Alton Castle, part of The Kenelm Youth Trust receives lifeline grant from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund

  • Almost 450 heritage organisations in England, including Alton Castle have been awarded cash from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage
  • Grants of up to £1 million will deliver a lifeline for the heritage sector in England with further support to follow and larger grants for capital projects awarded through the Heritage Stimulus Fund
  • First major tranche of funding from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund

Alton Castle is one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive a lifesaving financial boost from the government thanks to the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

445 organisations will share £103 million, including Alton Castle to help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector.

Alton Castle has received £118,000 to support it over the Winter months while schools are unable to come and stay due to the pandemic. This grant will help the Castle with immediate ongoing costs and help us think how The Castle can attract more day visitors over the next year. It ensures we are safe to open fully in 2021 and deliver on development plans over the Winter months.

This vital funding is from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund - funded by Government and administered at arm’s length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both funds are part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund which is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

433 organisations will receive a share of £67 million from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage to help with costs for operating, reopening and recovery. This includes famous heritage sites across the country, from Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, Blyth Tall Ship to the Severn Valley Railway, the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincolnshire to the Piecehall in Halifax. The funds will save sites that are a source of pride for communities across the country.

12 organisations, including English Heritage, Landmark Trust, Historic Royal Palaces and the Canal and River Trust, will receive £34 million from the Heritage Stimulus Fund to restart construction and maintenance on cherished heritage sites to preserve visitor attractions and protect livelihoods for some of the most vulnerable heritage specialists and contractors in the sector.

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) has also been awarded a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund through Historic England. The AHF will use the funding to support charities and social enterprises occupying historic buildings to develop new business plans and strategies for organisations affected by the pandemic.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post covid.”

Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator, Historic Royal Palaces, said:

“There’s no truer way to experience the past than to walk in the footsteps of those who have lived it – that’s why preserving our built heritage is so important.

“At Historic Royal Palaces, we care for six nationally significant buildings, opening them to the public and preserving them for future generations. Sadly, the pandemic meant that we had to stop some of our critical conservation work. The grant we have received from the Culture Recovery Fund will enable to this work to resume – so we can give some of Britain’s most historic buildings the care and attention they deserve, while supporting the specialist craftspeople who are vital for the future of our national heritage.  We are enormously grateful to the Government for this support.”

Sandra Satchell CEO Kenelm Youth Trust, said:

"This is fantastic news and will preserve the Castle until we can fully bounce back!

"The Kenelm Youth Trust operates out of Alton Castle, a Gothic-revival castle set in 60 acres in the village of Alton, Staffordshire.  The site has been fortified since Saxon times, with the original castle dating from the 12th century. The current castle was rebuilt between 1847 and 1852 by A.W.N. Pugin, as a country house for the 16th Earl of Shrewsbury.  

"Since 1967 the Castle has been designated a Grade I listed building. It is also a scheduled ancient monument.  It is one of only 10 Grade I listed buildings in Staffordshire Moorlands and the only Grade I listed building in Alton

"Within the grounds of the Castle Site sits three Grade II listed buildings - Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist; Hospital of St. John and St John’s Preparatory School.

"The Castle remained a private residence until 1919 when the Sisters of Mercy brought it to extend their boarding school. The school closed in 1989.  In 1995, the Archdiocese of Birmingham purchased the Castle and opened it as a Catholic Youth Retreat Centre in 1996. It is the first choice of schools, youth organisations and church groups throughout the West Midlands region and beyond, looking for a wide choice of activity, faith-based and personal development programmes, providing creative opportunities for learning outside the classroom. Each year, over 10,000 children experience this heritage site, many of whom are disadvantaged and from inner city areas.

"With this support from Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage the Castle now has the essential lifeline to enable us to now complete on making planned improvements over the winter to the building and activities in the grounds. We continue to welcome day team building days and day retreats while we plan on re-opening The Castle fully for residential school stays and residential retreats by March 2021."

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive said:

“It is heartening to see grants, both large and small, from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund helping heritage sites and organisations across the country which have been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19. These grants range from giving skilled craft workers the chance to keep their trades alive to helping heritage organisations pay the bills, and to kick-starting repair works at our best-loved historic sites. The funding is an essential lifeline for our heritage and the people who work tirelessly to conserve it for us all, so that we can hand it on to future generations.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by Government is crucial.  Heritage creates jobs and economic prosperity, is a major driver for tourism and makes our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live.  All of this is so important for our wellbeing and will be particularly vital when we start to emerge from this incredibly difficult time.

“Our heritage is still facing a perilous future – we are not out of the woods yet.  But this hugely welcome funding from Government, and the money we continue to invest from the National Lottery, has undoubtedly stopped heritage and the organisations that care for it being permanently lost.”

Kate Mavor, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said:

“This support for our nation’s heritage is fantastic news.  Over the last few months, our teams have been working hard to welcome visitors back safely to the great castles, stone circles, abbeys and historic houses in our care. This funding will help us invest to safeguard the historic fabric of these much-loved places, which everyone can learn from and enjoy.”

Kenelm Youth Trust