On 26th April 2018 the House of Lords debated the Bat Habitats Regulation Bill, a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Lord Cormack. The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Revd Graham James, spoke in favour of the Bill, explaining why bat roosts continued to be such a problem for medieval churches.
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, we are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, for the Bill. He has pursued a subject which I think can too easily be treated with mirth, but is not at all funny for those congregations in churches where bats sometimes rule the roost. It is reckoned that about 60% of all 16th-century or earlier churches have bat roosts. It is as significant as that. It is the nature of access to the roofs of medieval churches, I think, which causes the bats to go there, rather than their appreciation of our great, historic heritage. In a diocese such as mine, with 640 churches, of which 550 are medieval, there are places where the bat population outnumbers not simply the congregation but our total number of parishioners.
I used to recommend the regular use of incense, partly because I am very high church and love incense, and bats appear to be very Protestant, as they normally departed where incense was used. But even that is not now guaranteed to do the trick. Clearly, bats have gone up the candle in their churchmanship.