AWARDNayler2021Surbiton(AndySillett&NCT)1 AndySillett

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Celebrating greatness

Congratulations to all our winners, as well as everyone who strives to help their local church to be the star of their community.

We are thrilled to share the winners of the first National Church Awards. For the first time, we brought all our awards schemes together into one nominations process and one event. Winners were invited to a sparkling high tea at Mercers' Hall in the City of London.

See the winners, programme and rewatch the livestream

We hosted a special free online event to shine a light on the people who look after local church buildings and to announce the winners of The Nayler Awards. £12,500 in prizes were awarded towards the care of one winning church and two runners up. The awards are supported by The Pilgrim Trust.

Guest speakers included Sue Bowers, Director of the Pilgrim Trust, Georgina Nayler, Former Director of the Pilgrim Trust and after whom the awards are named, Luke March, Chairman of the National Churches Trust and Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust.

This year we hosted the awards from St Giles, Wrexham. We enjoyed a special welcome and short tour of the building with Revd Dr Jason Bray. One of the Seven Wonders of Wales, the church has been an active part in our recent tourism project in Wales.

You can watch the whole broadcast here: 

St Matthew, Surbiton, Surrey

The judges thought that there was one entry in particular which exemplified excellent maintenance, practice and management. The church has a good maintenance plan, which is easy to follow, and showed that it is being used on a regular basis. It’s a real living document. The church makes very good use of volunteers and actively tries to include everyone with Maintenance Mornings. They even provide bacon butties to keep everyone going!

The church won £7,500. Find out more about the church here.

All Saints, Shillington, Bedfordshire

Named by Sir John Betjeman the ‘Cathedral of the Chilterns’, All Saints church is a Grade One listed ironstone and clunch building. The judges could see how maintenance is an integral part of the whole church structure not just an add on. There were also impressed by the balance of looking after the building as well as the ‘living churchyard’. There is something for everyone to get involved in.

The church won £2,500. Find out more about the church here.

St Andrew, Harberton, Devon

A 15th century building set in a beautiful tranquil space with the churchyard in the centre of the village. Here the judges were impressed by a simple but very clear maintenance plan which, although filled in by hand, felt like it was used and guided the work done. It just goes to show that you don’t need to overcomplicate things! The church also demonstrated very clearly how it looks after its volunteers, with clear policies and risk assessments. Its clear to see their journey from having no maintenance policies in 2016 to where they are today, winning one of our awards.

The church wins £2,500. Find out more about the church here.

Honouring excellence and creativity in church architecture and run by the National Churches Trust and the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association. We were delighted that we are able to hold the awards again in 2021 after pausing them in 2020. The awards are for new church architecture and for church conservation architecture. There is also an award for the best young church architect.

The ceremony was held at the church of St Mary Magdalene in Paddington, London on Thursday, 4 November 2021.

Presidents Award

A major project to re-order and add new features to St Thomas, Salisbury, by St Ann's Gate Architects won the 2021 Presidents Award.

The project involved conservation of the building and re-ordering the nave and side aisles. This included carefully conserving the medieval Doom painting, which provides a dramatic backdrop for the main worship space. A new nave sanctuary and new seating in the nave and aisles were added, featuring a highly contemporary altar as a foil to the medieval space. The entrance has been enhanced with a fully glazed entrance lobby, providing a light and airy welcome space.

HRH, The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO ARIBA, Vice Patron of the National Churches Trust, presented the Presidents Award to the winners. The prize is a chalice and paten commissioned by the Incorporated Church Building Society and made after World War II, together with a £500 cheque.

King of Prussia Gold Medal

The King of Prussia Gold Medal for repair and conservation architecture was awarded to A J Bunning architects for their work on St Peter, Knowstone, Devon. The project centred around the discovery and then the restoration of wall paintings during routine repairs to an area of plasterwork.

Successive layers of the wall painting schemes was tied intrinsically with the history of the rood screen: from its initial construction, to the subsequent removal of the rood loft, and then the final removal of the screen. The complexity of the different layers and schemes all played their part in the history of the wall and all had equal merit.

Prince Nicholas von Preussen, Patron of EASA and Vice President of the National Churches Trust presented the King of Prussia Gold Medal for repair and conservation architecture together with a £500 cheque.

Young Architect of the Year

The award for Young Church Architect of the Year went to Fergus Connolly and Charles Wellinhgham for their work on Holy Trinity, Colden Common. The newly reordered west end of the church now responds to a range of occasions: this can be a place for baptism, creche groups, and bereaving family members all in a single day. New large scale cabinetry variously serves as quiet background, active frontage and finely crafted object.

They received a prize of £250, supported by Ecclesiastical Insurance, and a stained glass trophy designed by artist Keith Barley.

Local Treasures celebrates the often unsung heroes who look after church buildings. In 2020 two special events have seen churches awarded the Nayler Award for church maintenance, supported by the Pilgrim Trust, and the Marsh Church and Community Heroes Awards.

The awards event was broadcast on Facebook in November 2020. 

Nayler Awards for Excellence in Church Maintenance

The team that looks after the much loved Christ Church in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, won the 2020 Nayler Award as the best maintained church. The award and a prize of £7,500 was presented to Peter Henry, churchwarden of the church, which opened in May 1821, but with roots going back to 1526.

Judges were impressed  how maintenance was a well-organized team effort at the church involving the architect, PCC, churchwardens and volunteers, and the positive impact this had made on keeping the church well maintained. In addition, the team use social media to share news about maintenance with the congregation, making sure that the whole church community is aware of key issues.

