£8m grant to ensure cathedrals remain as places for remembrance for a century to come

FOR many they have been a quiet spot for reflection and prayer on the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

Bradford Cathedral which is sharing £1m with Ripon Cathedral for renovation work on the State Gate. 27 October 2014. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Now the Government is trying to ensure cathedrals, including four in Yorkshire, remain as places of remembrance for a century to come.

An £8m grant to 31 cathedrals nationally, including Wakefield, Ripon and Bradford cathedrals, and York Minster, will pay for essential repairs for everything from leaking roofs to stained glass windows.

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The biggest grant, £354,617, went to Ripon Cathedral which will make repairs to the north transept while Wakefield Cathedral will use its £220,000 award to repair the quire and nave roof.

York Minster will receive £200,000 for stonework and roof repairs, while Bradford has been handed £349,479 to restore the State Gate, the 19th century steps and entrance on the western side of the cathedral precinct, linking with the city centre.

The Cathedral had been told the gate, directly opposite the new Westfield shopping centre, may have to close within two years because it was in such a poor state of repair

The Very Revd Jerry Lepine, Dean of Bradford, said the grant may have been an exception to the criteria for the scheme - but the panel believed it was entirely within the spirit.

Mr Lepine said: “We are incredibly grateful for what has come our way. It chimes with what is going on in Bradford, the huge amount of building and regeneration.

“There’s the huge new Westfield shopping centre being built - the only one in Europe being built at the moment.

“We are anticipating an increase in footfall to the Cathedral because it is the oldest building in Bradford, with history that goes back centuries.

“It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, and we have lovely precinct grounds where people come and sit and have their lunch in warmer weather.

“Work on the gate has to be completed by the end of next year and the shopping centre is also going to be towards the end of the year so both projects are going to come together at the same time.”

However the Cathedral still has to find £60,000 to cover VAT costs so the project can get started.

Ripon Cathedral has received all the money it applied for to renew and repair the crumbling stonework of the north east corner of the building.

The Very Revd John Dobson, Dean of Ripon said the grant meant urgently-needed work could begin on an “iconic building, one that speaks of the enduring presence and love of God in this region. “

He added: “The announcement comes at a time when we are doing much in Ripon Cathedral to mark the centenary of the First World War and following a weekend when over 400 people have participated in a consultation process that seeks to discern God’s will for future mission in this place. This grant certainly helps.”

Some of the money will be spent replacing gargoyles which have been so badly weathered their features can no longer be made out.

Designs for the new gargoyles will be decided through a competition, details of which will be announced in the New Year.

Chancellor George Osborne said: “Many Britons will have visited a cathedral this summer to attend a remembrance service marking the Great War, and this £8m grant, part of £20m I announced at the last Budget, will ensure that these beautiful and historic buildings remain much-loved places of worship and remembrance for another century to come.

“Our great cathedrals are the envy of the world, bringing many tourists to the cities of UK, so this investment is also great value for taxpayers.”