Amen for £450,000 history and church repair project – News

HERITAGE PROJECT: Robert Stenlake and Johanna Ungemach at the new digital information point in the church

A NEW outdoor heritage sign and indoor digital information point have concluded a £450,000 project to carry out major repairs to St Mary’s Parish Church, Barnard Castle.
The work, which began two years ago, repaired a major crack in the windows of the west wall and included the repair of the masonry of the tower and the windows at the back of the church.
A community project, called Windows to the World, was also launched, which generated international interest.
It was managed in partnership with the archaeological group DigVentures.
Johanna Ungemach of DigVentures said much of the project had to go live due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The virtual events, which included lectures on folklore, the arrival of the railroad, cholera and mining, drew 1,462 viewers from 27 countries across five continents.
The church’s vicar, Reverend Canon Alec Harding, said: “The National Heritage Lottery Fund has been truly impressed with the way Johanna and DigVentures have engaged the community, particularly in times of Covid.”
national heritage
The Lottery Fund provided £320,000 for the repairs and the heritage project, with the rest coming from other grant schemes. A number of workshops and professional training events were able to take place before the imposition of the national lockdown, including photogrammetry sessions, which resulted in the creation of 3D models of a host of heritage assets to St Mary’s.
Drones were used to create a similar 3D model of the entire church.
Additionally, pupils from Teesdale and Barnard Castle Schools have started making models of the church in the popular Minecraft video game.
Game enthusiasts can now create their own versions of St. Mary’s Church by downloading instruction guides.
When Covid-19 restrictions were lifted, DigVentures held a Windows to the World festival which included workshops, concerts, tours and talks, as well as a stained glass exhibition.
Ms Ungemach said: “639 people came to the festival and we held 26 different heritage events and activities during the delivery phase.”
The project saw the creation of a new heritage leaflet and historical brochure, as well as a revamped website.
Ms Ungemach said: “For me personally, this was the first project I managed on my own and it would be
would not have been possible without the help of Alec and Robert [Stenlake – church treasurer].
“It was amazing, we met so many people who were interested and willing to volunteer their time to help with the festival and the 3D models.”
The public can view the results of the project on the digital information point in the inner porch of the church, which includes the 3D models, as well as all the information about the church, its history and its links with Richard III.