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/ 15 December 2020

Christmas funding boost for St Stephen’s, Shepherds Bush, London

St Stephen, St Thomas church Shepherds Bush

A much-loved London church which does such good work for its community, is to share in a £483,000 funding payout from the National Churches Trust.

A £10,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund the replacement of existing roof with Welsh slates at the Grade II listed Church, making it watertight and preserving its historic fabric.

The church is currently on the Historic England At Risk Register.

Broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards, Vice President of The National Churches Trust, said:

“The UK’s historic churches and chapels are a vital part of our national heritage and have done so much to help local people during the COVID-19 lockdown. But to survive, many need to carry out urgent repairs and install modern facilities. The cost of this work is far beyond what most congregations can pay for themselves.”

“So I’m delighted that St Stephen’s in Shepherds Bush is being helped with a £10,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant. The grant is an early Christmas present for the historic church and will facilitate the project and will help secure the future of this important community building and help remove it from the Historic England At Risk Register.”

A total of 45 churches and chapels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from the latest grants from the National Churches Trust, the charity supporting church buildings of all Christian denominations across the UK.

In 2020, the Trust has awarded 260 grants totalling £1,723,000, including recommendations on behalf of other funders with £200,000 of the funding provided by the Wolfson Foundation.

Grants will be available in 2021 to projects at churches, chapels and meeting houses and applications can be made by Christian places of worship in the UK that are open for regular worship. From repairing a roof to helping to install an accessible toilet – and many other projects – the National Churches Trust’s grants help keep churches open for worship and community activities and allow them to continue to serve local people and communities.

The church

The building is the work of renowned architect Anthony Salvin. The church was begun in 1849 and consecrated on 11th April 1850. In 1940, the church was bomb damaged. Part of the spire and accompanying pinnacles were brought down and deemed to be beyond repair. The rest of the spire was removed and replaced by a timber copper-covered fleche. In the same air raid, some of the stained-glass windows were destroyed and others badly damaged. Upon re-opening in 1949, the windows were repaired where possible, and the damaged East window was replaced with a depiction of Christ in Majesty flanked by saints (Goddard & Gibbs,1951).

In 1966, The Shepherds Bush Housing Association was set up by the vicar, the Rev John Asbridge, and for a few years was run from the vestry by volunteers from the parish. St Stephen’s became known as a church that warmly welcomed what became known as the Windrush Generation, and their welcome was reinforced in 1962 by the appointment of Barbadian-born Revd Wilfred Wood to St Stephens for his first curacy.

The project

The project will see a complete replacement of the old Victorian roof, which hasn’t been repaired properly in 170 years. In cold weather, rain and high winds dislodge the worn out slates and they slide off the roof, leaving gaps where the battens are exposed. Ingress of water frequently renders certain areas of the church beyond use and causes damage to pews and the fabric of the church. Leaks from damaged rainwater goods causes damp areas on the walls. In a recent condition survey carried out by Edwards Wilson, the slates were identified as being brittle and fragile and in need of replacement within 12 months. The project will replace the existing roof with Welsh slates, the soakers and flashings will be replaced, the parapets will be re-pointed and rainwater goods will be overhauled or replaced.

Barry Clarke and Charles Wood, Churchwardens at St Stephen’s said:

“We are grateful to the National Churches Trust for this generous award, which will enable us to begin work on the nave and South side aisle roof phase of the project. This is a growing urban church, serving a large, diverse and active community both through outreach and church based programmes. As current custodians of a long heritage, we acknowledge our duty to ensure that St Stephen’s Church will be fit to serve its congregation and the wider community for many generations to come.”

For more information see the church website or the roof Fund website.

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