National Maintenance Week 2014

In a special post to mark the upcoming National Maintenance Week, guest author Kate Streeter Project Manager of SPAB Maintenance Cooperatives tells us about their plans for launching the week and encouraging ongoing maintenance.


What do a ladle, rubber gloves and a pair of binoculars all have in common? They are all part of our cheap and cheerful essential maintenance kit, and this November we are going to show you how they can help you to take care of your place of worship at the very first Maintenance Co-operatives Project national conference: From Gutter to Spire. The conference is in York on Friday 21st November and tickets are free from

A stitch in time saves nine, and nowhere is this more true than for our places of worship, where we estimate that for every £1 not spent on planned preventative maintenance will likely cost £20 in emergency repairs.  This is where the Society for the protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) Maintenance Co-operative Project steps in.

clearing gullies at sgrawley.jpg largeThe project team are working hard in four regions (Cumbria, The North East, Lincolnshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and Dorset and Somerset) to bring together places of worship with volunteers who would like to assist with their upkeep, to form Maintenance Co-operatives.

Each co-operative is supported by a dedicated SPAB member of staff, offered tailor-made training and access to an array of resources.  The training begins by taking participants through the process of carrying out a condition survey and using this information to write an annual maintenance plan.  It also covers topics such as working with architects, dealing with damp and when to bring in professional help.

A year into the project and we have co-operatives springing up all across the country busily working to ensure the long-term future of their historic buildings.  We are delighted that many of the volunteers involved, places of worship, and representatives from our hugely supportive project partners (who include The National Churches Trust, Caring for Gods Acre, Arthur Rank Centre, English Heritage, and major funders the Heritage Lottery Fund) are coming together in York this November for the very first Maintenance Co-operatives conference.

blocked gully.jpg largeThis is a wonderful opportunity for those already involved to share ideas, and for those new to the project to find out more.  A packed scheduled of speakers from SPAB and our partners will be followed by fascinating York walking tours, the opportunity to put your maintenance concerns directly to our dedicated technical advisor, and of course a sociable drink in the pub to finish the day.

We very much hope that you can join us, tickets are free and there are a limited number of travel bursaries of up to £100 available to volunteers, so book soon!

Kate Streeter

SPAB Maintenance Co-operatives Project Manager

What a difference a year makes…



Yorkshire, HUDDERSFIELD, St Peter (Sarah Crossland 2013) #018

I’m humming Dinah Washington whilst reflecting that one of the many really lovely parts of my job is that I get to go out and about and visit churches. Most of the time this because they have applied for a grant, so I don’t always see their best side… however, when I get to go back and see just what a difference our funding has made it’s truly worthwhile.

Last week I went back to see Huddersfield St Peter and met with the Vicar, a very happy Revd Simon Moor.


When I first visited this impressive Victorian town centre church in 2011 it was in dire need of major works to parts of the roof and to stonework along the north and east walls. The two vestry roofs needed re-slating and new leadwork, and internal drainage needed replacing to prevent the considerable water ingress which was taking place. Stonework was in dire need of repair and replacement, including to windows (mullions and hoods) and walls, and two pinnacles on the east door were leaning considerably. Also, the whole east end needed re-pointing to remove concrete and other harmful mortar.

In 2012 we awarded the church a £40,000 Cornerstone Grant to complete the major repairs to the fabric of the building to safeguard it for the future. This grant was only made possible by the support we in turn receive from Friends, donors and trusts and foundations.


This month I visited again and was delighted to see the extent and quality of the work undertaken to repair the fabric of the building, particularly to the roofs and stonework of the vestries and the east end.

The church members have a long term vision for their building and its place in the town.  They have plans for making the space open and accessible, and for encouraging use of the building by a wide range of groups and individuals. Having completed this major phase of repairs, they are now able to for more activities and events, and be sure that the fabric will sustain them for many years to come.

The church is continuing to fundraise for further repair projects, including more repairs to stonework, if you would like to find out more please visit their website.

For more information about becoming a Friend of the National Churches Trust, and helping to save and secure churches like Huddersfield St Peter please download our membership leaflet.

