Help & advice
Sources of advice on looking after a historic religious building and developing it for wider community use
This page / document provides a list of sources of further guidance and information on looking after a historic religious building and developing it for wider community use.
This is a list of sources of advice and guidance has been produced by Becky Payne for our website, Historic Religious Buildings Alliance (HRBA), and it can be downloaded here for an easy reference. However, please check back once in a while for up-dates and additions. You are free to copy and redistribute this material in any format.
We welcome corrections and updates, which should be sent to email@example.com
The first place to visit will always be your faith group or denomination’s website. The following is only a selection of what is available – you will need to explore for yourself.
The Church of Scotland has a series of leaflets on various aspects of managing church buildings, here
It has also produced ‘Letting it happen’, a booklet to help congregations manage and develop the use of their buildings. Available at: http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/3248/priority_handbook.pdf
The Church in Wales provides various resources for those caring for church buildings here:
The ChurchCare website is maintained by the Church of England‘s Cathedral and Church Buildings Division, but is a comprehensive resource for anyone managing a church building. There is guidance on developing a church for wider community use. It explains the Church of England’s Faculty System and what to consider when making changes to the use or physical fabric of your church.
The various Church of England dioceses have very useful guidance and information on their websites usually under a menu heading of church buildings or looking after your church buildings.
In the Roman Catholic Church for England and Wales, the care and management of church buildings comes under the Patrimony Committee
The Methodist Church has guidance on managing and developing their churches here
The Baptist Union Corporation has written a series of guidance leaflets to help local churches with practical building issues, legal matters, property opportunities and problems, and charity law. http://www.baptist.org.uk/Groups/220867/Listed_Buildings.aspx
The United Reformed Church’s Plato Property Handbook covers all issues to do with buildings.
The Quakers have information on managing meeting houses and developing new building projects here http://www.quaker.org.uk/property-matters
OTHER SOURCES OF ADVICE
The National Churches Trust offers grants, a Building Advice section and a Resource Centre which links to further guidance on all aspects of looking after and developing a church building
The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) is increasingly encouraging and supporting community-based extended uses to help sustain the churches in their care. The Regenerating Communities section on their website provides guidance as well as inspirational case studies.
CCT have also produced a developing Business Plan toolkit which focusses on this crucial part of the process for achieving funding and ensuring long-term sustainability. It is illustrated with helpful hints and case studies from other community groups who have gone through the process.
The Arthur Rank Centre (ARC) is an ecumenical Christian charity with the aim of resourcing rural churches of all denominations. There is a comprehensive online resource to support individual congregations in maintaining their building, adapting it for today’s needs, balancing conservation and mission and helping to make rural churches more accessible. Much of the material is applicable to urban situations.
Resourcing Christian Community Action
This study brings together current best practice in Christian care in local communities with the resources and knowledge base needed to multiply those good works across the country. http://www.how2help.net/ offers information on how to start a project, how to manage a project, where to get advice and good case studies.
The Church Urban Fund has resources for churches that want to set up projects to tackle poverty. http://www.cuf.org.uk/get-involved/act/resources
The Church Growth Research and Development website aims to communicate and disseminate some of the Church of England’s work on church growth research and development. This includes resources for churches wishing to grow through
wider use of their buildings and community engagement.
The Faith Based Regeneration Network UK (FbRN) is the leading national multi faith network for community development, regeneration and social action. There
is guidance on every aspect of setting up and managing a community project and case studies. http://www.fbrn.org.uk/resources
FbRN also produced an extremely useful toolkit Tools for Regeneration – Practical Advice for Faith Communities.
The Churches Trust for Cumbria offers case studies illustrating rural places of worship engaging with their communities in innovative ways. There is also guidance and other support to help churches of all denominations develop their own projects.
