This is both urgent and important. Please read now and consider whether you need to take action – for example, telling others about this opportunity, or applying for money for your listed place of worship.

In his  (3 December) Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced a new, one-off grant scheme for roofs and gutters of listed places of worship.

£15 million pounds is available, for grants of between £10k and £100k. But the timescales for applications are exceptionally short as the closing date for applications is 12pm (Noon) on Friday 30th January 2015. Athough, if you are awarded a grant, you will then have reasonable time to complete the work.

Fortunately you don’t need to be too far down the road to apply. For example, you don’t need to have gained all the necessary permissions from the planning or denominational authorities. Obviously ou will need to be able to show that the work needs doing, for example by using a reasonably-recent architect’s inspection.

But anyone wishing to benefit from this will need to move fast, as applications have to be in by the end of January. The application form gives me the impression of having been intelligently designed with this situation in mind.

There is now a dedicated website up and running. It’s at . Usefully it includes an enquiry facility.

A few other useful points:

  • This grant is not funded by money from the Lottery.
  • Trusts which care for redundant places of worship are eligible under certain circumstances. See page 4 of the guidance pdf.
  • Please note that the paper application form on the website is not to be used – it is for reference, to allow you to plan an application – applications will be done online, the facility being available from 22 December on the website.
  • The Church of England has prepared some useful background material on their ChurchCare website, and this will probably be helpful to all denominations and faith groups.

By Becky Payne


Training on Management Major Building Projects in Places of Worship taking place on 26th February 2015 in London.

‘Contraints and obstacles to overcome and the road littered with discarded drawings, seemingly insoluble problems, frustrations beyond measure and how many meetings?  Olive Sutcliffe, Churchwarden. (taken from a record and memento celebrating the opening of St Agatha’s, Brightwell-cum-Sotwell’s church room in 2012)
This is the 4th such training day organised by the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance in partnership and with financial support from PurcellUK. The day deals with the management of all stages of a building project in a place of worship, from start up through to making sure benefits are achieved over the long term. Presentations  include  ’developing your vision’, ‘engaging with the wider community’, ‘fund-raising’, ‘working with your architect and managing works once on site’ . There will also be a session from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as lunch-time surgeries where individuals cases can be discussed. Anyone involved in such an undertaking, of whatever size, will find it invaluable.
A flyer and a booking form can be downloaded from the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance website here . You can also book directly online from the PurcellUk website here
A fifth training day is being organised to take place in Sheffield in the last week in June 2015. Date to be confirmed.
by Becky Payne

From Gutter to Spire – a conference on the co-operative approach to looking after faith buildings

by Becky Payne

Last Friday, 21st November, 85 people gathered in the wonderful 14th century Merchant Taylors Hall in central York to mark the start of National Maintenance Week 2014.

Conference 2









The day began with a talk by Sara Crofts, Deputy Director and Head of Casework at SPAB reminding us why places of worship are so special, valued by their congregations as well as those in the wider community, as well as being appreciated for their architecture and skilled craftsmanship. She also reminded us that it was incidents of unfortunate ‘restoration’ being carried out on old buildings, many of them churches in the 19th century that led to the foundation of SPAB by William Morris et al in 1877.  I had certainly forgotten that the west front of St Albans Abbey is largely the work of Lord Grimthorpe who imposed (and paid for) his own incongruous fantasy designs on the building and in the process destroyed the earlier medieval work.

We then heard two presentations from Stella Jackson and Kate Andrew, Maintenance Co-operatives Project Regional Project Officers for Lincolnshire and Hereford and Worcestershire respectively. They gave us insight into how the Maintenance Co-operatives projects are developing and it all sounded very positive. I liked the fact that although there is now guidance and support documentation available on the MCP website!handbook/c1jzn  on how to set up a co-operative, both Stella and Kate stressed that there is no fixed way to do it. Both felt that it was important that groups felt that there was flexibility and that they were given the freedom to come up with their own ideas and develop ways of working that suited their particular context.

Maintenance is obviously the key facet of the MCP, but maintenance is not being looked at in isolation from all the other aspects of looking after a place of worship.  Stella and Kate showed that they are using their training events and individual contact with churches to also offer advice on fundraising, engaging with the local community, developing their buildings etc. And so it made perfect sense that the other three presentations covered other subjects too – after all a perfectly maintained building is not worth much unless people be they worshippers, visitors, community groups are also benefitting from being able to use it.

Sarah Crossland, National Support Officer, National Churches Trust offered very practical advice for places of worships who are considering opening their doors as well as helpful reminders to those who might have been welcoming visitors for years. A key point she made was that it is vital to be clear among yourselves about what you mean by welcome and how you want your visitors to respect the space.  Discussions need to include the congregation, but also any volunteers who are going to be welcoming.  Tea cups or bags left on the altar can cause distress and people need to know that they can tell visitors to remove them.

