The church buildings of the Church of England are home to an amazing variety of treasures and artworks that are of high significance. The Church Buildings Council considers that church treasures belong in churches and should only be removed in the most exceptional circumstances. We are temporary custodians of buildings, and have a duty of care not just for the current generation but for future generations. The past for church buildings is also their future – they tell the ongoing story of the church and of those who have worshipped there and cared for it, often for centuries, as a living witness to the glory of God in every corner of the land.
The Council has a duty “to promote the care and conservation of churches and greater knowledge, understanding and enjoyment” of churches, including their contents. It is aware that for some parishes being advised to preserve their treasures rather than dispose of them is not always a convenient or welcome message. This guidance addresses relevant issues of concern for parishes advised to keep treasures that they might consider selling and to offer practical help in celebrating and allowing others to appreciate their treasures.
The guidance considers aspects of keeping historic objects in their context in the church and, where this is not realistic, appropriate ways of keeping items in the public domain while not in the church building. The guidance will also assist in a situation were disposal is an appropriate option.