Churches are landmarks, a familiar and even essential element in the landscape of urban and rural Britain. They occupy a prominent place in the architectural as well as the spiritual heritage of this country. Yet, of all the historic building types at risk today, none is more threatened.
Bench Architects have been key to ensuring the future of redundant Churches.
We have experience in illustrating how appropriate ecclesiastical conversions can be achieved whilst retaining the integrity and character of the original structures.

Former Congregational Church, Belper
Suffering from vandalism and vacant over ten years; Bench Architects carried out a feasibility study and condition survey revealed that the building had been designed in 1841 by Lancashire mill architect George Woodhouse. Our study indicated that there was no use to which the building could be put to which would justify, in market terms, the considerable repair costs.
We identified the structure as a target property in a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme. 186,000 was allocated for grant aid in the THI Action Plan. During 2006 the shell of the building was made sound, at a cost of 451,000 and the owner is currently carrying out internal works to allow it to become his family home.

Flagg Unitarian Chapel
We inherited a poorly designed planning consent which inappropriately subdivided the Chapel. Our solution:

  • Full retention of the original Church interior as a single volume and conservation of all its original features.
  • A structural glass cylinder containing spiral staircase.
  • Renewal of the roof structure, but reuse of the existing slate, soffit corbels and repair of the timber cupola.
  • Bedroom and bathroom accommodation within the new roof structure.
  • In order to retain and preserve the original Church interior as a single volume we designed diminutive extension to the building utilizing honed limestone ashlar with deeply incised perpends and a Zinc Long Strip Standing Seam Flat Roof.