Friends Vote

St Machar cathedral in Aberdeen was awarded the 2020 Friends of the National Churches Trust grant, worth £10,000. The grant will help St Machar, which despite its name is in fact a parish church,  to fund extensive roof repairs to the A-listed building, making the church watertight and preserving its historic fabric. The work will help to safeguard the church’s oak ceiling, its most important feature, erected in 1520 and is of international importance. It is supported on all four sides by a deep wooden frieze. It is decorated with 48 carved and painted heraldic shields; both carving and painting are of very high quality.

Marsh Church and Community Heroes Awards

Volunteers were recognised for their help, kindness and support to local people and communities through this difficult year.

The winning churches are:

  • England: St Stephen, West Bowling, Bradford
  • England: Sacred Heart church, Tamworth
  • Wales: St Cynhafal, Llangynhafal
  • Wales: Morriston Tabernacle, Morriston
  • Scotland: St Mary the Virgin, Port Glasgow
  • Scotland: Houston & Killellan Kirk, Houston
  • Northern Ireland: Mount Merrion Parish Church, Belfast
  • Northern Ireland: Bloomfield Presbyterian Church, Belfast

2019 :

Barbara Lewis, Annan United Reformed Church, Scotland for her dedication engaging young people through music and fundraising for the church and other causes.

Chris Baily, Art in the Churches, Yorkshire, England for innovation by local people attracting audiences to churches through art and the “Sculpt” trail.

David Furnival, Chairman, Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust for engaging new audiences with churches through Music in Quiet Places, a successful concert series bringing high quality performances to local people and providing opportunities for young people.

Graham Harris BEM, Friends of Leigh Church, Somerset for his dedication and service to his church, community and for encouraging visitors and helping the Somerset Churches Trust through the East Mendips Churches Heritage Trail.

Peter and Hilary Lovitt, St German’s, Cardiff for their dedication in serving people who are homeless in Cardiff, for saving a heritage building and contributing to the community. 

Theophilia Shaw, St Peter, Walworth, London for exceptional volunteering within the church and community, inspiring young people and helping people in crisis and need.

Ulster Historic Churches Trust Trustees, Northern Ireland for helping local people to address and tackle maintenance through the Maintenance Project in Northern Ireland, where supporting good maintenance practice is essential to the sustainability of churches.

2018 :

Margaret Jackson, Paisley Methodist Church for leading the fundraising committee to repair the roof and revitalise and open up as a cultural and community venue.

Arthur Acheson, May Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast for playing a pivotal role in raising £500,000 in grants to repair the church, a prominent Grade A listed building in a conservation area in Belfast that was at real risk of closing.

Judith Kauntze, Devon Historic Churches Trust for transforming the Devon Historic Churches Day, incorporating Ride+Stride, into a major fundraising day.

Tracey Fellows, St James, Whitfield, Derbyshire for leading a team of volunteers to provide a free weekly café in the church and coordinating a community bus. She has also set up an emergency food support service and leads important youth outreach work.

Anita Mansell, Holy Trinity Old Hill, West Midlands for leading on the essential building work to enable Holy Trinity Old Hill to be used to serve the community for the next 100 years.

Ossie Lundie-Smith, St Mary, Walthamstow for St Mary’s Music Hall Project, an initiative to bring live music to local people.

2019 : The Lighthouse Project by Hackney Church, London

For outstanding awareness and responsiveness to its community, for an exceptional standard of delivery and innovative partnerships.

Runner up was the Holy Trinity Outreach Project at Holy Trinity without the walls, Blacon, Chester.

2018 : WWII Audio Tour, St Peter, St Paul & St Philomena, New Brighton, Merseyside

After repairs and redevelopment in the church created an accessible toilet, kitchenette, shop, and social space, a free WWII audio tour for primary schools and the local community tells the story of how this church helped people during the Blitz and how it earned its nickname.

Runner up was Olly’s Friendship Room, St Michael & All Angels, Upper Sapey, Herefordshire

2017 : Playzone@Penzance, St John the Baptist, Penzance, Cornwall

Playzone@Penzance is a safe and flexible space for children to play. The church removed pews, moved the font and installed a soft play area. 

Runner up was Home Community Café, St James & Emmanuel Church, Didsbury, Manchester

2016 : The Space@St Andrew’s, St Andrew, Blagdon, Somerset

Following a major consultation among church members and the wider village in 2014, a flexible open space was created in the church by removing pews and a mezzanine floor was added, separated from the church by a glazed screen to the tower arch. A second phase of the project created pods at the end of each aisle, with fully accessible toilets, a kitchen, and a utility room.

Runner up was Recycles Club, Salvation Army Ilford

2019 : PPIY Architects for their work on rebuilding the spire at St Margaret, Thimbleby, Lincolnshire

2018 : Caroe Architecture Ltd for their restoration of the interior of St Mary Magdalene, Paddington

2017 : Richard Crooks Partnership for their extensive interior conservation work on St Mark, Leeds (now the Gateway Church)

2016 : Lloyd Evans Pritchard for their restoration of the spire of St James, New Brighton, Merseyside.

2015 : Nick Joyce Architects`for their project to repair the timber framed tower of St Peter, Pirton, Worcestershire

2019 : Roz Barr Architects for a project to restore and refurbish St Augustine, an unlisted Edwardian Church in Hammersmith, London.

2018 : Buttress for renovation and improvements to Grade I Listed St Mary, Melton Mowbray.

2017 : Acanthus Clews for their project to extend and adapt the listed church hall of St John the Baptist, Burford, to provide a flexible space for worship and community activities.

2016 : Feilden Clegg and Bradley Studios for Stanbrook Abbey Church, a spectacular new building in the North York Moors National Park built for an order of Benedictine Nuns.

2015 : Caroe and Partners for the reinstatement of St Nicholas, Radford Semele, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire