Sign up for email updates
Mike Wood: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what estimate the Church Commissioners have made of the potential cost of repairing historic windows in churches.
Caroline Spelman (The Second Church Estates Commissioner)
It is extremely difficult to assess the potential costs of repairing specific elements of churches. Often the exact nature of the work to be done is not known until a detailed assessment has been made, something which in itself costs money. Windows are especially vulnerable to wind and weather, as well as isolated cases of vandalism and accidental damage to the glass. Along with roofs they are key areas that must be maintained in order to keep the buildings in use. Stained glass is particularly valuable and unusual – indeed it is the only type of art that also keeps the rain out. The Church of England is aware of a number of local projects to restore and repair windows in the Dudley area, one of the most recent being at St Marks Church, Pensnett, where an appeal for £33,000 was launched by parishioners to restore the masonry around the chancel windows.
The Church of England does not use its limited resources to assess potential costs in detail because any such survey would be out of date as soon as it was complete. Issues such as available grant funds, availability of specialist contractors and scaffolding, as well as the time of year all affect potential costs. What we do know is that the cost of maintaining these beautiful windows is often more than an individual parish can cover. We are grateful to the Wolfson Foundation, Pilgrim Trust and Radcliffe Trust who all work with our own specialist conservation committees to award valuable grants to churches for works such as repair of stained glass. The www.churchcare.co.uk/churches website provides more information on how to apply for these along with a list of recipients from previous years.
The London Stained Glass Repository part of the Glaziers Foundation is also a good location for churches looking to replace damaged windows ot install new windows. The Repository rescues good quality glass & seeks to find new homes for it. Stained glass which is under threat from building closure or vandalism is brought to the attention of the Repository, usually by the Church Commissioners.