In the largest single award to the Catholic Church in Wales, the Archdiocese of Cardiff is celebrating winning £1.2million Heritage Lottery Grant to transform a disused chapel in the Welsh capital into a multi-use hub for the community.
The Cornerstone project will turn the Grade II former Ebenezer Chapel in Charles Street, built in 1855, into a centre for community activities, business conferences and events as well as social events, art, weddings and heritage learning.
The Most Revd. George Stack Archbishop of Cardiff said: “This is wonderful news for the people of Cardiff and Wales and of significant importance to the Catholic Church in Wales.
We are extremely grateful to the HLF for this significant grant and can’t wait to move ahead with the building restoration. Our hope is to bring this building back to life, creating a new community hub, whilst saving a prominent historic building at the heart of Cardiff, bringing it’s past and present together.
As a focal point to one of Cardiff’s leading areas of architectural importance, we believe Cornerstone will help in the long overdue regeneration of Charles Street, with important knock-on effects for the economy and tourism of Wales. We could not be happier with this early Christmas present.”
Located opposite Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral of St David, the building was purchased by the Catholic Archdiocese of Cardiff in May 2012.
Designed by acclaimed Welsh architect Robert George Thomas, the Grade II listed
chapel is an early example of the Gothic revival and was vacated by its Welsh speaking Presbyterian Congregation as it required extensive restoration.
Jennifer Stewart, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, said: “This is a really different project that will bring an unused building not only back to life, but make it a central part of the local community.
We’re thrilled to be able to award funding to a project with such a wide range of purposes and all because of the National Lottery players, if they didn’t buy Lottery tickets, projects such as this wouldn’t be possible. I can’t wait to see this chapel become an integral part of modern Cardiff just as it was in the past.”
The Lottery funding will now ensure the social, cultural, architectural and religious heritage of Cornerstone and its integral school hall, will be restored in stone and preserved in words via an oral history project.
In April the project was awarded an £80,000 development grant by HLF as part of a first round pass.
The restored building will house a new café and a new conference facility, as well as continuing to provide a space for community groups. The project aims to create six new full time and twenty part-time jobs and as part of a partnership with local charities, employment and training opportunities will be made available.
Ebenezer Chapel once boasted a congregation of 250 Welsh speakers and a part of the project is ensuring that this Welsh heritage is preserved through a bilingual oral history project which will capture the memories of former chapel-goers and those with personal connections to the chapel’s past.