First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund has helped the Cathedral with essential repairs

Tuesday 17 July

A £40m scheme to conserve and repair England’s cathedrals ahead of First World War centenary events – £676,495 of which was awarded to Peterborough Cathedral – has significantly reduced immediate risks, according to a report published today.

England’s cathedrals contribute more than £220m to the economy each year, drawing in more than 11 million visitors. Often complex and historic buildings, each has the responsibility for raising the funds required for upkeep. However, with no regular Government funding, each cathedral faces an ongoing challenge to maintain their fabric, while ensuring comfort, safety and accessibility for all.

The First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, launched by the Government in 2014, invited applications from Catholic and Church of England cathedrals to address urgent repair works. The fund prioritised making buildings weatherproof, safe and open to the public, as well as ensuring they would be in a safe condition to host acts of remembrance for the centenary of the First World War Armistice in 2018.

Peterborough Cathedral was awarded a total of £676,495 by the Fund, which was used for five different projects:

Re-leading of windows (£10,628) – awarded in July 2014

These small-scale leading repairs to the north window of the Old Baptistry, the southern window in the West Sacristy and the North Presbytery window enabled the Cathedral to be warmer, and more wind-proof and weather-tight.

Old Baptistry Gable (£88,433) – awarded in November 2014

Urgent repairs were made to the Cathedral’s exterior stonework and two deteriorated and weathered gables were made safe. Without this work, the stone would have continued to degrade and may even have fallen off the building.

Tesserae floor (£224,000) – awarded in March 2015

The Victorian tesserae (mosaic) floor near the High Altar was identified as being in very urgent need of repair in a quinquennial inspection carried out in 2011. Due to the tiles lifting and becoming uneven, the area had been inaccessible to visitors for many years and had been roped off. But after many months of painstaking work, in which 21,000 small tiles required resetting, the floor was ready to be used again – allowing the Cathedral to make full use of the whole of its space.

Repairs to four windows (£12,935) – awarded in July 2016

These consisted of re-leading and the partial re-glazing of four windows – the east windows of the north and south aisles on the Tribune level of the Presbytery, the east window of the South Transept Clerestory, and the South West Transept roof void window.

High-level tower fire safety glazing (£340,500) – awarded in November 2016

This extensive work included the improvement of existing handrails, and the installation of fire resistant glazing to the upper part of the Crossing Tower windows. New handrails were also installed to the Clerestory to improve safety. The work was completed in April 2018 and has made the Cathedral a far safer building.

The Very Revd Chris Dalliston, Dean of Peterborough, said: “Many of the repairs undertaken with these grants are behind the scenes and unglamorous, but nonetheless essential. We are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity of carrying them out in time for our commemorations of the Centenary of the First World War this autumn.”

Grants were awarded by an independent panel chaired by Sir Paul Ruddock, a position appointed by the Secretary of State. The Fund was administered by the Church of England’s Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division (CCB) on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, with the CCB praised in the report for cost efficiency and excellent communication.

The report concluded that the fund had been successful in achieving its aims and met a funding need that could not be met elsewhere – adding that areas of cathedrals covered by grant-aided projects had been very largely changed from needing urgent repair to needing routine maintenance only.

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, the Church of England’s lead bishop for churches and cathedrals said:

“Cathedrals are at the forefront of the nation’s acts of remembrance each year, and in 2018 will perform their civic and community duty with added significance, as we mark 100 years since the end of the First World War.

“This fund has been an imaginative and welcome resource to ensure our cathedrals are fit for this commemoration, as well as underpinning the vital contributions they make to their communities.

“With visitor and congregation numbers rising, and community outreach in abundance, it is vital that we do not stop here, and continue our commitment as a nation to protecting England’s cathedrals for generations to come.

"We look forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with the Government around future funding collaborations."

Sir Paul Ruddock, who chaired the expert panel which made the awards, said:

“I have found the four years allocating and monitoring the impact of the government’s £40 million in cathedral repairs to be immensely worthwhile and rewarding.

“As a result of this investment, many cathedrals planned additional First World War memorial services and activities, and the legacy of repair works supported by this admirable grant programme will be a lasting and fitting commemoration of the centenary of the conflict.”

On Saturday 6th October, Peterborough Cathedral will be hosting Forward Together – a concert celebrating the contribution to the Armistice. You can find out more details about this event here. The annual Remembrance Day service will take place on Sunday 11th November – exactly 100 years since the end of the First World War.

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