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Places of Worship

To support the Caring for Places of Worship programme, research has explored the role of listed places of worship in local communities.

 This includes: 

  • Consultation with owners and users of listed places of worship
  • A toolkit for places of worship to use in their own consultations
  • Evaluations of places of worship grant schemes

Overhead view of vegetable market in the church at Shipbourne
Vegetable market in the church at Shipbourne © Martin Steward

Consultation results

Nearly 70 places of worship took part in the consultation to find out the issues faced by managers and owners of places of worship, and their role in local communities. It also looked at the impact listing has on places of worship.

Key issues highlighted by the research include:

  • Concerns over funding, especially for community projects
  • Weak partnerships between places of worship and local authorities
  • Concern over the sustainability of extended use of the building

For local communities, listed places of worship have a positive impact:

  • 88% of congregation members surveyed agreed their listed place of worship contributed toward community spirit
  • 55% of trustees agreed they had received extra support from the local community because the place of worship was listed

A toolkit for undertaking a place of worship consultation is also available.

Evaluation of places of worship grant schemes (2010)

Many repair projects would not happen if it were not for grant aid. Since 2002 the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England have offered repair grants for places of worship – the Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme (RGPoW).

Until 2011, the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme (LPW) ran concurrently to the RGPoW. LPW provided a grant equivalent of the VAT paid for repair and maintenance.

Research was commissioned to find out more about the value and impact of these grant schemes to places of worship. Key findings include:

  • 39% found applying for grants easy
  • A significant proportion of respondents said they would not have been able to undertake work without grant funding. Or they would only have been able to complete some of the work
  • Grant funding enables places of worship to open to the public on more occasions

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Diana Evans

Head of Places of Worship Advice

Engagement Group