St john the Baptist Frome said: “A sad consequence of measures keeping people safe during the current pandemic has been that we have not been able to welcome as many visitors as usual to explore our heritage here in Frome. Today we are pleased to announce that we are one of the sites receiving support from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. The grant we are being given will help us keep our site clean and safe allowing us to increase opening hours. It will enable us to provide a virtual visitor experience for those currently unable to visit in person and to provide a safe place for researchers to access our archives.
“We’ve been at the heart of Frome since St Aldhelm founded a church here in 685 AD: Saxon Kings held great court here and King Eadred died here: The church was rebuilt between the 12th and 15th centuries and has survived the Black Death, the English Civil War and the World Wars. Bishop Thomas Ken was buried here; The 19th century restoration gave us the unique Via Crucis and significant stained glass and stonework decorating the church. Our archives dating back to Elizabeth I’s reign give fascinating insights into the story behind our church and town.”
Revd Suse Osmond, St Mary’s Church, Bridgwater said: “We are absolutely blown away to be one of only 450 places to have received this funding in the first round. We would encourage other churches to apply in the next round.”