Hundreds of historic English sites to receive money

More than 400 organisations will share £103m to help restart vital repair and maintenance work on heritage sites, in a bid to keep venues open and to save jobs and livelihoods.

Culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, announced long-awaited details of the first major tranche of funding from in the government's culture recovery fund estimated at £1.57bn.

“This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post-Covid.”Dowden said.

Ros Kerslake, chief executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, added: “It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by [the] government is crucial.

The funding includes £67m to 433 organisations who applied for grants of less than £1m each to help them survive the pandemic. Another £34m will go towards restarting stalled construction and maintenance works at major heritage sites. A further £2m has been awarded to the Architectural Heritage Fund.

Nearly 20 cathedrals will receive chunks of money, including Canterbury (£999,200), Winchester (£948,200), Wells, (£201,300) and Salisbury (£245,000).

Beneficiaries also include famous locations that have starred in film and TV and are huge draws for tourists the world over, such as Gloucester Cathedral - whose cloisters formed the backdrop for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films - and Highclere Castle - the setting of Downton Abbey. These sites define how our nation is seen around the world.

Heritage leaders have welcomed the news that money from the cultural recovery package will finally start flowing.

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."