Historic Place of Worship: News, Funding and Training
NEWS, FUNDING, LISTED BUILDINGS ADVISORY COMMITTEE DATES AND TRAINING
LISTED BUILDINGS ADVISORY COMMITTEE (LBAC) DATES:
23rd January 2024
23rd April 2024
16th July 2024
(Papers to be sent to the Connexional Conservation Officer three weeks before the above deadline).
NEWS FUNDING AND TRAINING
A Future for Your Church: Exploring Sustainable Futures
Thursday 18th April 2024, 10am to 11:30am by Zoom and FREE
Heritage Trust Network and Historic Churches Scotland are joining forces to host the next event in this series for any group contemplating the future of their church building. At this event, Deborah Kent of Fife Historic Buildings Trust will present on a recent study that looked at future uses and financial models for three churches in Fife. Everyone is welcome.
Diocese of Newcastle: Rural Churches for Everyone Toolkit: Helping your church building become 'Open & Sustainable
Devised and tested by the Rural Churches for Everyone project, a National Lottery Heritage Funded project working with 35 churches in four clusters, delivered between 2019 and 2023 by Newcastle Diocese and a Rural Development Specialist: ‘It creates a common structure and language for people working at the grassroots (churchwardens, PCCs and other volunteers) to identify and articulate their needs and communicate requests for support to achieve their target actions in a clearly quantified and visual way. It embeds the research & recommendations from the CofE Environment programme, GR:ACE project (Growing Good Report), House of Good, and CBC strategic buildings review into a simple checklist which generates a 5 year action plan to improve 'traffic light' ratings for each church building's scores against the eight 'open and sustainable' criteria. If used across a benefice or deanery (or wider) it generates very useful comparative management data and gives people at the grassroots a coherent voice’.
VisitEngland Launches Accessibility Toolkit
VisitEngland has published a free toolkit to provide tourism businesses with practical guidance on improving accessibility and inclusion. The toolkit offers tips on areas like inclusive customer service, accessible building design, employing disabled people, and creating quality accessibility information. It includes case studies, top tips, and actionable checklists and read the toolkit here
Led by the Heritage Alliance and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund has now built-up a thorough library online resources covering fundraising and business planning to communications, marketing, leadership and EDI.
External timber doors
Original timber doors are an important part of the character and authenticity of traditional buildings. They're in frequent daily use and subject to much wear and tear. Learn how to maintain your external timber doors with Historic Environment Scotland's Inform Guide.
National Lottery Heritage Fund launches new National Lottery funding programme along with new Heritage 2033 guidance for grants from £10,000 up to £10m. Announced on 30th January, they say that ‘we’ve simplified our application materials and made our requirements more proportionate to the amount of money you’re applying for’. The new programme is here
The explanation of their strategy, Heritage 2033 which is centred around a simplified framework of four investment principles can be read here
And the good practice guidance which aims to better help applicants plan and run their heritage project can be found here
National Churches Trust launches manifesto calling for urgent action to save the UK’s church buildings.
Launched in the House of Lords on 24th January 2024, ‘Every Church Counts’, sets out six key actions needed to save the UK’s church buildings which are:
- A network of professional support officers to help the heroic volunteers and clergy who look after church buildings.
- Boosting the UK’s church-based ‘National Help Service’ by basing more community support services in church buildings.
- Additional public funding of £50 million to help save church heritage for the future; a national matched funding scheme to incentivise charitable giving is also proposed, with the value of donations doubled.
- A strategy to increase tourism to historic churches, including more UNESCO world heritage site designations, for example for the wool churches of Norfolk or Suffolk and the early Christian sites of Wales and Northern Britain.
- Regular opening of churches beyond worship times, including seven day a week opening where possible.
- Urgent action by Government, heritage organisations and denominations, including the development of a national plan.
Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme Invests £42m in Religious Buildings in 2023
DCMS has reported that 5,000 religious buildings have benefited from government grants for places of worship in the last year, with approximately £42 million awarded to cover the VAT cost of repairs. The largest grant in 2023 was £600,000 for the Grade II listed Leicester Cathedral, with the total amount of funds since 2010 standing at £346 million.
