Demand grows for church toilets and roof repairs

Published: Friday, September 26, 2014


Funding for toilets and roof repairs tops requests made to the National Churches Trust grant programmes, figures released by the UK’s church repair and support charity show as it publishes its Annual Review for 2013-2014.

The National Churches Trust’s Annual Review for 2013-2014 includes full details of the places of worship awarded or recommended grants in 2013. It also highlights other support given to places of worship, including maintenance advice, work with local churches trusts and initiatives promoting church buildings including ‘The UK’s Favourite Churches’ and ‘The UK’s Best Modern Churches’.

Contributors to the Annual Review include historians Diarmaid MacCulloch and Olivia Horsfall-Turner, artist Timothy Betjeman and architectural writer Matthew Rice.

Download the Annual Review.

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

 “We were delighted to have maintained our level of direct financial support to places of worship in 2013, awarding or recommending grants totalling £1,557,000 to 139 places of worship. Our funding has helped ensure that more of the UK’s churches, chapels and meeting houses remain open for worship and of benefit to the wider local community.”

 “In 2013 toilets topped the list of requests made to our Community Grant programme. That’s because toilets can help churches, chapels and meeting houses survive. Toilets allow churches to become more welcoming to worshippers, especially those with young children, and to people attending weddings or christenings. They are also essential for churches wanting to increase use by the wider local community for example by hosting playgroups, local clubs or charities and events such as concerts. "

 “Churches, chapels and meeting houses are full of history, but the people looking after them know that buildings can’t be stuck in the past. Many of these buildings have adapted and changed over the decades and centuries. Installing modern facilities such as toilets and kitchens and improving access are essential to increasing their use and safeguarding their future. This can be seen at the places of worship we helped with Community Grants in 2013 including St Mary’s church in Hay on Wye, Bath Quaker Meeting House and St Thomas’ church in Stockport.”

Most beautiful churches

"Churches are at the heart of their communities and bring people together in a way that makes life better. So it is crucial to keep churches repaired - If a church roof leaks, then the building gets damaged and you get a bigger problem. That’s why in 2013 we continued to help churches become wind and watertight, with roof repairs topping the list of requests made to our Repair and Cornerstone Grant programmes.  These programmes funded urgent work at some of the UK’s most beautiful and historically significant churches, including repairing the 700-year old spire at St Wulfram in Grantham and restoring the magnificent Beauchamp Chapel at the Collegiate Church of St Mary in Warwick.”


Funding needed

Claire Walker continued:  “Churches are some of the nation’s most cherished buildings, and it is vital that they survive for future generations. However, the amount of funding required by churches, chapels and meeting houses in the United Kingdom for repairs and installing modern facilities such as toilets and catering facilities and improving access is huge. In 2013 402 projects made it through to the last round of our grant application process and these alone faced a combined total funding deficit of over £30 million.”

 “Sadly we are not able to provide financial assistance to all those places of worship deserving it. Our work is not funded by government or church authorities, and as ever we are grateful for the generosity of our donors, including trusts and foundations, legators and our Friends. Over the coming year, we look forward to more people helping us continue our work supporting the UK’s churches, chapels and meeting houses.”

We'd like to know what you think about churches, chapels and meeting houses and our work funding repairs and supporting places of worship in the UK. Please click on this link to take part in our 2014 Survey

Grant programme details.

The National Churches Trust grant programmes help a wide range of Christian places of worship, and in 2013 grants were awarded or recommended to Church of England, Roman Catholic, Quaker, Baptist, Salvation Army, Methodist, Unitarian, Church of Ireland, Church of Scotland and Church in Wales buildings.

  • 2013 total grants awarded - £1,557,000 to 139 places of worship
  • 2012 total grants awarded - £1,547,000 to 112 places of worship

Community Grant programmes

In 2013 the National Churches Trust was able to award 16 Community Grants for essential facilities and modernisation to a value of £160,000.

The top five requests for Community Grant funding sought by churches, chapels and meeting houses in 2013 were:

  • Toilets 81
  • Kitchen, catering, servery    68 
  • Facilities for people with disabilities 41
  • Improving access      41
  • Heating         26


Repair and Cornerstone Grant programmes

In 2013, the National Churches Trust was able to award 50 Repair and Cornerstone Grants for urgent structural repairs to a value of £865,,000.

The top five requests for Repair and Cornerstone Grant funding sought by churches, chapels and meeting houses in 2013 were:

  • Repairs to roofs 162
  • Repairs to stonework and masonry 113
  • Repairs to rainwater goods and gutters      85
  • Repairs to towers and spires   67
  • Repairs to windows (including stained glass)         32

Partnership Grants.

In 2013, the National Churches Trust continued to work with local churches trusts and, based on their expertise, awarded 58 Partnership Grants totalling £175,000 to target smaller repair projects.

Other Grants

In 2013 the National Churches Trust worked with the WREN Heritage Fund to award 10 grants totalling £332,000 for urgent repairs and also awarded five other grants totalling £25,000.