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More than 40 architects and surveyors from across the north gathered at Whalley Abbey recently as The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) held its much-delayed biennial conference.

The last conference - planned for 2020 - had been cancelled due to the pandemic. 

This was the first since then and was held in the beautiful setting of our 'Centre for Christian Discipleship and Prayer' at the Abbey in the Ribble Valley; which is also the site of stunning medieval ruins. 

Jen Read, Senior Church Buildings Officer for the Diocese, hosted the day which was attended by representatives from other Dioceses including Carlisle, Leeds and Liverpool. 

Jen said “It was great to be able to meet together again in person and we had a fantastic line-up of speakers to hear from across the day who collectively had a wide range of expertise to share with us. Many travelled long distances to be with us and I’m grateful to them all for being able to attend."

The day was divided into two, with the morning dedicated to the changing climate and its effect on church buildings and the afternoon focused on fundraising.

The speakers in the morning talking around 'changing climate' were ...

  • Claire Headly, Head of Strategic Climate Change at Historic England. Claire gave an overview of climate change and how this will directly affect historic buildings. 
  • Mari Calderon, Senior Building Conservation Adviser at Historic England. Mari spoke about the work being done on traditional renders as part of the Damp Towers Project. 
  • David Wiggins, Director of Clach Conservation. David gave an overview of historic tower and spire design in relation to preventing water ingress and new innovations in the use of traditional lime mortar. 
  • Julian Atkins, Church of England Net Zero programme Director. Julian gave an overview of the work begin done by the central church as part of its Routemap to Net Zero.

After lunch, the afternoon session contained talks from ...

  • Dr David Knight, Senior Church Buildings office at the Church Buildings Council. David gave an overview of their grants and other projects.
  • Beatrice Prosser-Snelling from the National Churches Trust. Beatrice gave an overview of the Cherish Project.
  • Andrew Bass from the Benefact Trust. Andrew gave an overview of the grants provided by them.

Jen Read added: "We were delighted to be able to host this conference in our Diocese; supporting many architects and surveyors and, in turn, our parishes as we continue to work with them. 

"All the talks were really helpful and gave fascinating insight into the issues facing our parishes as a result of climate change and the need for funding.

"There was a great buzz in the room and many of the delegates told me that they had enjoyed the day. Whalley Abbey is a wonderful setting and the staff there were extremely welcoming and helpful.”






Ronnie Semley, November 2023