Roofs at Risk: “At Risk” Church in Lancaster to receive urgent preventative work.

The Churches Conservation Trust are pleased to have been awarded a Heritage at Risk grant of £496,000 from Historic England for the Church of St John the Evangelist, Lancaster.

The exciting project will deliver a programme of urgent repairs to the roof, parapets, tower, and rainwater goods at St John’s and will secure the fabric and significance of this ‘At Risk’ Georgian church for future generations. A key part of this project also involves providing high-quality heritage skills training opportunities for around 20 Historic England Heritage Building Skills trainees and apprentices from across the North of England for their 2024 Summer School.

The Heritage Building Skills Programme, organised by Historic England, is a three-tiered training scheme for craftspeople to gain direct experience at crucial points in their careers. As well as providing on-site training with expert teams at some of the country’s most valuable historic buildings and places, identified by Historic England as 'at risk' and in need of rescue such as St John’s.

St John’s is a grade II* listed building and boasts a large array of original Georgian fabric, including box pews, galleries, and organ casing. All of which provide evidence of the high-quality skilled craftsmanship behind its construction in 1754.

In 1983 St John’s was vested to CCT and has in the past been used for concerts, community events and a fair-trade café. However, in 2015 many of these activities were forced to stop as the church was badly affected by flooding during Storm Desmond. This led to serious deterioration in the condition of St John’s including damage to the roof causing extensive water ingress leading to dry and wet rot outbreaks. The rainwater goods, tower, windows, and interior joinery were all also directly impacted.  A small group of dedicated volunteers help to monitor condition and host open days and occasional events, but this is increasingly difficult as the building declines.

Since Storm Desmond, CCT has invested around £250,000 in repairs. Despite this considerable investment, only remedial and emergency work has been able to take place. To ensure the building is safe and watertight, a holistic approach is needed, including full re-roofing and other high-level repairs.  

The funding from Historic England will allow CCT to carry out vital interventions so that we can prevent further loss of historic fabric, protect the significant interior including joinery, plasterwork, and wall paintings, and allow safe use by local communities while a project to develop a long-term sustainable use progresses.

Elanor Johnson, Regeneration Officer at Churches Conservation Trust commented:

“Not only is the support provided by Historic England to help us tackle the most urgent repair work at St John’s vital in securing the future of this wonderful building, it will also make a real difference to the future of the trainees and apprentices involved, helping them to develop skills to build their own careers and in turn helping CCT to care for historic churches for generations to come.”

The CCT and its dedicated expert partners, aim to lead by example in maintaining and repairing our church roofs across the country. St John’s is an important example, demonstrating that by saving roofs we can support the next generation of craftspeople who will help us care for all our churches long term. Donate towards our Annual Appeal, Roofs at Risk, today to support this vital work across our estate.

Your donation towards this Annual Appeal will contribute to our emergency and planned roof repairs and intervention projects. Donations will have a visible and overwhelmingly positive impact on our work. We are extremely grateful to all those who have already chosen to make a donation towards this Appeal.

Image description, top left: Water in the Chancel following a pipe bursting as a result of flood damage in 2023.