Last night I attended an absolutely fascinating talk by Ptolemy Dean, architect (you may have seen him on the BBC’s Restoration) and the 19th surveyor of the fabric of Westminster Abbey.
It was part of the Churches Conservation Trust’s 2013 Annual Lecture and what a treat it was. Ptolemy Dean talked to us about the charity’s 40th anniversary renovation project of The Church of St Margaret of Antioch in Bedfordshire, which he oversaw in 2009. With extreme wit and humour, he took us through the highs and lows of the project – from discovering medieval wall art behind layers of plaster, clever wall repairs using locally sourced tiles and finding a cross, fallen from the roof to the churchyard beneath.
The Churches Conservation Trust is an organisation that looks out for the many historic churches in this country that are at risk of falling into total disrepair, aiming to restore them to their original state and ensuring their important place within the surrounding community. It currently has 344 in its care, but there are so many more around the country in need of TLC and protection.
You don’t need to be religious to support these magical buildings. The Churches Conservation Trust’s regeneration campaign is encouraging us to use these spaces for non-religious activities: craft fairs, music recitals, coffee mornings. See what’s on in your nearest one at visitchurches.org.uk and why not plan your next weekend walk around a church in your area? If the weather takes a drizzly turn, take shelter inside with an autumnal picnic to enjoy while sitting on a wooden pew and admiring the atmospheric and impressive interior.