New Research on Crime at Heritage Sites
Research commissioned by Ecclesiastical Insurance reveals UK heritage organisations suffered a rise in graffiti, anti-social behaviour, and verbal abuse last year. Crime is a top concern for heritage organisations: six in ten (57%) are expecting an increase over the next year, and seven in ten (69%) are more concerned than ever before.
Historic England Publish New Guidance on Special Interest
On 25th January, Historic England has published new guidance on the role of Special Historic Interest in Listing, which is one of the two main factors used in determining whether a building is listed. It covers the connection between the building and the people who use or have used it, the things that happen or have happened there, the ideas that were developed there or the role that the building played in the nation’s history.
Electrical fires in churches hit a six year high
Ecclesiastical Insurance is calling on churches to carry out important safety checks following a surge in electrical fires. The specialist insurer issued the warning after claims for electrical fires hit a six-year high in 2022. The number of incidents fell during 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, but have since risen to levels not seen since 2017. As churches diversify and adapt their buildings for wider community use, the range of electrical equipment used on premises has increased and evolved in recent years.
Caring for God’s Acre
have published their Annual Report 2022-23. There are some exciting numbers about the number of people engaged in citizen science in burial ground projects and the contributions of churchyards to biodiversity and carbon storage.
Suffolk Historic Churches Trust launches their ‘Guides to Suffolk Churches Online’
Launched on their 50th anniversary, the Trust has put online guidebooks to all Suffolk Churches.
They are interested in adding more and more will be added, including any denomination of church, chapel or meeting house that has a guide. So do get in contact if you have other guides or later versions of the ones already up on the website.
Historic Churches: The Conservation and Repair of Ecclesiastical Buildings
The 30th Annual Edition (December 2023) published by Cathedral Publications is out now. Articles cover a range of topics including fire risk within churches, funding, the Ecclesiastical Exemption in practice, eco churches, and projects at Bath Abbey and LLEFA R CERRIG: a strategic project in northwest Wales to save five of Britain’s earliest Christian sites. Read a digital copy for free
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB) continued its progress through the Lords this week with its 12th committee stage session. This included an amendment (485) put forward by the HRBA to clarify whether parish councils can fund places of worship. As is convention, amendments are not voted on at committee stage but are intended to be brought back at report stage. You can read the Heritage Alliance’s Lords briefing on the Bill here (See page 9 for amendment on places of worship)
The Hansard record of the debate on 24 May can be read here. Discussion on Amendment 485 starts just before 5pm and was moved by the Lord Bishop of Bristol (you will need to scroll down).
The Building Stones Database for England
Historic England has announced the launch of its Building Stones Database for England next month. They’ve identified important building stones, where they came from and potential alternative sources for repairs and new construction from across England. In June this will include 45 guides that identify and describe local building stones in each county or area in context of the local geology and historic sources such as quarries. They will host a Technical Tuesday webinar on 13 June to explain more about this milestone project and demonstrate how to use the database. You can sign up here.
Historic England’s ‘The Missing Pieces Project’
Launched at the end of May, this invites people to share their pictures and stories of the unique, significant and memorable places on the National Heritage List for England. This is a refresh of the previous ‘Enrich the List’ programme with the aim of trying to reach a wider audience to get more people actively participating. You can learn more about the project here.
With over 400,000 protected places across England, they want to learn about and document their hidden histories and reveal overlooked stories. So please encourage faith groups and volunteers to take this opportunity to raise the profile of places of worship (and other buildings that faith groups use) as beautiful, special places and share the stories they tell.
Heritage crime watch scheme launches in Gloucestershire
On 11 May, a new scheme designed to protect historic sites, monuments and artefacts from the threat of heritage crime was launched by police. Gloucestershire Police said the Heritage Watch scheme would encourage people to report crime or anti-social behaviour they see.
The scheme was started in response to the Grade-I listed Cheltenham Minster suffering "lasting damage". More information here.
