SHOCK FROM ENGLISH HERITAGE

Some of you may know that when we arrived here, over 4 years ago, we came to a massive church with a small and poor congregation. It is a listed building :`( – not, to my mind, particularly beautiful – but because it is listed then all sorts of people were interested in it. English Heritage, the Victorian Society, etc etc as well, of course, as the diocese, to which it belongs.

So we were saddled with its upkeep even before we got here. Over the years, our part-time fundraiser, Dave, has worked like a Trojan to raise the money for us to do necessary repairs: a tower that had been cracked by lightning, drains which were not working, a leaking roof, etc etc. He has filled in hundreds of forms, attended endless meetings, sent numerous emails and letters, and been willing to work much more than the one day a week he is paid for.

At every stage English Heritage was involved, and gave us funding which we had to match with money from our own fast-dwindling resources. When it came to heating the church, however, they refused point-blank to fork out any more money, and we were almost bankrupt. So we reached a brick wall.

After a lengthy process which included big meetings with English Heritage representatives, and with our facing financial ruin, we took the decision last year to move out of the church and into the hall.

The Seventh Day Adventists promptly said that they would be really interested in having the church and looking after it. They have a big congregation, and no building of their own. With more people, and more money, they will be in a much better position to make the building fit for purpose. We’ve worked closely with them from the start, and they too have been in regular touch with English Heritage.

Yesterday our fundraiser got a letter from English Heritage, from somebody there who had had no previous dealings with us. The letter said that, in view of the fact that we were selling the church, we had to repay all the money – £200,000.

Poor old Dave, our fundraiser, was really upset. He wrote to them in the strongest terms, and then promptly offered us his resignation, bless him, in case we thought he’d gone over the top. (Of course we didn’t accept it! We’re all in this together).

So Hub went to the diocesan secretary, who said that he had taken legal advice, and EH is wrong.

He’s now taken over responsibility for the building and for sorting out EH … :crazy:

:**:

… and Hub and I have our Nth discussion about the uselessness of being saddled with a stupid building that swallows money and energy when what God wants us to do is to be a loving community that offers support to those around. We do that anyway, to the best of our ability – but how much more effective we could have been, with energy and money released from repairs and builders into creating community.

Double :**:

Maybe NOW we are finally releasing the building, we can concentrate properly on what we ‘should’ be doing!

… and although we belong to the National Trust, neither of us feels inclined to join English Heritage … just at the moment… 😉

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23 thoughts on “SHOCK FROM ENGLISH HERITAGE

    1. Well the silly thing is, they are there in order to keep the building going – we are not abandoning the building, we have made very sure that the next owners will continue to work on it. So what is their problem ???

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  1. Good grief…what a NIGHTMARE!!!! Life gets so complicated thesedays….you can’t bloomin do anything!!!! My friend had a similar problem when she bought a listed building, the organisations she went to war against were unbloominbelievable!

    A church is about it’s follwers as you say, the building should be a secondary consideration. xxxx

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  2. The church is the people not a building. My parents used to allow the local vicar to use their living room to hold prayer meetings and sermons on a regular basis. The vicar believed that people made up the church and so meetings could be held anywhere and should be. He didn’t like large buildings as such preferring the small gatherings.

    Now I am waffling! I think the way EH have acted is appalling and hope that things can be sorted out xx

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    1. No, that is absolutely right, and how very hospitable of your parents. I remember we used to meet under a mango tree in Nigeria at one stage! Thanks for your comment.

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  3. How upsetting for you hub and Dave. I hope you manage to resolve it all.
    The church does sound like a bit of a mill stone.

    Like you say a church is a community and if you find more time to concentrate on that it has to be better.

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  4. It is sad that there is not more support for churches now a lot of the reason being few people go to church anymore. When those who stay strong in the church are gone so is the church. Very very sad.xx

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    1. I don’t think it’s about buildings, Jane – it’s about whether some church buildings are the responsibility of a small congregation or whether they belong to the heritage of England. If we had not had any help with this building, we would have closed it down long ago. The ‘real’ church is now worshipping and serving in the hall. Buildings are just a shell, in my opinion!

      There are many, many very live and very full churches :yes: so no reason to despair. Worldwide, the church is growing in leaps and bounds!

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      1. A lot have closed gilly due to there being only one or two people in them not far from here. It is a pity we dont live in the sunshine all year round then the building wouldnt matter atall.xx

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  5. I agree with Bushka’s comment and your response to it….it seems to be the way of the world right now….’the left hand knoweth not what the right hand doeth!’ Again, Gilly, it’s all this compartmentalisation rather that interconnectedness thinnking!x

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    1. It’s amazing how often there’s no communication between one dept and another in the same organisation – and in a day when communication has never been so easy or so quick!

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  6. English Heritage is a Charity…as you know….SO!!! Since ‘Charities’ constitute BIG BUSINESS….their CEO’s will exploit every possibility of ‘making money’…..:>>:))
    Hugs! :)x

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    1. It all seems very counter-productive – and poorly-informed. Sounds as if the left hand knoweth not what the right hand doeth 😉 :no: Thanks for hugs!!

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    2. Is English Heritage a charity? I think it is still a government department and remember when it was called The Department of the Environment and before that The Ministry of Works.

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      1. Now that’s an interesting point. It appears to be a ‘non-departmental public body’ of the government. I learn something every day! Thanks, Lissa.

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