WINDOW ON THE ARTS by Timothy Elphick
RESTORATION grant of £166, 208, announced by English Heritage this week, will save a Catholic church in North Yorkshire which was once the largest in the country.
St Paulinus Church at Brough Park near Richmond was built as a private chapel by Yorkshire landowner William Lawson in 1837 in thanksgiving for the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act eight years before.
But in recent years the church has been left derelict, the target of vandals with nothing better to do than pelt the stained glass windows with stones.
The grant from English Heritage, the government's conservation watchdog, will put the church, which stands in open parkland on the driveway to Brough Hall. back into a sound state of repair and pay for new roofs for both the church and the presbytery next door.
Greville Worthington, a descendant of the original owner of Brough Hall, which was converted into flats in the 1970s, is to move into the presbytery and oversee the maintenance of the Church. English Heritage hopes that the vandalism which has blighted the church since it was abandoned by the Catholic diocese of Middlesbrough will stop when Mr Worthington moves in.
The church was given by Sir Ralph Lawson to the Middlesbrough diocese in 1955 on condition that it was used for regular Church services. But in time it became surplus to diocesan needs, and was used only for occasional Masses and weddings by the time it was taken out of service in the 1980s.
Sally Pegg, English Heritage's casework manager for the Yorkshire and Humberside area, says that St Paulinus Church represents an important milestone in the revival of Gothic architecture in 19th century England.
Designed by the architect Ignatius Bonomi, it closely copied the 13th century Archbishop's Chapel in York, now the Minster library.
The building was a serious attempt to recreate accurately the architecture of the high Middle Ages rather than just to capture the Gnthic mood, Sally Pegg says.
According to the architectural historian Nicholas Pevsner, St Paulinus' was the most ambitious Catholic church in England at the time it was erected.
The architect responsible for the restoration project, Sebastian Rowe of the Yorkshire-based Hill Rowe Partnership, says that his first task is to keep the weather out of the church and to put hack windows where they have fallen out. The church is overrun by pigeons and corners of it are piled high with guano, he says.
Already contractors have been sent in to scrub the inside of the building down. and stained glass by the 19th century artist William Wailes has been sent to to be repaired in York, along with the original drawings. Sebastian Rowe says.
Services will resume at St Paulinus Church when the restoration project is complete, by appointment with Mr Worthington.