• A J Barnfield
    44
    The question: where is the money coming from?

    Possible answer: local taxation, or selling beer. Perhaps both.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/dec/31/churches-banks-serve-beer-community-legacy?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
  • A J Barnfield
    44
    Is his estimate of 350 churches at risk of closure realistic?
  • Alison Hodge
    41
    That sounds low as it is only an average of about 8 per Diocese.
    However, 350 may be realistic in the 5 years cited. It will take a long time to take the decisions on which to close and how, even for those already the most at risk. The bigger problem may actually emerge after that when there will have been test cases established on the processes and mechanisms to use, momentum gathers, aging population aged further, more fabric deterioration, more online events etc.
  • A J Barnfield
    44
    I agree. The slow rate of closure over the next few years might make us complacent. Rather like with the railways once closure becomes normalised the rate of closure could be rapid.
  • Barbara Le Gallez
    14
    Our church has just set up a Friends group to organise events, secular uses etc, just as described in the article. The aim being to make the church building into a successful community resource which will be available for [almost] anything. The Friends are very keen on bellringing, as a community use which already exists. If they can succeed, then there is no fear of closure despite the small, ageing congregation.
  • Simon Linford
    53
    I think that is what will happen in many places where there is just one building and a community, provided the building is not in bad condition already. Churches cost a lot to heat, maintain and insure. There could be a lot of pressure on groups of churches where they just aren't all needed.

    The level of listing is actually quite an important consideration in this. Any church that is Grade I listed will end up in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, so bells in such churches are likely to be safe. CCT does care about bells, although they do not necessarily have funds to prioritise their upkeep or improvement. A church that is Grade II* is quite difficult for the Church Commissioners and Dioceses to sell because they present planning challenges so they are likely to hang around longer. The riskiest ones are those that are just Grade II because they are more developable and hence more saleable.

    I was talking to Peter Aiers at the CCT a few months back and looking at his map of where their churches are. They have hardly any in the South West, and he said that is because there is a far lower average level of listing in the South West and relatively few Grade Is. Having spent a week in Devon last week it did sem that churches and towers are less ornate - perhaps it is something about building to survive coastal weather conditions, something about the available stone, or some other quirk of history.
  • A J Barnfield
    44
    How many churches with rings of bells are Grade II listed? How many churches with rings of bells are not listed at all?
  • Simon Linford
    53
    That's a good question. I would think that more are Grade I than Grade II but it will differ in different parts of the country. I would be surprised if there are many rings of bells in unlisted churches.
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