More than half of British adults visited church in past year

Most Britons think government should help pay for upkeep of churches as part of UK history and heritage, survey finds

More than half of British adults have visited a church in the past year, despite falling numbers of those who define themselves as Christian, and six in 10 say the government should provide grants to help maintain the buildings, according to an opinion poll.

The survey, commissioned by the National Churches Trust, found that 84% of those questioned think churches, chapels and meeting houses are important to the country’s history and heritage. A similar number said churches play an important role in society by providing a space for community activities, such as playgroups and cultural events.

The government has made more than £130m available for repairs to historic churches in the past two years, the trust said. There are about 42,000 churches, chapels and meeting houses in the UK.

“This poll shows that there is overwhelming public support for church buildings, despite the decline in the numbers of people in Britain identifying themselves as Christian in recent years,” said Claire Walker of the trust.

“It’s a fact of life that keeping church buildings open costs money, in most cases way beyond the means of congregations themselves ... In good repair and with the right facilities to allow greater community use, churches, chapels and meeting houses can continue to play a vital role in the life and wellbeing of the nation for many, many years to come.”

Powered by article was written by Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent, for The Guardian on Sunday 31st January 2016 22.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010