All Saints Ilkley wins National Lottery support
All Saints Ilkley has been awarded £543,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its plans to tell the stories of the historic parish Church, from its Saxon Crosses and Roman fort through to medieval, Victorian and 20th Century developments.
The project, supported by HLF, will improve access to and open up the interior of the Church to reveal the exciting heritage within. Visitors and the community will learn about All Saints Ilkley through the eyes of local people, stretching back as far as the ancient Roman governor Agricola who chose Ilkley as one of his forts, the Anglo-Saxons who carved ancient crosses, and wealthy and less-wealthy Ilkley residents who lived and worshipped in the town over the centuries.
All Saints Ilkley is one of the most historic places in Ilkley, standing on the site of the former Roman Fort of Olicana, a Scheduled Ancient Monument founded in 80 AD. When the fort was abandoned, Anglo-Saxon settlers re-used the stone to build the first Church on the site – an early example of recycling building materials.
The current Grade II* listed building is partly medieval and was substantially enlarged by the Victorians. The 15th Century tower houses three Grade I listed Saxon crosses as well as several Roman altars of great regional importance. National Lottery funding will also enable the building itself to have improved heating and weatherproofing to give greater protection to the fabric.
The HLF grant will be added to other funds raised by the Church of over £600,000, which will enable contracts to go out to tender, and then hopefully for work to start in the early summer.
The project will create a light, welcoming and attractive building which is fully accessible and which can be used by the community for a wide range of purposes. Exciting interactive displays, guided walks and digital media will interpret more than 2,000 years of history. This will enhance Ilkley’s offer to visitors to the town. An educational programme is planned to share our history with school children locally and from Keighley and Bradford. Volunteers will have roles to play in welcoming visitors, and a new staff post will be created to help implement the plans.
The Church and its adjacent Church House are a focal point for the community, currently being used in many different ways by over thirty community groups and children’s activities, including performances such as Saltmine Theatre and African Children Choirs – this is all in addition to regular worship, weddings and baptisms in a venue rich in history.
Jonathan Wright, Vice-Chair of the Parochial Church Council said: “We’re delighted to have this support and encouragement from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Our Church has been an important part of Ilkley’s Christian and community heritage for centuries. We will now be able to preserve it further into the future, and widen access to our special place for even more people to share, appreciate and enjoy”.
Derek Twine, Development Coordinator for All Saints Ilkley commented: “It really is exciting that we’re now in a position to realise our vision for the Church in a way that shows off and interprets the heritage story and also
becomes an even more welcoming place for the wider community.”
David Renwick, Head of HLF Yorkshire & Humber said: “This is exciting news for a well-loved church with a fascinating history dating right back to the Saxon period. Now, thanks to National Lottery players, those stories and the church itself will be brought alive for future generations.”