Historic cathedrals at risk after English Heritage funding is cut during recession

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The Independent Online

Cathedrals are in danger of falling into serious disrepair because of the recession, senior figures within the Church have warned.

English Heritage says six cathedrals – Lincoln, York, Salisbury, Canterbury, Chichester and Winchester – need to carry out major renovations and repairs in the next 10 years.

Lincoln Cathedral launched a public campaign to raise £2.5m to fund badly needed restoration works to its west side. It is 100 years since the two west-facing turrets were restored and last winter's freezing conditions have led to decay and cracking in the stonework.

The 1,000-year-old church, with annual running costs of £4m, does not receive any Government money and has instead relied heavily on a dedicated fund from English Heritage.

According to Roy Bentham, the cathedral's chief executive, English Heritage has seen its state funding cut back, which means the dedicated pot of money for cathedrals is no longer on offer. As a result the cathedral, which attracts up to 250,000 visitors a year, must apply for money from a general pot.

The project will include either restoring or replacing 9ft statues of St Hugh of Avalon and the Swineherd of Stow, which sit on top of each of the turrets.

Cathedral staff said they were launching a campaign to raise funds rather than a one-off appeal because it is estimated that the building will need £16.5m spent on it over the next decade.

Lincoln Cathedral includes architecture from the Romanesque era up to the early Gothic period. It was used as a location in the film of Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage admitted the ringfenced fund for cathedrals had been stopped but said it gave Lincoln a £250,000 grant last December and that money was still available.