Rosslyn Chapel’s prayers are answered with grants of £7m

Gareth Edwards

Grants of more than £7 million have today been awarded to save the world-famous Rosslyn Chapel.

The money from Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund will pay for an extensive programme of repair to preserve the crumbling chapel.

The 15th century building, which has seen visitor numbers soar after being featured as the resting place of the Holy Grail in Dan Brown’s thriller The Da Vinci Code, will also have new visitor facilities created.

Described as a book in stone, Rosslyn Chapel is renowned for its intricate carvings, featuring symbols of the Knights Templar, Christianity, Freemasonry and mythology.

With the building, which dates back to 1446, in a poor condition and exposed to the elements, both the fragile carvings and the chapel itself were at serious risk.

It is hoped the work funded by the new grants will help to safeguard the long-term future of the chapel.

It has now been awarded a Stage One pass for a grant of £4.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £2.6m from Historic Scotland.

This means the money has been set aside, and will be awarded provided detailed plans meet with approval.

After ten years of investigation and planning, it is expected that such plans could be submitted and approved within six months, meaning restoration work could start before the end of the year.

The money will be used to fund an extensive five-year repair programme, including conserving and protecting the stonework of the ancient building, repairing the stained and leaded glass and restoring the Victorian baptistry.

The temporary tin roof, which has protected the chapel for the last ten years to let the original roof and walls dry out – a project also funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland – will be removed, and a permanent roof created.

The funding will also be used to provide improved visitor facilities for the thousands of people who flock to the chapel every year.

Since featuring in The Da Vinci Code, Rosslyn Chapel has seen its visitor numbers increase from 30,000 a year in 2000 to 120,000 visitors in 2006, meaning its current visitor facilities, designed for a maximum capacity of 35,000 are completely inadequate.

The grant will help fund the development of the existing visitor facilities to provide a new reception with an interpretative timeline, exhibition space, flexible education space, cafe, shop and toilets.

Announcing the grants, Tourism and Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson said: “Rosslyn Chapel has gained worldwide fame through the success of the Da Vinci Code.

“What many do not realise is that the chapel has in fact enjoyed international acclaim as one of Scotland’s most impressive and important buildings for hundreds of years.”

Andrew Russell, managing trustee of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust, said:

“These awards mark a vital milestone in the history of the Trust, and of the Chapel as a whole.

“When our plans to conserve the fabric of the building and improve our visitor facilities are complete, we expect to have invested over £13m and to be providing a greatly enhanced visitor experience to a much broader audience.”

And Brian Lang, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Scotland Committee, said: “The spectacular architecture of Rosslyn Chapel has captivated hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world.

“The craftsmanship of its stonework is only surpassed by the mysteries its designs hold.”

22nd March 2007




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