Bishop of Norwich fears bat excrement is making churches unhygienic

The Bishop of Norwich fears bat excrement is making churches unhygienic. Photo: Science/PA Wire The Bishop of Norwich fears bat excrement is making churches unhygienic. Photo: Science/PA Wire

Friday, June 13, 2014
4:47 PM

The Bishop of Norwich has warned that bat excrement is making churches unhygienic and that he fears a lack of funding to maintain churches could be paving the way for “a pending crisis”.

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The Rt Rev Graham James was speaking in the House of Lords as part of a motion raised to highlight the importance of the English Parish Church.

During the debate, Conservative peer Lord Cormack spoke of “the menace of the bat” and described how he knew of a church in Lincolnshire where bat droppings were corroding some of the most remarkable 15th century brasses in the country.

He quoted from a letter that from the Church of England Parliamentary Unit that: “Where there are large colonies it can become intolerable. Churches were built for the worship of God by people. They were not built as nature reserves.

“The impression is that the bats matter much more than the worshipping community — and this is exacerbated by the fact that Natural England have abrogated responsibility... to the Bat Conservation Trust, who are quite legitimately a pressure group.”

In March, Bishop Graham joined Natural England chief executive Dave Webster in a visit St Margaret’s Church in Paston, which has a small roost of common pipistrelle bats in the roof.

And, in April, Defra minister Lord de Mauley visited St Andrew’s Church in Holme Hale, near Swaffham, to hear how a colony of 260 bats was having a detrimental impact on the historic churches.

During the visit it was heard how the bats were putting people off from going to the Grade I-listed church or using it as a wedding, funeral or christening venue.

In the House of Lords debate, the Bishop said he had worked closely with Natural England, Defra and others on the issue of bats.

But he said: There are positive developments, but it is always odd to me that our parish churches seem to be treated much more as barns than as houses.

“They are places where people gather to worship and to eat—not just the sacrament of holy communion but more socially as well, although I doubt any other eating place would be allowed to be so unhygienic.”

The Bishop also spoke about how, apart from Heritage Lottery Fund awards, congregations generally have to foot the bill for repairing churches, raising £115m a year.

And he said: “I am conscious that the rising generation of worshipping Anglicans is much less content to take on responsibility for the maintenance of these historic buildings than their parents and grandparents were; they believe that much of what is listed and monitored by the state should be supported by state funds.

“If the economic recovery is as bright as we are told, we ought to look again at the prospects for this huge inheritance of glorious medieval buildings.

“I echo others who say that there are ways in which we might be able to target some of the most testing and hidden parts of our buildings, such as roof repairs, where a grant scheme would be really useful.

“I would be very grateful for the minister’s comments on future funding in what I believe to be a pending crisis. Even though our church buildings are in such fine condition now, I am not sure what the future holds for 20 or more years’ time.”

• Do you think more needs to be done to protect Norfolk’s churches? Write, giving full contact details, to Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

14 comments

  • High time the Church spent some of their money trying to solve the problem and also repairing churches instead of looking for handouts.

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    Norfolkman

    Saturday, June 14, 2014

  • Perhaps it's only the bats in the belfry that are causing concern?

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    TVOR

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • I wonder if Dracula`s up there, taking the p1*$ and giving with the $#1t?

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    Mad Brewer

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • I read elsewhere that the bat community are less than impressed with the toilet facilities provided by Churches, and are considering moving to more hygienic options, like the St. Stephen`s underpass. There, however, they will have to compete with dogs and humans. All things bright and beautiful.... remember, TVOR, God made them high or lowly, and ordered their estate. The Church`s estate came from Harrod`s, the bats` from QD.

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    Mad Brewer

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • A lack of funding to maintain churches. Really? I found this on the CofE website..... "The Church Commissioners hold investments whose value was approaching £5.5 billion at the end of 2012. The fund includes stock market and property investments, including UK urban property, rural and development land, and a stake in global property funds." The Roman Catholic Church Worldwide..... "In 2000 the bank had deposits of $40 billion, and annual profits of $4 million."

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    Csidewolf

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • I'm sure most of the detractors probably have got bats in their lofts as many people do. It would of course only present a problem if one decided to climb into the loft space with ones salmon and cucumber club sandwiches for a moment of prayer and reflection. I would suggest if you do this that bat unmentionables is possibly the least of your worries. Amen, from the rafters.

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    Urbancommander

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • I bet all the detractors here would soon change their tune if they had bats cra##ing in their lofts and had to put up with it!

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    la barbe

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • People go to church to eat?? Since when? Last few times I have been it's been either a wedding or a funeral. Pretty sure it would of been frowned upon if I pitched up with a quick takeaway during either service and proceeded to tuck in. It will be the pigeons next week and the seagulls after that. You watch, there will be some reason the church is hard done by.

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    Urbancommander

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • Why don't these god worshippers ask their invisible friend to do something about it. Unless of course 'he' is unable, or unwilling, to help. Or non-existant.

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    GoodRockinDaddy

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small........?

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    TVOR

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • In my opinion the bat does not matter more than the worshipping community. In my opinion they are equal and should co exist peacefully together. Something that seems difficult where religion is concerned. We clear up after domestic animals so what is wrong with clearing up after wild animals.

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    PDH

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • Which will become extinct first? The bat or the church of England congregation.

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    PDH

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • do you know the Bishop of Norwich?

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    Mikado Kember

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • Crazy situation! Let the bat lovers move them to a natural roost so that people can reclaim their churches.

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    la barbe

    Friday, June 13, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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