Christ Church in the heart of St Leonards is one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive a lifesaving financial boost from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.
Almost 450 heritage organisations in England, including Christ Church in London Road, have been awarded cash from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage.
“For 150 years, Christ Church has stood as a beacon of faith and hope in a wonderful but very deprived part of St Leonards.”The Archdeacon of Hastings, the Venerable Dr Edward Dowler
Grants of up to £1 million will deliver a lifeline for the heritage sector in England with further support to follow and larger grants for capital projects awarded through the Heritage Stimulus Fund.
A total of 445 organisations will share £103 million to help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector.
Christ Church has received a major grant to repair its tower and spire. Falls of stone and metal onto the pavement of the busy London Road highlighted the need of repairs estimated at £120,000 – with any The Archdeacon of Hastings, the Venerable Dr Edward Dowler So far £89,000 has been allocated from funds donated to the Church of England for urgent repairs, a condition of the grant is that repairs must be undertaken by the end of March 2021.
The wider purpose of the grant is to safeguard jobs and offer training opportunities for the development of heritage skills. The conservation specialists, Heritage Stone Access (HSA), have a young man who is currently being given a year of familiarisation with all aspects of heritage work before he is offered an apprenticeship. For HSA the Christ Church job will provide greater security for the entire team during the current pandemic.
The clock faces in the tower will be taken down for safety reasons. It is hoped as part of the second phase of the restoration of the Church to restore this historic landmark but this will need separate fundraising.
Christ Church is listed by English Heritage as a ‘particularly important building of more than special interest’.
To obtain the grant the Church had to show its significance to the local community, such as accommodating homeless people in the winter as well as being open by day for visitors to pray and appreciate its beauty,
The funding from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund is administered at arms length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both funds are part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund which is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounce back post covid.”
Bishop Peter Wheatley, Priest-in-Charge, said this week: ‘This is a wonderful start to our £600,000 programme to restore Christ Church in time for our 150th anniversary in 2025. The building is especially vulnerable to the salt winds off the sea but we are determined to restore it for the benefit of the community for another 150 years.”
The Archdeacon of Hastings, the Venerable Dr Edward Dowler, added: “For 150 years, Christ Church has stood as a beacon of faith and hope in a wonderful but very deprived part of St Leonards. I am delighted that such a generous grant has been awarded, and grateful to all those whose hard work has made it possible.”
Christ Church is an imposing, Grade II listed building. Over the decades, the church has been known for the dignity and beauty of its worship, marking the lives of many and inspiring numerous vocations. It is open for prayer throughout the day with people coming in and out constantly, lighting candles and kneeling in private devotion. From the beginning the Christ Church has been involved in the education and care of the less privileged members of society. It remains one of the most socially deprived parishes in the country. The parish centre, crypt and main church building are all used extensively by the local community, providing emergency shelter for the homeless, and facilities for social support groups and a variety of recreational and cultural activities.