Canterbury Cathedral to be 'radically transformed'

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Canterbury Cathedral to be transformed: Heritage Lottery Fund
Canterbury Cathedral to be transformed: Heritage Lottery Fund

The Grade I-listed Canterbury cathedral, which attracts more than one million visitors a year, has been awarded lottery funding of £11.9 million.

The money will be used as part of Canterbury Cathedral's Journey project which will aim to "radically transform" the building's accessibility as well as safeguarding its future.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid, including a £930,400 development grant, forms part of the £19.4 million project which will offer a new visitor centre and help to restore and enhance the cathedral's western end which is in need of urgent conservation work, a cathedral spokesman said.
Some of the money will be used for restoring Christ Church Gate and weatherproofing and stabilising the Nave and West Towers, he said.

The Kent cathedral, which was founded by St Augustine in 597AD, is part of Canterbury's World Heritage Site and is famous for its Romanesque and Gothic architecture, mediaeval stained glass, and Bell Harry tower.

"It has been a world-famous centre of pilgrimage since the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket within its walls on December 29 1170. It is hoped a new Pilgrim Pass Scheme will swell the company of contemporary pilgrims and deepen the cathedral's relationship with its neighbours, the spokesman said.

The money will also be used to create trails to guide visitors through the building and its newly landscaped precincts, he said.

Four stonemasonry apprenticeships will allow expertise to be passed on with the help of workshops targeting young people, particularly those who are currently not in training or employment, an HLF spokeswoman said.

The Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, the Dean of Canterbury, said the support from the HLF was a public endorsement of the cathedral's plans for maintaining its architecture and allowing people to be a creative part of its community.

He said: "We are hugely grateful to the Trustees of the HLF for their very generous support and to all our many other supporters in Kent and across the world.

"Now we have two years to crystallise our plans - and to raise the £7.4 million of matched funding that is required.

"That will be an immense challenge, but it is one that my colleagues and I accept with relish."

Angela Dean, a trustee for the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "Canterbury Cathedral is an extraordinary part of our collective heritage; regardless of faith, its magnificent structure cannot fail to impress.

"Proposals for the conservation of the site will ensure a resilience for the future but will also be a catalyst for much wider community involvement.

"This is just the beginning of a long but exciting journey for the cathedral and those who work there, and we will be supporting them as they continue to develop the project."

Five other sites have also been earmarked for a share of the £72 million HLF funding.

Nottingham Castle will receive £12.9 million to help open up caves beneath the site and to redevelop its museum and art gallery; Bath Abbey in Somerset has been awarded £10.4 million for urgent conservation work and new customer and catering facilities; Beamish: The North of England's Open Air Museum in County Durham has been given £10.7 million to transform the site and to create new jobs and training opportunities.

There will also be a pioneering, dedicated activities space for people with living with dementia - Homes for Memory - the first of its kind in a museum within the UK, according to the HLF.

Blackpool Museum in Lancashire will receive £13.6 million for the creation of Blackpool Museum and Plymouth History Centre in Devon will be given £12.8 million to develop a new centre to bring its collection of archives, films and artefacts under one roof.

Edward Mason, rector of Bath Abbey, said the £19.3 million Footprint project aims to carry out essential repairs to the collapsing floor, install a new eco-friendly heating system using Bath's unique hot springs and build new facilities.

"This is great news for the Abbey as well as the city of Bath and everyone who has put so much time and effort into this," he said.

"The Abbey has been at the centre of the Bath community for over 1,200 years. Footprint will make the Abbey fit for purpose and the changes will make it possible for current and future generations to use understand and fully enjoy Bath Abbey."

"Thanks to the HLF, we are a huge step closer to achieving this."

Laura Brown, director of the Footprint Appeal, said: "We are thrilled to have the HLF's support and are really grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to achieve this in a short space of time.

"The essential groundwork is already completed. We've been granted planning and listed building consent by Bath and North East Somerset Council and we've already seen £2 million of investment, so together with the HLF's support, we are in a very strong position.

"Now of course the really hard but potentially very exciting work starts. There are certainly big challenges ahead but the HLF's decision is the best news we could have hoped for and makes the project a tangible reality."

In order to unlock the full award of £10 million from HLF, the Abbey will need to raise around £7 million in additional funding through a combination of grant-making trusts and foundations, plus donations from individuals.

A major public appeal will be launched later on this year, the Abbey said.

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