Maintaining and preserving changing churches

As Christmas Day draws nearer and churches across the country welcome worshipers to their Advent services, a timely University of Leicester conference this week explored how to maintain those churches for years to come.

The University hosted the conference ‘Parish Church Interiors in Changing Times’ on 14 and 15 December at Stamford Court conference centre, sponsored by Historic England.  The focus of the conference was on the challenges of constructive management of change in historic buildings so that they can continue in use but retain what makes them special.

The conference was opened by Sir Laurie Magnus, chair of Historic England, and the Bishop of Worcester, John Inge, and the Dean of the Court of Arches, Charles George QC, offered keynote presentations setting out the Church of England’s perspective.  Loyd Grossman, who serves as chair of the Churches Conservation Trust, addressed the conference dinner.

An open debate on listing and significance was led by Roger Bowdler, Director of Listing at Historic England, followed by a range of presentations dealing with Victorian radicalism and 20th century visions. On Tuesday a range of workshops addressed practical concerns. Presenters included two Leicester Archaeology PhD graduates, Clare Strachan and Matthew Godfrey, who now work for the Dioceses of Coventry and Lincoln respectively. A webcast of the proceedings will be made available after the conference.

Deidre O’Sullivan from the School of Archaeology and Ancient History said: “The conference represents an important initiative. It provided a key platform for current debates and concerns, as well as an opportunity for those involved or affected by decision-making to share practical concerns.”