Two much-loved churches in our diocese are to share in a £483,000 funding payout from the National Churches Trust.
St Michael’s Church, Alnwick and St Luke’s Church, Newcastle have been awarded £10,000 and £15,000 respectively from the NCT Cornerstone Grant.
The grant will help fund tower repairs for Grade I listed St Michael’s, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric.
The church has been a place of worship for over 1,000 years, and was largely built in 1464 during the reign of Henry VI, incorporating fragments of an earlier Norman chapel, and restored in 1862-3. It is perpendicular in style and a rare example of church building in Northumberland at a time when conditions allowed little church building in the county.
Considered to be one of Northumberland's architectural gems, the church is included in Simon Jenkin's ‘England's Thousand Best Churches’ as one of the top 100 churches of England.
Revd Canon Paul Scott, Vicar of St Michael’s, said: “This Cornerstone Grant from the National Churches Trust is a huge boost to our fundraising efforts to ensure that St Michael’s can continue to be kept in good order for the people of Alnwick now and in years to come.
“The last major repairs to the tower roof were carried out 256 years ago in 1764 so we’re used to good workmanship in this part of Northumberland! Now, with the generous help of the National Churches Trust, we hope to leave a similar legacy in the care and maintenance of this ancient much-loved place of worship.”
St Luke’s Church will use the cash to help fund the installation of two unisex toilets, a wheelchair accessible toilet, and a shower room with toilet in the Grade II listed building, which is on the Historic England At Risk Register.
Currently the church has none of these facilities and the completion of the project will help bring the building back into use.
This parish church, designed by Oliver and Leeson, dates from 1886 and was completed in 1890. It features a fine wood carved pulpit, executed by the same distinguished craftsman as in Newcastle Cathedral, and excellent period stained glass windows presented by local shopkeepers.
Revd Alice Ward, Vicar of St Luke’s, said: “We are thrilled to hear that we have been given such a generous grant by the National Churches Trust to help in our project to restore this beautiful building. It is a wonderful early Christmas present! It means we can now start work on installing the toilets, which will be a significant step towards getting the building into use again.”
A total of 56 churches and chapels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from the latest grants from the National Churches Trust, the charity supporting church buildings of all Christian denominations across the UK.
Grants will be available in 2021 to projects at churches, chapels and meeting houses and applications can be made by Christian places of worship in the UK that are open for regular worship. From repairing a roof to helping to install an accessible toilet - and many other projects - the National Churches Trust’s grants help keep churches open for worship and community activities and allow them to continue to serve local people and communities.
Broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards, Vice President of The National Churches Trust, said: “The UK's historic churches and chapels are a vital part of our national heritage and have done so much to help local people during the Covid-19 lockdown. But to survive, many need to carry out urgent repairs and install modern facilities. The cost of this work is far beyond what most congregations can pay for themselves.
“So, I’m delighted that St Michael’s and St Luke’s churches are being helped with a National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant. The grant is an early Christmas present for these historic churches and will help secure the future of these historic buildings.”