The ‘plight’ of Locked Churches

Locked churches

Locked churches

In the latest issue of our Friends Newsletter we publish a letter voicing concern about locked churches. Whether you are an experienced church crawler,  an occasional visitor or have responsibility for looking after churches, we’d like to hear from you about whether you think this is a cause for concern and what, if anything, can be done about it. Please post a comment below or email us at info@nationalchurchestrust.org

Below, we publish the letter and also our reply.

Dear National Churches Trust
One of the biggest barriers to the public’s enjoyment of churches is that so many of them are locked. It is very frustrating to visit a church only to find that it’s locked, and that there is no information about where the key might be found.
I understand that insurers recommend that churches are kept open during the day (because thieves would worry about being caught by visitors), and the many churches that are unlocked seem to be still standing, unburnt and pillaged, so why are so many locked?
For example, there are two churches in my part of the world just a few miles from each other (but belonging to different groups of parishes); the former is always open, the latter apparently always locked. I can’t believe that the thieves and vandals who leave the former alone would descend on the latter if it were to be unlocked.
I’ve never been responsible for the upkeep and security of a church, so I’m reluctant to criticise. I’m sure it’s an arduous job, and I’m grateful to the custodians of churches, even the locked ones, for looking after them. But churches belong to everyone; they’re a part of our heritage, and should be reasonably accessible to all.
David Gouldstone

Sarah Crossland, our National Support Officer replies.
The plight of locked churches is often bemoaned by those of us who love to explore them.
Happily, more than ever are opening to visitors. Around 58% are open, with an additional 12% having nominated keyholders. Find out more at: www.digiatlas.org
Support for churches wanting to open can be found at www.churchestourismassociation.info

The National Churches Trust Newsletter is one of the benefits you can receive by becoming a Friend.  It costs just £30 to become a Friend, and more details can be found on the supporting us pages of our website.

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3 Comments

  1. I’m a relatively seasoned church crawler and have found an even split of open and locked churches, probably around 50\50 throughout Cumbria, South Lancashire and North Yorkshire. It’s frustrating to come across a locked church, though perfectly understandable these days. There’s nothing worse than travelling many miles, just to encouter a locked church.

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  2. On Twitter Phil Draper ‏@PhilDraperCC says

    @NatChurchTrust Open Doors Day is a joke in and around Bristol. Let’s have an annual “Open Churches Weekend”, say in May.

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  3. From our Facebook page Scott Phillips says:
    A very challenging issue. Protection of the resource versus unfettered access. Keykeepers may be the answer. Help with how to call ahead? As a visitor, it was certainly sad to encounter locked churches. Perhaps the answer lies in more multiple use focus so they are occupied more often as community centers. Difficult issue.

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