We’re delighted to be able to announce that St. Chad’s has received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £199,800 for an exciting heritage project, ‘Repairing the roof, bringing our community together, and sharing our artistic treasures’. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project focuses on preserving the building of St. Chad’s for future generations, opening it up to people from the community of Kirkby, and helping us to understand the incredible works of art that are in the building. We are hopeful that the building work will start later this spring, and be complete before Christmas, and there will be an ongoing programme that explores the building and significance over the next 12-18 months or so. The church will remain open throughout the works.
The current church building will be 150 years old in 2021, and we are very much looking forward to celebrating the century and a half that it has been a key part of the community, an icon of the town. Part of this is work on the stone work at the west end of the church, and to the nave roof – the longest section – to ensure that the building will be around for many years to come. But we also know that the building is under-used. We want more people to enjoy this historic part of Kirkby, and to understand the national importance of so much of the building. To this end, we will be putting on heritage events, installing information points within the church and online, and curating a community history project to produce a booklet with some of the story of the church and its town.
There has been a church in Kirkby for a thousand years or so – the mention of Kirkby in the Domesday book as Cherchebi, the place by the Church, tells us that. The font that is housed in St. Chad’s is similarly ancient, of Norman origin, and uniquely beautiful in its carvings. The Earl of Sefton built the current church between 1869-1871, and commissioned its stained glass windows, oak furniture, pipe organ and magnificent mosaic from leading artists and craftspeople of his time, not least from Henry Holiday, one of the leading artists of his day. Ever since, the people of Kirkby have adopted the church as their own, and it is a popular place for Christenings, Weddings and Funerals. The tower is visible from much of the town, and Kirkby residents know that they’re home when they see it.
Commenting on the award, Team Vicar, Rev. Philippa Lea, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players and are confident the project will create a fabulous opportunity for peope in Kirkby to discover this very special place.”