One of Derry-Londonderry’s most historic churches, Christ Church Londonderry, has been awarded a £10,000 grant by the National Churches Trust as part of the Treasure Ireland project. It coincides with the announcement of a new collaboration between Ulster University, the Inner City Trust, St Eugene’s Cathedral and Christ Church which will offer greater access to historic buildings in the Northland Road area.

The Treasure Ireland project, which is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and the Department for Communities, supports historic places of worship in Northern Ireland. The Christ Church announcement marks the first occasion on which the project’s Northern Ireland grants committee has awarded the maximum Treasure Ireland grant amount.

The Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, Claire Walker, said: “The latest funding from the National Churches Trust’s Treasure Ireland project is a much-needed lifeline for Christ Church Parish Church. The grant will safeguard unique local heritage and provide a real boost to the people who look after Christ Church.

“Our thanks to the funders of Treasure Ireland: the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and the Department for Communities.”

Christ Church – a Gothic Revival church – is located on the city’s Infirmary Road opposite St Eugene’s Cathedral. Erected in 1830, to the designs of architect John Ferguson, it was the first purpose-built Protestant church constructed outside the city walls, and marked Derry’s northern expansion in the early-nineteenth century.

The church sustained severe damage in an arson attack in 1996 but retains many fine features, including a significant collection of stained glass designed by the artist William MacBride.

The £10,000 grant has been awarded for the restoration of Christ Church’s tower roof, its stonework and for waterproofing. The Northern Ireland grants committee was impressed by the conservation-led approach of the project which will help to protect the historic fabric of the church. To date, Treasure Ireland has supported twenty-one places of worship across Northern Ireland with grants totalling £106,000.

Irwin Thompson, a member of Christ Church’s Select Vestry, commented: “This is a remarkably generous grant from the Treasure Ireland Fund which will allow us to renovate the Tower, making it watertight. Historic building consultants McCollum Conservation and the National Churches Trust have been wonderfully supportive of our efforts to preserve this historic building while encouraging the formation of a Northland Heritage Group to promote community and tourist engagement with the buildings of this area of the city.

“Fr Paul Farren and Emmet Thompson of St Eugene’s Cathedral; Helen Quigley and Damian McAteer of the Inner City Trust; Prof. Malachy Ó Néill of University of Ulster; and Christ Church’s Archdeacon Robert Miller, Jim Kelley and myself, are forming a charity to encourage liaison between our organisations and community access to the important historic buildings and records we treasure. This area of Londonderry is well-known for its cultural activity, which will be enhanced by the Northland Heritage Group’s efforts, beginning with support for the ‘Walled City Passion’ Festival and events next Easter.”

(The featured photo shows James Kelley, Irwin Thompson and Ven. Robert Miller, of Christ Church Londonderry, outside the church).