Who We Are
The National Churches Trust is the only national, independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting and supporting church buildings of historic, architectural and community value across the UK. We advocate:
- The use of church buildings by congregations and the wider community not just as places of worship but as venues for social, cultural and educational activities.
- The conservation of places of worship of historic value for the use and enjoyment of future generations.
The Trust, which is independent of government and church authorities:
- Provides grants for the restoration and modernisation of church buildings.
- Supports projects that integrate churches fully into their local communities and enable buildings to be kept open.
- Collaborates closely with local Churches Trusts and local volunteer networks across the UK in their support for local churches.
- Encourages good management and regular maintenance of church buildings by providing practical advice, support and information.
- Works to increase awareness by the public and among decision-makers and opinion formers of the value of places of worship.
The Trust is supported by a wide range of individuals and is run by a team based at its offices in the City of London, overseen by the Board of Trustees. For details of our Officers, Trustees, and staff, click here.
The National Churches Trust was founded in 2007 as the successor to the Historic Churches Preservation Trust. The HCPT, under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen, was founded in 1953 as the leading fundraising body involved in the restoration of architecturally and historically significant parish churches. Over the decades, work that was originally begun to reverse the neglect brought about by the socio-economic changes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and to repair the damage of World War II has become increasingly important and far-reaching.
As an independent charitable enterprise, credit for the Trust’s achievements is due to its Trustees, staff and supporters. Trustees over the years have included Sir Winston Churchill, Sir John Betjeman, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, Sir Edward Maufe, V I Croome, Alec Clifton-Taylor, Arthur Deakin and Sir Arthur Bryant and the first Chairman, Ivor Bulmer-Thomas.
It is perhaps not surprising that the Trust has helped virtually every church named in Simon Jenkins’ ‘England’s Thousand Best Churches’. Whichever way one analyses the grants – by architectural style or importance, historical interest or significance, by geographical area, by rural or urban community, by denomination – the Trust’s net has been spread wide. The donations and legacies we have already received from our supporters have enabled us to award over £30 million in grants and loans to churches of all major denominations, in all four corners of the United Kingdom.
Spreading awareness of the needs of churches and encouraging participation in their restoration and revival at both national and local level has also always been an important part of the Trust’s remit. Six local County Churches Trusts – in Cheshire, Essex, Kent, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire and Wiltshire – were active in 1953. Since then, most of England has been covered and the National Churches Trust was instrumental in creating the Churches Trust for Cumbria in 2008. The ground-level knowledge of those from these independent local Trusts is essential in understanding the situation and pressures facing the local area.
Today, the Trust’s role is as much about revitalisation as renovation; helping not only maintain the bricks and mortar of church buildings, but to also create spaces that as well as fulfilling their traditional role, will meet many of the other social needs of the local community.
For a more in-depth résumé of the Trust, please click here.
The Incorporated Church Building Society
The Incorporated Church Building Society (ICBS, Registered Charity Number 212752) was founded in 1818 and incorporated by Act of Parliament ten years later. Its purpose was to “remedy the deficiencies of places set aside for Public Worship in our towns and cities”. By 1845 the Society was assisting with the building of over 50 churches a year.
In 1982 the Historic Churches Preservation Trust assumed responsibility for the Society’s affairs. The Society is now, alongside the Historic Churches Preservation Trust, managed under the direction of the National Churches Trust.
The ICBS archive – containing thousands of files relating to grants from the Society between 181 and 1982 is deposited at Lambeth Palace Library. A digitized version of the archive is available on the website Church Plans Online website.