Slide Shows on Cathedral and Church Architecture - by Michael G Hardy

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Some Organisations involved

with Historic Churches

Some Personal Selections and Opinions by Michael G Hardy


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ANCIENT MONUMENTS SOCIETY  The Ancient Monuments Society was founded in 1924 and is recognised as one of the National Amenity Societies. They are committed to the study and conservation of ancient monuments, historic buildings and fine old craftsmanship. Their main publication is the annual 'Transactions'.  Ancient Monuments Society WEBSITE:  AMS

ECCLESIOLOGICAL SOCIETY  The society was originally founded in 1839 as the Cambridge Camden Society. It produces a number of publications which always show meticulous research by the authors. The Society has a good website with news items which are kept up to date on a regular basis.  Ecclesiological Society WEBSITE:  Ecclesiological Society

CADW  This is the official government heritage body for Wales. Their mission is to protect, conserve, and to promote an appreciation of the built heritage of Wales.  I imagine most people think that Cadw is an abbreviation for some complicated title - it is actually a Welsh word which means 'to keep'.   CADW WEBSITE:  CADW   (for England see English Heritage,  for Scotland see Historic Scotland).

CHAPELS HERITAGE SOCIETY (CAPEL)  This Society was formed to encourage the study and preservation of the Nonconformist heritage of Wales.  Chapels Heritage Society WEBSITE:  CAPEL

CHAPELS SOCIETY  The Chapels Society promotes public interest and knowledge of the architectural and historical importance of all places of worship in the United Kingdom that are loosely described as Nonconformist.  Chapels Society WEBSITE:  The Chapels Society


CHURCHES CONSERVATION TRUST  This is the body that cares for the most important churches that are declared redundant by the Church of England. It was set up in 1969 as the Redundant Churches Fund and now has over 325 church buildings in its care. They strive for as many of their churches as possible to be open to visit, and their website includes good details of the churches and their opening arrangements. The CCT is jointly funded by the CoE and the state. Because of this, the structure of some of their buildings can, rather ironically, often be in better condition than other neighbouring churches that are still in use. Once being vested in the CCT, a church will usually receive the vast amount of attention that it had been desperately seeking for many years beforehand. Sadly the CoE's funds to allow this come from the sale of other redundant churches, not judged to be sufficiently important for the CCT.  Churches Conservation Trust WEBSITE:  CCT

CHURCHES TOURISM ASSOCIATION  (CTA)  The Churches Tourism Association claims to be England's leading body for faith heritage tourism, representing and developing the tourism potential and visitor experience of a unique part of our historical and contemporary faith heritage.  Churches Tourism Association Website:  CTA

CHURCHES TOURISM NETWORK WALES  (CTNW)  This Organisation aims to encourage access to places of worship and advance education through providing better managed access Physical and intellectual) for the public to church buildings.  Churches Tourism Network Wales WEBSITE:   CTNW

CHURCH MONUMENTS SOCIETY  (CMS)  The Society encourages the appreciation, study and conservation of church monuments.  Church Monuments Society WEBSITE:  CMS


CLWYD-POWYS ARCHAEOLOGICAL TRUST (CPAT)  This Trust deserves a mention in this list purely for their excellent website which contains an absolute wealth of information on Welsh Churches, including highly detailed reports on many individual buildings.  Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust - Historic Churches WEBSITE:  CPAT - Churches

COUNCIL FOR THE CARE OF CHURCHES  This is an official arm of the Church of England, which is a permanent commission established by the general synod. Its principal duty is to assist parishes to maintain their church buildings, contents and churchyards, as well as advising on designs of new churches and building works. The Council publishes a wide range of specialist and general booklets on the care of churches and churchyards. Their website is known as "Churchcare".  Churchcare WEBSITE:  Churchcare

COUNTY TRUSTS  (HISTORIC CHURCH PRESERVATION TRUSTS)  Most counties have their own independent trusts which raise funds and give grants for repairs to churches.  Most of them confine themselves to Historic Churches but not all of them.  They also vary greatly in the way they involve interested people in their specific counties, some having membership schemes and running events, whilst others prefer to work more privately, and in some cases it can even be difficult to find details of grants they have made.  There are around 35 Trusts which cover the majority of English Counties.  An increasing number of them have their own websites, an up to date list of them can be found on the National Churches Trust WEBSITE:  NCT - List of County Trusts  (Flash Player might be needed to view this web site)

