Cathedral Gets Repair Funds Boost

by Gerry Lynch last modified 26 Mar, 2015 04:39 PM

Grant from First World War Centenary Repairs Fund will repair fabric on South Presbytery Aisle.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced on Thursday 26 March, that Salisbury Cathedral is to receive a grant of £150,000 from the First World War Centenary Repairs Fund.

The grant will be put towards the conservation and repair of the fabric on the South Presbytery Aisle in order to ensure the vulnerable masonry is safe from the wind and the rain. The largely medieval stonework needs urgent attention if further deterioration is to be stalled. There are places where the damage is so severe that some stones are beyond repair and need replacing.

Said the Very Revd June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury, “The news was received with great joy in Salisbury. We are the custodians of this remarkable building and it is our job to ensure that the Cathedral is preserved for the benefit of future generations wishing to worship here and visit in order to share its long and venerable history.

“The Cathedral is a testament to the faith and practical skills of those who built it and those who work on the fabric today. Salisbury is one of only 8 cathedrals to have its own works department and a dedicated team of glaziers, sawyers, stonemasons and conservators. It was the largest building project of its time in England and the on-going Major Repair Programme that was begun nearly thirty years ago, is one of the most extensive, continuous Cathedral Repair Programmes to date.”

Salisbury’s Major Repair Programme is entering its final stages, with a target completion date of 2017-18. In January the public facing sides of the building were finally rendered scaffolding free, revealing the Cathedral in all its glory for the first time since 1986 and allowing the public and congregation to see the building as it would have been seen in the 13th Century.

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr. John Inge, lead bishop for cathedrals and church buildings in the Church of England, said, “Cathedrals are not just beautiful buildings which are part of our heritage, they are active places of worship and community hubs.

“Keeping these magnificent, complex buildings standing, open and welcoming to all who come through their doors, is rightly a priority for the Church of England.

The Chancellor George Osborne said, “Churches and Cathedrals are a unique part of our national heritage, and play a vital role in community life – we want to support them.”

The Church of England's 42 cathedrals are estimated to contribute around £220 million to the national economy every year through employment and tourism. They welcome more than 11 million visitors annually, employ more than 7,000 people and are supported by 15,000 dedicated volunteers.

Rt. Hon Frank Field MP, Chairman, Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, said, “In the year of the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, six copies of which are still held by cathedrals, it is timely to consider the place of the church in the life of the nation. In the case of cathedrals it is clear that they provide much more than services.  They offer a spiritual and physical sanctuary from everyday life, a chance to experience something greater. It is right and proper that the Government is supporting the care of these places and the huge range of initiatives – from food banks and night shelters to concerts and exhibitions – that cathedrals run for the benefit of us all.”

This final round of grants has been made available as part of the £20 million First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, which was first announced by the Chancellor in the budget in March 2014. In all £6.9 million in grants were given out from the Government-sponsored fund set up to support vital repairs to some of England’s most important historic buildings.

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