Historic Chapels Trust to Continue Partnership with Churches Conservation Trust

Historic Chapels Trust (HCT) and the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) are delighted to confirm that they will develop a stronger working relationship so that they can realise HCT’s vision to be a sustainable business for the 21st century, cementing its place as the principle organisation in England through which the most significant non-Anglican places of worship no longer in regular use may be conserved, made accessible, and understood and valued by society. HCT have provisionally secured funding from Historic England until 2022 to support the partnership. Beyond 2022 there will be no funding from Historic England so the next two years are crucial in ensuring that HCT is financially resilient and sustainable in the long-term.

The CCT will continue to manage the day to day running of HCT including looking after its collection of historic chapels. CCT’s ongoing support is the result of a Strategic Review which has recently been undertaken. This recommends that HCT: widens its streams of financial support so that it is not reliant on a single major funder; secures sufficient income for the administration of the charity and for the repair works which need to be undertaken to the chapels; strengthens the support it gives to local committees and communities to help them to care for the chapels and ensure they are financially resilient and sustainable in the longer term; and ensures that maintenance and repair works to the chapels are undertaken by people with the sufficient skills and knowledge of historic building repair.

The CCT’s Director of Conservation, Sarah Robinson, will continue to manage the relationship, working closely with HCT’s Trustees. She will be supported by key members of CCT staff who will work on the project. This includes a team of Estate Officers who will visit the HCT chapels in their region and develop maintenance and management plans, identifying what priority works need to be undertaken and overseeing these works to ensure that they are carried out in accordance with best conservation practice. A resource is also required to fulfil HCT’s governance and charitable requirements; audit and reporting and this will continue to be provided by a part-time Finance & Governance Officer.

The CCT has recently appointed a Local Community Officer who will work on HCT chapels only and will be guided by HCT’s Trustees, whilst benefitting from the CCT’s wider network. The Local Community Officer will work with local committees and communities to: deal with issues at their chapels; raise local funds; support activities which committees want to undertake to increase visitor numbers and raise awareness and enable committees to become more resilient through informal training. This is a particularly important strand of HCT’s work over the next three years and the Local Community Officer will play a pivotal role in supporting committees to ensure that their chapels are well used and sustainable for the future. Alongside this appointment HCT has engaged a Fundraising Consultant who will be working to increase income from other sources particularly trusts and foundations and individual donors.

HCT is the place of last resort for culturally significant non-Church of England historic places of worship. If HCT cannot continue its work there is no other organisation to care for them. That is why the support of the CCT is so important to ensure that HCT can give the remarkable chapels in its collection the future they deserve.

Debbie Dance, Chair, HCT says “We are delighted to be strengthening our relationship with the CCT and are benefiting greatly from their support, guidance and expertise. HCT is entering an exciting phase in its history and with concerns about environmental sustainability becoming ever-more pressing finding new uses for the exceptional buildings in our collection has never been more important. The work with CCT is central to HCT’s future.

Find out more about the Churches Conservation Trust: https://www.visitchurches.org.uk