St Joseph’s Church in Skerton has been given a boost after the National Lottery Heritage Fund issued a grant of £194,400 for an exciting heritage project.
The grant will enable this jewel of a church to be preserved for generations to come, and will make its beauty accessible to the wider community.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project will focus upon repair work to the building, the restoration of its fabric, and improving the access and facilities at the site.
The church’s restoration, which will begin next month, is providing the impetus to a whole range of community-wide projects, linking together the schools, the university, and the wider public, with the goal of making the history and architecture of the Pugin building a significant part of Lancaster’s rich patrimony.
Supported through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project will include the publication of literature exploring the significance of the church to the wider history of the local area and a new website will incorporate photos and oral testimony of those who have lived in Skerton through their lives, bringing to life the church’s contribution to schooling in the area, the establishment of St John’s Hospice, and the building of up of the local community with groups such as the famous Gilbert & Sullivan Amateur Operatic Society which met for many years in the church hall.
In addition, the church hopes to train up volunteers to provide guided tours and to assist on heritage days, and is already planning a range of school activities linked to the school curriculum to help young people to appreciate the meaning and significance of churches in today’s world.
Already the church has begun to host a range of concerts and cultural events for different age groups and will continue to provide a place of solace and peace for the whole community.
After almost 120 years of being beaten by the Lancashire rain and damp, the church was added to the Heritage At Risk register almost two years ago, and has since worked hard to develop plans to restore the church to its pristine state.
Fr Philip Conner, the parish priest, said that the parish was ‘thrilled to have received this support’ and is immensely grateful to National Lottery players.
He said: “It is a real gift to be able to begin to plan for the long-term future of this fine church and to ensure that its beauty is there to be enjoyed for many generations to come.”