ENGLISH HERITAGE  This is the official arm of government which is charged with ensuring that the historic environment of England is properly maintained and cared for. They are directly responsible for caring for most of the monuments which belong to the state, which in the ecclesiastical field include many monastic ruins as well as a few churches. Their other main activity is in making decisions on planning applications to listed buildings, which involves around 15,000 listed churches and chapels in England.  English Heritage WEBSITE:  EH  (for Scotland see Historic Scotland,  for Wales see CADW) 

FRIENDS OF FRIENDLESS CHURCHES  The Friends were founded in 1957 and have always been closely tied to the Ancient Monuments Society. In England they take on caring for a number of redundant churches which have not been put into the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. In Wales they are now the officially recognised body to care for redundant churches that are not sold, and as such receive full funding for their work in Wales. The Friends are currently responsible for around 30 churches and have taken on some remarkably ambitious projects, rescuing some that were complete ruins Friend of Friendless Churches WEBSITE:  FoFC

HISTORIC CHAPELS TRUST  This Trust was established to take into ownership redundant chapels and other places of worship in England of outstanding architectural and historic interest. Their object is to secure the preservation, repair and maintenance of their buildings and contents, burial grounds and curtilages, all for the public benefit. They can be responsible for all places of worship except Anglican Churches, as these are covered by the Churches Conservation Trust Historic Chapels Trust WEBSITE:  Historic Chapels Trust

HISTORIC CHURCHES PRESERVATION TRUST (HCPT)   Please see NATIONAL CHURCHES TRUST below.  (There are also many Church Preservation Trusts which operate in specific counties - see 'County Trusts above)

HISTORIC SCOTLAND  This is the official government heritage body for Scotland. Historic Scotland safeguards the nation's built heritage and promotes its understanding and enjoyment on behalf of Scottish Ministers Historic Scotland Website:  Historic Scotland  (for England see English Heritage,  for Wales see CADW)

INCORPORATED CHURCH BUILDING SOCIETY  (ICBS)  This Society was founded in 1818 to "remedy the deficiencies of places set aside for Public Worship in our towns and cities".  By 1845 the Society was assisiting with the building of over 50 churches a year.  In 1983 the Historic Churches Preservation Trust (now known as the National Churches Trust) took on the running of the ICBS.  There are some details of the ICBS on the National Churches Trust Website:  NCT - ICBS  (Flash Player might be needed to view this web site)

A large number of plans and other papers relating to projects that were submitted to the ICBS are available on a very useful web site set up by Lambeth Palace Library.  Church Plans Online WEBSITE:  Church Plans Online

MAUSOLEA & MONUMENTS TRUST  The Trust was founded in 1997 for the protection and preservation of the public of mausolea and serpulchral monuments within the UK Mausolea & Monuments Trust WEBSITE:  Mausolea & Monuments Trust

MONUMENTAL BRASS SOCIETY  The Society for those interested in monumental brasses and incised slabs Monumental Brass Society WEBSITE:  MBS

NATIONAL CHURCHES TOURISM GROUP  This Group aims to raise awareness in local churches for the opportunity of tourism for faith sharing and income generation, particularly through making church buildings and grounds more accessible and well interpreted National Churches Tourism Group WEBSITE:  National Churches Tourism Group

NATIONAL CHURCHES TRUST   Known until June 2007 as the Historic Churches Preservation Trust.  The Trust was founded in 1953 as a charity to offer grants and loans for essential fabric repairs to churches over 100 years old and which are in use as places of worship in England and Wales. It also acts on behalf of some other long established charities and trusts dedicated to similar causes.  (There are also many Church Preservation Trusts which operate in specific counties - see 'County Trusts' above) National Churches Trust WEBSITE:  National Churches Trust  (Flash Player might be needed to view this web site)

NATIONAL CHURCHWATCH  This organisation believes that all churches should be open during daylight hours. Together with the relevant Insurance companies they work with dioceses, churches and police forces regarding all aspects of crime involving church property and people National Churchwatch WEBSITE:  National Churchwatch

OPEN CHURCHES TRUST  (OCT)  The Open Churches Trust was founded in 1994 by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber to assist churches in designated areas to open.  Sadly, the Trust ceased operation at the end of 2006, having provided advice, help and publicity for many churches, and in some cases financial assistance.  Currently their website still exists, which contains useful information on the opening of churches that were involved with the scheme.  Please note that I cannot say whether the information is being kept up to date.  Open Churches Trust WEBSITE:  OCT

