Talk on the Churches Conservation Trust, 30 October 2023

A small number of club members were present to welcome back Xiomara Farthing, to give a talk about the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT).  For several years Xiomara (Pattison) had been our point of contact in the Alumni Office at the University, and she had attended several of our events.  She is now the Head of Fundraising for the CCT, and for this talk she was accompanied by Marie Leverett, CCT’s Local Community Officer for the west of England.

Originally established in 1969 as the Redundant Churches Fund, the CCT is the national charity established by the Church of England for saving historic churches at risk. It currently cares for 357 churches around the country, repairing any damage, and working with local communities to bring them alive. Core funding comes from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Church Commissioners, but with a drastic cut in the level of DCMS funding in 2010, fundraising has become a key part of the work of CCT.  CCT focuses on three key areas: conservation, regenerating communities, and learning and participation.

Marie talked about CCT’s ten churches in Devon, nine of which are Grade 1 listed. One well-known church is St Martin’s in the heart of Exeter, but the other churches tend to be in fairly remote rural areas. Marie visits these churches, and attempts to stimulate the local community to engage in fundraising activities to help support their local church. She provided several examples of local groups that had been formed, and of the events organised by them.


Holy Trinity Church, Torbryan – Painted saints on the rood screen

One particularly interesting church is Holy Trinity, Torbryan, which is four miles south west of Newton Abbot. This 15th century church got in the national news in 2013 when two of the painted oak panels in the rood screen were hacked out and stolen. They were eventually rescued – but in a very damaged condition – in 2015, after they had been advertised for sale online. They have now been painstakingly restored, but at considerable cost.

At the end of the talks by Xiomara and Marie there were several interesting questions from the audience.  The speakers’ detailed description of the work of CCT was much appreciated.

Peter Wingfield-Digby

Created by Alex Volkov