One in nine churches in 'poor condition'

Around one in nine listed places of worship in England is in a poor or very bad condition, according to a survey published today.

Research by English Heritage has shown that 11% of places of worship including churches and synagogues are potentially at risk because of their poor or very bad physical condition - but 89% are in good or "fair" condition.

The conservation body said the survey results were better than had been feared by some and were a "huge testament" to the hard work and altruism of congregations.

Chief executive Dr Simon Thurley urged places of worship to take a "stitch in time" approach to repairs.

He said: "The current climate of increased unemployment, low interest rates and reduced returns on invested capital make fundraising a greater challenge than ever.

"Alongside this, some congregations are finding the responsibility harder to bear unless their whole community comes together to support its most historic and iconic building.

"I urge everyone who cares about their local church, chapel, synagogue or other place of worship to lend a hand.

"Don't be put off by what might seem like an impossible challenge - the key is to do small things really well.

"Finding somewhere to serve cups of tea might achieve just as much as a major building project.

"Clearing gutters could save the need for a whole new roof or renewing damp walls at a cost of thousands of pounds."

The survey of 2,215 buildings showed rural listed places of worship were more likely to be at risk than urban ones - 13%, or around one in eight - compared to 9% or one in 11 in urban areas.

But in places such as Tower Hamlets and Hackney, in London, where all listed places of worship were surveyed, 21% were in poor or very bad condition.

A similar survey in inner city Birmingham - excluding the central business district - indicated that 28% of listed places of worship were at risk.

The survey also found 11 of the 32 listed synagogues were found to be in poor or very bad condition.

Congregations surveyed said they wanted more information on getting permission to make changes, funding for installing tea points and toilets and advice on finding potential sources of funding.

English Heritage said grants of £40 million a year help, but an estimated £925 million of outstanding repairs need to be done over the next five years with the majority paid through voluntary giving and organised by congregations.

John Penrose, minister for tourism and heritage, said: "England's cathedrals, churches and other places of worship are central to most people's views of our heritage.

"I am delighted that they're overwhelmingly in fine shape. It's a testament not only to public funding but, more importantly, to the dedication and hard work of thousands of volunteers who give up their time to keep them in good order."

Crispin Truman, chief executive of the Churches Conservation Trust - the charity for historic churches no longer used for regular worship - said: "The report is helpful in producing the first register of places of worship at risk.

"However, between 20 to 30 churches are closed each year in England alone.

"These buildings are of significant national and community importance.

"Alternative and diverse community-led approaches, ranging from conservation to shared use, must be the priority to keep these buildings open and in use."

The Church of England said fundraising and hard work by its congregations was keeping thousands of historic buildings in good condition, open to the public for worship and, increasingly, a growing range of community activities.

A statement from the Church of England said it maintained more of the country's architectural heritage than any other organisation - some 12,300 listed buildings.

Anne Sloman, chairwoman of the Church Buildings Council, said: "Churches are regularly inspected between the five-yearly architectural surveys they are required to have by the Church of England and the vast majority - 90% - are in good condition.

"Congregations and volunteers make an enormous effort to raise the funds and do the work that keeps so many listed church buildings in good condition on behalf of the nation and the communities they serve.

"The additional funds provided through English Heritage and the current VAT refund scheme ensure that all that effort is encouraged and supported so that potential problems, that could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds if nothing is done, are addressed at an early stage."

She added: "We would also echo English Heritage's call on the Government to continue the Listed Places of Worship Scheme beyond March 2011 so that the maintenance of so much historic architecture is not held back by the extra costs of VAT."

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PE Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary PE Teacher (maternity cover) f...

English Intervention Teacher

£23000 - £33000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: English Intervention Teac...

Teacher of Citizenship and RE

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Teacher of Citizenship and REMaternity L...

English Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary English Teacher for a academy ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments