£644,000 grant for Plymouth Cathedral

THE GOVERNMENT has announced that Plymouth Cathedral was to receive a substantial grant from the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund.  The Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 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.” Plymouth Cathedral was one of 39 cathedrals awarded grants totaling £14.5 million.

The Rt Rev Mark O’Toole, Bishop of Plymouth, welcomed the announcement saying: “It is a wonderful legacy to mark the Centenary of the First World War that our cathedrals – important ‘sermons in stone’ in the life of the nation – are getting these much needed funds for essential repairs and work. It was very moving recently to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme with Mass in our cathedral. I am delighted that the Catholic cathedral in Plymouth has been awarded this grant so that it can continue to be a beacon of worship and praise to God for many generations to come.”

Plymouth Cathedral opened for worship in 1858 and is a remarkable survivor of both World Wars and especially the Blitz. It was designed by Charles and Joseph Hansom of ‘Hansom Cab’ fame but it is situated in one of the ten most severe areas of poverty in England and Wales. This means that restoration and weather-proofing has often been hampered by shortage of funds in the past but the advent of the WWI Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund has now got this vital process off the ground.

Plymouth Cathedral after Blitz  
Plymouth Cathedral still standing after the Blitz.  

Plymouth’s Catholic cathedral continues to play an active role in commemorating the Centenary of WWI. There have already been services to mark the Gallipoli campaign, the naval Battle of Jutland and the Battle of the Somme. There will be a special Requiem Mass on 31st July next year to remember those lost at Passchendaele in the third Battle of Ypres. And on 11th November 2018 there will be a service of thanksgiving to commemorate Armistice Day and the end of hostilities. Those who lost their lives in the Great War are remembered in the Peace Chapel of St Patrick and St George. On the wall there is a marble tablet inscribed in Latin as a memorial to those who fell.

Plymouth Cathedral WWI War Memorial  
The memorial tablet to those who
perished in the First World War 
in The Peace Chapel
at Plymouth Cathedral.

“This grant means everything to us,” explained Monsignor Bart Nannery, the Cathedral Dean, “in order to benefit fully from the excellent work already carried out on the high level walls, roof, guttering and stonework, completed just two weeks ago.” He added that with special relief from VAT the value of the grant was nearer to £830,000. Sir Paul Ruddock, chairman of the expert panel of the Fund, expressed the hope that this grant to Plymouth Cathedral would allow freer use of other funds which may be available.

“It is particularly fortunate that we have now received this further grant of £644,000” said Monsignor Nannery. “It will ensure that the entire building will be wind and water proof for another 150 years.”

MPs Evenett Colvile visit  
Visit of Rt Hon David Evenett MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, pictured with
(L) Bishop Mark O'Toole and (R) local MP, Oliver Colvile when inspecting the repair works at Plymouth Cathedral on 9th June 2016.