Director of Save our Parsonages, Anthony Jennings, explains the campaign
‘Save Our Parsonages was set up in 1995 to oppose the sale by the Church of its traditional parsonages (rectories and vicarages), on pastoral, practical, financial and 'heritage' grounds. Traditional rectories and vicarages are part of our ecclesiastical heritage, just as much as churches, and also major resources for the Church, and, just as importantly, focal points for parish and community life. Yet since the Second World War, more than 8,000 of these fine houses have been sold off, with far less financial benefit to the Church than if they had been retained.
‘We are a membership organisation and our objectives are to encourage the Church to keep, value and maintain its historic parsonages and to recognise their importance as fundamental to its mission. We promote understanding of the role of the traditional parsonage in the life of the community at large, and we strive to facilitate the mission of the Church and preserve its role in local community life. We respond to requests for help and advice from parishes up and down the country when threatened with the disposal of their parsonage by their diocese.
‘The rectory or vicarage is an important part of the identity of the community, in the same way as the pub, shop or post office, and its loss has a similarly adverse effect. If there is a new vicarage, it can be in a new anonymous estate far from the church. The diocese normally takes its decision before making any attempt to involve the parish, and we therefore strive to promote consultation. We seek to change the ‘mind set’ of the central Church organisations by persuading them that their policy of selling off their great assets not only undermines the community but diminishes the Church itself.
‘Our patrons are Peter Burman, the Bishop of London, Frank Field MP, the Very Revd Michael Higgins and Terry Waite. We have links with a number of other amenity societies, heritage, environmental and conservation groups and other campaigning organisations, which can be found on our website.’
Anthony Jennings (Director of Save our Parsonages), 2013