Today, 20 October 2015, Historic England published its Heritage at Risk Register, giving “an annual snapshot of the health of England’s historic environment.” Overall, the latest findings show fewer entries in the 2015 Register than in 2014. However, although 113 places of worship were removed from the register following repairs, a further 159 places of worship were added taking the total to 930 (all denominations); this represents 6.3% of listed places of worship and includes buildings which are generally in fair or good condition but have a significant problem with one major element, like the tower. Others are vulnerable to becoming at risk. The main threats are failing: roofs; gutters; downpipes; and high level stonework. The Register states that undertaking simple, regular, maintenance is essential to prevent these buildings declining into a poor or very bad condition
Historic England is continuing: to fund diocesan Support Officers who play a key role in helping parishes to manage their places of worship, plan for the future and apply for grant aid; and to provide specialist advice to the Heritage Lottery Fund on applications for Grants for Places of Worship.
New additions to the register include:
- the Church of St Thomas More, Birmingham, grade II – a 1968 Roman Catholic church built entirely from concrete, by nationally-important architect Richard Gilbert Scott; and
- the Mausoleum of Joseph Hudson, grade II – one of Kensal Green cemeteries’ most ornate tombs, Joseph Hudson fought in one of the decisive naval battles of the Napoleonic war with France
The most common heritage at risk across the country includes: cemeteries in the North East; and commemorative monuments in London.
The additional places of worship that are now at risk is unwelcome news, and follows the publication by the Church of England of its report and consultation on the support and management of is 16,000 church buildings, reviewed here. The Anglican Communion News Service, (ACNS) reports that on 19 October, the CofE the C of E announced that Mike Eastwood, the diocesan secretary for Liverpool Diocese and chief officer of Liverpool Cathedral, will begin a part-time secondment with the national church from the beginning of January as director of Reform and Renewal.
Footnote: Due to unforeseen circumstances, the online search facility for England’s Places of Worship and National Heritage List for England will be down for the next 24 hours (from 16:30, 20 October 2015).
Thanks to the ACNS for providing the lead and additional information