Craswall Church At Risk: Community Meeting November 5th

Craswall Church: At Risk

No, this is not because people are not worshipping there or that the the church is insolvent: numbers at services have increased really well over the last two years and the church holds a modest financial reserve. But even the most casual observer could not fail to notice that the building needs a degree of attention. We applied for a grant under the Church Roof Fund, which deals with roofs, gutters and drains. Alas, we were not successful. Historic England - which is how English Heritage now styles itself - were alerted to this and undertook an assessment of then roof, rainwater goods, stonework and other key structural elements, and found problems with all of them. As a result, the church will be placed on the 2016 Heritage at Risk Register.

There is one point that must be made clear. The letter from Historic England states: ‘Inclusion of a place of worship in the Register is not a criticism of those responsible for the building or those who manage it. Rather, it is an indication that those who are caring for an important part of the country’s heritage are facing significant challenges, which may require more resources than they can find locally.’

The great advantage of being on the register is that the condition of a building and its appearance on the Heritage at Risk Register is considered by the Heritage Lottery Fund when assessing applications under their Grants for Places of Worship Scheme

What the Heritage Lottery Fund and other grant awarding bodies will want is evidence of community support and of a community element in the proposed work on the church. This can be as little as providing information for visitors putting the church into its historical context or as much as providing a resource for visitors to come and stay in the churchyard, making Craswall a pilgrim church, which will also, of course, generate a degree of local employment.

I have discussed all this with Tim Bridges, the Diocese’s Church Building Officer, and Wendy Coombey, the Diocese’s Community Partnership and Development Officer. respectively, they give expert advice on the care and maintenance of churches and on how to apply for grants for churches. They are also,incidentally, people who are especially fond of Craswall Church.

The next stage is to hold a Community Meeting at the church to decide on the way forward. It should be underlined at this point that the word ‘Community’ is a very broad one. It does not just include the residents of Craswall, nor does it just include those who worship at the church - of whom an extremely large percentage does not come from Craswall. It does include everyone  to whom for any reason Craswall Church is important. The meeting will take place on Saturday November 5th at 2.00pm. Tim Bridges and Wendy Coombey will both be there and will help us plan the next stage.

Let us be in no doubt. Leaving things as they are is not an option. Any building with problems with all structural areas has a death sentence hanging over it. I am sure that nobody wants this very special church to go that way. So, no matter how tenuous you might think your connection with the church is, do please turn up, express your views and help us to restore this wonderful building.

Do please get in touch with me about this if you would like any clarification or if you would like to help.

Nicholas Lowton