Buildings for Mission handbook launched

Posted on: 09/10/2015

Presentation of the handbook to Bishop of Ely

Everything you always wanted to know about church buildings but were afraid to ask…

The long awaited Buildings for Mission handbook has finally been published, and today a copy was presented to The Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, in the Lady Chapel at the Cathedral. (Note in the background John Maddison’s magnificent reredos and altar). If you are a church client of Archangel Architects you will be getting a copy free.

For much more on the handbook, including an outline of the contents, see the dedicated Buildings for Mission pages.

‘This is a golden handbook for parish ministry.’

The Rt Revd Stephen Conway
Bishop of Ely

Upcoming Buildings for Mission Events

Posted on: 04/03/2013

CandC MenuDo you struggle with your church building? There are two ‘Buildings for Mission‘ events coming up at the end of next week that may be of interest, particularly for those in the north of England. Both events are linked with the wonderful Christianity and Culture.

Buildings for Mission: Friday 15th March 2013, at the Church of St Michael and All Angels, Houghton le Spring, Co Durham

This is organised by Inspired North East and is billed as a practical conference to help you take a fresh look at your church building; the cost is just £15. The keynote speaker is The Right Revd David Stancliffe, who is the former Bishop of Salisbury and also wrote the excellent Lion Guide to Church Architecture. The day includes a section on Tools for Action, and a serious of workshops looking at a variety of case studies.  Click here for booking information.

Buildings for Mission 2: Saturday 16th March 2013, at the Church of St. Peter’s, Norton on Derwent, North Yorkshire

This could be billed as ‘The Sequel’, as it addresses the four main areas of interest that emerged from the feedback forms from the first ever ‘BFM’ day in March of last year. These ‘hot button’ issues are the liturgical and practical issues around reordering for worship, seeing your building’s potential, interpretation materials for church buildings, and how to create a Statement of Significance

Cost for half a day £15, or the full day £25 including lunch and refreshments. Click here for booking information.

Why am I interested?

Both events will include a demonstration of a new Statements of Significance Tool which has been developed by C&C with significant input from English Heritage, and should revolutionise the creation of these crucial documents. The Tool is web-based, and splits the process into 10 sections, so that the work involved can be divided between different people, and will always be available to be updated. The Tool will be trialled at both of the above events; by using the event venue as a model, the idea is to get feedback on the way it works prior to its launch later in the year.

Coming to a church near you…

Christianity and Culture has designed ‘BFM’ as a toolkit of parts to enable dioceses across the country to run the same event. If you are interested in this, please contact C&C (01904 328095), and speak to Louise Hampson.

Coventry Cathedral App

Posted on: 09/08/2012

coventry app screenshot - namecoventry app screenshot - trailsThose of you interested in how technology can help tell stories may be interested in the new app that will shortly be released for Coventry Cathedral. There are versions for iOS and Android.

The app is one in a growing series produced by the wonderful people at Christianity and Culture in York. What C&C are so good at is providing content that is well researched, compellingly presented and also (if you are interested) spiritually throught-provoking.

coventry cathedral screenshot - mapcoventry cathedral screenshot - menu











The The initial feel of the app is very good, with easy navigation and engaging content. The menu page provides a number of ways to access the material. From the trails section you can choose one of the following four themes:

  • The three cathedrals that have occupied the site;
  • Art and Architecture – focusing more on the features of the building;
  • Pilgrim Trail – which gives you more of the faith content;
  • Explore – a more general guide including most of the above.

I particularly liked the audio bit – giving a feel for the acoustic of the second cathedral before it was destroyed by bombing in 1940. I tested the app out on site at Coventry a couple of weeks ago, and it worked well – certainly better than the audio tours, which you have to return to the desk before you’ve had a chance to listen to the information that relates to the outside of the building! And the app is great because you can download it and explore the building before you visit, which makes the experience while you are there all the richer and less hurried.

coventry cathedral screenshot - glasscoventry cathedral screenshot - tour











Visitors and Pilgrims

Why does this matter? Because there are lots of people who are drawn towards our church buildings who would not identify themselves as Christian. Interpretive materials such as these teach us all more of the story of these buildings, but particularly they open them up to the visitor in a way that printed materials cannot. They are part of our welcome, and perhaps the beginning of a conversation that may see some that come as visitors leaving as pilgrims.

Why not download the app and explore for yourself? The app is due for an official launch by the Cathedral, but until then C&C would appreciate any feedback on glitches, or suggestions. They can be contacted by emailing the C&C office.

