What are the church buildings? What I use for the majority of the population who never go inside of them? It’s been decades since that was true that almost everyone in the country would have been in a church at least once, by your baptism, even if they had to be carried out, screaming, after the experience. However, the exterior of an ancient church that still moves us in a way that no other type of architecture does, and the interiors are some of the greatest works of art that have been created in great Britain. It would be an act of vandalism and desecration to allow it to deteriorate. Even if your purpose is to very difficult to articulate, and impossible in a spreadsheet, speak to unbelievers in a way that nothing else can. May not save souls, but to point to what it means to speak of a soul.
The age and the complexity that makes the old churches wonderful also makes them fragile. That demand endless skilled and costly repairs. The annual cost of major repairs to listed churches is estimated at around 100 million pounds. Last year around a quarter of that figure met the lottery funds dedicated to the preservation of places of worship – which means that, overwhelmingly, Anglican churches. Now the Heritage Lottery Fund is to end that program, to furious protests from the Church of England.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (hlf) asserts that it is the simplification and debureaucratising the grant application process, and that the same proportion of their funds are going to the churches under the new system. The church points out that this will be the first year since 1977, when there is a guaranteed prize pool of state money for churches, and is concerned that the new system disadvantage of fashion the buildings on the places out fundraising experience.
This is not so urgent a problem in the case of cathedrals, which increasingly must function as places of tourist interest and charge admission if you’re going to move forward. That works almost well enough for the magnificent and ancient – Winchester, Salisbury, Durham, and other wonders of the world, even if they also struggle to stay afloat. But the vast majority of churches in this country are not in tourist towns or, if they are, are not very visited. The Church of England boasts of having a presence in every community, but what to do with the presences when communities have disappeared? In many villages the church is the only public building, to the left, now that the store, the post office and the bar have all closed.
A management approach to this problem would be to close thousands of churches. This is what the markets have already made with Victorian chapels. Is what the Roman Catholic church is being forced on the part of its Victorian heritage. The trend of fundamentalist congregations is to make use of any of the buildings, always and when they are warm and cheap. That could be the purely religious, or at least a puritan, the answer to the problem, but it is not one that either the state or the community in general can go along with. Nor the of the church, according to a solution that the values of these buildings with only for its architectural and aesthetic merit, rather than the purpose for which they were intended. Whatever the outcome of this dispute, some of the undogmatic way in which it should be found by the state to help preserve these wonders that are such an important part of great Britain.