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It's all in a name - over £1.3m funding to save Scotland's churches

25 March 2008

Nine dilapidated churches across the country are to be repaired thanks to over £1.3 million funding package announced today by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland. Each of important architectural merit, the churches make a significant contribution to their town’s identity, and in Falkirk’s case, its name, while providing a hub for local people to meet and share interests.

Through the Repair Grants for Places of Worship, the Heritage Lottery Fund has today earmarked £901,000 and Historic Scotland awarded £449,800. The funding is for urgent repairs to make sure the churches are structurally stable, wind and watertight.

Falkirk Old and St Modens Parish Church
(Heritage Lottery Fund Stage one Pass: £62,000
Historic Scotland stage 1 pass: £62,000)

It is believed that there has been a church on this town centre site for at least twelve hundred years with local tradition linking its foundation with the Celtic Saint Moden in the 6th century. It is thought that the first buildings gave rise to the name Egglesbreth, the speckled church, which translated into Scots became the Faw Kirk.

The present church, which was primarily built in 1811, is the work of prominent architect, James Gillespie Graham and incorporates the 18th C belltower designed by William Adam, father of the famous Robert, and the square tower of the medieval church. Other glimpses of the building’s fascinating history include the graves of Sir John de Graeme and Sir John Stewart of Bonkhill who fell fighting for William Wallace at the first Battle of Falkirk in 1298 and a grave slab commemorating Alexander Livingston, the guardian of the young Mary Queen of Scots.

Today, however, the deteriorating fabric of Falkirk Parish Church is evident with damp patches on the ceiling and buckets catching rainwater. The funding will help with the repair of the roof and high level masonry.

St John’s Church, Dunoon
(Heritage Lottery Fund Stage One Pass: £123,000, Development funding £25,000
Historic Scotland stage 1 pass: £123,000)

The tall, French Gothic design of Dunoon Church with its immense stone-built corner tower, dominates the town. Built in 1876 as the Free Church by Robert Bryden, who also designed Dunoon Burgh Hall, St John’s was patronised by many wealthy late 18th century Glasgow industrialists who had settled there after the advent of steamship commuting to Glasgow. They would have enjoyed the church’s fine interior which remains today as an excellent example of an interior arranged for 19th century Presbyterian worship. St John’s is a hub for community life widely used by many local interest groups.

St Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Helensburgh
(Heritage Lottery Fund Stage One Pass £107,000 Development funding £7,500
Historic Scotland grant £107,000)

Regarded as a church which is architecturally of national importance, St Michael’s was designed by Robert Rowand Anderson and opened in May 1868.

It is the only A listed church in Helensburgh and it houses a collection of stained glass windows that include work by C B Kemp and Clayton and Bell. It also retains the original arrangement of a chancel screen and nave pews as originally intended.

Yester Parish Church
(Heritage Lottery Fund Stage One Pass: £107,500, Development funding £10,100
Historic Scotland stage 1 pass: £107,500

Yester Parish Church has been a landmark at the top of Gifford Main Street for 300 years. The first service was held in the white harled building on 24 September 1710. It’s most famous association is with John Witherspoon , son of Yester’s minister, Rev James Witherspoon who was inducted in 1720. John followed his father into the ministry and in 1768 he was invited to become President of the College of New Jersey, later to be the world famous Princeton University, Impressed by the education he had enjoyed at Edinburgh University he recreated that system at Princeton. He was the first moderator of the Presbyterian Church of America and a signatory to the American Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Linda Fabiani MSP, Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture, said: “Places of Worship have been an essential part of Scottish life both in terms of community identity and archaeological and historical importance.

“Our commitment to the grant-aided projects reaffirms that those places will continue to be an integral part of local communities, and, on a national basis, exemplifies the breadth of Scotland’s built heritage for people to recognise and enjoy.

“I’m delighted to offer our support to each of the projects and look forward to seeing them succeed in the future, ensuring these buildings remain part of our heritage in the future.

Commenting on today’s announcement, the Heritage Lottery Fund Manager for Scotland, Colin McLean, said:

“A church is an integral part of any community, not just in terms of worship. Its architecture often gives the area an identity, while community space inside provides a hub for people of all ages to meet and share similar interests, from Cubs to concerts. The Heritage Lottery Fund is pleased to be able to help secure the future of these fine buildings so that the local community and Scotland’s heritage may continue to benefit from their existence.

Other churches to benefit today from the Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme are:

St Thomas Parish Church, Junction Road, Leith
(Heritage Lottery Fund Stage One Pass: £125,000, Historic Scotland stage 1 pass: £50,000)

Designed by William Bell in response to the congregation’s call for a ‘permanent and respectable place of worship’ St Thomas Parish Church was built in 1822. It is now in poor condition having deteriorated considerably over the last ten years, marked by a significant fall of internal plaster from the ceiling in 2005. Yet the building remains well used with on average 550 people a week going through its doors, either to worship or take part in community activities. The repair work will ensure that St Thomas’s remains safe for public access.

St Andrew’s Parish Church, Ayr
(Heritage Lottery Fund Stage One Pass: £125,000, Development funding £3,100)

The tower and 150ft spire of St Andrew’s Parish Church is to undergo repair work to remedy the effects of damp. The impressive stone spire is the tallest in the town and as such a prominent landmark on the skyline. It was built in 1893 as part of prolific Glasgow architect, John Bennie Wilson’s designs for the church.

The Town Kirk of Stranraer
(Heritage Lottery Fund Stage One pass: £120,000)

Built in 1896, the Town Kirk of Stranraer, formed by the union of St Andrews and the Old Parish churches, was also designed by John Bennie Wilson, a regionally important architect who is known to have designed 47 churches, predominantly through commissions won through competitions. The Town Kirk is Late Gothic in design with the unusual addition of an octagonal open belfry tower. The Church is well attended and is used for organ recitals local flower festivals as well as the annual Rememberence Day service.

EU Congregational Church, Ardrossan
(Heritage Lottery Fund Stage One Pass: £25,000)

Occupying a prominent position within the town the Evangelical Union Congregation Church was built in 1903. Its front elevation includes battlemented towers and a five light window which is at risk of falling out if it does not receive attention from a specialist.

St Geraldine’s High Church, Lossiemouth
(Heritage Lottery Fund Stage One Pass: £60,900)

Sitting on the hilltop overlooking Lossiemouth harbour, this distinctive church with white walls and a red roof, is a local landmark which can be seen for miles around. It was built in 1899 by Sir John Burnett, a prominent Scottish architect and major figure in architecture in Britain. The funding will replace the Church roof.

Notes to editors:
A ‘Stage One Pass’ means that money has been earmarked by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project in question. Competition at this stage is tough, and while a Stage One Pass does not guarantee funding, it is an indication of positive support, and money for the scheme is set aside. The applicant can then progress to Stage Two and submit a further, fully developed application to secure the full grant. On occasion, at Stage One, funding will also be awarded towards the development of the scheme.

·The Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland established the joint Places of Worship Scheme in October 2002.

·To date the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded over £40million to places of worship in Scotland.

·The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage. From our great museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up our nation’s heritage for everyone to enjoy. To date it has invested over £450million in Scotland’s heritage.

·Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

·Since 2002, Historic Scotland invested over £16 million into the repair and maintenance of over 180 buildings

For further information

Heritage Lottery Fund: Shiona Mackay on 01786 870638 or 07779 142890 or Sam Goody on 020 7591 6033 or

Historic Scotland: Lisa Nicholson on 0131 668 8852 or 075000 65438 or