Image of the interior of St Jude's in Wigan showing the modern pews and stained glass windows.
St Jude's church, Wigan © Historic England
St Jude's church, Wigan © Historic England

Taylor Review Pilot

The Taylor Review Pilot was a project funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and managed by Historic England. The aim of the pilot was to test some of the recommendations of the 2017 Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals and to provide free support and advice for listed places of worship of all faiths and denominations. The work was focused on Greater Manchester and Suffolk, to provide urban and rural contexts for the recommendations.

The pilot ran until March 2020 and has now ended, however some advisory resources and useful templates developed during the pilot are available below.

The Evaluation Report of the Taylor Review Pilot was published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Summary of the pilot

The pilot ran from September 2018 to March 2020 in Suffolk and Greater Manchester, and had five key strands:

  • Support and advice from a Community Development Advisor
  • Support and advice from a Fabric Support Officer
  • 16 workshops (eight in each region) focusing on four different topics; maintenance, community engagement, project management, and advanced fundraising and business planning
  • A Minor Repairs Fund for minor repairs or maintenance works
  • Evaluation of the success of the pilot as a possible solution to some of the issues identified in The Taylor Review

The pilot was open to all faith groups who manage listed places of worship and met the eligibility criteria. The Community Development Advisers helped congregations to increase engagement beyond the worshipping community in both urban and rural contexts. The Fabric Support Officers provided advice and guidance about maintenance and repair of historic fabric. They also worked with those applied for a minor repairs fund grant under this pilot. 

The workshops promoted best practice in the maintenance of historic buildings and explored the value of developing strong links with local communities.

The minor repairs fund aimed to address the physical deterioration of historic fabric by encouraging a ‘stitch in time’ approach to undertaking maintenance tasks or commissioning minor repairs. 

The pilot also tested the resources allocated for the 18 month period. The evaluation has analysed what was achieved with those resources and identified key learning points to inform future decisions about supporting places of worship.

The constraints of time and capacity of the team meant that it was not feasible to support every listed place of worship in Suffolk and Greater Manchester. Places of worship had to meet some eligibility criteria to qualify for support and were prioritised on the basis of need and the overarching aims of the project.

Some frequently asked questions about the pilot

A Community Development Advisor (CDA) helps people responsible for listed places of worship to:

  • Develop new relationships in the wider community
  • Identify opportunities for use of the building and other activities
  • Seek income streams for the future to underpin repair and maintenance

A Fabric Support Officer (FSO) works with the people responsible for listed places of worship, offering them practical advice and strategic planning of maintenance and repair. FSOs give advice about the overall maintenance of places of worship and can recommend grant funding if appropriate.

The workshops were managed by Historic England and run by the Churches Conservation Trust. They had three main functions:

  • To increase skills and confidence so that those with responsibility for places of worship feel more able to undertake regular maintenance
  • To encourage faith groups to engage with the wider community to build mutually beneficial partnerships
  • To highlight potential sources of funding to support both activities and the opportunities for working together for mutual benefit, so those caring for places of worship felt less isolated and could enjoy local support

The workshop material has now been made available. These resources can both serve as reference for those who attended, and provide an insight into the topics covered for those who couldn’t. We encourage those who did attend to share their knowledge with other places of worship and interested parties.

Listed places of worship were able to apply for grant funding towards small maintenance or minor repairs projects for urgently needed work.

These grants were intended for minor works only. They were not offered to help fund larger projects.

Grants of up to £10,000 were available for a maximum of 90% grant funds towards projects under £12,000 in value (including VAT). Places of worship with projects under £10,000 were encouraged to apply as there is no minimum for these grants.

You can view a copy of the closed application form.

Maintenance is carrying out planned work on a regular basis to keep a building from deteriorating or to preserve an existing condition/situation. The objective of the maintenance task is to protect historic features and extend the life of a building by keeping it stable and weather-tight. It contributes to its general upkeep using current good practice e.g. clearing blockages from gutters, downpipes and drains.

A minor repair is a small scale intervention to restore something damaged, faulty or worn e.g. replacing damaged or slipped slates, patch repairs to lead roofing. Conservation repairs, rather than wholesale replacement, should be as limited as possible in scope but achieve conservation objectives. Repair work should prevent the loss of or damage to important architectural features.

Historic England normally expects works to be carried out using traditional methods and materials. These should be appropriate to the history and condition of the building and normally using traditional methods and materials.

Frontier Economics (independent consultants appointed by DCMS) carried out the evaluation throughout the pilot. Central to the Taylor Review Pilot, the evaluation assesses the success of the pilot model. Government will use it to now determine the best solution to some of the major issues highlighted in the 2017 Taylor Review.

The evaluation has used data provided by the pilot team on a weekly basis but it was very important that people caring for places of worship involved in the pilot also provided feedback. The evaluators chose a number of places of worship for in-depth case studies, which included extended interviews. These provided valuable insights and suggestions.

Taylor Review Pilot Evaluation

Following the publication of the Taylor Review Pilot Evaluation Report, the government will now take time to review the pilot and determine the best solutions to some of the major issues highlighted in the 2017 Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals.

Details of the congregations that received maintenance and minor repairs grants under the Taylor Review Pilot and the awards made will be published on the Government Grants Register in accordance with standard publication procedures.

Advice and useful templates

The Taylor Review Pilot team put together some advisory documents and templates based on what they learnt from working closely with people looking after listed places of worship. These have been developed to be used by fabric officers, churchwardens, custodians, leaders, volunteers and others who care for these treasured historic buildings.

Historic England worked with colleagues from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) and National Churches Trust (NCT) to develop videos to guide volunteers through their regular maintenance checks using a downloadable Maintenance Checklist. Please visit SPAB’s website to view the videos.

Workshop material

Designed and run by the Churches Conservation Trust, and managed by Historic England, the pilot’s workshop slides and handout resources have been made available.

The ‘speaker’s notes’ in these presentations act as a guide, however it should be noted this material was originally designed to be delivered by a facilitator in a workshop setting, so the notes don’t cover everything that was said. There are links within this material to templates and activities, many of which could be useful at your place of worship.

The Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals

Historic England welcomed the publication of The Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals and has been delighted to work closely with DCMS to deliver the resulting pilot. We valued the opportunity to explore the benefits of carefully targeted resources. We're glad that the review recognised the extraordinary efforts of local congregations to keep their buildings repaired and open. This vital service to the wider community and willingness to share the church has kept these buildings alive for generations and will underpin their future.

You can download the full review and read the DCMS press release on the GOV.UK website.