Since 2000, an innovative partnership between the Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust (YHCT) and Waste Recycling Environment Ltd (WREN), has seen over £1.75m be awarded for the repair, maintenance and restoration of some of Yorkshire’s best loved churches, chapels and meeting houses.
Working together, the Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust and WREN ensured that over 200 local places of worship that lay within a 10 mile radius of a landfill site, benefited from the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF). The LCF enabled landfill operators to give 6.5% of the tax they collected to environmental bodies, such as WREN, to deliver lasting environmental and community benefits.
One of the most notable recipients was Selby Abbey, the iconic Norman Abbey founded by William the Conqueror in 1069. Although it withstood centuries of political and religious upheaval as well as fire and flooding, by 2000 the Abbey’s limestone had been eaten away by pollution and inspections revealed that carvings, both inside and out, and extensive areas of high level stonework were found to have been eroded and much intricate tracery had been lost.
A major fundraising campaign was launched, and with the help of a vital grant of £118,000 from the YHCT, the extensive restoration of the Abbey was complete by 2008, thus saving it from closure.
Selby Abbey’s Vicar, Canon John Weetman said “We were absolutely delighted to benefit from the Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust, and thanks to the heart warming response and generosity of all our supporters, we were able to achieve our £5 million restoration target. Inevitably though” Canon Weetman continues, “at 950 years old, the Abbey is in need of constant repair, and our next target is to raise funds to restore the world famous Hill organ”.
Another notable beneficiary was Doncaster Minster, which received £71,000 for repairs to the chancel roof and the porch. After a fire destroyed the original church in 1853, the current Minster was consecrated in 1858 and at the time was described by the local paper as “as edifice worthy of the town and the deanery, and equally worthy of the age in which we live”. Among its most notable supporters was Queen Victoria, who contributed £100 to the rebuilding committee.
David Quick, Chair of the Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust said: “Over the centuries, churches have defined landscapes and brought together communities. However, many of the counties much loved places of worship have long been in need of urgent repair and restoration and it has been a great pleasure to work with WREN to ensure that vital funding has been awarded to our treasured churches, chapels and meeting houses.”. He continued “through the generosity of donors and Friends, the YHCT can continue its important work to ensure these magnificent buildings will remain standing for centuries to come”.
Full details of how to apply for funding from the YHCT can be found at www.yhct.org.uk/grants