Benefact Trust: Transformational Grants
A £97,000 grant from Benefact Trust has been awarded to intergenerational storytelling charity, Truth Be Told, to grow their work with churches and give people of all ages a sense of belonging. To find out more, visit
Seeking Funding/Guidance for Your Heritage Project? The Heritage Alliance is not a funding body, but we co-manage the Heritage Funding Directory with the Architectural Heritage Fund. This free resource for the sector includes a directory we have jointly collated, listing funding sources for heritage projects across the UK (and internationally), and includes some helpful guidance on fundraising.
Involving Your Community A practical guide to the benefits and techniques for involving and consulting local communities in community asset based projects can be accessed here
New Energy Bills Discount Scheme
Monday 9th January, the Chancellor published the “Energy Bills Discount Scheme” to support UK businesses, charities and the public sector with their energy bills i.e.: its scheme to assist non-domestic customers – including places of worship – with their energy bills from April 2023 – March 2024. There is a useful Factsheet here
The Heritage Alliance have produced a useful summary here
For most customers, a discount on the price per unit will be applied automatically via energy bills. Details of the discount are shown on the above linked page, and energy providers should provide confirmation to all customers before the end of March 2023. There are some conditions relating to the kind of contract which the customer has with the supplier. In most cases, this will mean a rise in the unit cost of energy from April 2023 compared to what is being paid now, but it will still be below the market price.
The Churches’ Legislation Advisory Service (CLAS) has also advised that charities (including places of worship) can check whether they are currently paying the correct rate of VAT on the fuel that they purchase. Contact your supplier if you believe that you may qualify for a refund.
A small number of places of worship may qualify for an additional reduction through the ETTI (Energy and Trade Intensive Industries) scheme. This will apply to ‘places of worship which are a historic site or building or a tourist attraction; or which house a library, archive or museum’. They will need to apply for this additional support, however more information including the application process is not due until end of March 2023. Information here
The list of eligible sectors is here and 'historical sites and buildings and similar visitor attractions' appears only at the end.
NCVO (The National Council for Voluntary Organisations), NCVO are working hard to analyse what the new scheme means for the overall charitable sector as they are already concerned about the significant reduction in financial support via the reduced Energy Bill Relief Scheme and the impact it will have on already struggling organisations.
Ecclesiastical’s 2022 Heritage Risk Barometer This sets out the results of research carried out with over 500 heritage organisations on challenges facing the sector. The Risk Barometer is a major research-based report that aims to understand the risks the sector faces and what it can do to manage and mitigate those threats. Much of it is relevant for places of worship.
'Organ Stops' a new documentary film about the loss of pipe organs Narrated by Huw Edwards and directed by James Dawson, the film uses the loss of pipe organs to explore the impact this transformation has had on our society, in particular those most affected – the generations brought up in a musical tradition that is now fading along with the instrument that played its "soundtrack" for hundreds of years. It was broadcast at 9pm on Christmas Eve on BBC 4, and is available to watch on BBC i-player. You can watch it here Pipe Up for Organs is a new organisation that seeks to put an end to this situation by rescuing threatened organs, offering grants and advice to local organisations and promoting the whole culture associated with this instrument. Read more about them in an article featured on the Future for Religious Heritage website
You can also catch up on an inspiring story about the relocation of the pipe organ at Cranfield to a shopping centre. Read this here
Plunkett Foundation: grants and adviser support for co-locating a community business in a place of worship extended to end of 2023 Thanks to generous funding from Benefact Trust, Plunkett has been able to extend its programme of funding until the end of 2023 enabling them to continue offering free business support and grants to help community groups and active Christian places of worship across the UK to explore co-location. They can provide free adviser support on everything from engaging with your community to legal structures. There are also grants up to £5,000 available to help with feasibility and development work. If you are interested do call them on 01993 630 022 or email them. More information about the grants as well as a wealth of new resources and case studies can be found on Plunkett’s website
Diocese of Lincoln’s Volunteers’ Project and Resources Toolkit Launched in November 2022, this new online toolkit to help preserve and maintain church buildings that might otherwise fall into disrepair. Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Volunteers’ Project and Resources Toolkit is a set of seven videos that cover a range of topics including project management, grant funding tips, masonry, heating and environmental advice for church buildings and churchyards. Whilst Lincolnshire based, the content should be adaptable to various national contexts.