Historic England (HE) have a role in the regulatory process and also offers advice and support. They offer useful advice on balancing the needs of congregations with the desirability of conserving heritage as well as guidance on obtaining permission and consents for works to places of worship. They have published various helpful guides. Their website is well-structured and informative and should be consulted by anyone thinking of making a change to a listed place of worship. http://www.historicengland.org.uk/advice/caring-for-heritage/places-of-worship/
Note: If you are looking for a particular HE policy document which you know exists, then the quickest way to find it might be at
Save Our Parsonages was set up in 1995 to oppose the sale by the Church of its traditional rectories and vicarages. It opposes such sales on pastoral, practical, and financial grounds, as well as for community and heritage reasons.
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) have a calendar of care for routine maintenace which you can download from here http://www.spabfim.org.uk/data/files/pages/maintenance_calendar.pdf
They are currently (2015) setting up maintenance co-operatives for places of worship, and details can be found here:
Across England there are a number of Anglican dioceses where maintenance has been organised for a group of churches. The Historic England website gives details here:
ADVICE ON HERITAGE
The Historic England (HE) website should be consulted for advice on heritage. See details above.
In Scotland, a booklet on ‘New Uses for Old Buildings’ was produced by the Scottish Civic Trust in 2010, available at:
and a general discussion of the reuse of churches as part of ‘New uses for old buildings’ at
Statements of Need and Significance. Most denominations require these statements as part of their process of approving proposed works to listed places of worship. You can find help on the Historic England website (see above) and here: http://www.churchcare.co.uk/churches/guidance-advice/statements-of-significance-need
In addition, Historic England and the University of York have produced a free online
tool for creating a statement of significance for a place of worship. http://www.statementsofsignificance.org.uk/
Always ask the advice of your denomination about suppliers.
The Building Conservation Directory provides a list of over 1,000 practitioners and suppliers in the areas of conservation, restoration and repairs from access audits to wall painting conservators. You can access the Directory free here
The National Churches Trust have professional trades directory.
The Royal Institute of British Architects has a register of architects
GUIDANCE ON PROJECTS, INCLUDING COMMUNITY PROJECTS
The Diocese of Hereford (CofE) has produced a toolkit – Crossing the Threshold: a community development approach to the use of church buildings – a step-by-step guide to developing and delivering sustainable community projects in
church buildings. Download for free from http://www.hereford.anglican.org/churchgoers/community_partnership_and_funding/about_us_and_latest_news/index.aspx
The Diocese of Manchester (CofE) has produced a booklet, Using and Managing your Community Space Effectively which gives examples of church hall/community space letting agreements, a simple constitution, and other information to assist you with hiring out your church facilities.
Living Stones is an independent charity providing an impartial approach to meeting the needs of churches in transition and guiding them through a process of change. They help churches to reconnect with the community around them, and to find a renewed gospel purpose.
One Church 100 Uses has a range of templates to help churches explore their potential as music venues, cafes and other uses. They can offer advice on facilitation, networking, fundraising and project management of church developments
Approach your local authority (ask for Community Development) or local strategic partnership (your local authority can point you in their direction).
Your local voluntary and community sector (VCS) infrastructure organisation can provide vital support for voluntary organisations and community groups in the
form of advice on setting up new projects as well as information on local grants available and support in the application process. NAVCA (National Association for Voluntary and Community Action) is the national voice of local support and development organisations and their directory will help you identify your local organisations. http://data.navca.org.uk/members/directory
The Plunkett Foundation supports rural communities to set up a wide range of community-owned enterprises and social enterprises providing vital rural services
Community Tool Box provides practical guidance on all aspects around setting up community projects. http://www.ctb.ku.edu/en
Locality is the leading nationwide network of community-led organisations. Provides advice on setting up community enterprises etc including setting up community share
funded projects http://locality.org.uk
Village SOS offer tools, support and expert guidance to help communities take a step towards starting their own community businesses/social enterprises and guide them through the journey from their initial idea to transforming the area. There is also an advice phone line. http://www.villagesos.org.uk
Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) is the national umbrella body for the 38 charitable local development agencies, also known as Rural Community Councils that make up the Rural Community Action Network (RCAN). RCCs can offer advice, support, and access to grant databases.
