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Save the date

The next Association of Festival Churches conference will be held on the 25th March 2019 in Sheffield Cathedral, details tbc. We are very grateful to Dr Julie Banham who will be our host at Sheffield diocese.

By that time we expect that the amendments to Canons 11 and 14 will have had final approval at the February Synod. This amending canon makes it possible for a church to decide to officially become a Festival Church, vary its pattern of services and embrace flexible complementary uses and partnerships according to need.  Legal advice will be forthcoming to explain how to do this, which will be discussed at the conference.  This conference therefore marks the real Launch of Festival Churches, and we hope a step change in strategic planning at deanery and diocesan level, both for rural and urban churches. We look forward to seeing many of you there.

Following a successful conference at Wakefield Cathedral on sustainable heating and lighting the resources are now available on the Diocese of Leeds site.

Planning for sustainability is important for all parishes when thinking through works in their churches, especially for projects such as heating and lighting. We hope that these presentations will help you think about how you can miniminse your impact on the environment and make your church building more efficient.

The Bats in Churches partnership project has recently been successful in its application to Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a grant of £3.8 million. Securing this funding means that we can now deliver the Bats in Churches project over the next five years, bringing together wildlife, heritage conservation and church communities to save bats and protect churches so that future generations can enjoy and benefit from both.

This ground-breaking project is being led by Natural England with the Church of England, Historic England, Churches Conservation Trust and Bats Conservation Trust as partners.  

The UK’s bat population has suffered significant historical declines which is why they are protected by UK law. Loss of natural habitats means some bat species have been forced to find safe havens in buildings including historic churches.Many church communities live harmoniously with bat roosts however, in some cases bats are causing irreparable damage to historically significant church monuments and memorials as well as impacting upon the people who use the buildings.

Recently approved techniques and a new licence developed by Natural England to permit necessary work will be used to improve both the natural and historic environment and to support the people who care for them.

The bats in churches project will:

  • Find practical solutions to enable 102 of the most severely impacted church communities to reduce the impact of bats on the church
  • Create a new network of fully trained volunteers who can undertake bat surveys and support congregations who have bat roosts at their church
  • Train professional ecologists and historic building specialists in new techniques and  knowledge to improve their advice to congregations
  • Collect and collate up-to-date data from over 700 churches across England, helping to build a specialist knowledge base of bats and their use of churches
  • Strengthen local communities so people value and engage with their local natural and historic built heritage

You can read more about the project on its website.

The independent evaluation of the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund grant scheme, to which the government contributed £40 million, was published on 17 July 2018 and is available in full in the below link


The First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, launched by the Government in 2014, invited applications from Catholic and Church of England cathedrals to address urgent repair works. The fund prioritised making buildings weatherproof, safe and open to the public as well as ensuring they would be in a safe condition to host acts of remembrance for the centenary of the First World War armistice in 2018.

Grants were awarded over two phases between 2014-18, each totalling £20 million. A total of 130 awards were made to 57 cathedrals. Twelve cathedrals were awarded more than £1 million each, and the average award was £274,000.

Projects supported by the fund were all assessed by architects as requiring urgent attention either immediately or within 12 months.

The largest number of projects (approximately a third) were for roof repairs. Many of the repairs funded also related to external masonry, with other projects covered including guttering, heating, sound system, electrical and window refurbishment.

Grants were awarded by an independent panel chaired by Sir Paul Ruddock, a position appointed by the Secretary of State. The Fund was administered by the Church of England’s Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division (CCB) on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, with the CCB praised in the report for cost efficiency and excellent communication.

The report concluded that the fund had been successful in achieving its aims and met a funding need that could not be met elsewhere, adding that areas of cathedrals covered by grant-aided projects had been very largely changed from needing urgent repair to needing routine maintenance only. 

As part of the evaluation process, individual summaries were produced for each of the 130 projects supported, which are accessbile on our cathedral's funding page