Keeping St Denys acephalous, and other considerations in participative church conservation

Tuesday 30 October 2018, 5.30PM to 18:45

Speaker(s): Claire Smith

In 2014, facing a growing gap between the glazing and masonry in the west wall of the north aisle of St Denys church, York, the congregation undertook to repair and conserve the north aisle.

There are many such church conservation projects all over the country: a quinquennial inspection identifies structural or condition issues and the church community, often led by church wardens or the PCC (parochial church council) seek to repair it. Some of these projects will focus solely on the fabric repairs to the church, fairly seeing a weathertight envelope and good condition of the building as the successful outcome. But critical heritage studies now espouses that conservation projects can deliver social benefits, positive impacts for communities and be delivered through participatory approaches. While improving the condition of the north aisle was a priority, at St Denys there was also opportunity through an HLF-funded project to bring about wider benefits for the congregation and community.

The talk reviews the challenges of applying theories around enhancing social values, delivering community impact and participative approaches to a live project, including examining how funding structures can offer opportunity or restriction to participatory ideals, considering the connection between built heritage and community spirit, and maintaining the social outcomes of projects post-completion. In sharing these thoughts, it is hoped that the talk will add to critical evaluation of the project at St Denys and provide inspiration (and hopefully not dissuasion!) for others involved in conservation projects.

Location: K/159

Admission: Free and open to all.