Discovering Silkstone using Google InsideView…

Recently Google introduced a new ‘product’… the ability to take StreetView INSIDE a building, allowing you to explore interiors as if you were there. In this article, Don Sisson from All Saints Silkstone, tells us all about the process of getting their church onto InsideView…

Silkstone All Saints

Originally Sarah Crossland, from the National Churches Trust, introduced us to the Churches Tourism Association. At their 2012 Convention there was a presentation by Chris Jones entitled ‘Open your Church to the world with Google Inside View ‘… and so it began.

We made contact with a Sheffield photographer Mike Bellwood, one of the network of 24 Google trained professional photographers who have agreed to reduced and standard pricing on a national scale for churches.

It turned out that he knew the church from previous wedding photography and  was able to picture our requirements without a site visit. He pointed out that we would need to have photographs from the road to the church door for a smooth integration with Google Street View. He asked if there was any area of the church that did not need to be included and anything specific we would like on our virtual tour. Security of our churches is important so we were also asked to tell him what should be omitted or blurred in this respect.

The InsideView was funded by ‘Silkstone Reflects on the Church Heritage’, a joint project between Silkstone PCC and Heritage Silkstone, and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Therefore, we decided that we wanted to include the new Bramah Gallery provided as a learning resource by the project. We also emphasised two other aspects of the project, the Wentworth Monument and the church windows.

The photography was completed in a morning, and within a week the tour had been uploaded to Google and we were up and running. 

Included in the package was a QR code that we can use on our publicity so that anyone with a smart phone or tablet can go straight on the tour. Similarly included is a set of photographs which again can be used in any way we wish, These photographs are also on the Google+Local  page from which the tour can again be accessed.

Finally the tour can be seen on Google maps either through the street view feature or by dropping the ‘pegman’ onto the map-all places that have Google inside show up with an orange marker.

Why not Google  All Saints and St James Church Silkstone to see the above in action.

If you want a quick tour of the church try here.

Many thanks to Don for that first hand view of just how simple it is to use this new technology. Search  All Saints Silkstone to have a look for yourself just how easy it is to find and how amazingly crisp the view is.

Yorkshire churches & pubs… wine&cheese or chalk&cheese

The churches must owe, as we all do know,
For when they be drooping and ready to fall,
By a Whitsun or Church-ale up again they shall go
And owe their repairing to a pot of good ale
—”Exaltation of Ale”, by Francis Beaumont
Last week I was a morning guest on my local BBC Radio station (Sheffield). It’s a regular slot where 2 people from varying walks of life are brought on to discuss what is happening for them at work, in life and also what’s going on in the news that day. Last week I was paired with a lovely man, Pete, who turned out to be a brewer from Barnsley. To many people we may seem like opposite ends of the spectrum – me working with ‘the church’ and Pete encouraging us all into craziness on a Friday night.

But the link between church and beer is long and fascinating. It is also clearly evident in many villages, where the pub stands either opposite or close to the church. In fact, Sheffield is home to the only remaining pub on consecrated land (in the churchyard) – the Cross Kays at  St Mary, Handsworth.

In Medieval Britain the ‘church ale’ was a regular festival for which ale was brewed by the churchwardens and then sold to raise money for church expenses and relief of the poor. The word ‘ale’ was used for a festival at which the ale was sold, and there would be several through the year, including the leet-ale (held on the manorial court day); the lamb-ale (held at lamb-shearing); and the Whitsun-ale (held at Whitsun). The word bridal originally derives from bride-ale, the wedding feast.

Beer Festival at Holy Trinity, Hull

Beer Festival at Holy Trinity, Hull

With churches now exploring innovative ways of funding repairs as well as encouraging additional use by the local community and visitors, the idea of the ‘church ale’ is undergoing a resurgence.

A recent article by the BBC explores the restoration of brewing at Ampleforth Abbey. The Yorkshire-based monks see their current endeavours as following historic practice. They are currently the only British monks brewing beer, but there has been a global trend of Benedictine orders commercially making and selling beers. Abbey Beer was named best drink of 2012 by Deliciously Yorkshire and the profits they are making on the back of their success are invested back into the upkeep of the monastic community.

