Society of Antiquaries of London – 26 April 2013
The seminar focused on issues of conservation for medieval parish churches in the England. The Church of England has 16,200 properties; more than 12,000 of them form the largest portion of heritage estate in England and Wales. Although medieval churches are frequently the most important archaeological features within their parishes, congregations and communities are struggling to care for and preserve these important buildings. As grant aid from statutory bodies decreases, conservation becomes a more difficult burden for church communities to bear. ‘Piety in Peril’ examined the current state of this important section of England’s heritage, the financial problems confronting declining congregations, the number of churches likely to close in the future, and the faculty system of approval for changes to structure and contents. Examples of topics to be discussed include whether there should be a national register of significant fixtures and fittings to guide decisions on funding, how closed churches might be used in the future, and how to help the recovery of stolen items.