Maintaining our church buildings and churchyards in good condition, and changing them so that they remain fit for purpose in today’s world, are important parish responsibilities reflected in Goal 12 of Transforming Church, Transforming Lives. This work is subject to extensive legal controls and permission procedures, especially where church buildings are Listed. Parishes must comply with a body of ecclesiastical law as well as secular legislation. This section provides links to guidance documents outlining the main procedures and parishes should consult these before seeking additional advice.
The Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches and Churchyards (DAC) has a key role in helping parishes manage this work of maintenance and change and is required to review and comment on the more significant proposed works.
Parishes are required by law to have the fabric of their church buildings and churchyards inspected by a suitably qualified architect or surveyor every five years (the ‘quinquennial inspection’). There are diocesan mechanisms to ensure that this takes place and that any recommendations for remedial work are actioned. The key diocesan guidance can be accessed:
The Church of England’s national website Churchcare contains guidance on looking after church buildings, including a straightforward basic maintenance regime and advice on building security. It also covers the care, maintenance and replacement of specialist items such as organs and bells; and gives advice to parishes seeking to make changes, for example removing pews, renewing heating or lighting, making buildings more energy-efficient.
The key diocesan guidance is to be found in:
The website of the Guildford Diocesan Registry, the diocese’s legal office, also contains guidance on the legal processes involved.
Notices for current petitions the Diocesan Registry consider to involve alteration to or the extension of a listed building to such an extent as would be likely to affect its character.