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  • Writer's pictureMichael Whitefoot

Sanctuary Project One Step Closer

Discover DeCrypt (St Mary de Crypt Church and Tudor Schoolroom) has received initial support* from The National Lottery Heritage Fund towards their Sanctuary Project, it’s been announced today. The project will see the Sanctuary area, considered by many to be the beautiful jewel within the church, restored to its former glory, completing the missing link from the previous restoration projects throughout the rest of the building. 

Development funding of £117,000 has been awarded by the Heritage Fund to help St Mary de Crypt Church progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date.

Currently, The Sanctuary is dark and dirty, which is in stark comparison to the rest of the building which is light and airy following the previous restoration projects.


The Sanctuary contains an important Tudor wall painting: The Adoration of the Magi, another much damaged wall painting and potentially other areas of paintwork hidden under years of grime. Recent research has highlighted that the six figures beneath the wall painting are mediaeval and, potentially, of national importance. In addition to the painting, there is a Mediaeval Single Sedile, Easter Sepulchre, triple sedilia, Victorian Reredos and stained-glass windows. The large East Credo window is the only one remaining in England in English.

Conservation reports indicate that there is a real need to undertake major cleaning, conservation, and stabilisation. In addition, there is very little understanding and interpretation of this area, despite it having such important elements within it.

Commenting on the award, Richard Ryan (Board of Trustees) said “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players. The project will bring to life the Tudor Wall Painting in the Sanctuary of the Church for all to see. This large painting showing the Biblical story of the Wise Men presenting gifts to the baby Jesus and his mother, Mary, is thought to date from Henry VIII’s reign and may even have been commissioned for a visit made by the king to Gloucester in1535. Below it are a series of paintings of small medieval figures, which will also be conserved, along with other fragments. The project will enable us to work with an artist to creatively reimagine what the original may have looked like when it was first painted. Visitors, and particularly local schoolchildren will be able to develop skills and understanding to create a modern version of the painting. Wall paintings, as well as nearby stained glass and medieval stonework will be in a better condition and preserved for future generations. The benefits of the project are huge: volunteer, school, student and artist involvement with interpretation, research, and conservation, all adding to the beauty and quality achieved in our community spaces, preserved for the future.”

The Sanctuary Project aims to stabilise and conserve the Sanctuary area, using professional conservators and conservation students. Volunteers will undertake research to interpret the space for visitors. An artist’s impression of the Adoration will be projected in the space to help give visitors an idea of how the space looked in the Early Tudor period before it was covered during the restoration.

Stuart McLeod, Director of England - London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: "We’re proud to support the great churches which have been at the centre of our communities for many centuries. This project will not only see this historic space completely restored, linking it with the previous restoration projects but will share the hidden stories of its heritage with its community. We look forward to working with the project team to progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.”


The project is not just about conservation work, but is also looking at ways to engage the local community with its heritage. Discover DeCrypt plan to run concerts, events, talks and workshops, and will involve local schools by holding art classes with the children exhibiting their works within the church. Volunteers will be critical to the success of the project by helping with research, fundraising and welcoming visitors.

If you’d like to discover more about the project, please visit


About Discover DeCrypt

Discover DeCrypt is the charity that runs and looks after St Mary de Crypt Church and the Old Crypt Schoolroom in Southgate Street, Gloucester.  These important historic buildings, in the heart of Gloucester, are used as a place of worship, a community hub and a venue for art and culture, open and accessible to all.


About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

* National Lottery Heritage Fund grant applications over £250,000 are assessed in two rounds. Discover DeCrypt has initially been granted round one development funding of £117,500 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, allowing it to progress with its plans. Detailed proposals are then considered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund at second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £621,697.


As the largest dedicated funder of the UK’s heritage, The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s vision is for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future as set out in our strategic plan, Heritage 2033. 


Over the next ten years, the Heritage Fund aims to invest £3.6billion raised for good causes by National Lottery players to bring about benefits for people, places and the natural environment.  


The Heritage Fund helps protect, transform and share the things from the past that people care about, from popular museums and historic places, our natural environment and fragile species, to the languages and cultural traditions that celebrate who we are. 


The Heritage Fund is passionate about heritage and committed to driving innovation and collaboration to make a positive difference to people’s lives today, while leaving a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy. 



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