St John’s Church Sharow ‘Vision Project’ secures Heritage Lottery Fund Investment

St John’s ‘Vision Project’ has received a confirmed grant of £520,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), it was announced today. Thanks to National Lottery players the project will restore the beautiful stained glass and wall decor in St John’s Sharow and allow local people and the wider community to explore its fascinating heritage.

St Johns Sharow
St Johns Sharow

The project will also build up-to-date facilities in order to complement the much-increased performance and community use of the building, provide level access throughout the ground floor for maximum accessibility and will contribute towards the creation of a much needed car park opposite the church. It is hoped the restoration work will start in the near future and the building work later this year.

The Vision Project is about much more than the building, however; its main focus is people. The plan is to develop a varied programme to enable visitors of all ages to engage with and learn about the rich heritage of St John’s Sharow. This includes ensuring that there are appropriate interpretation and educational resources to excite and stimulate the hearts and minds of those who access our site, whatever their age or situation in life, and whether they live locally or are visiting from further afield. These plans involve not just the Church itself, but the churchyard and some aspects of the history of the community within the parish.

St John’s Sharow has some remarkable stained glass windows that are of national importance – one particular gem is tucked away up in the bell tower, one of only two in the country celebrating Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. The Churchyard contains the unusual pyramid grave of Charles Piazzi-Smyth who was Queen Victoria’s Astronomer Royal for Scotland for over 40 years and also an expert pyramidologist as well as being the uncle of Robert Baden Powell, founder of the Scouting movement. The Churchyard also contains a large area of British Legion graves and a conservation area that encourages wildlife, including flowers. St John’s Sharow is becoming an increasingly popular venue for concerts, dramas, and diverse community events that are attracting ever wider participation.

The ministry team and the project volunteers are thrilled to have received an award from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help us achieve our long term aim. The Vision Project has been running since 2009 and the community raised a very large amount of money for its initial phase, completed in 2014. We can now look forward confidently to realising the second phase and our objective of preserving our heritage and building a secure future for St John’s Sharow.

The Very Revd John Dobson, Dean of Ripon who is the incumbent of Sharow said, “I am delighted by the decision of HLF to support the efforts of the people of Sharow to develop this exciting project. As well as conserving some important heritage, they wish to share a wonderfully enhanced building with the wider community in ways that will enhance many lives. I congratulate all who have played a part in getting to this point and wish them well in taking forward the project to completion.”

About St John’s Sharow
St John’s is the Church of England parish church for the village of Sharow which is just north of Ripon. It was built in 1825 at a time when Ripon Cathedral (then Ripon Minster) had run out of space for the growing size of the community. It retains strong links with the Cathedral, being part of their benefice and the Dean being the official Incumbent. As the only building of such size in Sharow it has become increasingly popular as a community venue. It is open 365 days a year for visitors.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.