As a good introduction have a look at the 20 mins video where Dr Matthew Godfrey tours a fantastic Lincolnshire church, Carlton Scroop, St. Nicholas, and explains how to see the history hidden in the fabric of the building. All seven videos can be found here
Updated technical advice, Managing Easy Access to Listed Buildings in Wales, is available on the Cadw website. It explains how to plan and improve physical access to listed buildings in Wales. It uses real-life examples, ranging from minor improvement works to high-quality modern design solutions, to show how better access can be achieved. The guidance is intended to help all those who own, manage or occupy listed buildings, including Churches, in Wales. It should also assist those who plan alterations or advise on alternative forms of service provision. It is especially relevant for those listed buildings that offer services to members of the public, such as catering, banking or shopping, or which people visit for leisure, work, worship or education purposes.
Virtual events calendar - The National Churches Trust are listing events on their website, so that you can support some of the lectures, talks, plays and concerts that are taking place in the UK's church buildings as well as attending conferences and training sessions.
Sir Philip Rutnam, Chair of the National Churches Trust, writes in the Times - In the run up to the 2022 Autumn Statement on Thursday 17 November, Sir Philip wrote in The Times about the importance of church buildings to the UK and urged the new Government to provide regular financial support to keep them open and in use.
A Torn Safety Net: How the cost of living crisis threatens its own last line of defence. A new report from the Theos Think Tank published 7th November 2022 - This report looks at the effect the cost-of-living crisis has had on social and economic security and shows that those institutions which form a vital part of the safety net offering security and material support to millions of people are themselves becoming less secure. There is a risk that churches and other faith groups will close, not because of falling attendance or religious affiliation, but because they cannot afford to keep the lights on. This report is the culmination of a year–long project exploring how insecurity, both economic and social, is affecting churches, faith groups and local communities. The introduction to the report is written by former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown and ex-archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams
Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register was published on 10th November 2022 - The annual Register gives an annual snapshot of the critical health of England’s most valued historic places and those most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development. Sadly 919 places of worship currently on the list. 65 were removed last year – including SS Peter & Paul, New Brighton (the Dome of Home) but 65 new ones were added.
Heritage Open Days - Results - England’s largest festival of history and culture, Heritage Open Days [Alliance member], took place this September with 4,954 events and almost 1 million visits, providing an estimated £11.6 million boost to local economies. See the full results from this year’s festival on the HODs website
Listed Places of Worship/Memorial Grant Schemes websites and application process - Early in November, HRBA sent round a short survey on behalf of the new providers, East Midlands Business Ltd (EMB), asking for feedback on their proposals for improvement of the websites and introducing the ability to submit digital application forms and understand where applications are in the process, while also continuing to provide postal options as now. Earlier this week, HRBA circulated a response from EMB saying they received some really useful insights which will inform the design of the new website and application process. ‘We were pleased to see there is an appetite for an online process but also acknowledge that many service users will want to continue to apply on paper or via email and we’re committed to retain a variety of channels to match the needs of our audience’. The results of the survey have been collated into a Dashboard which you can access here. The new website and digital application process for the Listed Places of Worship Scheme will be launched in the New Year.
Soil sampling for churchyard carbon project - The project is being led by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), jointly with the Church of England Environment Programme and the charity Caring for God’s Acre. Volunteers have been recruited and trained. They will be taking soil samples in 50 locations, bagging them up, and sending them to CEH for analysis. The results will tell us whether, in these locations, churchyard carbon is similar or statistically different from UK averages for that area. This will help us improve the estimate of the total carbon being sequestered in our churchyards.
Diocese of Ely launched the results of their REACH (Reimagining Churches as Community Assets for the Common Good) project on 15th November 2022 - This was a partnership between Diocese of Ely and Cambridge Judge Business School with the support of Benefact Trust (formally known as the Allchurches Trust) and Historic England. It ran from 2018 to 2022 to help communities make fuller use of their historic churches. You can read the full audit report that was undertaken of Ely churches – their current use as well as challenges - as well download guidance (and videos) on a range of topics including Being an Open Church Safely, Setting up a Friends Group, Governance Structures, Producing a Village Welcome Handbook, Becoming a Festival Church and much more. There are also 40 case studies illustrating these in action.