Andrea Gilpin, National Project Manager, Caring for God’s Acre reminded us of the rich potential of churchyards and burial grounds. They are very often the oldest enclosure in a community harbouring unimproved and undisturbed grassland thus provided habitats for a huge range of flora, fauna, birds and lichen. And who knew that English and Welsh churchyards house the best collection of yew trees (some over 500 years old) across the whole of Europe.  As well as providing quiet green spaces for wildlife and humans alike, they can be developed for a range of activities including social history educational projects for local schools and places for art. As Andrea said, maintaining a churchyard and researching its history can be a great way of involving the non-church-going members of the community.

The final presentation from Andrew Mottram, Heritage Buildings and Community Development Officer, Diocese of Worcester was a robust look at the Faculty System, why it’s necessary and how it works.  As he said, if you understand the reason behind the need to get permission then it you will find it easier, whereas if you don’t then it will only seem a bureaucratic burden. He stressed how important it is to talk to your DAC (or equivalent in other denominations) and keep on talking. He also held out hope for the Faculty Simplification rules due to come into effect in January 2015 which are intended to decrease the bureaucracy as well the length of time it takes to get permission.

I found it an inspiring day which renewed my enthusiasm for these buildings. If I was to sum up the key messages of the day, then at their most simplest, I would say that most things are not rocket science and that the best starting point is to identify and then talk to those who know.

East Midlands Heritage Forum

Sara Crofts attended a “Historic places of worship: working together in changing times” seminar held at Edward King House in Lincoln on Friday 18 October 2013 as a guest of the East Midlands Heritage Forum.  She gave a short presentation about the launch of the new Maintenance Co-operatives project and outlined the ways in which the SPAB will be working with the Diocese of Lincoln’s Church Buildings Team to provide advice and support to churchwardens and others in the county over the next three years.

Download a copy of Sara’s presentation: SPAB Maintenance Co-ops 191013

Job Alert – Project Manager

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) is looking for a part-time Project Manager to lead its new Maintenance Co-operatives project, which recently received a round two pass and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The successful candidate will be employed to work two days a week and will have responsibility for the successful management of the Maintenance Co-operatives project including leading a team of seven project staff.  The post holder’s primary duty will be to ensure the efficient delivery of the three-year project.  This will require strong leadership and organisational skills as well as a proven ability to ensure effective communications between staff based across a wide geographic area.  The post holder will also be responsible for liaising with the HLF Grants Officer/Project Monitor and submitting regular grant claims and reports.

The position is part-time with a salary of £34,000 pa (pro rata £13,600) plus a contributory pension scheme.

Please visit the SPAB website to access the job description and the application form.  Please note that lengthy CVs or additional supporting information will not be accepted.  All applications should be marked for the attention of Sara Crofts, SPAB Deputy Director and sent to

The deadline for applications is 19 July 2013 and interviews will be held in mid August.

Maintenance Co-ops Project gets the go-ahead!

The SPAB’s ground-breaking initiative to connect, encourage and support the army of volunteers across the country who are largely responsible for the up-keep of some of our most beautiful and significant local landmarks has received a grant of £907,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The aim is to help volunteers at the sharp end of maintenance to help each other.  Places of worship are integral to the landscape, representing centuries of belief, craftsmanship and design. Yet many of our most precious faith-related buildings are in desperate need of repair and rely on the help of local supporters. The Maintenance Co-operatives project aims to connect, inform and empower the people who look after these buildings.  Along with protecting significant historic structures, the project will also encourage more people to become actively involved in their local community’s heritage while broadening and strengthening their own skills base. The HLF has awarded a grant of £907,400 towards a total project cost of £1,202,050, enabling the Maintenance Co-operatives project to start in the spring of 2013 and run for three years.

The local maintenance co-operatives that will be set up as part of the project will allow people to share ideas, resources and good practice as well as benefiting from peer-to-peer support. Groups will also benefit from a tailored training programme designed to meet local needs and interests.  Training will be freely available to volunteers interested in learning heritage-related skills and will include topics such as:

  • building maintenance
  • understanding traditional building materials
  • working with professionals
  • project planning
  • welcoming visitors

The project is intended to build capacity at community level and will target five key areas of the country – Lincolnshire, Cumbria, the North East, Worcestershire/Herefordshire and Dorset/Somerset. In each of these areas the aim is to set up a minimum of five local maintenance co-operative groups. The groups will also be linked together as part of a national network that will allow the benefits of the project, and its tools and resources, to be disseminated to other regions in the UK.  In addition, the project will provide new web-based and printed educational resources for a range of audiences.  These resources will help to promote the timely and effectively maintenance and repair of building fabric following SPAB founder, William Morris’s advice that we should aim to “stave off decay by daily care”.

