The Friends of Friendless Churches
Which was formed in 1957 by a proud Welshman called Ivor Bulmer-Thomas to secure the preservation of churches and chapels, or of any part thereof, in the United Kingdom, whether belonging to or formerly used by the Church of England or by any other religious body....for public access and the benefit of the nation.
The Friends' Minute Book (1957-1977) records that their first meeting was held on 3rd July 1957, in Committee Room 13 of the House of Commons. Ivor Bulmer-Thomas was elected Chairman and Honorary Director and the Executive Committee comprised an influential group of individuals, including the architect HS Goodhart-Rendel, the philanthropist Samuel Gurney, the politician Roy Jenkins, Lady Mander (owner of Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton), the artist John Piper, the banker and politician John Smith, and the architectural historian John Summerson. John Betjeman was elected Honorary Editor, Lawrence E Jones Honorary Secretary, and the architect Sir Albert Richardson a Vice President.
Initially the Friend's pursued their objectives by campaigning and grant aiding, and hoped, after the introduction of the Pastoral Measure (1968, revised 1983) and the formation of the Redundant Churches Fund (now the Churches Conservation Trust or CCT) that they would be able quietly to dissolve. As Ivor Bulmer-Thomas was the first Chairman of the Fund he obviously had a vested interest in its success. However the Committee felt strongly that historic churches (such as Lightcliffe St Matthew Old Church and Wickham Bishops St Peter) which were good enough to be vested with the Redundant Churches Fund were being turned down by the Church Commissioners.
As a result, in 1972 the Friends amended their Constitution and established a company, The Friendless Churches Trust Ltd, enabling them to take direct ownership of buildings, under the Pastoral Measure, by freehold or by lease, which they felt were too important to be demolished, converted or left to decay. The residual tower at Lightcliffe was the first vesting with the Friends.
The Friends today
Today (2009) they own 38 historic but redundant churches and chapels and continue to campaign for, and to step in and save, important churches which we feel are threatened by inappropriate proposals. Half of their vestings are in Wales, where since 1993 they have been recognised as the equivalent of the CCT in England. They conserve churches intact with their fixtures and fittings, undertaking repair where necessary. The churches may be used by the local community for appropriate events (concerts, meetings) and are open (with access by keys held locally) for quiet contemplation. Without this organisation, all of these buildings would no longer be here, or open to the public.
However maintaining and repairing the vestings is a considerable financial challenge - the Friends still have no directly paid staff in England and only a part time Field Officer in Wales. They rely a great deal on the generosity of their members and supporters and fundraisers.
Furthermore the threat to historic churches in Wales and England is ever-present and the Friends of Friendless Churches really do need new members to support their work. We urge all those interested in historic churches and chapels in England and Wales to join.
Trust Funds held by The Friends
The Friends also administer two Trusts. The first, the Cottam Will Trust, was bequeathed by Father Cottam for the purchase of objects of beauty to be placed in ancient Gothic churches for the furtherance of religion, and the second benefits the three churches at Tilbury juxta Clare, Ovington in Essex and St Stephen's in Bournemouth. They also hold funds on behalf of the churches of Llangua on the Welsh/English border, Besselsleigh in Berkshire and Long Crichel in Dorset.
Historic churches are still regularly threatened by demolition and unseemly conversion, and the need for us to support these unspoilt and beautiful buildings and care for them is paramount. Help us to make a real difference by donating, becoming a 'friend', or making a bequest to the Friends of Friendless Churches.
Please send a cheque, payable to 'Friends of Friendless Churches' to their office at St Ann's Vestry Hall, 2 Church Entry, London EC4V 5HB
To discuss your donation, or a regular programme of giving, please telephone the Honorary Director, Matthew Saunders, on 020 7236 3934.
Friends of Friendless Churches is a company limited by guarantee
Company No: 1119137, registered in England and Wales.
Registered Office: St Ann's Vestry Hall, 2 Church Entry, London EC4V 5HB. Registered Charity No: 1113097.
Friends of St Davids Cathedral
The Friends were formed in 1932 by the then Dean of St David's Cathedral, Watkyn Morgan.
The Friends is an organization which draws together individuals, corporate groups and parishes from across the world who wish to support the mission and ministry of St Davids Cathedral.
Aims Of The Friends
To assist the Dean and Chapter in restoring and maitaining the Cathedral Church to the greater glory of G_d and in honour of David, Patron Saint of Wales
To subscribe to the funds required from time to time for beautifying the cathedral and for maintaining and improving worship in the Church.
To organise the raising of capital funds as required for any emergency that may arise which cannot be provided for out of funds available to the Dean and Chapter.
Why be a member?
St Davids Cathedral receives no state funding and is therefore totally reliant on the generosity of visitors and pilgrims. The Friends exist in order to support the Cathedral through a witness of prayer and financial giving. It is only through the generosity of the Friends during the past 75 years that the Cathedral has been able to continually restore and enhance the building, and provide a living house of G_d.
Benefits of being a Friend
All Friends are invited to attend the annual festival.
The Annual Report is produced in July and contains details of the life and work of the Friends and the life of the Cathedral during the past year. A Spring Newsletter is also produced around St Davids Day.
Members also receive a 10% discount on purchases in the Cathedral Shop and Refectory.
Membership for individuals is £10 per year.
Corporate Groups or Parishes are invited to contribute £25 per year.
Life Membership for individuals is £250.
All members are encouraged to use Gift Aid.
We aim as The Order of St David & St Non to make an annual payment to St David's Cathedral each year whilst encouraging all members of the Order of St David and St Non to become Members or Life Members of the Friends of St David's.
The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of St Davids Cathedral takes place in September each year.
If you wish to support the fabric of St David's Cathedral or find out more about the Friends of St David's. Please contact
The Secretary of the Friends
St Davids Cathedral
The Deanery Office