In consultation with the minister, churchwardens are required, at least once every calendar year, to inspect or organise an inspection to be made of the fabric of the church building and all articles (contents) relating to the church, in accordance with section 50 of the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018.
It is also recommended that monthly (or periodic) visual checks are conducted on different aspects of the church building, usually by the churchwardens, which can feed into or inform the annual inspection and related annual fabric report (below), such as in accordance with:
- Church of England's Calendar of Care
- Historic England's Maintenance Checklist for Places of Worship
- SPAB's Maintaining Church Buildings videos (which support the 5 sections of the above Checklist)
These undertakings are separate from, and in addition to, the statutory requirement for the church building to be inspected at least once every 5 years in the form of a quinquennial inspection (QI), commissioned by the PCC and conducted by a quinquennial inspector as professional adviser.
Annual fabric report
The churchwardens in each parish must, in every calendar year, deliver to the PCC and, on behalf of the PCC, to the annual parochial church meeting a report ('the annual fabric report') on the fabric of the church and all articles appertaining to it, having due regard to the [annual] inspection.
Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018
The Church Representation Rules 2020, rule M5, mirrors the requirement for the PCC to provide the annual parochial church meeting (APCM) with an annual fabric report, which the annual meeting may then discuss. There is no set format for the report, but it must include an account of all actions taken or proposed during the previous calendar year:
- for the protection and maintenance of the fabric of the church and the articles (contents) relating to it
- in particular, for the implementation of any recommendation contained in the latest QI report
In the case of every parochial church and chapel, a record of all alterations, additions, removals, or repairs so executed shall be kept in a book to be provided for the purpose and the record shall indicate where specifications and plans may be inspected if not deposited with the book.
Canon F 13 (Of the care and repair of churches)
Churchwardens are also required, in consultation with the minister, to maintain a log book of each church in the parish, in accordance with section 49 of the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018. The log book is a record which has inserted in it a full note of:
- all alterations, additions and repairs to the church building and the articles (contents) relating to it
- the location of any other documents not kept with the log book that relate to those alterations, additions or repairs
The form of this record should be in line with the recommendations of the Church Buildings Council (CBC), which includes the paper-based template, The Church Log Book (2012), published by Church House Publishing. This template can alternatively (as of 2022) be downloaded from the Church of England's Dropbox account in Word format (editable) and PDF format (printable).
Every archdeacon shall survey the churches, chancels, and churchyards within [their] jurisdiction at least once in three years, either in person or by the rural dean, and shall give direction for the amendment of all defects in the fabric, ornaments, and furniture of the same.
Canon F 18 (Of the survey of churches)
The relevant Archdeacon, or Rural Dean acting on the Archdeacon's behalf, must survey each church building and churchyard within their archdeaconry at least once every 3 years. The Archdeacon can direct for any repairs or work needed on the fabric, ornaments or furniture to be undertaken.
In particular, the Archdeacon shall exercise the powers conferred upon them in relation to the quinquennial inspection (QI) of churches. Please note that the Archdeacon has authority to require a quinquennial inspection where one has not been carried out within the specified time period, under section 47 of the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018.
Model inspections summary
The parochial visitation may fall within another year in the above quinquennial cycle, dependant on the date of the previous visitation (i.e. the above is an averaged timeline)
Maintenance and repairs
The ongoing maintenance and repair needs of church buildings are best informed by the rolling cycle of required annual inspections, parochial visitations and quinquennial inspections (QIs), and specifically the recommendations made by the quinquennial inspector, as professional adviser to the PCC, contained within the respective QI report.
Works of repair will usually need to be specified by an architect or building surveyor, and may require permission.
Please note that the diocese does not have a list of approved contractors for church works. Instead, the PCC should consult its quinquennial inspector, as professional adviser, for advice on procuring and appointing suitable contractors.