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Funding boost for Blandford

by Michael Ford last modified 21 Apr, 2021 06:17 PM

A much-loved Dorset church is to share in a £611,000 funding payout from the National Churches Trust.

Funding boost for Blandford

Photo courtesy St Peter & St Paul Church

A £20,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund urgent repairs at St Peter and St Paul and keep the church at the heart of the local community.

The church also receives a £7,500 Wolfson Fabric Repair Grant from the Wolfson Foundation on the recommendation of the National Churches Trust.

St Peter and St Paul’s is on the Historic England ‘At Risk’ Register.

Broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards, Vice President of The National Churches Trust, said:

“I’m delighted that St Peter and St Paul’s, Blandford Forum is being helped with a £20,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant. The grant will facilitate repairs to the roofs, high level masonry and internal plasterwork.

“The grant will safeguard unique local heritage and help St Peter and St Paul’s continue to support local people as we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive at the Wolfson Foundation, said:

“Churches play a central role in the spiritual life of a community, but they are also an integral, much loved, part of our cultural heritage. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the National Churches Trust on this important programme supporting the preservation of these remarkable and wonderful buildings.”

The grant will support repairs to the roofs, high level masonry and internal plasterwork. The roof of the church has reached a stage where patch repair is no longer a viable option and significant water ingress will occur in the very near future unless the roof is re-laid. The plain tiled nave and transept roofs will be lifted and re-laid retaining as many of the original handmade clay tiles as possible. All four sections of parapet gutters will be lifted and remodelled. New timberwork will be introduced and the plasterwork re-secured.

Anne Shire and Sara Loch, who are overseeing the restoration project on behalf of the PCC, said:

“We are very grateful for the generosity of both the National Churches Trust and the Wolfson Foundation in providing a grant towards the latest phase of our church restoration, namely the repair of the roof and restoration of the original Georgian internal plasterwork. Even if we are successful in acquiring a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in June, we still need additional funds and these grants are a great contribution towards our goal.”

A church has been present on the Blandford site since the early 12th century. Following a major fire in June 1731, which destroyed the entire town of Blandford Forum including the medieval church, the church of St Peter and St Paul was rebuilt to a design by John and William Bastard, noted local architects and builders, and re-opened in 1739.

The original plans included a spire, but due to lack of funds a ‘temporary’ cupola was erected instead. Between 1884 and 1895 the apse was moved eastward to form a chancel. Over time the interior has been adapted to suit the changing needs of worship. The church is the centrepiece of perhaps one of the best surviving Georgian Market towns. Simon Jenkins includes the church in his ‘England’s Thousand Best Churches’ as did Pevsner in the ‘Buildings of England’.

A total of 67 churches and chapels in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will benefit from the latest grants from the National Churches Trust, the charity supporting church buildings of all Christian denominations across the UK. £133,300 of the grants has been provided by the Wolfson Foundation.
This is the first round of grants made by the National Churches Trust in 2021. Last year the Trust awarded, or recommended on behalf of other funders, 260 grants amounting to £1.7 million.

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