The English Parish Church

Posted on: 30/11/2011

The English Parish Church through the CenturiesThe English Parish Church through the Centuries is an extraordinarily rich DVD-ROM resource that has been produced by The Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University of York. This effectively is an encyclopaedia of information on how we end up with the church buildings we do, covering everything from the early church up to the present day. The resource contains everything from easily accessible introductions to the latest academic research on parish churches and the influence of Christianity on literature, music, art and society.


  • 600 articles by over 225 experts in their respective fields
  • Video sections
  • Audio – eg church music of different ages
  • Interactive 3D models of how churches have developed from Saxon times to the present day
  • Galleries of images from national and international collections.
  • Glossary of terms, good for the complete beginner upwards
  • Christianity and writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Dickens, Brontes, Wordsworth, TS Eliot, Tolkien, DH Lawrence.
  • Case studies detailing individual churches from around the country.
  • Practical sections on care, conservation, creative use, re-ordering and interpretation of church buildings and their contents.

EPC Resource Centre - Internal 3D modelStructure

The resource structures each time period along the following themes

  • Introduction
  • Context
  • Daily Life and Worship
  • Church Art and Architecture
  • Interaction with Society
  • Interaction with Culture


So Why Should I Be Interested?

In short, because we live in an age of forgetting. Ironic isn’t it, when we are awash with more and more knowledge, that we seem to know less and less about where we have come from? This was the impetus behind the setting up of Christianity and Culture, that first year undergraduates were coming up to university with little or no frame of reference for the Christian cultural foundation of much of what they were studying.

But the forgetting goes the other way too – in the church we forget how much Christian content there still is within the culture at large, and are also woefully ignorant of where we have come from. I for one have learned a good deal from the small part of the resource that I have accessed to date.

And who would benefit from this resource? Well, almost anyone. Any church needing to prepare a Statement of Significance (and that’s most of us) would be well advised to have a copy. All Rural and Area Deans should have at least one copy. It would work well in schools, for architects and other building professionals – anyone really. Even my 7 year-old enjoyed it, particularly the external and internal 3D virtual model of the church.

EPC_ResourceCentre_case-studiesSo How Do I Get A Copy?

The resource costs £17.50 plus postage, which in itself is an absolute bargain and available by following the link from the C&C website. Alternatively if you contact and quote “churchbuild” you can get a copy for £15 plus £1 postage (within the UK). Even better!

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana, from “Life of Reason”)

Keystone Seminar Audio etc

Posted on: 02/11/2011

If you came to the Keystone Church Building Seminar on 6th October you can access audio files of all the sessions, apart from James Blandford-Baker’s keynote session which is available as video. You can also find pdfs of the keynote and supporting information for Giles Arnold’s talk on property ownership issues. You can access the page here.

If you missed the seminar then this is a great means of catching up on some of the content.

The Book that Could Change the Life of your Church…

Posted on: 16/08/2011

110816-pewsbookTrevor Cooper and Sarah Brown’s long-awaited book Pews, Benches and Chairs has just been published within the last few days. It is no exaggeration to say that this book could change the life or your church – at least for those churches that struggle with the formalism that comes with Victorian pews.

Often churches assume they are unable to change anything about their church, and particularly the pews, but usually there is more freedom than imagined. Conversely other churches may not understand the historic importance of some of their pews. Either way, the key to responsible management of a historic church, and to making the case for change, is a proper understanding of the significance of the items in question. This book helps to fill that gap.

The book results from many years of painstaking research, and Trevor himself says that the assumptions with which the editors embarked on this project were changed in the process of the research.

More information on the book is available from the Ecclesiological Society, including the following taster:

About the book
The book breaks fresh ground. Amongst other things, it is the first book to:
– describe how church seating has changed over the years
– tackle head-on today’s debate about pew removal
– show how the study of individual pews can reveal their past
– take a serious look at Victorian pews, and reprint pew-catalogues of the period
– explore the vigorous nineteenth-century discussions on pews versus chairs
– explain how to consider changes to church seating, taking account of heritage value
– give a range of case studies of recent changes (including a ‘loo in a pew’)

For a feel for the scope of the work and the various contributors, the table of contents can be accessed here. The book is copiously illustrated with black and white illustrations which are exceptionally clear.

The current cry from the heritage lobby, quite rightly, is for ‘Informed Conservation’. If your church is considering a reordering then this book will equip you with a great deal of relevant information; if you are a consultant working with historic churches then it is essential reading.

The book costs £35 (order details on the Ecclesiological Society page), or £25 for Ecclesoc members. At just £12, membership of the society is a bargain – highly recommended.

Trevor Cooper is Chairman of Council of the Ecclesiological Society.

Sarah Brown is a lecturer in the History of Art at the University of York and Course Director of the MA in Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management.