AN HISTORIC Worcester church has moved one step closer towards an ambitious £250,000 restoration thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Believed to be one of the city’s oldest places of Christian worship, St Helen’s Church, on Fish Street, is in need of essential restoration work to its 13th century stonework, as well as funding new resources.
The Grade II listed building will host interactive displays, timelines and videos that will bring to life the church’s rich Medieval and Civil War history.
Development funding of up to £28,400 has been awarded to All Saints Church on Deansway, whose community uses the building, to progress its proposals for St Helen’s before applying for a full grant at a later date.
All Saints currently uses the church to host weekly evening services, a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) job club and a music-themed toddler group.
With lottery backing, a packed programme of new activities would also be introduced, including tourist trails, history days, art exhibitions, sports activities, concerts and afternoon teas.
Rev Dr Rich Johnson, Vicar of All Saints, said: “We’re thrilled the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support.
“St Helen’s is already a thriving place of worship and home to many community events, but we want more people to come and experience the rich history, power and beauty of this place.”
It is believed the site of St Helen’s has been a place of Christian worship since at least as far back as the early 7th century, predating the monastery which later became Worcester Cathedral.
During the Second World War the church served as a soldiers’ club before an agreement was reached for it to become a branch of the county council’s Record Office in 1957.
But in 2003 it was revived by the congregation of All Saints Church as a place of worship, prayer and community events.
Vanessa Harbar, head of HLF West Midlands, said: “This award to St Helen’s Church in Worcester will ensure essential repairs are carried out, and allow visitors and local people to get involved and learn about the fascinating stories and heritage of the building, which has served the community since the 13th century”.
“There is a place of worship in almost every ward, village and town across the West Midlands, providing a very powerful visual connection with our past.