A Brighton church has been given £40,000 for urgent repairs to its roof, stonework and gutters.
St Mary’s Church, in St James’s Street, Kemp Town, has been awarded the grant by the National Churches Trust, the charity supporting church buildings of all denominations.
The trust said: “A £40,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund urgent and essential repairs to the roofs, stonework and gutters to help restore the fabric of this Grade II* Listed church and ensure that it continues to thrive as a hub for the local community.”
Father Andrew Woodward, the priest in charge at St Mary’s, said: “We are delighted and grateful in equal measure to be awarded this Cornerstone Grant, which has made our first round of major repairs financially viable.
“But it’s not just the money. The National Churches Trust’s endorsement of our vision to grow St Mary’s as a community resource is incredibly encouraging, especially to our volunteers who’ve worked for many years to give it a bright and purposeful future.
“We see our beautiful building as a gift from God. It works magnificently as a church but it also speaks and offers so much to people who are not practising Christians and we want to share that appeal as widely as we can.”
The National Churches Trust said: “St Mary’s Church is a large parish church in central Brighton, within the East Cliff Conservation Area.
“It was built in 1876–8 to designs by Sir William Emerson PRIBA, architect of the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata.
“Listed Grade II*, it is Emerson’s most significant building and only church in Britain. It is broadly neo-Gothic in style but includes Oriental and Classical features.
“The exterior is of red brick and pink sandstone with slate roofs, the interior of red and buff brick with Bath stone piers.
“Oriented to the north, it has a lofty and open interior, including an attractively curved baptistery and unusually broad nave.
“The repair project will make a major contribution to the survival and development of St Mary’s as an historically important building and an accessible and valued community resource.
— Nat Churches Trust (@NatChurchTrust) June 21, 2016
“The windows, freed from their grim polycarbonate shields and restored to their original glory, will once again light up the building inside and out.
“Overall, the works will present a new image for the church to local residents and tourists alike.
“Its dramatically improved appearance will reverse popular impressions that it is closed and derelict and will raise community awareness of the beauty and importance of the building.
“St Mary’s welcomes people of all faiths and none for formal worship and private contemplation, for socialisation and community activities, for recitals, tuition and meetings – and as tourists and casual visitors.
“In 2015 the church hosted over 150 concerts, gigs, singing classes, theatre and choir rehearsals, children’s drama workshops, sound and film recordings and public meetings.
“In 2016 yoga, mindfulness and dance fitness classes have been added to the church’s calendar.
“The church runs several activities tackling social isolation, including a knitting group and free English conversation classes.
“In October weekly tea and companionship sessions run in partnership with local charity Time to Talk Befriending and Brighton College will commence.
“It is also increasing the availability of affordable space for community and arts users at cost-only rates.
“Twenty nine churches and chapels in England, Wales, Scotland and the Channel Islands are set to benefit from rescue funding of £391,000.
“The funding will help pay for urgent roof and other structural repairs. It will also help fund improving access and the installation of kitchens and toilets to safeguard the future of churches by allowing them to be used more widely by local people for community activities.
“Fourteen of the churches and chapels receiving funding are on Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register.
“The National Churches Trust is a charity which supports church buildings of all Christian traditions and the latest grants benefit Church of England, Church of Scotland, Church in Wales, Methodist, United Reform and Presbyterian places of worship.”