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The Church Conservation Trust (CCT)

 

What is the Church Conservation Trust?

The Church Conservation Trust is a charity whose conservation policy helps to firstly repair and then maintain more than 300 churches in England, some of which have been neglected for decades. The main aim is to make them all structurally sound and weatherproof enabling over two million visitors each year to continue enjoying the beauty of these wonderful historic buildings. All of the churches in the care of the Church Conservation Trust are Listed, mostly Grade I.     

The trust was founded in 1969 to protect redundant, abandoned churches and was originally known as the Redundant Churches Fund. The CCT, as it is now affectionately known, is effectively the National Trust or English Heritage of the church world. Its sister charity the Friends of Friendless Churches also helps to save churches, half in England and half in Wales,

friendsoffriendlesschurches.org.uk.

 

The Guiding Principles of the CCT

As we mentioned the conservation of the churches in their care is the main priority of the CCT. On the website visitchurches.org.uk, they state their guiding principles as: -

  1. Only the minimum necessary is done in order to extend the life of the building.
  2. Protective elements, which shield more sensitive features, are given priority and we may make discrete changes to make the original piece last longer.
  3. Traditional materials like stone, lime and lead, are used in preference to modern materials like concrete, cement and stainless steel. Traditional materials are compatible with the original, tend to last longer and encourage continuing skills and craftsmanship.
  4. New work is made to fit the existing feature, rather than the other way round.
  5. Conserve what exists rather than restore to a previous time. Many past alterations at our churches are of great social and historic interest.
  6. Carry out sensible programmes of repair that provide value for money, always bearing in mind our principle to do only the minimum work necesssary.
  7. Include archaeological investigation and recording, where appropriate, to develop understanding and to guide further work.
  8. Obtain specialist advice where needed and develop technical policies to provide a consistent level of care.

A vast amount of money is needed for this conservation to take place as up to eighty projects are started each year. The organisation have now come up with some interesting and fun ideas to help raise much needed funds.

 

Champing(or Church Camping)

Are you chomping, or should we say Champing, at the bit to spend a night in a church?  Then why not visit one of three venues in the country that offer you the chance to try Champing or Church Camping, no doubt the number of churches offering this will increase if it becomes more popular. We have all heard of Glamping(glamour camping) where you can enjoy many luxuries and home comforts not usually associated with sleeping in a tent. Champing is the new Glamping, a brand new experience to try.

The Church of St Cyriac and St Julitta at Swaffham Prior in Cambridgeshire is one of the churches available to hire. On the Church Conservation Trust website visitchurches.org.uk it explains how you can spend a peaceful, two day stay in the church with candles and all necessary provisions arranged by the CCT. Visitors are given the key to the church allowing them to visit and enjoy what the local area has to offer, a typical day may include a trip to the local pub then back to the church to tell stories and catch up with the events of the day. The whole experience is descibed as slow tourism at its best, where local products, attractions etc. can be utilised to slower the pace and improve the quality of life for the area.

          

Favourite Church Walks

If Champing is not for you then the CCT also offers the chance for you to try out one of the Walks recommended by some of their supporters, The walks all include a visit to one of the churches being maitained by the CCT, some famous faces have already added their walks to the website.   

Historic church tours are also offered in ten counties in england – all have professional guides and expert vounteers and even include lunch!  

 

Sexennial Surveys and reports

Every six years Sexennial Reports are carried out on all of the CCT churches. These are a similar idea to the five yearly Quinquennial Surveys carried out by  Building Surveyors on churches in the UK.

 

Learn more about our specialist Quinquennial Surveys

 

The aim is to maintain the structure and fabric of the churches to prevent major problems occurring rather than having to deal with issues such as a leaking roof or a collapsed drain, both of which can cause significant damage to the building if they are not prevented from happening. 

If you would like to read more about the CCT and their mission to save or churches then please visit their website visitchurches.org.uk

 

 

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