Our approach to conservation

Our estate is the largest collection of historic churches in the country. The ongoing care of these historic buildings and community spaces is at the heart of everything we do. Conserving our churches is hugely important – and often challenging – for our expert team. Read on to see our 'guiding principles' of conservation.

Our conservators do not restore features that are missing, but rather conserve what has been passed into our guardianship. We accept that we cannot stop decay, only slow it down. Conservation, for us, is the art of managing this process.

Most of our funding is spent on core repair and conservation work to ensure – as far as possible – that our churches are structurally sound, weathertight and well-presented for visitors. We also care for the artefacts and features in each of our churches. We continue to monitor the condition of this sizeable collection and our staff collaborate with communities, academics and other professionals to ensure their conservation and security.

Our Guiding Principles

  • Give priority to protective elements which shield more sensitive features

  • Use traditional materials like stone, lime and lead, in preference to modern materials like concrete, cement and steel. Not only are traditional materials compatible with the original, they also continue the practice and knowledge of traditional skills and craftsmanship and tend to last longer

  • Carry out the minimum work necessary to extend the life of the building

  • Conserve what exists rather than restore to a previous time: many past alterations are of great social and historic interest and are integral to a building’s unique story

  • Make new work to fit exactly the existing features. Where absolutely necessary we may make discrete changes to help the original piece last longer

  • Carry out sensible programmes of repair that provide value for money

By following these principles and obtaining high quality specifications and workmanship, we continue to build on our reputation as an organisation that invests in our historic buildings and traditional skills and techniques in order to ensure their long-term future.