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“Windows to the World” church building repairs and heritage interpretation project wins National Lottery support


St Mary’s Parish Church, Barnard Castle and DigVentures have received initial National Lottery support* for their Windows to the World partnership project, it was announced today. Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to develop plans for conservation and heritage interpretation of St Mary’s Parish Church in Barnard Castle.

Development funding of £17,100 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help St Mary’s Parish Church and DigVentures progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date.

The development project aims to plan for essential conservation work to the walls, tower and stained glass windows of the 900 year old parish church. The church’s partners in the project, Barnard Castle based archaeologists DigVentures, will develop plans to involve the wider community in the heritage of the church building and its place in local history. 

The church has important links with Richard lll and the project has received financial support from The Richard lll Society. DigVentures will also be developing heritage interpretation and community engagement in other aspects of the intertwined history of the town and the church, with plenty of scope for the community to become involved through talks, workshops and volunteering in the full project.

Alec Harding, vicar of St Mary’s, welcomed the award of the development plan.  Announcing the award, he said “the award of this initial grant provides us with sufficient funds to be able to develop detailed plans of the urgently needed church restoration works for a further application to HLF. When we are able to complete the works, the church will be weathertight for future generations.” The church is contributing £7,000 of donations and reserves to the initial project.

Lisa Westcott Wilkins from DigVentures added “We are really excited to have the opportunity to help St Mary’s develop this project. We’re looking forward to adding new opportunities for the church as a heritage destination in the already strong cultural mix of Barnard Castle, as well as involving the local community in many new and exciting activities.

Notes for Editors

About St Mary’s Parish Church

We are the only Anglican church in Barnard Castle.  It is open for all every day of the year. The church is Grade 1 listed and parts of the building date from the early 12th century.  Richard lll spent time in Barnard Castle and had improvements made to the church.  There is a figurehead of him as Duke of Gloucester in the church and a carved stone boar, his mark, on an outside wall. 

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About DigVentures

Founded in 2012, DigVentures is a social enterprise committed to developing and delivering collaborative archaeology projects. Headquartered in Barnard Castle, we have regional offices in the North West (Burnley), Scotland (Glasgow) Midlands (Lincoln), and London.

The DV team comprises field archaeologists, community engagement experts and specialists in digital technologies, focused on enabling citizen participation in archaeological and heritage activities.

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About the Heritage Lottery Fund

* HLF Heritage Grants applications are assessed in two rounds.  The Windows to the World project has initially been granted round one development funding of £17,100 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, allowing it to progress with its plans. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £320,500.

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.

Further Information

For further information, images and interviews please contact:

Rev Canon Alec Harding, vicar of St Mary’s Parish Church on 01833 637018

Robert Stenlake, Project leader, at St Mary’s Parish Church on 01833 637334 and


Lisa Westcott Wilkins at DigVentures on or 0333 011 3990