Crumbling churches a catastrophe for Ely

PUBLISHED: 11:35 18 May 2006 | UPDATED: 13:30 04 May 2010

ELY has one of the highest number of crumbling churches in the country. Up to 42 historic places of worship in the Diocese of Ely are in need of work with outstanding repair bills of £50,000. With little or no Government cash aid, the burden of preservin

ELY has one of the highest number of crumbling churches in the country.

Up to 42 historic places of worship in the Diocese of Ely are in need of work with outstanding repair bills of £50,000.

With little or no Government cash aid, the burden of preserving them for future generations is falling into the laps of church councils and parishioners.

In the past work on the country's churches, many of which are listed buildings, was taken on by the Council for the Care of Churches. But reduced Government cash help has forced it to refuse to take on anymore.

Now English Heritage has launched a campaign called Inspired! which is asking the Government for £26.52 million to help ease the problem.

It estimates that listed churches across the county need £925 million worth of repairs over the next five years.

Fund-raising campaigns have been launched at St. George's Church, Littleport to repair the roof and St. Peter's Church at Wilburton to add modern facilities. Haddenham's Holy Trinity church has built a new meeting room and toilets with the help of grant aid.

Bishop of Huntingdon, the Rt Rev John Inge, who lives in Ely, said: "Throughout Cambridgeshire we have this very precious inheritance and the burden of maintaining these buildings, which is increasingly expensive, is falling on a small part of the worshipping community.

"In the 18th Century a lot of churches fell into an appalling state of disrepair and a lot fell down. Others were saved in the nick of time in the 19th Century when there was a spread of interest in their repair and maintenance in the Victorian era. But there is no guarantee that if we don't look after them they will be around for future generations to save. The real danger is that the more priceless ones will fall into a state of disrepair.

"There is an extraordinary notion that the Church of England is rich in this country. But it receives less than in any other country in western Europe.

"People treat the church in the same way as the post office or the doctor. They expect it always to be there whenever they need it.

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