Organisations caring for places of worship have until February to apply for a prestigious conservation award organised by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB).
The annual John Betjeman Award celebrates excellence in the conservation and repair at places of worship of any faith in England and Wales. It is offered for work on fabric, fittings or furnishings carried out in the last 18 months at an historic church, chapel or other faith building which remains in use for worship.
The award takes the form of a scroll featuring a specially commissioned print by John Piper of the interior of Inglesham Church.
The 2016 winner was a project to conserve a medieval staircase at Church of St Michael and All Angels in Bishop’s Cleeve in Gloucestershire. The staircase is believed to have been built during the Wars of the Roses. It has treads made from solid oak and the handrail is a continuous piece of elm – possibly the whole length of an elm tree. The staircase still provides the only access to the bell-ringing chamber and needed to be stabilised for ongoing use.
St Michael’s Church is a Grade 1 Listed building with some sections dating from 1170. It is believed to have been built on the foundations of an earlier place of worship. The church’s website has a detailed account of the staircase project, including before and after photos and videos.
The SPAB award honours the memory of church enthusiast and SPAB member Sir John Betjeman and is always made to the winning building, rather than the people who carry out the work.
The closing date for the 2017 awards is 21 February. You can read more details about the Award on the SPAB’s website.