Edinburgh church awarded £100,000 funding to help repair building and secure its future

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An Edinburgh church soon to celebrate its 200th anniversary has won funding of £100,000 to help secure its future.

The congregation of St Mark’s Episcopal Church – a landmark on Portobello High Street – will use the grant to carry out urgent repairs to the rare neoclassical building.

Opened in 1826, St Mark's Episcopal Church is a landmark structure on Portobello High StreetOpened in 1826, St Mark's Episcopal Church is a landmark structure on Portobello High Street
Opened in 1826, St Mark's Episcopal Church is a landmark structure on Portobello High Street | submitted

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The award is part of a £1 million handout from the National Churches Trust that will help to ensure that 18 historic churches, chapels and meeting houses across the UK remain open and in use.

Opened in May 1826 and consecrated on August 21, 1828, St Mark’s was one of the first Episcopal churches to be built in the Edinburgh Diocese after the repressions of the Penal Laws that followed the Jacobite risings in the 18th century.

The graveyard of the category B-listed building also contains architecturally significant monuments in a mix of Gothic and Classical styles.

But concerns have been raised about the safety of the deteriorating building, with its crumbling plaster work.

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The £100,000 grant will be used to repair the floor, ceiling, external walls and windows. This will allow the church to proceed with planned improvements to its facilities, including the provision of a new kitchen and accessible toilets.

St Mark’s currently hosts a range of community activities, including  coffee mornings, yoga and Pilates, book clubs, children’s drama and dance classes, concerts and exhibitions. Despite this, its rental income has fallen since the pandemic.

By improving its facilities, the church hopes to attract a wider pool of groups and create a vital income stream that will safeguard the building for generations to come.

Claire Walker, chief executive of the National Churches Trust, said:  "The National Churches Trust is excited to be able to support St Mark’s Church to enable them to carry out urgent repairs. This will safeguard the unique heritage of this historic church and keep it open and in use for the benefit of local people.

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“Whether seeking quiet reflection, access to community services or a place to worship, the National Churches Trust helps hundreds of churches each year and with the support of local people, keeps them thriving today and tomorrow.” 

The Rev Canon Dr Sophia Marriage, Rector of St Mark's, said: “This marks a significant milestone in our fundraising as we move towards the 200th anniversary of the church and work to ensure that the St Mark’s building and congregation can serve the people of Portobello in exciting ways for the next 200 years.

“We are immensely grateful for this generous grant of £100,000 from the National Churches Trust, which provides a massive boost to our ongoing fundraising work and considerably helps towards the repair costs, which were the starting point for the vision to make the church more accessible, flexible and welcoming for worship and for the many different community activities that meet there.

“We are also greatly encouraged by the partnership that this grant opens up, which shows how much the National Churches Trust supports the vision for the renewal of community infrastructure at a time when increased fabric costs and the withdrawal of community funds threatens these spaces which are integral to the flourishing of people.”

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