Closed churches

A small number of churches are closed when they are no longer needed for worship - around 20 to 25 across the country each year. Sometimes unsuitable buildings are replaced by new places of worship. Our role is help dioceses and the Commissioners find new uses for these buildings.

The Closed Churches team supports the Church Commissioners' Church Buildings (Uses and Disposals) Committee in settling the future of closed church buildings. 

Our work is governed by the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 which has the force of an Act of Parliament and is accompanied by a Code of Recommended Practice. 

What happens to a church building if it closes?

The local diocese will normally seek a suitable alternative use and report to the Commissioners who will decide what happens to the building. This process is explained in more detail in the leaflet ‘What happens when a church building closes’.

The possible outcomes are:

The Commissioners will carry out public consultation on their proposals. If there are objections to a proposal, these will be considered by the Church Buildings (Uses and Disposal) Committee who decide whether the proposals should go ahead.

New uses

Most closed churches are found a suitable new use – some of the more common are:

  • Worship by another Christian body
  • Cultural or community use (such as a community centre, library or museum)
  • Residential
  • Arts centre or theatre
  • Office use
  • Monument

Where an unsuitable building is being replaced, the proceeds from its disposal are applied towards the cost of the new place of worship. Otherwise, two-thirds of the money helps the diocese to fund mission locally, while the other third helps finance both the Church’s share of funding the Churches Conservation Trust and also the care of other closed churches whose future is yet to be settled.

If you are interested in acquiring a closed church building details are available on our Closed Churches Available page.