Canterbury Cathedral faces closure unless it can find £10m for repair bill

Landmark may be closed to visitors after National Lottery Fund rejects appeal for cash

Canterbury Cathedral, the mother church of the Anglican Communion and one of Britain’s greatest architectural treasures, will hold “crisis talks” with the Heritage Lottery Fund on Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to stay open to visitors.

The cathedral, founded in AD597 by St Augustine, faces closing to the public after a £10.5m repair appeal to the Heritage Lottery Fund was rejected. Today its custodians are due to meet with proprietors for last-minute “crisis talks” and plans to lobby US philanthropists should the funding not be met. They are looking for a total of £17.8m to fund restoration work on the nave, two towers and Christchurch gate, and other parts of the building.

It is the latest in a back catalogue of urgent repair requests for what is one of the oldest institutions in the country and a World Heritage Site. In 2006 trustees warned of “disastrous consequences” unless urgent action was taken to renovate the building. Three years later it was alleged that the pillars were being held together with duct tape because of a shortage of money to carry out building work.

All of that was, of course, before the financial crisis – and staff at Heritage Lottery Fund last night could not hide the new realities of the financial burdens they faced. The fund, which distributes a share of income from the National Lottery to preserving the nation’s heritage, said it had £129m in requests with just £68m available.

Katie Owen of the Heritage Lottery Fund told The Independent: “Of course it’s disappointing. We’ve funded many cathedrals over the years – including Durham and Exeter – but unfortunately we simply do not have enough money. Our source of funding is drying up.” The cathedral repair application was one of 12 projects that were considered by funders – but is understood to have simply been too expensive to rubber-stamp.

Ms Owen stressed it was “not the end of the road” and that there were still opportunities for the cathedral to resubmit a funding application – albeit for a far smaller amount than originally requested. “We will be meeting them [today] to reassess and try and be constructive to their plight.”

Meanwhile, bosses at the Cathedral were keeping a brave face, disputing reports that if a piece of stonework fell down, it could be “closed for business”. Christopher Robinson, from the Canterbury Cathedral Trust, told The Independent that its custodians would consider appealing to wealthy American philanthropists should a deal not be reached in the UK.

That defiant tone chimed with the Cathedral’s Receiver, General John Meardon, who said: “The Luftwaffe could not close the Cathedral, despite the Baedeker bombing raids in 1942, and difficulties with the fabric will not do so now.”

The Canterbury tales: a brief history

The cathedral was founded in 597 by St Augustine, who was sent from Rome by Pope Gregory the Great to convert Anglo-Saxons.

In 1170 four knights, acting on the words of Henry II, “who will rid me of this turbulent priest”, murdered the then Archbishop Thomas Becket at the altar, because of his adherence to Rome.

Within three years, Becket had been made a saint and Canterbury a place of pilgrimage, as chronicled by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter and Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
Sport
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there