In 2023, a sum of £42 million was allocated by the government to aid in the restoration of churches throughout the UK.

Listed places of worship grants were given to nearly 5,000 religious structures for essential work on their roofs, masonry, and monuments. Christmas, for many individuals, is the only time of year when they visit their local church. On Thursday, the government announced that it has allocated £42 million of public funds in 2023 to help preserve and maintain almost 5,000 listed churches and other religious buildings.

The listed places of worship grant scheme has provided funds for both grand cathedrals and small parish churches, enabling them to carry out necessary repairs on their roofs, masonry, and monuments. Since 2010, the scheme has disbursed a total of £346 million. The funds also cover the VAT on the cost of the works.

The largest grant recipient this year was Leicester Cathedral, a Grade II*-listed building, which has received over £600,000 since last April. The funds will be used to finance restoration work, including the renewal of heating, lighting, and electrical systems, as well as the creation of a heritage learning center for visitors.

The Collegiate Church of St Mary in Warwick, a Grade I-listed church, was granted £141,500 to repair its ancient tower, including the clocks and faces. The church, originally constructed in 1123, underwent significant rebuilding after the Great Fire of Warwick in 1694.

Other recipient churches benefited from funding for the maintenance of their electric and heating systems, as well as new security and alarm systems. The listed churches that received substantial grants include the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity in Chichester, All Saints church in Wokingham, Salford Cathedral, Llandaff Cathedral, Netherlee and Stamperland parish church in East Renfrewshire, and Shankill parish church in Lurgan, Craigavon.

The smallest grant, amounting to £29.01, was awarded to St Peter’s church in Clayworth, near Retford in north Nottinghamshire.

Stephen Parkinson, the arts and heritage minister, stated that churches and other places of worship play a significant role in the lives of their communities. The listed places of worship scheme aims to support these cherished buildings, benefitting visitors, worshippers, and future generations. Over the past year alone, nearly 5,000 structures have been supported through the scheme.

In the UK, there are more than 39,000 church buildings. Funding for repairs and maintenance is the responsibility of congregations and is not provided by central church authorities. It is particularly challenging for churches in deprived areas and rural churches with a small number of worshippers to raise funds for urgent repairs. According to the National Churches Trust, over 900 churches are on Historic England’s heritage at risk register, with many others in a dire state in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

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