BY LYNN THORABIE CHURCHES in urgent need of repair have been guaranteed £20 million-a year altogether from the lottery and the state.
In a new scheme jointly launched last week by English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery, aid will be siphoned off for churches.
There are nearly 15,000 listed buildings in religious use in England, of which 13,000 are churches of the Church of England. One third of the 9,000 Grade 1 listed buildings are parish churches.
However, most congregations find it impossible to keep a building watertight and in good repair when it is hundreds of years old. The refurbishment of a clock tower can cost up to k100,000.
The launch, fronted by Heritage Chairman Jocelyn Stevens and Lord Rothschild, Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund, was held last week at Christ Church Spitalfields. This historic 18th century Anglican church, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, fell into disrepair for 21 years until 1988. A £4.5 million programme is now underway and should be completed by the millennium. The new fund is intended to give efficient access to restoration grants.
Graveyards, walls, bells, and organs will be eligible for funding. Nevertheless,some clergymen have their reservations on moral grounds.
Several Catholic churches have benefited from English Heritage funding. One, the Church of the Holy Name, Manchester, has received £330,187 in addition to £437,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund Grant.
Holy Name became the University Catholic chaplaincy in the Jesuit order. When a backlog of repairs forced the Jesuits to hand it to the Oratorians in 1883, it was clear that immediate work was needed to save the building.
Parish priest Fr Matus said: "Without help from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, this large and splendid 19 thcentury Catholic church would have become derelict and unsafe for our worshippers to use".
Applicants can obtain an application pack for the Joint Scheme from the Heritage Lottery Fund on 0171 747 2032.