ROUND TOWER CHURCHES SOCIETY  (RTCS)  This small Society was founded 30 years ago and works for the preservation of churches with round towers, which are mainly in East Anglia.  It also keenly investigates the origins and history of round towers which can be very difficult to date, and lead to much speculation amongst experts Round Tower Churches Society WEBSITE:  RTCS

RCAHMS - ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE ANCIENT AND HISTORIC MONUMENTS FOR SCOTLAND  The RCAHMS was appointed in 1908 to record the built heritage of Scotland. Their aim is to survey and record the man-made environment, compile and maintain in the National Monuments Record of Scotland a record of the archaeological and historical environment, and to promote an understanding of this information by all appropriate means.  RCAHMS WEBSITE:  RCAHMS

RCAHMW - ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE ANCIENT AND HISTORIC MONUMENTS FOR WALES  Also appointed in 1908, the Commission carry out accurate and scholarly surveys which are made readily accessible to the public, maintain an archive and a national database, and publish the results of their investigations. For example the NMRW is currently working on a project to have written details and illustrations of all the 6000 Nonconformist Chapels that have been built in Wales.  RCAHMW Website:  RCAHMW

RCHME - ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE HISTORIC MONUMENTS FOR ENGLAND  As the sister organisations in Scotland and Wales (see above), the Commission for England was appointed in 1908. Their prime responsibility was always to compile and assess, maintain and make available the national record of England's ancient monuments and historic buildings. This was achieved through the National Monuments Record and various publications, including inventories by county (those produced have highly detailed records of churches).

However in 1998 (only a year after taking office) the government announced that all the responsibilities of the RCHME were to be fully amalgamated with English Heritage, and this was done in February 1999.  I have to say that to me this was a highly regrettable step, as their functions were completely different.  The role of RCHME was to produce serious and academic record material, whilst to  the public EH was becoming increasingly dominated by running 'fun' events, concerts, and reconstructions of battles at the properties they manage for the country.  However I thought it was easy to see the real reason as the idea had come from the DCMS Comprehensive Spending Review.  English Heritage now do produce a lot of technical material on historic buildings and their repair, but as I suspected, there seems to be a serious lack of the more historical type of information on buildings.

One final thought highlights the folly of the type of devolution that has been thrust upon us all.  The RCHME has disappeared (on grounds of cost to the UK taxpayer), but the RCAHMS and RCAHMW are still separate organisations doing good work, despite the fact that the populations of Scotland and Wales are only 10% and 6% respectively as that of England.

SAVE BRITAIN'S HERITAGE  This organisation was only formed in 1975 but has had a very significant impact in many causes for which they have campaigned. They are probably best known for increasing people's awareness about all manner of buildings being lost, and also having their own imaginative schemes and ideas for the re-use of redundant buildings. Their campaigning has often been directed to the plight of redundant churches SAVE Britain's Heritage WEBSITE:  SAVE

SAVE OUR PARSONAGES  A Group set up in 1995 to oppose the sale by the Church of its traditional rectories amd vicarages.  It opposes such sales on pastoral, practical, and financial grounds, as well as for community and heritage reasons.  Save Our Parsonages WEBSITE:  Save Our Parsonages

SCOTTISH CHURCH HERITAGE RESEARCH  (SCHR)  This Voluntary Group is comprised of individuals who share an interest in bringing to a wider public an understanding of all the places and buildings that have been used as places of worship in Scotland.  Scottish Church Heritage Research WEBSITE:  SCHR

SCOTTISH REDUNDANT CHURCHES TRUST  (SRCT)  This Trust was established in 1997 to secure the future of nationally important churches threatened by closure. By the end of 2007 they were caring for 5 buildings.  Scottish Redundant Churches Trust  WEBSITE:  SRCT

SOCIETY FOR CHURCH ARCHAEOLOGY  (SCA)  This Society was only founded in 1996, and aims to provide a focus for all who are interested in promoting the care, conservation and study of the ecclesiastical buildings and landscapes of Britain and Ireland Society for Church Archaeology WEBSITE:  SCA

SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF ANCIENT BUILDINGS  (SPAB)  This Society was founded by William Morris in 1877 to counteract what he saw as the destructive restoration methods that Victorian architects were applying to medieval buildings, particularly churches. SPAB is now the oldest and most technically expert national pressure group trying to save threatened old buildings from decay, demolition and damage Society for the Proection of Buildings WEBSITE:  SPAB


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This page last modified on 10th December 2007