Royal praise for National Churches Trust

The National Churches Trust’s 60th anniversary has been celebrated at a special service held at Westminster Abbey on Thursday 28th November 2013.

HM Queen Message

HM Queen Message

HM The Queen sent a message of congratulations to the charity, which was included in the Order of Service. In her message she said: ”As Patron of the National Churches Trust, I send my warmest congratulations to you on the occasion of your 60th anniversary. Since the foundation of the Historic Churches Preservation Trust in 1953, I have seen the excellent work you have undertaken to support historic church buildings in this country.  As you celebrate your Diamond Jubilee this year, I hope you will build on the Trust’s success and continue your important work which has such a positive impact on people’s lives and our communities.”

The service was attended by the Vice-Patron of the Trust, HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO, accompanied by HRH The Duchess of Gloucester GCVO

The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Revd Dr John Hall and the Address was given the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby.  You can listen to this Address on Audioboo

Geraldine James, Bear Gylls, Bettany Hughes

Geraldine James

Geraldine James

The actress Geraldine James OBE read ‘Please Close this Door Quietly’ a poem specially written for the service by  former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams. Television presenter and Chief Scout Bear Grylls and historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes read passages from the scriptures.

The broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards, who is also  a Vice-President of the National Churches Trust, presented the stories of three churches which have been supported by the charity. These featured interviews with representatives from St Mary de Castro, Leicester, Memorial Community Church, Plaistow and St David’s Church, Llanddewi Aberarth.

Six banners illustrating the work of the National Churches Trust were processed through Westminster Abbey at the start of the service by bearers who included children from St-Martin-in-the-Fields High School, Tulse Hill, in south London.

Below is a list of some of the people who attended the service

•    HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO, accompanied by HRH The Duchess of Gloucester GCVO.

•    Sir Thomas Allen CBE;  Huw Edwards; Bear Grylls; Bettany Hughes; Gloria Hunniford; Geraldine James OBE; Rony Robinson; Alastair Sooke; Rt Hon Admiral Lord West of Spithead GCB DSC.

•    Lord Alton of Liverpool; Lord Best OBE; Rt Hon  Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville CH; Baroness Butler-Sloss GBE; Rt Hon Lord Cormack DL FSA;  Baroness Fookes DBE; Rt Hon Lord Glenarthur DL; Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield FBA; Rt Hon Lord Howe of Aberavon CH QC; Rt Hon Baroness Linklater of Butterstone; Rt Hon Baroness Rawlings;  Lord Rowe-Beddoe DL; Rt Hon Lord Shaw of Northstead DL; Baroness Wheeler MBE.

•    Dame Liz Forgan DBE; Prince Rupert von Preussen; Sir and Lady Sainsbury.

•    The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve MP (Attorney General); David Amess MP;  Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP (Second Church Estates Commissioner); Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith MP (also Chairman of the Historic Chapels Trust);  Nicholas Boles MP;  Angie Bray MP;  Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson MP;  Helen Goodman MP (Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport); Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP;  Andrew Rosindell MP;  Barry Sheerman MP;  Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP;  Martin Vickers MP.

•    Most Revd and Rt Hon The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby; Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury; Most Revd George Stack, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff; Revd Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, former President of the Methodist Conference.

•    Rt Revd Ian Brackley, Bishop of Dorking; Very Revd Nigel Godfrey,    Dean of St German’s Cathedral, Isle of Man; Rt Revd Kenneth Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe; Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, Bishop of Ebbsflett.

•    His Eminence Abba Seraphim El-Suriani – Metropolitan Seraphim of Glastonbury, British Orthodox Church; Very Revd Archpriest Gregory Hallam – Antiochan Orthodox Deanery of the United Kingdom and Ireland; James Laing – General Secretary, Council of Lutheran Churches; Revd Graeme Longmuir – Moderator, Prebsytery of Gordon; Derek McAuley – Chief Officer, The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches; Emmanuel Mbakwe – National Leader, Apostolic Church UK; Hugh MacKenzie – Moderator of Presbytery, Associated Presbyterian Churches; Ray Ursell – President, Independent Methodist Churches;  Ernie Whalley, President of the Baptist Union.

•    Sue Bowers,  Chair, Heritage Lottery Fund London Committee; Clementine Cecil, Director, SAVE; Catherine Croft, Director, Twentieth Century Society;  Sara Crofts, Deputy Director, Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings;  Diana Evans, Head of Places of Worship Advice, English Heritage; Dame Helen Ghosh DCB, Director-General, The National Trust; Janet Gough, Director, Church of England Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division; ; Kate Pugh, Chief Executive, Heritage Alliance; Anne Sloman OBE, Chair of the Church Buildings Council; Neil Sumner, Vice Chairman, Welsh Religious Buildings Trust; Crispin Truman, Chief Executive, Churches Conservation Trust; Nick Way, Director General, Historic Houses Association; Dr Manon Williams LVO, Chair, Heritage Lottery Fund Wales.

Your favourite church poems

Next week  at a service at Westminster Abbey to mark our 60th anniversary, to be held on  Thursday 28 November, actress Geraldine James will read a poem about churches specially written for the occasions by Dr Rowan Williams.

We will make the poem, titled  ‘Please Close This Door Quietly’  available on the day of the service.  But in the meantime, we’d like to hear from you about your favourite church poems.

Many poets and writers  have been inspired by the architecture and spirituality of church buildings and church yards, and we below  include some favourites by Larkin, Betjeman, Thomas Gray and Simon Armitage.

You can share your favourites by commenting on this blog post, by letting us know on twitter @natchurchtrust or by email to

Philip Larkin – Church Going

Once I am sure there’s nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence.

John Betjeman  poem, ‘Save the Village Church’  dedicated to  St Katherine’s, Chiselhampton, an unspoiled and unaltered Georgian chapel built in 1762.  Read poem 

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,  by Thomas Gray  Read poem

Harmonium by Simon Armitage  Read poem

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