For most parish churches the practicalities of brewing and selling beer are very complicated. However, many churches are finding a way to return to the tradition of the ‘church ale’ and are reaping financial and community benefits. There are a number of annual beer festivals taking place in churches, including the Hull Real Ale and Cider Festival at Holy Trinity, Hull (the largest parish church in England). Last year the event attracted 2000 people over 3 days – which this year starts today!

Hull is not alone though… just do a google search for ‘church beer festival’ and a whole host appear!

Lets get out and enjoy them, and know that we are also helping to support some amazing and important buildings.

To read the BBC article ‘How monks mix God, booze and business’ please visit:

To find out more about Pete’s beer please visit:

Not just a children’s corner…

Yorkshire, MONK FRYSTON, St Wilfrid (Sarah Crossland 2012) #002Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful church of St Wilfrid, Monk Fryston near York.

I was there to help assess their application for funding from the National Churches Trust, for repairs to the stone tile roof of the church. However, whilst there I was struck by the warm welcome I was given by everyone there to meet me, and by the obvious community involvement with the church – particularly the close relationship between the church and local children.

The evidence of their work and involvement with the church is all around the building, quite literally when you realise that around the walls of the nave are drawings and paintings of the Vicar by local schoolchildren.

Yorkshire, MONK FRYSTON, St Wilfrid (Sarah Crossland 2012) #045Revd John Hetherington told me ‘The pictures were part of a competition by the Year 1 & Year 2 children to see who could paint the best picture of ‘Me’. It was done in November of this year and there were prizes for the best three and these were presented in school a couple of weeks ago. Many of the kids from school also attend the St Wilfrid’s Sunday Club’. What was especially lovely was the care with which the drawings were displayed… neatly but with pride of place, and adding to the warm welcoming feeling within the building.

Yorkshire, MONK FRYSTON, St Wilfrid (Sarah Crossland 2012) #038Looking more closely, at the east end of the north aisle is a wonderful ‘reredos’ created from fired clay tiles – each created by a child from the Church School (Monk Fryston Church of England Primary School). They were completed two years ago in the summer of 2010, with each child did an image of what ‘God’ meant to them personally. Once the slides had been kiln-fired they were divided, with half were placed in the church and the other half in the entrance to the school.

These projects are brilliant, one permanent and one temporary but both enhancing and confirming the relationship between the church and local children. This is one of the most important things a village church can do. Local children will form the backbone of the community who will one day care for the building, encouraging them to see it as ‘theirs’ is vital.

So, if you are ever up near Monk Fryston why not pay a visit to this beautiful and engaging church.

Church History:

There is evidence that there was a pre-conquest church on the site and in all probability Archbishop Thomas re-built the church around 1080. Building work continued into the 15th century and  on the 12th May 1444 the then Archbishop issued a commission to John, Bishop of Philippopolis to dedicate and consecrate the parish church and churchyard at Monkfriston. There is documentary proof that would suggest the church was originally dedicated to St Mary. In two 16th century parishoners’ wills they state – William Wheldale in 1547 desired to be buried “in the church yerde of our ladie in Monkfriston” and Ralph Horsman in 1553 “within the churche of oure blessed ladie at Monke Friston”.

You can pick up a full history of the church when you visit, as I did.

Church Roof Project:

With such a long history, it’s not surprising that the church roof and parts of the tower have now developed more leaks than there are buckets to contain them and essential restoration work needs to be carried out to rectify this. Of course, this does not come without a considerable cost implication, and whilst English Heritage have generously offered a grant of £110,000 towards the repairs, an additional amount of around £50,000 is still needed.

Unfortunately the National Churches Trust was unable to offer St Wilfrid’s a grant as our grant programmes are always greatly oversubscribed for the amount of funding we have available to distribute.

But, the church has established a fundraising and events group ‘Wilfileaks‘. If you can help with their efforts please get in touch with them directly.

Yorkshire, MONK FRYSTON, St Wilfrid (Sarah Crossland 2012) #025

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