Bishop highlights heritage connections of St Albans


Bishop St Albans June 2015On 9th February 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Oates “To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will publish guidance to encourage the protection of existing historical statues and memorials and promote the establishment of new memorials that reflect the broader history of the United Kingdom.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Oates, for this debate, and in particular for the work he is doing on the memorial to those who have been enslaved. We look forward to hearing more about it as it develops. I am pleased that he has focused our minds not just on existing memorials, but on what we ought to be doing as we look to the future, especially for the urgent need to celebrate the wide diversity of people and events that have contributed to our national life, many of which are underrepresented in our public spaces. Continue reading

Bishop of Leeds seeks Government assurances over future of Bradford’s National Media Museum


LeedsOn 25th April 2016 Lord Stevenson of Balmacara asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the closures of regional museums, particularly in the North of England, and the impact of those closures on the United Kingdom’s creative industry and on the educational services provided to local schools and colleges.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, if the rhetoric about the northern powerhouse is to have any reality behind it, it has to include access to culture and cultural developments. In the light of that, will the Minister give an assurance that the sword of Damocles hanging over the National Media Museum in Bradford might at last be lifted? Sometimes up there it feels as if London is saying, “Out, damned spot!”. Continue reading

Bishop of Chester pays tribute to Heritage Lottery Fund support for cathedrals and church buildings


On 17th December 2015 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Holmes of Richmond, “To move that this House takes note, on the occasion of its 21st birthday, of the contribution made by the National Lottery to sport, culture, charities and national heritage throughout the United Kingdom.” The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke in the debate,paying tribute to the positive impact lottery funding has had on cathedrals and church buildings. 

14.03 Bishop of Chester

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, most of us will remember the strapline which launched the National Lottery: “It could be you”. Well, I never quite believed that it would be me but, nevertheless, the lottery has had great success over time. Many people thought that it would slightly fade from view and lose some of its initial gloss. Indeed, people worked out that it probably would not be them at all. It is very interesting how it has become a national institution. In that sense, we have been led into temptation on a grand scale. Continue reading

House of Lords debates ‘the importance of the English Parish Church’


“No other country in Europe has less financial support from the taxpayer for ecclesiastical heritage than England—which, ironically, has an established church” – Bishop of Norwich, 12/6/14

On 12th June Lord Cormack led a debate in the House of Lords on the subject ‘That this House takes note of the importance of the English parish church.’ The Bishop of Norwich spoke in the debate, about the community and financial value of parish churches, their heritage importance and current financial pressures. Lord Ahmad responded for the Government. Their speeches are reproduced in full below. The Bishop’s speech can also be viewed at ParliamentLive.TV and a useful summary of the debate can be found on the Law & Religion UK website, here.

14.06.12 Bishop of Norwich

The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, we are meant to declare our interests in this House, but I think that standing here dressed like this is probably a visual declaration. Noble Lords will not be surprised to learn that I believe that the Motion tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, to take note of the importance of our parish churches, is one that I am happy to endorse. It applies in Wales and Scotland as well, of course, although I need to be a bit careful of the Presbyterian conscience and not presume any authority north of the border. Continue reading

Cathedrals and the Future of English Heritage – Commons debate


The number of visitors to cathedrals, not counting other churches, is some 11 million people a year, which is equivalent to current visitor levels to English Heritage properties – Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, 2/4/14

On 2nd April 2014 Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, spoke in a House of Commons debate about the future of English Heritage.

Sir Tony raised the importance of ecclesiastical buildings to the cultural heritage of the nation and asked for assurances that altering the status of English Heritage would not change the valuable work done by their conservation specialists, so weakening the progress of research and support available to those who operate listed and heritage buildings.

Future of English Heritage

14.01 CCQ Baldry

Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): The whole House owes a debt to the hon. Member for Darlington (Jenny Chapman) for securing the debate. I declare an interest as a member of English Heritage. The image on this year’s membership card is a statue of King Richard III, whose mortal remains were recently discovered in a car park in Leicester—an outstanding feat of English archaeology. We now await the decision of the courts as to which of our noble cathedrals those mortal remains will be buried in. Continue reading

MPs Questions to Church Commissioners: Cathedrals, same-sex marriage, investments, mission, growth and female bishops


In Church Commissioners’ question time in the House of Commons on 27th March Sir Tony Baldry MP was asked by MPs to answer questions on cathedral repairs, same-sex marriage, investment returns, diocesan mission and church growth.

14.01 CCQ Baldry

Sir Tony Baldry MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner

Continue reading

Bishop of Ripon & Leeds welcomes work of metal theft task force


On 23rd January, 2014, Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty’s Government whether they will continue to support the metal theft task force.

R_LThe Bishop of Ripon and Leeds asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, the metal theft task force has been of inestimable value in checking the epidemic of lead theft from churches. Stripping of lead from church roofs has caused extensive rain damage to historic interiors. Will the Minister consult English Heritage, the Churches Conservation Trust and the cathedrals and church buildings division of the Archbishops’ Council as to how the destruction of our heritage can be combated and the work of the task force maintained? Continue reading