This week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the first round of historic places of worship in the North East to receive more than £546,000 of grants to address urgent roof repairs.
Fourteen parish churches across the region, from a variety of denominations, will now be made weathertight, safe and open for use, including five in Northumberland. Among these are St Peter and St Paul’s Church, in Longhoughton, which will receive £18,500, and St Andrew’s Church, Hartburn, which will benefit to the tune of £35,800.
Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith and Liberal Democrat colleague Julie Pörksen have welcomed the news that two local churches will be sharing more than £50,000 of funding.
Sir Alan said: “Across Northumberland, churches and places of worship form an integral part in our communities and I am sure the parishioners of these two churches and the village communities will be really pleased at the news that their churches will be receiving such substantial help for their repair costs.”
This money is part of a wider funding package of £30million to 502 historic places of worship across the UK announced on Thursday and dubbed the Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund. The fund was launched by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement in December with a UK-wide budget of £15million. In his 2015 Budget speech, the Chancellor announced a further commitment of £40million to the Fund.
The Rt Revd Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester and lead bishop for the Church of England’s cathedrals and church buildings, said: “The parish churches of our land are jewels in the crown of our national heritage.
“As such, though cared for by Church of England parishioners, they are everyone’s heritage and we are very grateful that this has been recognised by the Government through these grants for essential repairs. This will enable these wonderful buildings the better to be used to serve the communities at the heart of which they stand, now and in the future.”
Grants announced this week account for £30million of the allocated funding. The fund will reopen to new applications later this year and successful applicants will be announced in 2016. All those who were unsuccessful in today’s first round of awards will be able to reapply.