Lundy residents celebrate outside the church
Lundy residents celebrate outside the church

The St Helen’s Centre Steering Group was delighted to receive initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the conservation and development of the St Helen’s Centre on Lundy.

The Group aims to undertake major works to the church to provide a new centre on the island for learning, research and worship. Development funding of £74,900 has been awarded to the St Helen’s Centre Steering Group to help them progress their plans and to apply for a full grant at a later date.

Currently, the church is in a poor state of repair. The Group plans to completely recover the roofs, repoint the walls and relay the floors. As it has for the last 120 years, St Helen’s will continue as a place of worship and a place where people can celebrate important events in their lives such as baptisms and marriages. But, once repaired, the building will also provide educational facilities for the schools that come to visit Lundy’s unique natural environment and at present have no wet-weather base.

The St Helen’s Centre will also provide interpretation to help visitors learn more about the island’s fascinating history and nationally important wildlife. Facilities will be provided for special interest groups such as the Lundy Field Society and universities to undertake research and hold talks. As part of the project, volunteers and apprentices will be given the opportunity to learn traditional building skills, help repoint the walls and be involved in other building work.

Lundy Church - Photo by Nigel Dalby
Lundy Church – Photo by Nigel Dalby

St Helen’s Church is the most recent manifestation of a 1,300 year old Christian presence on Lundy. Externally austere, it has a colourful interior with polychromatic brickwork and floor tiles, beautiful carving and stained glass windows. It was designed by the notable Gothic revivalist architect, John Norton, most famous for his work at Tyntesfield near Bristol.

The St Helen’s Centre Steering Group need to raise £400,000 to match the funds they hope to receive from the HLF and is appealing to local people to help them reach this target.

Donations can be sent to the St Helen’s Church – Centre Appeal c/o The Lundy Shore Office, Bideford, Devon EX39 2LY.

The Revd Shirley Henderson (in pink)
The Revd Shirley Henderson (in pink) welcomed to her new parish in December 2013 – Photo by Shelly Southon

The Reverend Shirley Henderson, Chair of the St Helen’s Centre Steering Group said: “I have to confess to giving a ‘whoop’ of joy when I heard this news. It’s a new beginning, a wonderful opportunity to continue the Revd Hudson Heaven’s vision for a place of Christian presence on this very special island and a resource for all who visit it, especially the next generation.”

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “We’re really pleased to offer our support to this project, which would secure the future of this wonderful building on Lundy, enhancing its place at the heart of the community and creating a base for the many visitors who visit the island to experience its fantastic natural heritage.”

Derek Green, Lundy General Manager, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to support the St Helens project and news that the initial bid has been approved by the HLF is absolutely tremendous. St Helens is one of the most iconic buildings on Lundy, standing as a beacon on the horizon for thousands of visitors arriving to the island. It’s fantastic that the HLF have recognised its importance to both the island and visitors but there will be much work needed to raise the outstanding funds required, and I would appeal to everyone who cares for Lundy to help bring the project to life by making a donation”

Andrew Cleave, from the Lundy Field Society, said: “The Lundy Field Society welcomes the news of the grant from HLF for the development of the St Helen’s Centre, and our members look forward to making use of the new improved facilities which will help us in the study and conservation of this unique island.”

Notes to editors

  1. Owned by the Diocese of Exeter, St Helens Church was built in 1896-7 for the Reverend Heaven whose family, at the time, owned Lundy. It is statutorily listed as a building of national architectural and historic importance grade II.
  2. The St Helen’s Centre, Lundy Steering Group is a partnership between the Diocese of Exeter, the Hartland Coast Mission Community, the Lundy Company, the National Trust, A Rocha UK, the Lundy Field Society, the Lundy Island Society of Change Ringers and the Amelia Anne Heaven Charitable Trust.
  3. Owned by the National Trust, Lundy is financed, administered and managed by The Landmark Trust.
  4. About the Heritage Lottery Fund
    From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players’ money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about. www.hlf.org.uk.

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