Alberto Costa, MP for South Leicestershire, has welcomed the recent funding award provided to one of the county’s ‘hidden gems’, St Thomas’ Church in Catthorpe, as part of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund and Heritage Stimulus Package.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has provided £1.57 billion to support heritage sites across the country and the wider cultural sector during the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of the first round of heritage awards distributed by Historic England, £24,800 has been provided to 13th Century Grade II listed St Thomas’ Church in Catthorpe.
The award for St Thomas’ comes after the church had suffered a spate of robberies and burglaries in the last few years, with the roof lead being stolen twice and burgled on a further two occasions with a medieval chalice and the church record books being taken.
Alberto said, “This award from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund is of course hugely welcome for St Thomas’ Church in Catthorpe; one of Leicestershire’s hidden gems, the church’s rich and proud history can be traced all the way back to the 13th century, however like many other heritage sites across the country it has been facing some tremendous financial difficulties of late. This, coupled with a rather rotten run of luck, in having their roof lead stolen and then being burgled, means that this grant could not have come at a better time to help preserve one of the constituency’s most valued churches”.
Mrs Rebecca Bowen, Church Secretary for St Thomas’ Church, added, “With the money the beautiful stained-glass window which the sun shines through at sunset will be temporarily removed to allow for the stone window frame to be completely rebuilt. The crumbling foundation stones will be repaired or replaced, and the rainwater drainage system will be completely rebuilt to allow the church to dry out and not sit surrounded by waterlogged ground. Having this grant will mean we can fundraise to renovate the interior and bring it back to its original state exposing the limestone walls. Our church is not just a religious building it is where we meet for social functions, coffee mornings, village produce shows and our monthly ‘bake-off’ challenge”.
Harborough District Councillor for Catthorpe, Jonathan Bateman, said, “Sadly in the past St Thomas’ has suffered from thefts and other acts of crime, however this new funding from Government will be greatly appreciated and will allow the church to continue its important work within Catthorpe village and the surrounding parish. “
Alberto concluded, “The ongoing pandemic is causing considerable problems for our wonderful heritage sites; however, I am very pleased that both the Government and Historic England have stepped in to provide much needed support to these valued institutions where needed. Churches like St Thomas’ provide much more than a place of worship; they are often the focal point for communities, and therefore it’s of crucial importance these sites have all the support they need. The grant funding here will be a huge help toward the costs of maintaining the church for many years to come, and I would like to thank all the volunteers and everyone involved with St Thomas’ in Catthorpe, and I really look forward to visiting the church soon to see the repair works being undertaken”.
Picture above of St Thomas’ Church, Catthorpe taken from https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/14451/