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Extra funding needed to complete renovations of historic abbey

A congregation is set to worship again in a partially-restored historic Cumbrian church, badly damaged in an arson attack.

Holme Cultram St Mary in Abbeytown suffered extensive damage following the blaze in June 2006.

The fire destroyed the church’s roof and affected masonry and the building’s interior.

Phased construction work began in 2007. A new roof has been built, masonry repaired and new flooring and under-floor heating laid.

That work has accounted for £1.6 million which was paid out by insurers.

But it’s estimated a further £450,000 is still needed to complete the repairs and re-ordering of the building.

The Revd David Tembey, vicar of Holme Cultram, said: “It will be good to worship in the Abbey, although we have no power or lighting.

“We can open the door to visitors during the day and raise some money from their donations. And the community will be delighted that we will be able to hold baptisms, weddings and funerals again.

“We still have a lot of work to do but the major work has been completed and the site will be a fantastic witness in the area.”

The final phase of construction would allow for completion of the floor and heating, lighting, power and fittings and furniture in the abbey.

Architect David Sherriff, whose firm has overseen the repair work so far, said: “The Abbey is a nationally significant historic building on an important site. The PCC has always been determined that it should be a building of wide use not just

to the village but also to the whole Solway area and so very bravely their ambitions for the restoration have stretched far beyond simple insurance reinstatement as the parish church.

“They would love to see the building used every day and so have really tried to look to the future; even investing in ground source heating to help warm this
great space. They really do deserve everyone’s support to help raise the money needed and even small donations can really make a difference.”

While construction work has continued the congregation has had to meet in a side room of the abbey.

The latest construction phase is due to end this summer. It’s hoped services can be held in the shell of the building from September, while fundraising continues to help pay for the final works.

The abbey was founded in 1150 by Prince Henry of Scotland who gave the land to Cistercian monks from Melrose Abbey to settle.

It is the resting place of the Earl of Carrick, father of Robert the Bruce.

A Justgiving page has been launched to help raise money for completion of the works. For more information go to


For further information please contact or Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Officer, on 07984 927434 or at

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