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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Much-needed cash help for Rose Castle

The future is looking rosier for an historic building that has been under threat for several years.

Rose Castle photo
Rose Castle

Those battling to save Rose Castle at Dalston, near Carlisle, have been granted money from three separate funding streams and have now appointed a project manager to help run its ‘bridge building’ programme and one-off events.

Rose Castle, home to the bishops of Carlisle from 1230 to 2009, has been under threat for some years after the Church Commissioners’ assets committee – which owns the Grade-I listed building – agreed to sell it.

The Rose Castle Foundation, led in part by the current Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, aims to turn it into an international centre of reconciliation for people of all faiths.

A spokeswoman said they were establishing the foundation as a charitable body and had been given start-up funding by two trusts and a private donor.

The money had helped fund a new project manager – Alison Tozer – who has a background in hospitality and event management, she said.

“She is also a trained counsellor, and along with others will help to develop a faith-based mediation training programme,” said the spokeswoman.

“The underlying ethos at Rose is to ‘welcome the stranger’, and trained facilitators will work with visiting groups to help them build bridges across barriers.”

She said they’d had no shortage of interest in programmes to be held at Rose Castle, from churches to universities, international aid and other charitable organisations.

The foundation had, however, found it “frustrating”, she said, to have to turn down potential bookings while the long-term future was uncertain. It has a licence to host day-time events.

“We are also planning and hosting a series of local events, including choirs, school groups, lectures, theatre, WI, and garden and heritage groups,” she added.

Representatives from the foundation are entering the next “critical” phase of negotiations with the Church Commissioners, she said, and local tradesmen, as they develop a plan to refurbish the castle and make it ‘fit for purpose’.

The spokeswoman said initial calculations, based on running costs for the last four years, and similar sized properties, assumed a “slow but steady” increase in the number of events, with the possibility of making a profit by the third year.

The Church Commissioners last year agreed to extend the deadline of raising enough money to buy the castle to June this year.

The castle is currently being maintained by Smiths Gore, on behalf of the commissioners.

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