The Chancellor George Osborne announced today, 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. Cathedrals have an economic and social impact and it is appropriate to see the Government making a significant contribution to their care. This final round of grants shows the diversity of projects which need support, but also the ambition and open-mindedness of cathedrals when it comes to making themselves the centres of their communities.”
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, and thanks to our long-term economic plan, we can. Whether it’s our country’s future or these important buildings, the sun is shining and we’re starting to fix the roof.”
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.
Sir Paul Ruddock, Chair of the Expert Panel, First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund and Chairman of the Victoria & Albert Museum, said: “Cathedrals are perhaps the most multi-faceted of historic buildings, still in use for their original purpose, and representing our own shared history. They are very much public spaces, there for everyone, a heady mix of sacred and secular, with vast appeal to millions of people. In chairing the Expert Panel which allocated this money I have been privileged to see first-hand the heights of success which cathedrals can achieve through use of their wonderful buildings. I am also acutely aware that there is still much work to do in order to keep them safe and open.”
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.