Christmas comes early for church with links to Shakespeare after £20,000 grant


A church where many actors from Shakespeare’s acting company are believed to be buried is just one of the recipients of Christmas grants from the National Churches Trust.

The present day St Leonard’s, Shoreditch, London sits on the site of an earlier medieval church that is believed to be the final resting place for Richard Burbage, the leading man in many of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as others from the famous writer’s acting company.

The Grade I listed church was the first in London to install gas lights in 1817 and the floor of the original medieval structure survives below the existing crypt.

It is receiving £20,000 from the National Churches Trust to carry out urgent repairs on crumbling stonework at the main front and portico of the building.

Several medieval churches are among those receiving vital repair and maintenance grants from the National Churches Trust this Christmas.

The Grade II listed St Just-in-Penwith, England’s most westerly town, dates back to 1334, although the earliest record of a church on the site is 1254.

It is home to two medieval wall paintings, one depicting St George and the Dragon, and the other showing Christ surrounded by medieval trade tools.

The church, which is on the Heritage At Risk Register, is receiving £10,000 to repair leaks in the Victorian slate roof and replace guttering and pipes to make the building watertight.

The mostly 14th century St Mary, East Walton, in the Diocese of Norwich, has been given a grant of £20,000 to repair broken tiles, leaky windows and loose stonework.

The round tower of the Grade I listed church dates back to before the Norman conquest in 1066, and some of the surviving medieval features include corbel heads – stone carved grinning faces fixed to the walls – and a Tudor rose sculpted above the chancel door.

Also in the Diocese of Norwich is the 14th century St Martin’s, South Raynham, which is home to a 12th-century carved altar stone, thought to be the oldest in England.

The Grade II* listed church, which doubles up as a community centre for the rural community, is receiving £10,000 to help fund urgent repairs to the roof, stonework and guttering.

The Christmas grants bring the total financial assistance given to churches by the National Churches Trust this year to £1.2 million.

Broadcaster Huw Edwards, who is Vice President of the National Churches Trust, said there was a growing need for financial support to maintain Britain’s historic churches.

‘The UK’s historic churches and chapels are a vital part of our national heritage. But to survive, many need to carry out urgent repairs and install modern facilities,’ he said.

‘The cost of this work is far beyond what most congregations can pay for themselves and the latest grants from the National Churches Trust will help ensure that 77 churches and chapels are safe for future generations to enjoy.’

He added: ‘Demand for funding from the National Churches Trust continues to grow, with 583 grant applications received in 2018, up from 473 grant applications in 2017, a 23 per cent increase.’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *