pounds 9m grant rescues English cathedrals

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ENGLISH CATHEDRALS were awarded pounds 9m yesterday to be spent on essential repairs over the next three years.

English Heritage announced grants totalling more than pounds 3m to be shared among 29 cathedrals over the coming year, and a further pounds 6m to follow, provided the work was completed on time.

Announcing the award at Ely Cathedral, Sir Jocelyn Stevens, chairman of English Heritage, said: "Now that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has agreed our funding for the next three years, for the first time we will be able to give cathedrals the security of knowing what funding the cathedrals can expect from English Heritage over the next three years."

The largest individual grant, pounds 503,000, went to Salisbury Cathedral, for continuing work on the west-front masonry, and repairs to medieval glazing.

Ely Cathedral, an impressive example of Romanesque architecture that dominates the small city and its surrounding landscape, received the second largest, pounds 416,000. Dr Michael Higgins, the Dean of Ely, said: "This magnificent grant takes Ely into the last stages of a pounds 12m restoration, the biggest in our long history."

Sir Jocelyn praised Dr Higgins for the way he had put together plans and completed them on time and within budget. He said he wished all cathedrals were as effective as Ely and warned that, when it came to agreeing grants for the second and third years, cathedrals would be judged on their record in this coming year. England's cathedrals were, he added, "admired and visited by people [from] all over the world", and provided an education resource and employment, as well as promoting high standards in skills such as stone and lead-working. "It is of the utmost importance that everything is done to help preserve them and the treasures they contain," he said.

Other large grants for the coming year went to Lincoln Cathedral, pounds 364,000, and Worcester Cathedral, pounds 360,000. Gloucester Cathedral received pounds 175,000 and St Paul's pounds 100,000. Since 1991 English Heritage has given almost pounds 30m to the nation's great ecclesiastical buildings.