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Saving St Andrews

Saving St Andrews - Two Churches Removed from the Heritage at Risk Register

Whilst most of us are looking forward to being able to open and use our church buildings again, for two parishes it will mark the start of a new chapter in their history in more ways than one. 

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of volunteers and clergy, major repairs have been completed at churches in Cherry Hinton and Swavesey, both coincidentally called St Andrew’s. 

The completion of work means that both buildings have now been removed from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register (HAR). 

“The removal from the HAR register is a great achievement for the building(s) as well as the community. I am grateful for the hard work of all those involved in achieving this milestone.”

Domenico D’Alessandro, Partnerships Team, East of England, Historic England

The repair projects were also made possible thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund Grants for Places of Worship (GPoW)*. The churches were among the lucky few to be awarded grants as the GPoW scheme came to an end, fighting off very stiff competition in both this and other Dioceses. 

St Andrew’s Church in Cherry Hinton celebrated the completion of their project with a festival weekend shortly before the lockdown. The project began in 2015 when the quinquennial inspection highlighted numerous issues, many of which other parishes will be familiar with. 

The fabric of this key community building had become saturated with water as a result of damp and leaks most of which were the result of inadequate drains; lead roofs coming to the end of their life; well-intentioned but inappropriate repairs in the past including cementitious repointing; design faults relating to an extension added in the 1980s; and structural issues. 

In order to attract the amount of funding needed to make the church a weathertight and welcoming space, the team at St Andrew’s developed an inspiring program of activities with a focus on engaging children.

Lego Church proved particularly popular providing fun STEM enrichment activities (Science, Technology, Maths and Engineering).  Schools helped to create a new guidebook and open days introduced the wider community to the landmark building.

Like Cherry Hinton, St Andrew’s Church in Swavesey had a number of urgent quinquennial repairs to address, but its ‘at risk’ status came after suffering three lead thefts.  As a result, the roofs were covered in plastic sheeting leaving them vulnerable to leaks and damage.

 This presented the PCC with an opportunity to realise their vision of making the church more amenable and accessible to the wider community:

“Swavesey church is loved by the village, everyone loves it, but they are not regular attenders to services…(we) have to use it or lose it"


The team developed an ambitious programme of events, heritage displays, open days, educational visits as well as a church café. The ‘adventure day’ for teddy bears, featuring a zip-wire and balloon rides, also made a welcome return.

Looking after our nation’s heritage assets is not an easy task, be it an archaeological site, wreck, castle, house or church.  Some face more challenges than others particularly following theft, vandalism or just the inevitable wear and tear that comes with older buildings.

These challenges are recognised nationally in Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register. There are currently 25 churches on this register in the Diocese of Ely.

To find out more about the register as well as advice on maintenance and fundraising, please visit the Church Buildings Policies and Guidance Notes and Policies page.

*The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is now called the National Lottery Heritage Fund and offers grants through one open programme. Visit the website for more details -


Page last updated: Tuesday 20th June 2023 6:05 PM
First published on: 15th June 2020
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