Church of England

Church buildings risk closing in Britain

Sun 02 Aug 2015
By Hannah Tooley

Almost 1,000 churches in the country are at risk of closing as they lose members of their congregation and are unable to meet building repair costs, according to a new appeal.

A special campaign, Save Our Spires, has been launched as a result to help protect 40 of the most in danger steeples and it says across England around 16,000 buildings face closure because they are not up to scratch.

This problem is impacting upon religious services as well as community meetings, according to The Sunday Express.

Eddie Tulasiewicz, of the National Churches Trust said: "We should care because churches because they are our history.

"A lot of them are living museums, centuries old, and you can learn so much about what was happening in those times from churches."

Over the last three years he has helped preserve 17 spires across the country: "These are iconic buildings but they are also a vital part of the community.

"If you look at rural areas, the pub and post office have closed, the village store is long gone, so churches take on a huge significance."

However, figures show that there has been a drop of 1.7 million people in Britain calling themselves Church of England or Anglicans over the last two years.

Diana Evans, Head of Places of Worship Advice for Historic England, said: "These repair projects are costly and challenging because the policy is to replace like for like and that involves particular products and very skilled craftsmanship."

Places of Worship Advice for Historic England complies a register of 'at risk' religious properties and helps administer grants.

She added: "62% of the at risk churches have problems with their roofs and rainwater goods.

"Congregations have done a fantastic job keeping buildings going day-to-day but something like subsidence or dealing with wear and tear on a spire which is hundreds of years old is a massive crisis.

"Churches are extraordinarily important because they represent the culture of a community over generations and are very much part of family memory.

"They are at the heart of a community and part of people's feelings of belonging."

Through the government's Roof Repair Fund £15 million in grants are being given to churches.

As it stands the Church of England has 14,775 churches and The Heritage Lottery Fund has invested more than £500 million in more than 4,000 projects supporting churches and chapels over the last decade.

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