At the mention of historic buildings, many people’s thoughts naturally turn to the National Trust or English Heritage. Few would realise that the Church of England’s buildings form the nation’s single largest ‘estate’ of built heritage. The contrast is stark. The National Trust promote ‘over 300 historic buildings being in their care’.

English Heritage is less specific offering ‘over 400 historic places to visit’. In comparison – the Church of England comprises over 16,000 parish churches and 42 cathedrals.

All three organisations rely heavily on volunteers in order to sustain, care for and essentially keep open these historic buildings. One significant cost is that of maintenance. It might begin at a reasonable level but as other things take precedence, the cost of that initial problem can begin to spiral out of control.

It is therefore encouraging to hear that the National Churches Trust has launched a new maintenance grant programme in partnership with the Pilgrim Trust specifically to address this problem. Grants of £1,000-£2,500 are available to undertake small but vital maintenance tasks and of particular interest are those repairs that if not dealt with will trigger larger problems.

Details of how to apply

The first deadline for applications is January 4. Match funding of at least 50% of the cost is required and applicants are expected to have raised this before applying.

Michael Murray, Director of Church Support at the National Churches Trust, commented: “As well as keeping a church building in good repair, preventative maintenance saves money as it has been estimated that every £1 spent on keeping a church in good condition saves £30 in repair costs within five years.”

More information, advice and guidance on keeping a church in good repair