The Maintenance Co-operatives project will be delivered with the support and assistance of a number of national partners including:  English Heritage, the Arthur Rank Centre, the Churches Conservation Trust, the National Churches Trust and the War Memorials Trust.  At a local level the project will be supported by the Places of Worship Support Officers in the participating Church of England dioceses and by a number of other local organisations including the Churches Trust for Cumbria, Inspired North East, the Avon & Somerset Probation Trust and the Heritage Trust for Lincolnshire.

The scheme is a successor to the SPAB’s highly successful HLF-backed Faith in Maintenance project which ran for 5 years between 2007 and 2012 and delivered 150 training courses to around 5,000 volunteers with a responsibility for the care of historic places of worship. At a national level the new scheme will also build on the success of the SPAB’s annual National Maintenance Week campaign, using the dedicated week as the focus for an annual conference and networking event to enable people from across the country to meet and share best practice.

This project heralds the beginning of a new and exciting phase for the SPAB as we will be recruiting eight new part-time members of staff.  As a result we will have a much more visible presence in the regions and will be able to spread the SPAB’s philosophy of regular maintenance and sensitive repair to a much larger audience.  Importantly, the project will also acknowledge and celebrate the valuable contribution to the upkeep of our ecclesiastical heritage made by volunteers in communities across the UK. The SPAB has always recognised the deep reservoir of good will and enthusiasm that exists within our communities and we hope that our Maintenance Co-operatives project will nurture, enhance and develop this resource. Our intention is that it will encourage people to get together, get involved and get stuck in, knowing that there will be a source of support, information, advice and assistance at the ready.

Faith in Maintenance 2013

Now that Spring is on its way (we hope) this seems like a good time to remind you that the SPAB is still able to offer the ‘original’ Faith in Maintenance one-day training course thanks to some part-funding that we received from English Heritage in 2012.  English Heritage have agreed to pay 60% of our running costs for each course so we can offer to deliver a Faith in Maintenance course at a cost to hosts of £500.

Photo: Ralph Hodgson

Photo: Ralph Hodgson

We will have to ask hosts to make all the necessary arrangements with their chosen venue; arrange (and pay for) any catering; publicise their course to participants; and administer the bookings.  However, we can still provide all the AV equipment, course programmes, copies of an updated Good Maintenance Guide, and the Faith in Maintenance calendar.  The courses will be led by Sara Crofts, who was previously the Project Director of Faith in Maintenance.

If you are interested in booking a slot in the programme please get in touch with us as soon as possible.

We can probably fit in about 6 courses in 2013 and a further 8 in 2014 but will have to operate on a first come, first served basis!

The Beautiful Burial Ground

Simple ways to create a haven for wildlife, for heritage, for people.

Our friends at Caring for God’s Acre have published details of the first of their 2013 conferences.  These are the first two conferences out of a programme of fifteen that will be held across Wales and England in the next four years as part of a national project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Beautiful Burial GroundThe Beautiful Burial Ground

  • Hear from specialists in the field
  • Attend workshops of your choice
  • Meet the many organisations who can help
  • Find out about funding
  • Claim your free Burial Ground Action Pack
  • Register for continuing support

£10 to include lunch and refreshments. Places are limited.

Tuesday 23rd April 10-4
The National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire

Tuesday 21st May 10-4
Snowdonia National Park Centre, Plas Tan y Bwlch, Blaenau Ffestiniog

Booking details are available on the Caring for God’s Acre website. If you want to find out about up coming conferences you can also sign up for the CfGA e-newsletter.

Project Update

For the last six months Dr Bruce Induni, our Project Development Officer, has been working on a series of pilot projects in the dioceses of Lichfield, Hereford and Worcester with considerable success.  He has built strong links with the Places of Worship Support Officers in those areas and has run a series of training days in Stoke North, the Clun Forest and Dudley.

At the same time Sara Crofts, who previously ran the Faith in Maintenance project, has been preparing the SPAB’s round two application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the new project.  We hope to submit the application in December with a view to starting the full project in April 2013.

Read the latest SPAB Maintenance Co-ops Summary.

Training events in the West Midlands

The first of our training events are taking place in the West Midlands in late September and October.  Details of the programmes are given below but if you would like to know more contact Project Development Officer Dr Bruce Induni.

We will post further details of upcoming events on our Events page as they become available.