Heritage Lottery Fund Awards £3.9 million grant to St Albans Cathedral
PUBLISHED: 15:12 28 July 2016 | UPDATED: 15:12 28 July 2016
Vital funding for an ambitious multi-million-pound project in St Albans has now been awarded, to help the city become "a first-choice destination for visitors".
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) yesterday (Wednesday) announced a grant of £3,872,900 for St Albans Cathedral’s development project “Alban, Britain’s First Saint: Telling the Whole Story”.
Hailing the news as a “great day for St Albans, Herts and the Diocese”, Gerald Corbett, chair of the Alban Appeal Executive, paid tribute to those who have championed the project and helped secure the funds necessary to unlock the grant.
In addition to the HLF’s money, a further £3 million has been raised as a result of the generosity of over 1,000 donors.
The Dean of St Albans, the Very Rev Jeffrey John, said it was “wonderful news”.
He added that it would result in the creation of, “a beautiful new welcome centre, a new centre for schoolchildren, a new exhibition area, and a new adult study centre and library.
“We shall be able to present the Cathedral’s treasures in a much more attractive way, which includes illuminating the medieval wall paintings and rebuilding the ruined medieval shrine of St Amphibalus.
“Working with the city’s own museum project and visitor strategy, we shall make St Albans a first-choice destination for tourists and pilgrims alike.”
The project, which was recently approved by St Albans Council, will also deliver a refreshed programme of events and activities for all ages, along with improved visitor facilities with, for the first time, level access to the Cathedral, café, shop and toilets.
Robyn Llewellyn, head of HLF east of England, said: “From its role in the evolution of Christianity, to the story of the city that grew around it, St Albans Cathedral is home to an incredible collection of artefacts, stories and architecture dating back 1,700 years.
“Thanks to National Lottery players, this project will secure that heritage for future generations to enjoy, transform access and facilities to enable even more people to visit and create exciting opportunities to get involved in the St Albans story.”
The project will work with and complement the nearby development of the former Town Hall into a new museum and art gallery, which has received a grant of £2.8 million from the fund.
Preparatory work starts in autumn with the building works due to be completed by the summer of 2019.
The Cathedral is launching a special blog so people can keep up to date with the project as it develops. To sign up go to: albanbritainsfirstsaint.wordpress.com
• Weather-worn ancient stone in the city’s Cathedral is to benefit from remedial work, following the announcement of a £230,000 grant.
St Albans Cathedral is among nearly 40 cathedrals across England to receive a share of £14.5 million allocated by the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund for urgent remedial work.
Culture secretary Karen Bradley announced the grant funding last Thursday (21) as part of an effort to help safeguard cathedrals, including keeping buildings windproof, weather-tight, and open to the public.
The Dean of St Albans said: “As we embark upon a major development project to improve facilities for all our visitors, it is hugely reassuring to know that essential maintenance work can be carried out to help us keep our Grade I listed cathedral in good condition for future generations.”
Karen Bradley said: “Cathedrals are powerful symbols of Britain’s shared history. They are important not only for their architecture and heritage, but also for the vital role they play in local communities.”
The Church of England’s cathedrals are estimated to contribute about £220 million to the national economy every year through employment and tourism.