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Half a million pounds for Cathedral improvements

Thirteen cathedrals have been awarded grants totalling nearly half a million pounds to help repair and enhance their buildings for the future.

£350,000 will be awarded from the Cathedral Fabric Repair Fund, a partnership between the Wolfson Foundation, the Pilgrim Trust and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England (CFCE), all organisations with long records of supporting England's historic church buildings and their contents. Over the past three years the Fund has awarded more than £2.4 million for essential and urgent works to keep cathedrals weatherproof and watertight, including major re-roofing and stonework repairs.

A further £149,500 of cathedral grant funding is being awarded under the Cathedral Amenities Fund, a Church of England fund which makes grants for improvements to the setting of ancient cathedrals and greater churches. The grants will assist in conserving the ruins of the Infirmary Chapel at Canterbury Cathedral, improving the west end surroundings of Bristol Cathedral and repairing the Edgar Tower Gate at Worcester Cathedral.

The backers of the Cathedral Fabric Repair Fund hope to see additional supporters joining the scheme so that it will continue into the future. It has been estimated that England's cathedrals need more than £10 million pounds a year simply for their routine care and maintenance - and they receive no direct government funding.

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive, The Wolfson Foundation, said: "These are magnificent buildings of great significance that inspire our generation as they have done many preceding generations. We are very pleased to be working, in partnership with others, to help conserve them. We are also glad that cathedrals are using these grants to help encourage further donations."

Georgina Nayler, Director, The Pilgrim Trust, said: "The Pilgrim Trust is delighted to be continuing the collaboration with the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England and the Wolfson Foundation.  The Cathedral Fabric Repair Fund involves pooling resources and expertise and the Fund is able to take a strategic approach to supporting some of our most iconic and magnificent buildings."

The Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England (CFCE), added: "This is a unique and much-needed fund, the only grant source targeted at critical repairs to England's historic cathedrals. Over its four years of operation we are pleased to have been able to help a number of cathedrals for which fund-raising is less easy, and also to support innovative solutions to problems posed by 20th century construction and changing weather patterns".

This year's 10 successful applicants were Birmingham, Coventry, Exeter, Liverpool, Norwich, Peterborough, Salisbury, Southwark and St Albans cathedrals and York Minster. The Cathedral Fabric Repair Fund is particularly pleased to be supporting important work such as:

  • External repairs to Birmingham Cathedral, a rare example of an English Baroque church outside London, situated in the only green space in the heart of the city. Consecrated in 1715, it became a cathedral in 1905. As it approaches its 300th anniversary celebrations in 2015, the repairs will ensure that Birmingham Cathedral is secure, water-tight and looking its best.
  • Repairs to the north nave roof at St Alban's Cathedral, the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain. Icicles forming during the extreme cold weather experienced in recent winters have been smashing onto the roof below, causing damaging leaks. Re-designed lead pipes and guttering will resolve the problem.
  • Urgent interior roof repairs at Liverpool Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the UK, and the second longest cathedral in the world. Construction started in 1904 and was only finished in 1978, but the fabric is already deteriorating and nets have had to be put up to protect the public from stones falling inside.


Notes for editors

The grants awarded in 2013 are:

Cathedral Fabric Repair Fund - ten grants totalling £350,000





External repairs



Repairs to drains



Repairs to St Edmunds Chapel



Repairs to aisle interior roofs



Repairs to aisle roofs



Repairs to Holy Spirit Chapel gable



Repairs to north side of presbytery



Repairs to south-west porch


St Albans

Repairs to north nave roof


York Minster

Repairs to central tower


Cathedral Amenities Fund - preservation and improvements to the setting of ancient cathedrals - three grants totalling £149,500





West End setting



Infirmary Chapel ruins



Repairs to Edgar Tower Gate


The Wolfson Foundation ( was established in 1955 and supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science and medicine, health, education and the arts & humanities. All funding is based on expert peer review. Over £750 million (in excess of £1.2 billion in real terms) has been awarded in grants to nearly 10,000 projects since the foundation was established.

The Pilgrim Trust ( is an independent grant-making trust operating in the heritage and social welfare arenas in Britain. Its aim is to preserve and promote Britain's historical and intellectual assets and to provide assistance to vulnerable members of society.

The CFCE is a statutory body which regulates and advises on the planning and management of changes to cathedral buildings and their contents. It draws together many of the country's most respected experts in their particular fields, who give generously of their time on a voluntary basis.

More information about the Church of England's stewardship of its cathedral buildings can be found on the ChurchCare website

The Church of England is responsible for 45% of England's Grade I listed buildings. No organisation has greater responsibility for England's built heritage. Cathedrals receive no direct government funding.

English Heritage's Cathedrals Fabric Survey of 2009 concluded that, given the age, scale and complexity of the buildings, England's Church of England and Roman Catholic cathedrals needed to spend £100 million in any ten-year period on routine maintenance and repairs, simply to keep their buildings in good order.

The latest statistics from the Archbishops' Council's Research and Statistics Department (

show that Church of England cathedrals attract around 12 million visitors a year. Attendance levels at regular weekly services increased by 35% between 2002 and 2012, a growth of approximately 3% on average each year, and the number people attending public or civic events held at cathedrals has almost doubled over the same period.

In 2012 approximately 117,000 people attended services in cathedrals on either or both Christmas Day and Christmas Eve while services over Advent, the period leading up to Christmas, attracted attendances of 745,900.


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