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Historic churches win grants for urgent repairs

Posted on: August 12, 2013 4:56 PM
St David's Church in Neath
Photo Credit: Church in Wales
Related Categories: Wales

Two historic churches in Wales will be able to carry out urgent repair work following Lottery funding announced today (Aug 12).

St David’s Church in Neath and St Barrwg’s Church in Bedwas are among the first of 35 churches across the UK to be awarded a grant through Heritage Lottery Fund’s new Grants for Places of Worship programme. 

St David’s Church will receive £199,300, which will go towards its half-a-million pound appeal to renovate its tower and other work. St Barrwg’s will receive £180,300 which will enable its roof to be repaired and facilities updated so that it can be reopened and used more widely. 

The new grant programme was launched by the HLF in March. It replaces the Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme and, as well as providing money for urgent repairs, it funds new works that encourage greater community use. 

St Barrwg’s Church is a grade two listed building which dates from the medieval period. While carrying out a previous HLF project to repair the tower and nave timbers, an infestation of death watch beetle was discovered and the church had to be closed. This grant will enable the church to reopen by eradicating the infestation, repairing the roof structure and installing new facilities, including a toilet and kitchen. 

Alex Glanville, Head of Property Services for the Church in Wales said, “This new grant is fantastic news for this important landmark building. The building will be restored but also be available for a wider range of people and activities – it will really take the church forward in the heart of the community for the future.” 

Revd Peter Crocker, vicar of St Barrwg’s, added, “It is so sad that St Barrwg’s has had to be closed all this time but given the condition there was no option. This grant gives us the chance to re-open the church both for worship but also for use by everyone in the area – as a congregation we are very excited by the possibilities.” 

The church is now inviting people in Bedwas to have their say in how the building can be used by the whole community. A public meeting will be held at Bedwas Methodist Church on Wednesday 28 August at 7pm 

Meanwhile, Canon Stephen Ryan, Rector of Neath, said he was thrilled with the grant for St David’s, Neath. He said, “Everyone in the community will be delighted as St David’s is one of the town’s best known landmarks and we have had a huge amount of local support for renovation since launching our £500,000 appeal to save the church tower. This grant will be a big boost towards that target.” 

The grant will enable urgent repairs to the church tower, chancel and Lady Chapel including re-roofing, timber repair, overhauling of the rainwater goods, tower louvres, the leadwork and finial ironwork.  It will also help the church update its guides and website.

Singer Katherine Jenkins, a former chorister at St David’s Church in Neath, who held a fund raising concert at the church in May, added,  “I am delighted that St Davids’ church has received this development funding to take out much needed repairs. I have been very proud to support this beautiful church over the years and have been closely involved in helping the congregation to secure its future.  I fondly recall the many opportunities I had to sing at St David’s when growing up in Neath, which played a big part in my development as a performer.” 

Jennifer Stewart, Head of HLF Wales, said, “There is a place of worship in almost every ward, village and town across Wales, providing a very powerful visual connection with our past.  Not only will our awards secure the immediate future of these particular buildings, it will also empower congregations to adapt them, where necessary, so they can be enjoyed more widely throughout the community and in turn enable them be more sustainable for the future.” 

For more information about applying for HLF’s funding for places of worship visit www.hlf.org.uk/howtoapply