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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Anglicans sell off former Catholic Churches

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The sale of public art since the recession has rightly grabbed headlines. The loss of sculptures by Henry Moore or etchings by Picasso, often on view for generations, has generated handwringing from journalists and politicians, as well as bold attempts to save the works.

But at the same time as the purchases of Titian's Diana and Actaeon or Poussin's Sacraments are trumpeted as great rescues, dozens of buildings which are open to the public slip quietly into private ownership with barely a mention in the press. Nor are these insignificant works of architecture, some are precious parts of Britain's national heritage, often of exceptional antiquity or artistic quality.

Each year the Church of England sells off around 20 churches. There are, at the time of writing, 14 available for purchase, listed on a page of the Church's website entitled "Closed Churches Available For Disposal". Until recently, they were open to the public and consecrated for services, objects as important as anything in a national museum, but free to access and located all around the country. Now many will become private houses, bars or offices.

In Ufford, Peterborough, the grand, 14th Century church has slender piers and beautiful windows. Its stately font has been used to baptise the babies of the village for six centuries. The font at St Giles, Merston, near Chichester, is 300 years older still. Here the steep roof slopes down to enclose a tiny, chocolate-box church. Now, to use the Church of England's lingo, they are both "redundant"

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Cathcon- they should give them back to the original owner.
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