Ilkley church heritage project to go ahead following £500k HLF award

All Saints' IlkleyAll Saints church, llkley, 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 HLF grant will be added to other funds raised by the Church of over £600,000, which will enable work to start early in the summer on a £1 million+ project to and open up the interior of the Church to reveal the heritage within.


Visitors and the community will learn about All Saints llkley through the eyes of local people, stretching back as far as the ancient Roman governor Agricola who chose llkley as one of his forts, the Anglo-Saxons who carved ancient crosses, and wealthy and less-wealthy llkley residents who lived and worshipped in the town over the centuries.


All Saints llkley, part of the Anglican Diocese of Leeds,  is one of the most historic places in llkley, 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 Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, welcomed the award. “This is fantastic news – thank you for letting me know. Please pass on to the congregation my congratulations and the promise of my ongoing prayers. I look forward to seeing the project develop.”


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.


“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,” says Derek Twine, the Project Development Co-ordinator.


“The aim of the project is to 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 llkley'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 by more than thirty community groups and children's activities.


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 llkley'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".

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