Looking forward to The Big Update?

We will, as always, be attending the Historic Religious Building Alliance’s The BIG UPDATE!

This year looks as exciting and informative as previous years, offering the chance to keep up to date with what’s happening to secure the future of historic religious buildings, and to meet others with similar interests and concerns. All are welcome.

There will be short, informative talks with space for questions and discussion, and time to network.


Speakers include (not in order of appearance):

* Keynote speaker: Sir Laurie Magnus, Chair of Historic England (a body which came into being when English Heritage split into two earlier this year)

* Philip Arundell talking about grants offered by the AllChurches Trust

* Ingrid Greenhow, talking about the ‘Taking Stock’ programme for Quaker Meeting Houses – a survey of these buildings to obtain a strategic overview of their importance and future opportunities.

* Rachel Harden, Deputy Director of Communication, Church of England, talking about effective ways of publicising a church project

* Shahed Saleem talking about the British Mosque, based on his survey of mosques and providing a foretaste of his forthcoming book

* Andy Warren of Natsol – everything you have always wanted to know about installing a compost toilet at your church

* John Winton, currently National Director of Churches Tourism Network Wales. This is soon to develop into Sanctaidd, a new organisation which will provide comprehensive support to all places of worship in Wales.

* CASE STUDY: Sara Loch and Chris Curtis on the Cupola Project in Blandford Forum


All are welcome.

The cost, including a full hot lunch and all refreshments, is £44.00 per person. Discounts are available to paid up members (see the booking form). Places are limited; paid up members receive priority. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any queries.


Venue: St Alban’s Centre, Baldwins Gardens, London EC1N 7AB


See you there!


The case of the missing visitor information

Open or closed

Open or closed

At the National Churches Trust we sometimes hear from people who find it difficult to find information about when a church is open for visitors. In writing an article about a number of historic churches, I have recently experienced for myself just how difficult it is to find visitor information online about churches.

I won’t name the individual churches concerned, but one is certainly a national landmark and the other three are of considerable historic interest.

The national landmark church has an impressive website. But although there was plenty of information about times of services, rightly so for a major place of worship, there was no information provided about when the church opened or closed. A potential visitor is left assuming that the church may be open from 9 -5 seven days a week. But perhaps it is from 8 – 6, and what if times are different in winter or there is one day of the week when the church is closed? There is, of course, the option of phoning the church, but why is basic information on opening times not provided online?

So, when is your church open?

For the other more minor churches, two did not have their own websites. That is of course excusable, as websites do take time to manage and keep up to date. As these were Church of England churches, information was available from the CofE ‘A Church Near You’ website. But this website mainly provides information for church-goers as opposed to church visitors and therefore lists service times and not opening hours. Maps on this site show the location of churches. However, address and postcode information is hard to find as it is provided in a tiny font size at the bottom of a page – almost looking like a footer it is therefore easy to miss. A useful guide to one of these churches is provided by a website about historic churches, but again there is no information on when this particular church is open.

Walks and refreshments

Searching for the fourth church online produced a full page of results. Administrative information was provided on the local diocesan website, together with a useful history of the parish. But again, although service times were listed, there was no information provided on opening times for church crawlers. An even better page for this church was provided by a local history society. This included a list of transport options for those wanting to travel by car, bus or train. The page even suggested a walk which including the church and other local attractions and also suggested ideas of places to go for refreshments. But, perhaps not surprisingly, there was no information about when the church  might be open.

Perhaps I am expecting too much. Churches are of course places of worship, and service times may well be the most important information which they should provide online. But increasing numbers of people are interested in discovering the history, art and architecture of churches. Yes, some of these will be happy to travel blind in the hope that a church will be open. But there are many others who will be put off visiting a church if they can’t find basic details about opening times and travel information.

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