The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded a £232,200 grant to St Mary’s Church towards the cost of major building repairs to its entrance frontage overlooking St James’s Street in Brighton.
The grade II*-listed parish church, which was built in 1878, stands one block from the sea and over the decades has suffered serious wind and salt erosion to its historic red brick and sandstone fabric.
The grant provides significant support for urgent repairs to the south elevation, which are projected to cost £360,000.
The repairs will completely renovate the entrance frontage of the church and provide new lighting and signage and the removal of pavement trip hazards at the doors.
Work is expected to start next month and to be completed by February 2019.
Father Andrew Woodward, priest-in-charge at St Mary’s, said: “It’s our 140th birthday this year and we couldn’t have asked for a better present.
“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and wish to thank the National Lottery players who make this vital support for historic buildings possible.
“We’ve worked hard in recent years to put St Mary’s back at the heart of our community and these repairs will greatly improve the appearance and safety of the church and, we hope, the whole feel of the neighbourhood.
“It takes time but we are striving to reduce the air of dereliction in our corner of Kemp Town and grow its sense of community. This grant is a huge boost to that.”
Katherine Prior, project manager at St Mary’s, said: “This is the second major repair grant we have received from the HLF and we are excited about being able to protect the heritage of this lovely building, which has many stories to tell about Brighton’s history.
“It costs us over £2,000 a week simply to keep St Mary’s open, all of which we have to raise ourselves. So, we’re enormously grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for this grant to our repair programme.
“We can’t wait to reveal more of the church’s beauty and history to our neighbours and visitors.
“If you don’t know the church, please come and see us on Heritage Open Day, Saturday 8 September, when we will be explaining the need for the works.
“Visitors will be able to handle fragments of stone and stained glass that show the impact of weathering and misguided repairs many years ago.”
St Mary’s has several heritage activities planned for later this year, including an afternoon of music and history readings commemorating the people listed on its Great War memorial boards, including those from neighbouring St James’s Church and All Souls’ Church, both long since demolished.
A Time to Mourn and A Time to Dance is at St Mary’s on Sunday 18 November at 3.30pm. The event is open to all and free to attend.
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