A much-loved Staffordshire church, dubbed ‘The Potter’s Cathedral’, is to share in a £421,000 urgent funding pay-out from the National Churches Trust.
A £30,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help to pay for urgent repairs to the tower stonework, nave roof and ceiling plaster of Grade II Listed St Mark’s church in Shelton, ensuring the church thrives today and tomorrow.
St Mark’s is currently on the Historic England ‘Heritage at Risk’ register and the repair work will safeguard this important building for the future.
Broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards, Vice President of the National Churches Trust, said: "I’m delighted that St Mark’s is receiving a Christmas funding boost for urgent repairs to its tower stonework, nave roof and ceiling plaster. This will safeguard unique Staffordshire heritage and keep the church open and in use for the benefit of local people.”
“Whether seeking quiet reflection, access to community services or as a place to worship, the National Churches Trust helps hundreds of churches each year and with the support of local people, keeps them thriving today and tomorrow.”
49 churches across the UK will stay open and in good repair thanks to £421,000 of funding awarded by the National Churches Trust in this latest round of grants.
In 2022, the National Churches Trust has made over 200 grants to churches throughout the United Kingdom with funding totalling more than £1.6m. This year, it’s funding also helped to remove 18 churches from the Historic England Heritage at Risk register.
St Mark’s is one of a series of important ‘Commissioners Churches’ built in the expanding pottery towns in the early 19th century. The building is distinguished by its beautiful interior, which retains the original galleries with unusual cast ironwork.
St Mark’s most exceptional feature is the group of three large and beautifully modelled terracotta reliefs by George Tinworth, the renowned English ceramic artist who worked for the Doulton’s factory in Lambeth from 1867 until his death. George Tinworth is responsible for notable works of architectural significance throughout Europe.
Stoke-on-Trent was one of the most significant global powerhouses of ceramic production and St Mark’s reflects this. It includes a considerable number of Victorian Minton (Minton and Hollins) tiles. Those tiles would have been manufactured within a mile of the church and the parishioners of the time would have almost certainly included the people who produced them.
St Mark’s is a Grade II listed building. Hoarding and fencing has had to be erected at the base of the church’s tower to protect the public from falling masonry. The funding will facilitate repairs to the tower stonework, nave roof and ceiling plaster.
The Revd Phillip Jones,Team Rector said: "St Mark’s is a fantastic church that is much loved by many in the local community. It has fallen on hard times in recent years. The repairs we are seeking to do with the help of the grant from the National Churches Trust, will enable us to make the church available more widely as an asset to the community as well as supporting our desire to make it a vibrant place of worship and aiding the mission of the Church across the City of Stoke-on-Trent.”
This funding supports a larger community-focused project at St Mark's which received almost £1m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund 12 months ago. Work on this is due to continue apace in 2023.
Philip added: "We anticipate the contractor for the wider project to start work in January. It will be really good to see the repair work actually beginning after so much hard work by all involved to get to this point. We’re also anticipating the community heritage side of the project really moving forward in 2023 and are excited about getting more people from the community, and others interested in the heritage of the church and area, coming into the church and getting involved."