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Friars ask for funds to help restore Durham church

By on Thursday, 22 August 2013

St Cuthbert’s Church in Durham was entrusted to Dominicans last September    		    (Photo: Margaret Doyle)

St Cuthbert’s Church in Durham was entrusted to Dominicans last September (Photo: Margaret Doyle)

Dominicans embarking on a quarter-of-a-million pound restoration of one of England’s oldest Catholic churches have appealed for a further £45,000 to complete the project.

St Cuthbert’s Church in Durham was designed by Ignatius Bonomi and was built in 1827, two years before the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 which restored most civil rights to Catholics.

The stonework has been eroded and pieces of stone and mortar are flaking off the walls, leading to St Cuthbert’s being placed on an English Heritage “at risk” list.

Grants from English Heritage, the National Churches Trust, the Northumbria Historic Churches Trust and other bodies, as well as funds raised by parishioners, enabled the restoration work to begin last month. It is expected to continue until late October. A stained glass window by Harry Clarke installed in 1931, depicting St Cuthbert, St Bede, St William of York and Blessed Thomas Percy, is also being restored at a cost of £19,500.

St Cuthbert’s is the chaplaincy for the University of Durham and about half of its parishioners are students. In September last year it was entrusted to the care of the Dominicans.

Parish priest Fr Benjamin Earl OP said: “This historic building is a visible sign of continuity down the centuries, from our forebears who built it in the 19th century, to the parishioners and students filling it today. Looking at the packed church it is obvious that the Church remains alive and young… The repairs will also safeguard a historic gem of a church for the whole of the local community in Durham.”