UK – English Heritage Angel Awards 2012 – historic places of worship

The panel of judges sifted through more than 200 applications from all over the country. Looking for passion, perseverance and imagination as well as the scale of the challenge and how well it had been tackled, they rewarded St Mary’s Church, West Somerton, Norfolk, for Best Rescue or Repair of a Place of Worship. See a video about this project by following the link below.

via A series of short films about the English Heritage Angel Awards | English Heritage.

Armenia: Churches Fast Collapsing

Experts claim that almost 50 percent of the 24,000 religious monuments in Armenia are in urgent need of repair, and that around 30 percent are on the verge of collapse.

For many, Armenia’s status as the first country in the world to accept Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD means that the dilapidated state of religious monuments is a blow to national pride. “Who among our officials has seen the state of the churches in our country?” said historian Rafael Tadevosian, a member of a public commission on the conservation of historical-national values and monuments.

Money is the most frequently cited problem. The Armenian government only started allocating money for the restoration of historical-cultural monuments in 2005, 14 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the time since, the dram-equivalent of around $5 million has been spent to restore 34 churches.

via Armenia: Churches Fast Collapsing in World’s First Christian Country | EurasiaNet.org.

Ekström, Nelly, Master of Managing Cultural Heritage, “Small parish, many churches”

Small parish, many churches – a study of the problem of redundancy within Lagunda parish

The problem of redundancy was recognized in other northern european countries like England, Germany and the Netherlands about 20 years before the problem emerged in Sweden.

Redundancy is today a growing problem within the Church of Sweden. When a church becomes redundant, this often has severe effects on the religious heritage manifested in the church building.

The problem of redundancy within the Church of Sweden puts the religious heritage into physical danger in a long term perspective. Churches that are kept closed are more likely to be damaged by damp, burglary, etc.  The primary cause of the current redundancy problem is that the number of churchgoers is decreasing, which leads to weakened economy. The Church is losing members rapidly, and fewer and fewer of the remaining members attend the traditional service. Since the year 2000, Church of Sweden’s membership numbers has gone down by 10%, to 73% today. The provincial congregations are also losing members due to migration to the cities. The shrinking of congregations has led to the unification of several smaller parishes into fewer, larger ones to ensure  that the economy of the parish covers the religious work, but also rendering them with an increased economic responsibility for the religious heritage.

The parish of Lagunda in Uppsala diocese is a provincial parish with a small congregation of about 3500 people. Today the parish is responsible for ten medieval churches, all with very high cultural heritage values. The parish has a need for two or three of these churches in their religious work; the rest of them are redundant. Several of these churches are very seldom used for religious purposes, or even kept open to the public. Since the separation between the state and the Church of Sweden in year 2000, the religious heritage belongs to all swedish citizens, whether one is a member of the Church of Sweden or not. In the parish of Lagunda, and in many other parishes both in Sweden and abroad, this religious cultural heritage is no longer accessible to the public whom it belongs to.

The aim of my masters thesis, Small parish, many churches. A study of the problem of redundancy within Lagunda parish, written at the Department of Art History, Stockholm university, was to examine what ways of action that are possible for the parish of Lagunda to safeguard the religious heritage in redundant churches, promote future preservation, accessibility and use of the religious heritage. The problem of redundancy was recognized in other northern european countries like England, Germany and the Netherlands about 20 years before the problem emerged in Sweden. By studying the development in these countries and the different ways in which they have handled the problem of redundancy, a number of ways of action have been identified: profiling, reconstruction, mothballing, demolition, shared use, renting and selling of churches. These ways of action have been put in relation to the situation of Lagunda parish through interviews with people who in different ways and on different levels work with the religious heritage of Lagunda parish. Put in relation to Lagunda parish and its history, several of these ways of action turns out to be old rather than new. In fact, profiling, reconstruction, mothballing and demolition have been used as ways to handle the redundancy problem in the parish since the Middle Ages. The study show that most of these ways of action do not apply to Lagunda parish because of the differences in conditions between Sweden and England, Germany and the Netherlands. Compared to these other countries Sweden is sparsely populated, and the problem of redundant churches is most severe in the countryside. The ways of action that are new, i.e. shared use, renting and selling, all build on the presumption that there is a demand for premises, which there is none in country parishes like Lagunda. Instead the study showed that the informants agree that the best way forward for the parish is through increased cooperation and changes in the organisation structure within the Church of Sweden.

Nelly Ekström
Bachelor of Museology
Master of Managing Cultural Heritage

NETHERLANDS Guidelines on dealing with religious objects

Last month Marc de Beyer, curator at Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and project leader of the Guidelines on Ways of Dealing with Religious Objects, visited UQÀM and Laval University in Québec in Canada. At the invitation of FRH member professor Luc Noppen, De Beyer gave two lectures about the Guidelines.

The Guidelines consist of two instruments:

  • the Roadmap for Reusing and Deaccessioning Religious Object, which describes procedures that owners can use for deaccessioning religious objects, and
  • the Religious Objects Assessment Guide, which helps owners of churches to assess the cultural value of objects.

The Guidelines were devised at the initiative of the museum, in close cooperation with the Dutch Churches and national heritage agencies. Recently an English translation of these Dutch Guidelines was published.

Luc Noppen plays a key role in Québec in dealing with religious heritage. De Beyer and Noppen met in Utrecht in 2010 at the initiative of FRH board member Lilian Grootswagers, where they visited several examples of re-used churches. De Beyer was invited to Québec with the intention to exchange ideas concerning the movable religious heritage, which is in great jeopardy. De Beyer’s lectures on the Guidelines were the starting point of valuable discussions on the possible solutions to preserving and deaccessiong religious objects.

The Guidelines will be launched at the Venice congress in November. Copies are available for all participant of the congress. For further information please visit the website www.GuidelinesReligiousObjects.com.

CZECH REPUBLIC – Seminar on new discoveries on the History of the Religious Architecture

Free talk: The first of free talk series organised by National Heritage Institute will be held on 11.10. 2011 in the town Museum of Horice. Ing. Jiří Slavík will present the latest findings of the architeconic and historical survey of the churches in Jeřice, Lískovice and Milovice and Mgr. Miloš Buroň will speak about the New Jewish Chapel in Horice.

For more information please visit the website:http://www.npu.cz/news/10742-n/

SLOVAKIA – Calvary Complex under conservation thanks to special fund

SLOVAKIA: KALVÁRIA V BANSKEJ ŠTIAVNICI/THE CALVARY IN BANSKÁ ŠTIAVNICA

Website: http://www.kalvaria.org/ (in Slovak)

Complex of sacral buildings at the Calvary in the Banska Stiavnica was built in 1741 – 1755 and it is one of the most significant sacral monuments of its kind in Slovakia. In 1951 the Calvary was nationalised by the Communist party what was a starting point of its gradual deterioration. Thanks to the successful campaign of Association ’91 and Slovak Scouting in 2007 the Calvary appeared on the list of 100 most endangered monuments in the world. This led in 2008 to re-establishing of the Calvary Fund, which took care of the Calvary until 1951. Its main aim is to restore, conserve and further promote its high artistic quality. This beautiful website is a part of this initiative and along the beautiful photo gallery and history section presents undertaken conservation and restoration works.