St Edmund King and Martyr, Dudley has received a funding boost in the shape of a £10,000 National Churches Trust Repair Grant to help fund ongoing tower roof and rainwater goods repairs as part of a project to bring the church back to life and remove it from Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register.

The church is one of 54 churches and chapels in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland that are set to benefit from rescue funding of £310,060 from the National Churches Trust, the UK’s church support charity.

Huw Edwards, Broadcaster and Journalist and Vice-President of the National Churches Trust said:

“At the heart of communities in cities, towns and villages, churches are a treasure trove of architecture, history and faith. I’m delighted that St Edmund King and Martyr, is to be saved for the future and made an integral part of the Castle gateway route into Dudley town centre with the help of a £10,000 National Churches Trust Repair Grant. This will help ensure that this splendid historic church can be brought back to life it making it possible for more people to use it for a wide range of religious and community activities.”

The project

Currently St Edmund King and Martyr is in a poor state of repair. The church has boarded up windows on the tower, crumbling pointing and damaged masonry and the sides of the building are currently fenced off to prevent passers-by from being injured by falling debris.

The repairs to the tower are the first of three phases of repairs to the building which are necessary to make it structurally secure and weathertight, to remove the risk of damaged features falling on passers-by. The other two phases, which will follow as and when funds are available, are to the nave and then finally to the chancel. Hopefully all the repairs will be completed by 2022 which will enable St Edmunds to be removed from the Heritage At Risk register.

This project will address all these issues making the front of the building with the main entrance safe, greatly enhancing its appearance and at the same upgrading the toilet and kitchen facilities.

The church has already raised substantial sums of money and the grant from the National Churches Trust will secure the final piece of its funding jigsaw.

The church

St Edmund, known locally as 'Bottom Church' (to distinguish it from 'Top Church' St Thomas with St Luke to the south at the top of the hill) was originally a medieval church but it was completely rebuilt after its semi destruction in 1646 during the Civil War.

The present church was designed by Thomas Archer and is a classical building of red brick and stone dressings, and has an aisled nave and long chancel. The organ chamber and vestry on the south side was erected in 1849 and in the latter end of the 1800s there were a number of improvements when the interior furnishings were considerably changed but much of the woodwork is of high quality. Today the church is of the Anglo-Catholic tradition.

Jon Harcourt, churchwarden, said:

“Without the help from the our friends at the National Churches Trust, the congregation would probably not have been able to achieve our aims for making the church fit for today and ready to meet other challenges of physical construction, realising that we leave a legacy for generations to come.”