Midsummer tea party to save England's ancient churches

Midsummer Tea Party, a novel fundraising weekend of tea and cake hosted by the Churches Conservation Trust, the national charity protecting historic churches at risk, takes place over 18 – 20 June.  More than 100 of England’s most spectacular and nationally significant historic churches, including those left deserted by the plague, will be revealing their spine-tingling histories and showing how they can be enjoyed by people today.  All events are free and range from Bolton’s predominately Muslim community raising funds for All Soul’s Bolton through to tours of the Shropshire church blown up by Oliver Cromwell’s troops.
The magnificent churches involved in Midsummer Tea Party are no longer used for regular worship but are among the most spectacular in the country - all classified as having exceptional national historic significance.  The aim of Midsummer Tea Party is to encourage everyone, of any faith or none, to discover and explore these remarkable buildings and find out how they can be saved for future generations by bringing them back into everyday use.  Examples range from circus schools and theatres to community centres and nurseries.

Each event will be a quintessential summer tea party – unique to the communities that create them. Events are free and suitable for all ages. Visitors are asked to contribute for the splendid tea and cake laid on.  Experts will be available to bring the history of the buildings to life and tell people how they can be used today. Full listings at: www.visitchurches.org.uk.

Saving historic churches

Historic churches, keepers of the nation’s history and iconic features of our towns and cities are at risk.  Since 1969 more than 300 historic churches have been demolished and 1700 more have been closed and converted into houses and offices – lost to the nation forever.

The Churches Conservation Trust saves historic churches at risk by bringing them back into everyday use.  The charity cares for 340 churches, the largest single collection of historic churches in the country. It repairs the damage from sometimes years of neglect, and works with local communities to bring them alive again. On average it costs £12,000 per annum to maintain a historic church and approximately £250,000 to repair and conserve a new church vested to the Trust and make it suitable for contemporary use. The charity must raise an additional £1.5m per year to meet its funding shortfall and continue to protect these historic churches for the nation and enable people use them today.

Loyd Grossman, Chairman, Churches Conservation Trust, said:  “We want people to give in to cake temptation and head down to their local Midsummer Tea Party to find out why Historic Churches rock and how they be enjoyed today.  From rehearsal spaces for bands and circus schools to places for quiet contemplation – these remarkable buildings are here for everyone’s benefit.

“We also want people to take part.  If you fancy sharing your cake creations with the world, check out our website and get in touch with a local event – and get baking!”

Crispin Truman, Chief Executive, Churches Conservation Trust, said:  “We have a target  to raise £1.5m more each year.  We have been affected by government cuts and with the tough economic climate ahead we’re calling on local communities of all faiths to help us protect these beautiful buildings for the benefit of local people, their future generations and the nation.”

Money raised through the Midsummer Tea Party will go towards the Trust’s conversation and regeneration projects.  These range from conserving rare 13th wall paintings, restoring the Church used by Charles Dickens through to sensitive modernisation of church buildings to enable contemporary use.


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