Writing in our new Annual Review, broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards, Vice-President of the National Churches Trust, said:
"The installation of high-quality organs in villages, towns and cities throughout Britain is truly one of Britain's cultural glories. For some years, this rich heritage has been casually thrown away as places of worship close and the contents are stripped for cash. That process has now gathered momentum as the rate of closure of chapels and churches has soared."
"This is a vitally important part of our cultural story. These church and chapel organs are a direct link with previous generations – our ancestors – whose cultural values and priorities are reflected in the buildings they funded."
"A strategy – probably on a devolved basis given the cultural responsibilities – would at least safeguard the organs in a state of decay right now, making some of them available for future generations to enjoy. A pipe dream? Maybe. But the time to act is now, before we lose so much more."
2020 - The National Churches Trust - Year in Review
in 2020 the Trust, which is the UK charity supporting church buildings, awarded 259 grants to churches and chapels throughout the UK totalling £1,718,419, a 28% increase in funding since 2019.
40% of the value of grants in 2020 supported places of worship located within the most deprived areas of the UK.
26 churches were removed from Historic England's "Heritage at Risk' Register with the help of the Trust's grants.
The House of Good
2020 saw the publication of the Trust's 'The House of Good' report which for the first time quantified the economic and social value of all church buildings to the UK. Not just the bricks and mortar but the welfare and wellbeing they create in our communities.
The ground-breaking report shows that the total economic and social value that church buildings generate in the UK is at least £12.4 billion per year. This averages around £300,000 per church. That is roughly equal to the total NHS spending on mental health in England in 2018.
At a time when funding for repairing and maintaining church buildings is in short supply, 'The House of Good' report shows that £10 invested in church buildings creates a social return of at least £37.40.
Luke March, Chairman of the National Churches Trust, said:
"In 2020, churches were closed for long periods of time and unable to raise income from their many activities, including normal collections and the hiring out of buildings."
"To help support them we provided £1.7 million of grants for urgent repairs, essential maintenance and the installation of community facilities."
"That was an increase of 28% over the previous year and was achieved in part thanks to our new partnership with the Wolfson Foundation."
Responding to need
"Our work keeps churches in good repair so that the magnificent ecclesiastical heritage we see from Cornwall to Northumberland can be safe for future generations. "
"We also want to make sure that church buildings can continue to be 'Houses of Good' and we continue to provide funding to install loos and kitchens so that places of worship can better respond to social need."
"Looking to the future there is much to be done and the challenges are ever increasing. Climate change for example is seriously affecting churches by bringing more rain and stronger winds. "
"Inspired by our vision that church buildings across the UK are well maintained, open to everyone, sustainable and valued we will continue to make a difference to the many millions of people who care for and use churches every year."
Help support the future of the UK's churches and chapels
2020 saw 1,344 people join us the Trust as Friends. Through their support, Friends help us to continue our work of ensuring that the heritage of some of the UK’s most important historic buildings can be there for future generations to use and enjoy, making it possible for churches and chapels to carry on being Houses of Good, providing vital support to communities.