Rural England Prosperity Fund A prospectus has been published for the Rural England Prosperity Fund, aiming to use £110 million to support projects and job opportunities in the countryside. This includes providing grants ‘to develop, restore or refurbish local natural, cultural and heritage assets and sites,’ as well as converting farm buildings, rural tourism, gigabit digital infrastructure and creating new foot and cycle paths.
The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme There will be funding of up to £210m to assist homes and businesses with faster broadband in rural areas as part of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. The online postcode checker can be accessed here to determine your voucher eligibility. Vouchers can be used by group projects to help with the instalment of gigabit-capable connections. Further questions have been answered to guide people on the scheme.
Digital Heritage Hub A reminder that the Digital Heritage Hub has now launched, with 100 free resources on digital for the heritage sector.
Scheme For EV Charging Points The Government has introduced a new Workplace Charging Scheme that will provide grants for organisations to purchase and install electric vehicle (EV) charging points – applicant can receive grant funding of up to £350 per socket (with a limit of 40 sockets across all sites per applicant). Guidance for charities and small accommodation businesses applying to the scheme can be found here.
The Future of the UK's Church Buildings The National Churches Trust has published an analysis to its consultation on ‘The Future of the UK’s Church Buildings’. A key finding was people want churches, not digital worship, citing the importance of churches as places to visit. Their importance as community hubs as well as their significance to national and local heritage was also voiced. To read the report findings click here
The National Churches Trust website now has a section within its Professional Trades Directory This is for prospective professionals wanting to work with churches. While this is not in any way a quality assurance scheme, it may give churches a new choice of professionals in their area, and help to get some new blood into the system. District Property Secretaries or the Connexional Conservation Officer should of course give advice as to the suitability of any such professional for the role of Quinquennial Inspectors. Link to the Directory here.
A report commissioned by the Faith & Society APPG has found that partnerships between faith groups and local authorities have deepened during the pandemic, with an increased recognition of the role places of worship play in delivering community projects that meet local need.
From listening services to food deliveries– churches step up support to local communities during pandemic More than 4,000 Church of England parishes are estimated to have stepped up their support to local communities in the face of rising levels of poverty, loneliness and isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research published today. This is based on responses of 1023 Church of England clergy who completed the online Church in Action survey in October and November 2020, with support from the Church of England’s Research and Statistics team. Report here.
The Church of England’s Environment programme Free workshops on finding the best heating and lighting solutions for your church This is part of a series of webinars and events designed to support and equip churches to reach the ambitious ‘net zero carbon ‘emissions target. Events are available to watch after they have been presented online, so there is an opportunity to catch up on an interesting topic if you can’t attend the live session.
Experiencing Sacred Wales This funded project led by ExploreChurches in partnership with Visit Wales, the Church in Wales, Addoldai Cymru, Friends of Friendless Churches and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and is nearly at an end. You can find all about the wonderful sacred heritage of Wales, particularly those along the Wales Way here
Heritage Digital The key resources and webinars and a range of case studies are now accessible through the project portal and includes:
*A guide to growing and engaging audiences on line
*How digital skills can transform the heritage sector
*Getting started with data
* Copyright and suppliers: how to get the rights you need in new digital content. You do need to register.
News on Pew Adaptation What to do about pews? Remove them? Adapt them? Love them? This is about a church where the pews have become movable assets. It’s Terrington St Clement parish church in Norfolk where the Victorian pews are now on mobile metal frames. read more here.
House of Good Report from the National Churches Trust Our ground-breaking report demonstrates that the total economic and social value that church buildings generate in the UK is at least £12.4 billion per year which averages around £300,000 per church. That is roughly equal to the total NHS spending on mental health in England in 2018. We believe that these findings are remarkable. They show that our churches are not just Houses of God. They are also Houses of Good – good that we risk losing if church buildings are not kept in good repair, and may never be able to replace. Please find the report here
Taylor Pilot Review report published on 3 October 2020. Overall, the evidence demonstrates the potential effectiveness of the main findings of the Taylor Review – Fabric Support Officers, Community Development Advisers and the Minor Repairs Fund – and suggests that there is merit in considering further how the elements of the pilot as described in this evaluation report can be taken forward.
