The Ecclesiological Society reports the following statement from HM Government:
English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review
The Church of England, responsible for over a third of England's grade I listed buildings, has recently conducted a major review of the stewardship of its cathedrals and 16,000 church buildings (75% of which are listed). Cathedrals and church buildings are the jewel in the crown of our national heritage and repositories of the history of local communities. The vast majority remain active community hubs providing all sorts of services to the wider community. It is encouraging to note that church buildings are probably in better physical shape than they have ever been. However the challenges are great. Over 2000 of these churches have congregations of fewer than 10 and 2/3rds of church buildings and 75% of grade I listed churches are in rural areas where only 20% of the population lives.
Churches and cathedrals define many of our cities, towns and villages. We want to open up these buildings for wider community, cultural and heritage use. There are many examples of good practice up and down the land. The challenge is to share good practice and enable it to be spread whilst at the same time ensuring sustainable maintenance and funding of these exceptional buildings.
For this reason the Government has decided to set up a church buildings task force to work with the Church of England (which already does a great deal to encourage community use). The task force will be charged with:
The Taskforce will be chaired by Bernard Taylor, supported by experts in the field. and a working group comprising of officials from the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Church of England, Historic England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and DCMS.
- Exploring new models of financing repairs and maintenance of churches and cathedrals, including reviewing existing maintenance costs and repairs funding from lottery and central government grants. The review would also identify and develop a series of tools/resources/models, draw on successful case studies, and existing management within the Church of England, Churches Conservation Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund.
- Consulting with stakeholders including: Church of England, church-goers, charities, local residents and business on ideas for uses of listed buildings for purposes beyond worship and current barriers that prevent these and how to generate revenue from these.
It will report to the Secretary of State for Culture and the Chancellor in April 2017
Much of the Society Newsletter will be of interest:
FROM THE ECCLESIOLOGICAL SOCIETY
This ocasional and somewhat intermittent e-newsletter is for members of the Ecclesiological Society, and others interested in churches. Our website is www.ecclsoc.org/
4. REVIEW OF SUSTAINABILITY OF CHURCH OF ENGLAND CHURCH BUILDINGS
The Chancellor announced a review of the future of Church of England Church Buildings in his Budget. Details are now available at www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/509933/ChurchTaskForce.pdf
. The Task Force will report in one year's time.
Background: Some form of review was proposed by Historic England earlier this year in response to the Church of England's own report on church buildings. https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2383717/church_buildings_review_report_2015.pdf
On behalf of the Council of the Ecclesiological Society I wrote to The Times supporting the idea of a review (for the letter, see our website), and we were not alone in supporting this idea.
My personal view is that this is a historic opportunity to tackle the problem of the future of historic church buildings, taking into account the views of everyone who has a stake in these buildings. For rural parish churches with small congregations, the review could hardly be more timely.
5. ADDITIONAL GOVERNMENT MONEY FOR CATHEDRALS
In his budget the Chancellor announced a further £20m for cathedrals, as an extension to the First World War Centenary Repair Fund.
6. FESTIVAL CHURCHES
The Church of England has set up an Association of Festival Churches. A Festival Church is one which no longer has the requirement to hold regular services.
More, if you are interested: The above link says: A Festival Church is a rural church building which is not used for weekly worship, but is still or potentially a local icon and community asset. It is valued and required by the community and for the Festivals of the Church . . . and for Rites of Passage . . . . A Festival Church can also accommodate appropriate complementary uses (community, cultural and commercial).
Even more: There is discussion of potential arrangements for Festival Churches here, here and (for the Norwich model) here.
7. FUTURE OF HISTORIC RELIGIOUS BUILDINGS
If you are interested in the future of historic religious buildings, then you should sign up for the newsletter of the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance. http://www.hrballiance.org.uk/
[Disclosure: I am associated with this group.]
8. POSTGRADUATE DIPLOMA IN PARISH CHURCH STUDIES
The Postgraduate Open Day at the University of York https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/postgraduate-diploma-open-day-with-the-centre-for-lifelong-learning-tickets-21032194861
provides an opportunity to find out about the Postgraduate Diploma in Parish Church Studies: History, Heritage and Fabric. http://www.york.ac.uk/lifelonglearning/pg-parish-church/
The Open Day is on 23 April. Alternatively, join in the online chat session on 17 May (details will be posted on the website).
11. PUBLISHER SEEKS BOOKS
We have been contacted by Alexander Stilwell of Amberley Publishing in Stroud, seeking potential works on churches and church architecture for the general reader. Contact A.Stilwell@amberley-books.com
11. OXFORDSHIRE CHURCHES
A new website of Oxfordshire churches has been launched www.oxfordshirechurches.com
12. HISTORIC ENGLAND REVIEWING LISTING SELECTION GUIDES
Historic England (HE) is currently reviewing its Listing Selection Guides, including the guide to places of worship. https://content.historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/dlsg-places-worship/places_of_worship_final.pdf/
These guides are excellent introductions to their topic. The listing team at HE would be interested in hearing of new publications and of any specific comments for revision, as soon as posible. Please contact Dr Paul Stamper at: paul.stamper@HistoricEngland.org.uk
The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) offers unique Champingô breaks, which offer the chance to sleep the night in a Grade I and II* listed church. A website offers an online booking facility: http://www.champing.co.uk
14. CCT TRUSTEE
Rather belatedly, we note that Sir Simon Jenkins, FSA has been appointed a Trustee of the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT). http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/latestnews/2016-01-06/Renowned-journalist-Simon-Jenkins-becomes-Trustee-of-The-Churches-Conservation-Trust/
15. MEDIEVAL CHURCHES OF NORWICH
The Medieval Churches of Norwich research project continues with various activities. Its website, http://norwichmedievalchurches.org
, includes drafts of the projectís case studies and other information.
15. ARSON and FLOODS
Ecclesiastical Insurance have launched a video http://www.ecclesiastical.com/churchmatters/churchguidance/fireguidance/arson/index.aspx
on avoiding arson in churches. The HRBA have collected various sources of information on avoiding and dealing with flooding in churches. http://www.hrballiance.org.uk/resources/flooding/
16. PUBLIC BACKS FUNDING FOR HISTORIC CHURCHES AND CHAPELS
An opinion poll commissioned by the National Churches Trust http://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/news/our-new-opinion-poll-public-attitudes-church-buildings
shows 60% of British adults back the Government providing financial support for churches, chapels and meeting houses to protect their heritage for the future.
17. VOLUNTEERS FOR CHURCH HERITAGE RECORD
The Church of England is looking for volunteers to help with the Church Heritage Record. This work can be carried out from home. See http://www.churchcare.co.uk/about-us/campaigns/news/948-recruiting-for-church-heritage-record-volunteers
18. BLACKBURN CATHEDRAL CLOISTERS AND PUBLIC SQUARE
A major development of cloisters and a new public square at Blackburn Cathedral is nearly complete. http://www.blackburncathedral.com/levels.asp?level_id=316
Dr Valerie Hitchman, Membership Secretary of the Society, has recently seen published the book she co-edited with Andrew Foster, Views from the Parish: Churchwardens' Accounts c.1500 - c.1800. http://www.cambridgescholars.com/views-from-the-parish
Thatís all. Do let us know of anything to do with churches or chapels of general interest which you think we could usefully be publicising.
With best wishes
Trevor Cooper, Chairman of Councilcooper@ecclsoc.org
The Ecclesiological Societywww.ecclsoc.org
The Society is a Registered Charity: no. 210501