CASH GRANT: St Mary’s church, in Barnard Castle
CASH GRANT: St Mary’s church, in Barnard Castle

BARNARD Castle’s parish church has been awarded a £320,500 grant to carry out vital repairs and make the most of its heritage.

St Mary’s Parish Church and archaeological group DigVentures have received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £320,500 for their Windows to the World project.

The project will focus on urgent repairs and conservation to the historic church building, as well as an “exciting” heritage interpretation project.

Work to the walls, tower and stained-glass windows of the 900-year-old parish church will be carried out next year. The church has important links with Richard lll and the project has received financial support from The Richard lll Society.

DigVentures, based in Barnard Castle, will run a project to involve the wider community in the heritage of the church building and its place in local history.

There will be scope for residents to become involved through talks, workshops and volunteering.

The grant follows a previous award of £17,100 last year, which has enabled the church and DigVentures to develop detailed plans for this joint project.

The overall cost of the project will be £400,000. As well as the support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the cost will be met from church funds, grants from The Richard lll Society and from the Friends of St Mary’s. Further Government grants will enable the cost of some of the VAT to be met.

Revd Canon Alec Harding, vicar of St Mary’s, said: “The award of this grant enables us to carry out urgently needed church restoration works and opens up new ways for the church to engage with the local community.

“When these works are completed next year, the church will be weathertight for future generations and we hope that we will have created a community of all ages who will have a long term interest in this historic building.”

Large cracks running down the west wall of St Mary’s Church are believed to be caused by pressure exerted by the church tower that was built in Victorian times.

Lisa Westcott Wilkins, from DigVentures, added: “We are really excited to have the opportunity to help St Mary’s with this project.

“We’re looking forward to adding new opportunities for the church as a heritage destination in the already strong cultural mix of Barnard Castle, as well as involving the local community in many new and exciting activities.”

David Renwick, from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted to support this wonderful project at St Mary’s Church, Barnard Castle, which, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will mean that more people will be able to get involved with, protect, and learn about the exciting

heritage right on their doorstep.”