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Life-line for region's religious sites

[Thursday 11 May 2006]

ENGLISH Heritage is today revealing the full extent of the threat facing the region's historic places of worship and setting out proposals to tackle the problem.

Churches in Keighley and Rievaulx are among those set to benefit as a new campaign called Inspired! is launched by the heritage watchdog. The move comes in response to figures which reveal that at least £40 million is needed for vital repairs to listed religious buildings in Yorkshire.

Maddy Jago
Maddy Jago; English Heritage
"Religious buildings often provide the only
remaining physical, cultural and spiritual focus
for a community"

Nationally, £185 million is required annually over five years to tackle crumbling masonry, leaking roofs and general decay.

Yorkshire has approximately 3,000 listed places of worship - the highest in any English region. There are 1,500 Anglican churches, most of which are also listed and major cash shortfalls exist across the region. Bradford Diocese requires £1 million for urgent repairs, Ripon and Leeds £4.7 million and York £16 million.

English Heritage has announced that £827, 000 will be made available to upgrade listed churches across the region, including Rievaulx's St Mary's Church in North Yorkshire, which will receive £53,000, whilst St Lawrence's Church in York will receive £147,000.

In West Yorkshire, St Anne's in Keighley will receive £117,000 and Christ Church in Oakworth will be better of to the tune of £157,000

Surveys show that most people, not just churchgoers, care deeply about historic places of worship. However, it is also a fact that congregations are decreasing in size, repair costs are rising and the amount of public money on offer is falling in real terms.

Maddy Jago, English Heritage Regional Director for Planning and Development, said: "It's sobering to consider the scale of the threat contrasted with the resources available to undertake urgent repairs.

"Inspired! is about understanding the problems facing our historic places of worship and taking action before we reach crisis point. You don't have to be a regular worshipper to be concerned.

"Religious buildings often provide the only remaining physical, cultural and spiritual focus for a community and also represent some of our finest historic properties. Everyone has a stake in their survival."

The Inspired! initiative aims to create a partnership between Government bodies such as English Heritage and local congregations in order to reduce the massive financial burden.

For more information visit the Inspired! website at www.english-heritage.org.uk/inspired

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