Church Treasures

Created: 27th October 2023 at 06:41


Church Buildings and Pastoral


Church Treasures


Advice on how to care for your church's treasures.


Protecting Church Treasures


Church buildings contain a wide range of objects, many of them unique portable artworks of great significance. Such treasures belong in churches and should only be removed in the most exceptional circumstances.


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.


We understand that during difficult economic times, the sale of objects and works of art can be tempting, particularly if they appear to have no practical use. However, if such sales are given validity through success in even one or two instances, the parish churches of England could quickly be stripped of many of the treasures that make them unique.


Later generations would surely regret such losses, in much the same way as we now regret the destruction of countless medieval sculptures during the Reformation or the shattering of tens of thousands of stained-glass windows during the Commonwealth. But by then it would be too late.


The Church Buildings Council has produced some documents to help parishes address concerns, offering guidance and practical support on protecting treasures; this includes a detailed explanation of the policy regarding the sale/disposal of items.


Church of England Guidance


The Society for Museum Archaeology


The Society for Museum Archaeology has also published some fact sheets on the care of key materials which can be downloaded via the links below. 


The full document on the Standards and Guidance in the Care of Archaeological Collections is available on request from the Church Buildings Team at the Diocese of Ely.


Valuable or particularly vulnerable items should generally be cleaned by conservation specialists.  For guidance on the cleaning of church buildings, including objects, fixtures and fittings please see the Church Cleaning section on the Diocese of Ely’s website. 


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