Building Appeal: FAQs

English Martyrs Building Fund: Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why has the parish set up a Building Appeal group?
The Parish recently celebrated 150 years in Tower Hill. The present church was built in 1876, and this means that the maintenance costs continue to increase. We are asking for help from within the parish, but also from the local business community and those who come to the church as visitors and tourists.

2. Why can the parish funds not cover the necessary repair work?
It is important to point out that, over the few years, the Westminster Diocesan report has consistently indicated that parishioners of English Martyrs make an ‘above average’ contribution to parish funds. Income from the parish is sufficient to meet our basic running costs, but we are not now able to meet the level of repair bills at present being incurred.* With the great changes in the make-up of the area, parish numbers (and therefore those who contribute financially to the parish on a regular basis) has been dwindling for some time, hence the launch of this appeal, aiming to widen support to include local businesses and visitors

3. Has the parish considered applying for grants from other organisations?
We are in discussion with Tower Hamlets and English Heritage about grant support. If you know of any other such grant-giving organisations, please pass this on to us. The Parish received a major lottery-funded award to repair the church roof in 2007. However, such applications take time to prepare, and incur extra expenditure such as fees for surveys and initial costings. In the meantime, the bills keep coming. This appeal is needed to cover urgent repairs, for example, to the external masonry, the Shrine, and other upgrades to the interior.

4. Why is our church important to the area?
The Oblates of Mary Immaculate, (OMI), who still run the parish, set up the ‘Tower Hill Mission’ in 1864. The present church was inaugurated in 1876 (further details on the website in ‘About the Parish’). It was thus part of a range of initiatives in the mid-19th Century aimed at combating the severe social conditions which prevailed in the East End. These include the founding of Salvation Army (1865) and Barnardos (1866), and the construction of buildings such as St Peter’s, Wapping Lane (1866), and Toynbee Hall, Commercial St (1884). The English Martyrs Church remains the focal point of an active parish, with regular weekday and weekend services, a place for private prayer and meditation in the heart of the city, which also serves the nearby local primary school, English Martyrs. As such, it is an important part of the rich religious diversity of the East End with its many churches, mosques and synagogues.

5. Can I become involved in the fund-raising, or make my views known to those organising it?
The parish is very keen to have your queries and comments on the Building Appeal. The ‘English Martyrs Building Committee’ page gives more information about our activities and future meetings. Do contact us on: towerhill@rcdow.org.uk, and a member of the committee will be in touch.

*******For an idea of the costs incurred in maintaining the church, please see the item in thew ‘News’ section of the website, which gives a summary of our expenditure in 2017. In that year we spent 48% (£32,743) of our income on upkeep and repairs to the church building.********