The Taylor Review Pilot Team have put together some advisory documents and templates based on what they learnt from working closely with people looking after listed places of worship. These can be assessed along with the Maintenance Checklist trialed during the pilot here
Roving Reporter from the Heritage Alliance - Journey towards net zero. See the article here
Roving Reporter from the Heritage Alliance - Engaging with Virtual Open Days. See the article here
Building Dementia Friendly Churches The Dementia Friendly Church programme, a collaboration between Stafford University and the Anglican Diocese of Lichfield, have released a 16-minute film highlighting the experiences of those that have benefitted from the programme. Details here
Welsh churches and chapels under threat It has been predicted that Wales could lose up to 70 per cent of its places of worship in the next 20 years. The report published by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Buildings in Wales and is available here
National Lottery Grants for Heritage: the NLHF has reopened for project funding The funding will support a broad range of heritage projects and activities, such as industrial sites, castles and historic places of worship, to the stories and memories of communities, and through to public parks, natural landscapes and native wildlife. There are new strategic priorities and the process will prioritise projects that contribute to the national recovery from Coronavirus by ‘boosting the local economy, encouraging skills development and job creation, supporting wellbeing, creating better places to live, work and visit or improving the resilience of organisations working in heritage. Applications for grants from £3,000 to £5 million are now welcome. Capital works and repair and conservation works are eligible.
The Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme to be renewed until 2025 The Government has announced that the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme will be renewed this year, operating on the same terms as previously. This is the scheme that allows listed places of worship to claim a sum equal to VAT which has been paid on repairs and alterations. It was due to cease running at the end of this financial year. The continuation of this level of Government support is very good news indeed.
B&Q Foundation - B&Q Foundation provides grants to registered charities who support people experiencing poor quality housing and homelessness or are looking for help with a project to improve homes and community spaces. Details here
Methodist Insurance's List of Emergency Grant Funders. Details here.
The National Lottery Community Fund National Lottery Awards for All Offers funding from £300 to £10,000 to support what matters to people and communities. They're looking to fund COVID-19 projects and will prioritise: organisations supporting people who are at high risk from COVID-19. Places of worship are eligible. Details are here
Advice for grant holders If you have concerns about grants you hold, then the overall advice is to contact the funding body.
Key links are:
Community buildings, places of worship and faith groups - a guide for constituents (National Assembly for Wales). This funding guide outlines and signposts sources of financial assistance available to organisations and groups for the construction, development and maintenance of community buildings and places of worship. This guide also includes sources of financial assistance available for faith groups in Wales.
Historic Environment Scotland - Grants and Funding - Explore the wide range of grants and funding available to projects that share Historic Environment Scotland's aims to protect and promote the historic environment of Scotland.
The Heritage Funding Directory - Managed by The Heritage Alliance and the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Heritage Funding Directory is a free, easy-to-use guide to financial and other support for anyone undertaking UK related heritage projects.
The National Churches Trust - The National Churches Trust now offer three types of grant - Cornerstone, Gateway and Foundation Grants for Maintenance. Full details can be found by going to the individual grant programme pages accessed via the above link, which also includes important information about deadline dates. The Trust also provides Preventative Maintenance Micro-Grants for churches towards the cost of building maintenance services.
Faith in Maintenance - In 2005 the Methodist Property Office and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) developed a training course for volunteers responsible for historic chapels. The scheme, entitled Faith in Maintenance, is a unique project that offers training and support to the thousands of volunteers from all faith groups who help to care for historic buildings. It aims to give these volunteers training in recognising potential problems, understanding the use of traditional materials and construction and tackling common maintenance problems, while at the same time encouraging more people to become actively involved in their local community's heritage and to appreciate the importance of historic places of worship. The courses, which are free to attend, offer a full day of training including practical sessions and professional speakers and access to a dedicated telephone advice service.
You can find out more on the Society's website: www.spab.org.uk