Founded in 1988, the Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust was established with the aim of helping the preservation, repair, and maintenance of churches within the historic boundary of Yorkshire. Since 1988, the Trust has funded almost £3,000,000 worth of grants to more than 800 churches in need. Through the generosity of donors, members, and the public, the YHCT gives around £100,000 a year to churches in need of repair and preservation.
In the recent past several churches here in the Diocese of Leeds have benefitted from YHCT grants:
- St Mary’s, Batley
- St Joseph’s, Bradford
- St Patrick’s, Bradford
- St William’s, Bradford
- St Edward’s, Clifford
- Sacred Heart, Howden
- Holy Rosary, Leeds
- Our Lady of Lourdes, Leeds
- Cathedral Church of St Anne, Leeds
- St Joseph’s, Pontefract
- St Wilfrid’s, Ripon
- St Mary’s, Selby
The YHCT’s website highlights the grant awarded last year to St Cuthbert’s Church in Bradford: St Cuthbert’s, Bradford – Helping Yorkshire’s Historic Churches & Chapels (yhct.org.uk)
“St Cuthbert’s Catholic Church, in Manningham, received £10,000 towards vital roof repairs in April 2022.
Prior to Covid, St Cuthbert’s was being actively used but was suffering from growing water ingress. After the first lockdown, the building deteriorated rapidly, part of the ceiling fell in, and the sanctuary was assessed to be unsafe. The congregation have moved to the sister church as major structural repairs are now needed.
St Cuthbert’s was opened in 1891 and contains rare early-mid C20 works of art of exceptional quality, which are in danger of ruin without the major repairs being undertaken.
The church has significant historic interest derived from its association with Monsignor John O’Connor, the parish priest 1919-1952. Mgr O’Connor was the inspiration for GK Chesterton’s Father Brown, a series of books, and later film and TV adaptations, featuring the fictional Roman Catholic priest and amateur detective, who solves crime and mysteries using his intuition and keen understanding of human nature.
Fr Gregory from St Cuthbert’s said: “We scarcely used the premises for most of lockdown and managed just a few Masses before we had to vacate the building. Without the generosity such as that of YHCT we wouldn’t be able even to contemplate undertaking the necessary repairs. We are delighted to have this support and look forward to being able to open up to parishioners once again once the works are complete”.
The process of applying for grants such as those awarded by the YHCT, and supporting our parishes in this way, is now a major feature of the work carried out by staff in the Finance and Property Departments in the Diocesan Curia.
It is very pleasing when their hard work pays off and our parishes benefit from this kind of financial support when undertaking vital repairs and maintenance to their church buildings. At the same time, as a Diocese we are very grateful for the grants received from the YHCT and the Trust’s recognition of the heritage value attached to our churches.
For more information about the YHCT and how to become a Friend of the Trust follow the link below. Friends of the Trust receive regular newsletters, and invitations to a range of events, including architectural tours and lectures