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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Funds for urgent repairs at historic Cumbrian church

Urgent roof repairs will shortly begin on an historic church.

St Bees priory photo
St Bees Priory

During recent high winds, slates were been blown off St Bees Priory in west Cumbria, and this has led to the roof leaking.

Concerns have been raised not only for the building, but also for the unique church organ which sits in the priory.

But thanks to a £20,000 grant from the Waste Recycling Environmental Heritage Fund (WREN), work will start on the repairs next month.

Ian McAndrew, the priory’s properties manager, said: “The two transept roofs are in great need of repair, especially as we have a Willis Organ which dates back to 1899 – and is one of the top organs in the country – underneath one of the roofs.

“The church is a community hub with recitals, plays, holiday clubs all taking place as well as the usual Sunday services.”

Mr McAndrew added that the village attracts 10,000 visitors a year, so it is very important to get the repairs completed as soon as possible.

Not-for-profit company WREN awards grants to community, conservation and heritage projects in a 10-mile radius of landfill sites. It aims to protect Grade I and II listed buildings across the country.

Peter Cox, managing director of WREN, said: “We believe that it’s very important to maintain and protect historical sites such as St Bees Priory Church. Buildings like this are part of the country’s rich history and we must ensure they remain intact for future generations.

“We’re delighted to support the restoration and look forward to the completion of this stage of the project.”

St Bees Priory is one of 13 projects that have been awarded a grant from WREN’s Heritage Fund scheme this year.

Schemes looking for funding must be highlighted by one of four other organisations – English Heritage, Historic Scotland, Cadw (Wales) or the National Churches Trust.

Claire Walker, chief executive of the National Churches Trust, which recommended the grant for St Bees, said: “The churches supported by these grants are much loved, both by locals and visitors.

“Churches are also vital to the well-being of the wider community.

“With local facilities such as libraries and social clubs closing, places of worship are often the only community spaces available to charities and groups.”

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