The Big Lottery have undertaken research into the community projects they have funded and provide good advice to those planning new projects
The Heritage Lottery Fund provides a range of good-practice guidance to help you plan and deliver your heritage project. This includes reducing environmental impacts, guidance on carrying out evaluation, making your project fully accessible, using digital technology in heritage projects, how to encourage community participation and working with volunteers. http://www.hlf.org.uk/HowToApply/goodpractice/Pages/Goodpracticeguidance.aspx#.U0abSvldURo
SOURCES OF FUNDING
A good starting point is the HRBA webpage on Funding, which points to a number of useful websites for sources and Directories of Funding.
Don’t forget to liaise with your local authority, local strategic partnership, voluntary action, council for voluntary services, or rural community council. Some can offer you free access to national funding databases, whilst others produce funding directories of regional and
local sources of funding.
For convenience, some major funders are listed here:
The Heritage Lottery Fund – http://www.hlf.org.uk
The Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund http://www.lpowroof.org.uk/
The Big Lottery Fund – http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
The National Churches Trust – http://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/ourgrants
The All Churches Trust – http://www.allchurches.co.uk
The Church and Community Fund – http://www.ccfund.org.uk
Landfill Communities Fund – http://www.entrust.org.uk/landfillcommunity-fund
Giving to Heritage is the Heritage Alliance’s training programme for fundraisers in the heritage sector. Aimed at any member of staff, volunteer, committee member or trustee, from a heritage or community group with responsibility for developing and delivering fundraising activities, it offers a series of workshops across the country.
The Church of England’s Parish Resources http://www.parishresources.org.uk/resourcesfor-treasurers/funding offers a range of funding guides to help you target funding for projects – either for capital works or for mission. They are intended to be simple “how-to” guides and cover a range of topics from Preparing a Funding Strategy, A Simple Guide to writing a Business Plan to running Fundraising Events.
The Institute of Fundraising has much useful material (including short videos providing a snapshot of the key principles of successful fundraising) http://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/guidance/introduction-to-fundraising/
And an earlier publication of their’s is here: http://www.fbrn.org.uk/reading/goodfundraising-guide-where-start
The Near Neighbours Project (funded by DCLG) has produced a series of guidance notes on faith based fundraising http://www.cuf.org.uk/near-neighbours/Resources
PROFESSIONAL AND SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS
The Council for British Archaeology
The Ancient Monuments Society
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
The Georgian Group
The Victorian Society
The Twentieth Century Society
The Institute of Historic Building Conservation
- Fundraising for a Community Project by Simon Whaley (How To Books,
2007, ISBN: 978 184528174-8)
- Grow Your Church’s Income: A guide to securing long-term financial health by Maggie Durran (Canterbury Press Norwich 2011, ISBN-13:9781848250390)
- Making Church Buildings Work by Maggie Durran (Canterbury Press Norwich 2005, ISBN: 978-185311597-4) Practical guidance on ways churches can be a more effective local presence and serve their neighbours’ needs. Also available from the Arthur Rank Centre http://www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk/publications-and-resources/book-stall
- Fund Raising for Churches by Jane Grieve. Aimed at all churches, from those in the smallest villages to the large secular organisations, this text takes the methods of modern fundraisers and adapts them specifically for Christian churches.
1999, ISBN-13: 9780281050581. Only available on Amazon
- Ten Years on: a Review of Rural Churches in Community Service Programme (2009), Susan Rowe. An important review of the long-term success and failure of church building projects. This can be downloaded from the Arthur Rank Centre website. http://www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk/images/stories/resources/Ten_Years_On.pdf
- Churches for Communities: Adapting Oxfordshire’s Churches for Wider Use (2014) by Becky Payne. ISBN 9780992769307. An assessment of 25 Oxfordshire churches which have carried out internal re-orderings and major building projects. Available from Central Books and Amazon.
- Pews, benches and chairs, by Trevor Cooper and Sarah Brown (2011. ISBN 9778-0-946823-17-8. Includes substantial discussion and guidance on making changes to church seating. Available on Amazon.
Here is a list of resources of help and advice for those looking after historic religious buildings, or running a project to adapt them for community use. We think this is really useful!