University Church receives £422,000 boost from the Culture Recovery Fund

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford is among 142 historic sites across England receiving grants worth £35 million through the government’s Culture Recovery Fund. 

The £422,000 grant will support the vital replacement of the nave roof and high-level stonework repairs which would otherwise have been impossible. The grant has been awarded by Historic England from the second round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund, which is part of the Culture Recovery Fund.

Administered on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by Historic England, 142 sites are receiving support from the second round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund, bolstering local economies and supporting jobs across the country.

The University Church sits in the centre of the city of Oxford and is the Spiritual heart of the historic University of Oxford. The funding grant will allow for the vital replacement of the nave roof and high-level stonework repairs. The church is a hive of activity all year-round hosting events and concerts in addition to weekly worship. Its 13th century bell tower is open to visitors offering panoramic views across the city. These repairs will ensure that the church can continue to be a well-attended place of worship, attract visitors and serve the local community.

The Revd Dr William Lamb, Vicar of the University Church, said:

“We are thrilled to be awarded this transformative grant to fund vital repairs of the church and allow us to continue welcoming visitors and worshippers to the fantastic building for years to come.

“Like many churches and historic buildings, our income dropped considerably during the pandemic as we were unable to welcome visitors for a long period of time, so without this grant from the Culture Recovery Fund these vital repairs would have been impossible.”

From Leicester to Liverpool, Wellington to Wigan, much-loved historic places will benefit from an injection of cash for vital repairs and major building programmes, many of which are currently on the national Heritage at Risk Register.

Money from the government’s £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund is intended to open up heritage and the benefits it brings to everyone, helping to level up and improve life and opportunities for people in places that need it most.

Many of the organisations and sites receiving funding enhance wellbeing and community connection, offering education, development opportunities and jobs in some of the most deprived communities hit hard by the impact of the pandemic.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: 

“From local churches to ancient buildings and landscapes, the UK’s unique heritage makes our towns, cities and villages stronger, more vibrant and helps bring communities together.

“This latest funding – £35 million from our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund – will help protect sites including Jane Austen’s House and Hampton Court Palace for future generations and help them build back better from the pandemic.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive, said: 

Funding from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund is hugely welcome at a time when the people and organisations who look after our vast and varied array of heritage urgently need support to carry out essential repairs. Heritage is a fragile eco-system, with an amazing cast of characters who keep our historic places alive, with specialist skills that take time to learn and experience to perfect. These grants will protect their livelihoods, as they use their expertise to help our heritage survive.”

Money from the Heritage Stimulus Fund will also keep our nationally and internationally significant heritage assets in good condition and sustain the skilled craft workforce that looks after them.

The latest £35 million funding awards builds on £52 million already allocated from the first round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund, which has supported works at 800 of the country’s treasured heritage assets. This includes Blackpool’s iconic Tower Ballroom, the stunning Georgian landscape at Gibside in Gateshead and the tranquil Thornton-le-Beans Chapel in North Yorkshire.

About the Culture Recovery Fund

The government’s record-breaking £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund is the biggest ever one-off cash injection into UK culture. Since the start of the pandemic, almost £2 billion has been invested to tackle the crisis facing the country’s most loved arts organisations and heritage sites.

About the Heritage Stimulus Fund

  • The Heritage Stimulus Fund is part of the Culture Recovery Fund and is administered by Historic England on behalf of the government.
  • The first round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund has already enabled repair and maintenance work at more than 800 of the country’s treasured heritage assets and has protected the jobs of expert crafts workers in the sector.
  • Grants allocated in this latest round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund will continue to support a large number of projects carried out by a variety of specialists and workers across the country, thereby supporting this vulnerable sector as the nation re-opens.

About Historic England

Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. The organisation protects, champions and save the places of historical significance.