Letter: Cathedrals in need

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The Independent Online
Sir: The principle of state aid to cathedrals for the restoration of their fabric was conceded when the Government made a grant in 1990 of pounds 11.5m over three years for this purpose to be administered by English Heritage. At the time when applications are being made for the third and final phase of grants to cathedrals under this scheme, we should like to record our gratitude for this investment in the conservation of some of the nation's most valuable and historically important buildings.

Unlike many cathedrals, St Albans has no ancient endowments. This means that money for the fabric must come either from the congregation or from visitors, and consequently work has been postponed as the funding has not been available. However, in the past two years, grants totalling pounds 140,000 along with the pounds 100,000 each year that the cathedral has made available from its income have meant progress on a number of overdue projects: unfinished business from the nave roof repairs of the Seventies; urgent conservation work on the medieval wall paintings; an inspection of and urgent conservation work on the 13th-century presbytery timber vaulted ceiling; and external work on the pointing of the tower. English Heritage participation has also meant expert help on specialised problems.

The grant aid has been essential for funding this work. However, it is vital that the funding continues beyond the next three-year period if the programme of work envisaged before the end of the decade is to be completed. Cathedrals are a fundamental part of our national heritage admired by the whole nation; it is only right, therefore, that the nation should continue to play a small part in ensuring that their fabric remains a heritage for future generations.

Yours faithfully,


Dean of St Albans


Cathedral Warden

St Albans, Hertfordshire