• Gordon MacLellan

Bats in Churches

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

From the quiet peace of a graveyard, we might look up at the tower of an old church, at gargoyles set into gutter, at old slates or tiles or even stone slabs roofing ancient walls. If we are "wildlife" people, we might check tombstones for lichen, try to guess the age of the yew tree in the corner, sit on a bench and watch for butterflies. Many churches however, hold secret communities that us daytime visitors never see and possibly do not even think of....

Funded by a £3.8 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Bats in Churches project is empowering church communities to live alongside and appreciate their resident bats by helping to alleviate some of the pressures that they can cause. This unique pioneering project runs until 2023 and is being delivered through a partnership involving the Church of England, Churches Conservation Trust, Bat Conservation Trust, Natural England and Historic England.

When bats are present in small numbers they often go unnoticed, but when a large roost takes up residence, they can cause stress to the church community through the additional cleaning burden and damage to priceless church artefacts.

A Bat Box being installed

Building on the latest research and engaging highly qualified bat ecologists and heritage experts, the project is working with over 100 churches, to create practical solutions to reduce the impact of bats without harming their populations. This will protect church fabric and enable church communities to use their churches fully, while still providing for the needs of the bat colonies living in these church buildings.

Stained glass bat in St Peter's Church, Netherseal

The project brings together church communities, nature and heritage enthusiasts, and local people to create a shared appreciation of historic places of worship and the bats that use them. Activities and events are running at project churches throughout the project and the public is being encouraged to survey their local church for bats over the summer as part of the Bats in Churches Study.

For more information on the project and the churches that are taking part visit the website at batsinchurches.org

Thanks to the Bats in Churches team for this description of their work.

If you are involved in a project you think we would be interested in, drop us a line! admin@celebrationearth.org

Images (from the top)

  • First and last: Bats in Church, Church Layer, (c) Hugh Clark_www.bats.org.uk

  • St Pega's Church, Peakirk incorporating bat mitigation techniques, (c) Bats in Churches

  • Installing a Bat Box: (c) Dr Lotty Packman Wild Wings Ecology

  • Stained Glass Bat in St Peter's Church, (c) Bats in Churches

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