Michael Palin is supporting the future of the UK’s historic churches and chapels with a voiceover for a new animated film.The 80 second animation, produced for the National Churches Trust, highlights why churches are some of the nation’s best loved buildings.

It also shows some of the dangers facing church buildings. These include leaking roofs, crumbling stonework and the dreaded Deathwatch Beetle, Xestobium rufovillosum.

The Deathwatch Beetle is a serious wood-boring pest which can cause major damage to church timbers.  When an adult, the beetles produce a rapid tapping sound by beating their heads against wood as a mating call.

The changing climate has led to a upturn in pest infestations and insect and fungal pests such as the Deathwatch Beetle have become more active, according to historic building experts. The Deathwatch Beetle is a particular problem because it bores into old timbers and eats the wood. A serious recent infestation has affected Lincoln Cathedral.

You can find out more about some of the beetles and pests which can damage churches on our website.

Deathwatch Beetle





Michael Palin said:

“Churches and chapels are fascinating and sometimes surprising places to visit.”

“They are rich with history and stunning architecture and also places for quiet reflection and venues for concerts, exhibitions and even beer festivals.” 

“But sadly many are threatened by leaking roofs, crumbling stonework.”

“And even death watch beetles.”