Opening up and giving voice to rural communities

One of the great unsung cultural assets is our diverse array of ancient churches. There are roughly 8000 extant pre-Reformation churches in Engaldn and about the same number of Anglican churches built since then, with countless other place of worship of other denomiations. Collectively, these assets form a great 'museum with walls'- the difference being that these edifices are not under lock and key but freely open and available. The Churches Conservation Trust works with rural communities in over 350 different locations in the maintenance and upkeep of these. Beyond mere buildings maintenance, these hubs serve a vital function in giving purpose and representation to frequently marginalised or forgotten communities. We want to create an online forum with active content where these groups can be given voice, share ideas and celebrate their activities, displaying an innovative model of heritage management which allows for grass-roots participation. Importantly, this work is secular and admits people of all faiths and none.

Why the contribution is important

Redundant rural churches are typically buildings of immense socio-historical importance, and invariably of great beauty. Their existence is threatened through their very remoteness and lack of amenities. Once forgotten, the case for their continued...Embrace of digital platforms allows for the sharing of technical expertise, business skills, and helps local communities both promote the existence of their building and celebrate their diverse activities. In Ipwsich, CCT has partnered with Mind UK in the repurposing the church as a centre for mindfulness and wellbeing; in Bolton a partnership with the local Muslim community has created a new kind of multi-function church space; in Bristol, the church building functions as a community hub for circus skills training. The dispersed nature of this collection makes it difficult to assemble a continuous narrative; a truly represenative online platform would help strengthen these silos and allow for cross fertilisation of ideas and skills.



by VisitChurches on July 27, 2017 at 02:49PM

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