York Minster has received a major boost towards funding its £9million Centre of Excellence for Heritage Skills and Estate Management, which is due for completion this summer.

The world-leading facility has received £500,000 from the London-based Garfield Weston Foundation, which donates £90m a year from its £9.7bn endowment.

The donation is the largest philanthropic gift granted by a charitable organisation towards the Minster’s work to date.

Last June, York Minster launched a campaign to raise £4m towards the new centre, whose costs have risen from an initially budgeted £5million due to recent inflationary pressures in the wider economy.


Work started on the scheme last August, with the workshop due for completion in June and the Heritage Quad due for completion in August.

The minster has been planning and working on the scheme, which promises multiple benefits, since 2018. City of York Council gave planning approval in September 2022.

The benefits of the centre include improving the productivity of restoration work; helping to retain traditional craft skills and practitioners; supporting young people in the early stages of their careers; and providing dedicated residential facilities for apprentices and trainees.

The minster says its vision for the Centre of Excellence is also a key element of the adopted York Minster Precinct Neighbourhood Plan which sets out a policy-led approach to creating a sustainable future for the Minster and its seven hectare estate.

Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct at York Minster, said: “This incredibly generous donation by the Foundation will help hugely towards realising our vision for the Centre of Excellence, in turn encouraging national and global learning and knowledge sharing of traditional heritage crafts and cutting-edge technologies.

“The Centre is crucial for helping us to secure the environmental, financial and heritage sustainability of York Minster for many years to come and the Trustees’ support has played a key part in enabling this to happen.”

Philippa Charles, Director of The Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “We are delighted to support the state of the art training facilities and affordable trainee accommodation provided at the York Minster Centre for Excellence.

“In a time of dwindling numbers of heritage craft practitioners learning the skills required to preserve and maintain beautiful historic buildings such as York Minster, we are delighted to help support this important project. We look forward to seeing the Centre develop.”

The Garfield Weston Foundation’s donation has significantly helped towards the £4m fundraising campaign for the Centre of Excellence. All contributions towards the project or the Minster’s ongoing conservation and restoration work are gratefully received as the minster nears its final target.

To make a donation, go to the minster’s website at Centre for Excellence or contact Cate Birch, Head of Fundraising at ymf@yorkminster.org.