Christ Church, in Sowerby Bridge, is the UK's best maintained church

Published: Friday, November 20, 2020


The church has won the 2020 Nayler Award, supported by the Pilgrim Trust.

The team that looks after the much-loved Christ Church in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, has won the 2020 Nayler Award as the UK’s best maintained church.

The award and a prize of £7,500 was presented to Peter Henry, Church Warden of Christ Church at the National Churches Trust’s Local Treasures event, held on Friday 20 November 2020.

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

Peter Henry, Church Warden at Christ Church said:

“On behalf of the PCC I would like to thank you for this award. It means a lot to us and our congregation. Without them a lot of the work that we have undertaken here would not have actually happened. 2021 sees our five-year quinquennial inspection, where we will put our maintenance plan in place to take us through the next five years. The grant that we received today will help towards carrying out maintenance work highlighted in this.”

Christ Church opened in May 1821, but its roots go back to 1526. The architect responsible for the current building was John Oates of Halifax who produced what was described as being “a handsome and commodious chapel of the Gothic order of architecture”. In 2019, the church received a grant from the National Churches Trust towards the costs of roof repairs.

There is also good news for two other churches shortlisted for the Nayler Awards. St Leonard’s church, Southoe, Cambridgshire and the Presbyterian Cardross Parish Church in Dumbartonshire both won a special Runners Up Award and a cash prize of £2,500.

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said:

“Congratulations to Christ Church in Sowerby Bridge, deserving winners of the 2020 Nayler Awards for church maintenance. The work of the team shows the benefits of having a good maintenance plan in place which helps to prevent costly repair bills in the future. We are delighted that The Pilgrim Trust have partnered with us in these awards, so that we can celebrate the unsung heroes who maintain church buildings.”

Sue Bowers, Director of the Pilgrim Trust said:

“The Pilgrim Trust is delighted to support these awards which highlight best practice in church maintenance and shine a light on the dedication, energy and care that church communities give to ensuring the sustainability of their historic buildings. They show that when it comes to maintenance, the ‘little but often’ approach can reap huge benefits.”

Catherine Townsend, Head of Church Support for the National Churches Trust said:

 “The Nayler Awards were held online on Friday 20 November, to coincide with the start of National Maintenance Week. With funding for repairs in short supply, it is very important that churches prioritise the maintenance of their buildings."

 "Regular maintenance checks, and proactive maintenance repairs, ensure the preservation of original historic building fabric by reducing the need for major repairs. They also save money in the long-term as delaying maintenance leads to higher repair costs."

 “Much of this crucial work is organised or carried out on a voluntary basis by local people. Yet, their vital contribution is frequently unrecognised. Congratulations to the winner and to the runners up. I’m pleased that their contribution to the upkeep of their churches has been recognised.”

Photo courtesy of Tim Green (CC-BY-SA3.0)