A national scheme to conserve and repair England’s cathedrals from which Coventry Cathedral was awarded £1,266,629 has significantly reduced immediate risks, according to a report published on July 17th.

The £40 million First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, launched by the Government in 2014, invited applications from Catholic and Church of England cathedrals to address urgent repair works. The fund prioritized making buildings weatherproof, safe and open to the public as well as ensuring they would be in a safe condition to host acts of remembrance for the centenary of the First World War armistice in 2018.

Coventry Cathedral Received a total of £1,266,629 which helped fund vital works to the Cathedral Ruins, the Crypt and the Chapel of Unity.

England’s cathedrals contribute more than £220m to the economy each year, drawing in more than 11 million visitors. Coventry Cathedral is the most well-known attraction in Coventry, with 1 in 10 visitors to the city coming specifically to see the cathedral. Each cathedral has the responsibility for raising the funds required for upkeep. However, with no regular government funding, each cathedral faces an ongoing challenge to maintain their fabric while ensuring comfort, safety and accessibility for all.

In total, 146 awards were made to 57 cathedrals. Twelve cathedrals were awarded more than £1 million each, and the average award was £274,000. Grants were awarded over two phases between 2014-18.

Today’s independent report shows a significant reduction of problems requiring immediate repair as a result of the investment but warned that recipients all had outstanding repairs in areas not covered by the scheme.

Grants were awarded by an independent panel chaired by Sir Paul Ruddock, a position appointed by the Secretary of State. The Fund was administered by the Church of England’s Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division (CCB) on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, with the CCB praised in the report for cost efficiency and excellent communication.

The report concluded that the fund had been successful in achieving its aims and met a funding need that could not be met elsewhere, adding that areas of cathedrals covered by grant-aided projects had been very largely changed from needing urgent repair to needing routine maintenance only.

Coventry Cathedral expects to welcome increased visitor numbers throughout 2018 for First World War commemorations, including ‘We Remember!’ A World War One Remembrance Commemoration concert, taking place in the autumn.

The Dean of Coventry, John Witcombe, said:

“The ruins of the medieval cathedral stand proudly as an icon of hope. They are known throughout the world as the place where our ministry of peace and reconciliation began and remain a focal point for many events and activities in the city each year. This timely funding has enabled the completion of an eight-year project to ensure this iconic site remains open and accessible as a place for quiet reflection and to experience the impact of the peace-building work to which we are committed.”

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, the Church of England’s lead bishop for churches and cathedrals said:

“Cathedrals such as Coventry are at the forefront of the nation’s acts of remembrance each year, and have huge economic, spiritual and missional impact on their communities. This fund has been an imaginative and welcome resource to ensure our cathedrals are fit for this commemoration, as well as underpinning the vital contributions they make to their communities. It is vital that we do not stop here, and continue our commitment as a nation to protecting Coventry and all England’s cathedrals for generations to come. We look forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with the Government around future funding collaborations.”

Click here to read more about the work done at Coventry.

Coventry and the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund

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