Four churches in our area were among dozens in the region to get a share of £2.3m of Government funding announced on Wednesday.
A total of £22.9m will be given to 401 historic places of worship across the UK as part of Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund, it was announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne yesterday. 45 places of worship in the East Midlands will share £2,308,900.
St Andrew’s Church in Hambleton is the only one in the county of Rutland to receive a grant – getting £93,800.
It has been a place of Christian worship for more than 1,000 years and the current building and tower date back around 800 years.
For the past decade the slate roof, supported by medieval timbers, has been leaking and parishoners and clergy have been attempting to raise funds for repair work.
Now, after receiving news of the grant, detailed plans can be drawn up and the job put out to tender.
Miranda Hall, a church warden for 40 years and member of the church’s roof repair committee, said: “The roof has been a cause of concern for a number of years.
“We have a problem with nail fatigue which is causing some slates to slip and leading to water entering the church.
“The church is a beautiful and very old building and the money will help to preserve it for years to come.”
Work to replace slates, carry out stonework on windows and update guttering is predicted to cost a total of £196,434.
The £93,800 grant means that, alongside funds from other sources, the church has all the necessary money in place – assuming no other problems are found.
St Andrew’s Church applied for Government funding in 2015 but was unsuccessful on that occasion.
The main body and tower are Norman, built 800 years ago. Large windows were added about 600 years ago.The current interior of the church – with its fine stained glass windows, ornate organ, pulpit, lectern and altar frontals – dates back to the 1890s.
Work will start on roof repairs at St James’ Church in Castle Bytham in the summer after the £23,800 grant from the fund helped push its fundraising total beyond the £120,000 needed.
Philip Styan, who has been preparing grant bids on behalf of the church, said they had been fundraising for more than two years.
He said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this funding – it means we are home and dry and takes us over our target, so we have a little contingency money.”
The money will go towards installing a new roof and associated stone and drainage works.
He said: “The roof is 200 years old and we’ve been patching it up but the architect has told us we’re at the point that patching it up is no longer working.
“At last count we had six puddles inside the church and we’ve been moving buckets and bowls around, which is clearly not ideal.
“We’re really looking forward to work starting in the summer with a view to it being completed by November.”
The future of Fotheringhay St Mary and All Saints is within sight after work recently began to carry out a major conservation project on the historical 15 th century building. And the £100,000 grant they received from the Roof Repair Fund will help no end, according to Lady Victoria Leatham, who is president of The Friends of Fotheringhay Church.
She said: “We are absolutely thrilled beyond belief. We have water coming in from above and below, which we are keen to get fixed.”
Lady Victoria said the friends had been “fundraising feverishly” and applying for grants for the project, which is expected to cost about £1.3m.
As well as repairs to the roof and drainage, the project also includes the installation of a kitchenette, servery and running water, as well as a sound system.
The village is historically significant as it is linked to the royal families of England and Scotland, from the Normans through to the advent of the Stuarts. It was the birthplace of King Richard III and his parents are interred in the graveyard at the church.
As a result the church gets about 6,000 visitors a year through the doors but those behind the project hope to see the church considerably improved once the project is complete.
Lady Victoria said: “The church will be completely reborn. It really is very exciting.”
St Mary and All Saints Church, Nassington will receive £23,900 from the fund. The Mercury was unable to reach anyone from the church for a comment.
The Roof Repair Fund is administered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund on behalf of the Department for Culture Media and Sport.
The Government has also launched an English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review to help put buildings on a more sustainable financial footing for the future.