By Pete Morgan - 22nd November 2020 6:09am
Editor's unusual introduction:- Firstly, Pete Morgan (very regular helper/attender at St James) and Steve Elliott (member of Audlem Voices) are very good friends! Secondly, I did wonder if I should change the title to "Tinnitus in the Tower", but didn't wish to offend any sufferers!
The Bells, the Bells
In reply to Steve Elliott's observation, "Let's not forget that the Church of England is a huge private organisation with investments that include properties in villages, towns and cities across the country as well as more than 100,000 acres of land in England and Wales. This large property portfolio is only one third of the C of E's massive £8.7bn investment fund that generated a 10% Total Return in 2019"
My response, following a swift Googlization, revealed that in 2005 the C of E currently had 16,000 churches and 42 cathedrals to maintain without any government finance short of historic building grants that anyone with a grade one listed building can apply for. That in the same year the cost of such upkeep was in the region of £900 million. That is where the ten percent of your quoted figure goes Steve.
Then, considering inflation over the last 15 years and the costs of historic building maintenance, plus declining worshippers, the figure does not seem extravagant. But lets not forget the ongoing salary costs of the clergy who run the whole shebang and finally, one has to take into account the pensions of retired clergy who have spent a large part of their lives on modest stipends, some bringing up their children as they do so and who deserve at the very least a pension upon their retirement.
Turning specifically to the issue of the bells, one could now argue that they are no longer needed to call worshippers to church in an age where accurate timekeeping is readily available to all. However, it is a tradition which is cherished by many and the damage that the bell ringing vibration does to the tower itself, which I have been told, actually causes the tower to sway, hence the need in some previous century to affix iron retaining bars through it, is a price worth the boing.
I'm not so sure about the effect of Audlem Voices on the esteemed fabric, especially your own contribution, but if the woodworm start complaining you can expect a bill, Boing....
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