ST ANDREW’S Church in Kildwick has been awarded rare ‘major parish church’ status.

The 700 year old Grade one listed ‘Lang Kirk of Craven’ joins an exclusive club of around 300 churches of ‘exceptional significance’ in the country, including Bolton Priory at Bolton Abbey, allowing it access to funding streams closed to others.

The news has been welcomed by friends of the church, which just two years ago was open just one day a week for Sunday services and under possible threat of closure.

Chris Wright, of St Andrew’s project development, said a ‘major parish church’ is defined as having exceptional significance, being physically very large, listed as Grade one or two, open to visitors daily, having a role or roles beyond those of a typical parish church, and making a considerable civic, cultural, and economic contribution to their community.

“Some of these requirements are aspirational at St Andrew’s but the ruling Church Buildings Council agreed with the Leeds Diocesan authorities that admitting St Andrew’s to this group of some 300 churches would lead to most of the requirements being met.

“What this means for St Andrew’s in the short term is that the church is able to access funding streams closed to others. A recovery grant is available which, if awarded, will at last allow the church to embark on the restoration of the leaking roof.”

An application is now being prepared in time for the deadline of next week.

Mr Wright said part of the grant application had been made possible because of the church’s sponsor a slate appeal. Every pound donated to the appeal means that the church can apply for five pounds of funding.

“Another immediate effect is that the status of major church requires the church to be open to visitors daily,” he said.

“ A few security and practical issues need to be addressed – but soon the building should be open for visitors and tourists each day.

“As we mature into this new status and responsibility, the other expectations of a Major Church will develop as we learn to “make a civic, cultural, and economic contribution to our community”.

The Major Churches Network was created from the Greater Churches Network in 2019.

The change was made in response to a study commissioned into major parish churches under the auspices of the Church Buildings Council, the official body with overall responsibility for the Church of England parish churches and chapels, together with Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Sponsor a slate and help the Lang Kirk of Craven at: