Funding For Art In Churches

We can grant aid new works of art in medieval churches through a fund called the Cottam Will Trust.

Cottam Will Trust

Through the Cottam Will Trust we can make grants for items such as:  statues / sculpture, murals, paintings, paschal candlesticks, vestments, Commandment Boards, stained glass, altars and altar frontals. 

Grants are normally made for new works of art, but we have funded the purchase of salvaged items.

Anyone can apply for a grant but we tend to get applications from Parochial Church Councils (PCC). Sometimes they come from the artist themselves, with the backing of the PCC.

We are proud of what we have achieved so far, and through Father Cottam’s initial generosity, and prudent house-keeping since, the capital base for the Trust now exceeds £500,000. This means that we can help many more schemes in the future.

Leicester Cathedral

The Cottam made a substantial grant towards these Nativity figures, carved by Charles Gurrey, that are on display normally for six weeks over the Long Christmas. The photo shows their first appearance in 2013.

In 2016 we grant aided two major projects.  The new Jesse window by Helen Whittaker at St Mary’s Priory in Abergavenny was unveiled by HRH The Prince of Wales in late July.  The window is dedicated in memory of the late Dean Jeremy Winston, a former Trustee of the Friends.  Through the Cottam we gave the sum of £42,000 towards the window, the largest amount ever awarded to a single project in the Cottam’s history.  Read more about the Jesse Window

Also in 2016 we gave a grant of £6,000 to enable the fundraising target to be met for a new sculpture in Winchester Cathedral honouring the late composer Sir John Tavener. The work, in glass and stone, by Angela Connor FRBS, symbolises the spirit that flows through the walls of the cathedral and was unveiled on 11th November 2016.  Read more about the Tavener Sculpture. 

Established under the will of Father Samuel Elsworth Cottam, who died in 1943 and operated by The Friends from 1977, the Trust exists to give grants towards:

“the purchase, for the advancement of religion, of objects of beauty to be placed in ancient Gothic churches either in England or Wales.”

So far we have distributed about 80 grants for bells, statues, murals, paintings, paschal candlesticks, vestments, Commandment Boards, stained glass, altars and altar frontals.

Most items have been new but some have been salvaged.

We take the phrase ‘ancient Gothic’ to rule out the exclusively post-medieval but as long as the building is recognisably medieval, even if restored, we are likely to accept it as a candidate. We tend to be liberal in interpreting ‘the advancement of religion’ but are nervous about the purely private memorial.

Trustees hope that any purchase assisted under Cottam would be available for public enjoyment through the church in question being made available for visits outside the hours of divine service.

Applications should be made in writing and include:

  • Drawings or photos of the item and its proposed location.
  • An explanation of how the proposal is considered to meet the criteria of the Cottam Will Trust.
  • Copies of the last two audited accounts of the PCC.
  • An indication that the proposal either has a faculty or is likely to earn one.
  • An idea of how much the applicant expects to contribute.

Decisions are taken four times a year and are never delegated. Every decision has to go through The Friends Executive Committee. We can give ‘steers’ where there is uncertainty over whether a scheme would or would not find favour. The Director can explain the timetable for meetings and therefore decision-making.

If you wish to apply for a grant or require further information please contact the office.