Heritage sites across England to get ‘essential lifeline’ cash boost

Heritage organisations across England are set to receive a financial boost from the Government to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

The £103 million funding will support 445 organisations to carry out repair and maintenance work on cherished heritage sites to keep the venues running.

Sites to benefit include landmarks such as Gloucester Cathedral, Downton Abbey filming location Highclere Castle, Blackpool’s Winter Gardens and the Severn Valley Railway.

Highclere Castle – Berkshire
Highclere Castle – the setting of Downton Abbey – will benefit from the funding (Steve Parsons/PA)

Organisations welcomed the funding as an “essential lifeline” to ensure heritage sites can remain open following the financial hit caused by Covid-19.

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 bounceback post-Covid.”

Grants are between £10,000 and £1 million, with a further round of up to £3 million due to be announced imminently.

Oliver Dowden said the funding was ‘essential’ to preserve the country’s heritage (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Twelve organisations – including English Heritage, Landmark Trust, Historic Royal Palaces and the Canal and River Trust – will receive £34 million to restart construction and maintenance projects.

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) has also been awarded a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund through Historic England.

The AHF will use the money to support charities and social enterprises occupying historic buildings to develop new business plans and strategies for organisations affected by the pandemic.

Lucy Worsley, chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said: “There’s no truer way to experience the past than to walk in the footsteps of those who have lived it – that’s why preserving our built heritage is so important.

“At Historic Royal Palaces, we care for six nationally-significant buildings, opening them to the public and preserving them for future generations.

“Sadly, the pandemic meant that we had to stop some of our critical conservation work.

We have some really difficult news to share. With great regret, today Historic Royal Palaces has entered into a period of consultation on proposed redundancies. Read our full statement here: https://t.co/FvRkrNOrGz (1/4) pic.twitter.com/IxdJeY98R3

— Historic Royal Palaces (@HRP_palaces) September 14, 2020

“The grant we have received from the Culture Recovery Fund will enable this work to resume – so we can give some of Britain’s most historic buildings the care and attention they deserve while supporting the specialist craftspeople who are vital for the future of our national heritage.

“We are enormously grateful to the Government for this support.”

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