ENGAGING WITH PLACE AND MANAGING SPACE: Transforming policy, statutory advice, management, and visitor experience in England's historic churches

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: History

Abstract

'Engaging with Place and Managing Space' offers a unique opportunity to use historical and social science research to enhance visitor enjoyment and appreciation of the cathedrals and great churches which comprise many of England's most important and best-loved heritage sites.

CONTEXT
English cathedrals now welcome over 10 million visitors each year and have a growing role in promoting community cohesion, sharing their rich spiritual, cultural, and educational resources, and stimulating economic development in urban and rural contexts through tourism. The AHRC 'Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals, Past and Present' (PEC) project explored ways in which much greater historical understanding of the use of buildings in the past, coupled with fresh evidenced-based insights into visitor needs today, could support cathedrals in engaging wider audiences and serving communities. Key issues highlighted include finding new ways to accommodate the multiple roles of buildings; the value of creating user-friendly, inviting spaces for visitors from all backgrounds; the centrality of sensory experience; offering an open-ended welcome to all visitors; and the need for greater recognition of these factors in decisions about adapting or changing buildings to enhance visitor provision.

In the final year of the project, the opportunities and challenges facing cathedrals were unexpectedly brought into urgent national focus by the publication of three major government and church sponsored reports: Cathedrals and their Communities: A Report on the Diverse Roles of Cathedrals, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2017); The Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals (DCMS, 2017); Cathedrals Working Group Draft Report, 2018. The PEC research outcomes have been universally welcomed as offering essential perspectives in the current process of review and planning. Key stakeholders are now requesting help in embedding the PEC research in long-term policy-making, statutory guidance, management and training for all churches. This Follow-on project is thus driven by:

- the catalyst of PEC project findings on the value of applying historical understanding of the management of space to visitor needs today
- acknowledgement that current processes for assessing 'significance' (the sum of the cultural and natural heritage values of a place), will benefit greatly from PEC research perspectives, promoting understanding and strengthening project evaluation and approval
- recognition that greater understanding of the ways in which buildings function will help funders and applicants to develop more soundly-based and effective projects
- pressures created by the changing landscape of heritage volunteering and the need for additional information and training to help staff and volunteers engage increasingly diverse audiences

OUTCOMES
This initiative, requested by the key stakeholders in England's largest heritage sector, will bring about a new, transformative collaboration between Historic England, other statutory bodies, the Church of England, and those managing its 42 cathedrals and 16,200 parish churches. This project has 5 key strands of activity building on PEC research findings:

SHAPING NATIONAL POLICY in partnership with Historic England, other statutory advisors, and the Church of England

PILOTING FRESH APPROACHES TO VISITOR ENGAGEMENT, working with selected cathedrals and churches to enhance key spaces and offer creative new opportunities for visitor interaction

PROVIDING NEW NATIONAL GUIDANCE through an online handbook and workshops, in partnership with the Church of England and Historic England

SUPPORTING AND TRAINING STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS through a national volunteer strategy/programme focused on understanding, managing, and adapting spaces to enhance visitor experience and enjoyment

WORKING WITH GRANT-MAKING BODIES TO STRENGTHEN SUPPORT AND GUIDANCE FOR PROJECTS

Planned Impact

'Engaging with Place and Managing Space' builds on the exceptionally productive networks and responsive relationships forged with partners during the 'Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals' (PEC) project. These partners include the Church of England, Historic England, and other key bodies concerned with management, sustainability and sustainability of cathedrals and major churches, and their spiritual, cultural, educational, and economic contribution to society through their role as guardians of shared national heritage and places of meaning and memory for local communities.

The PEC project sought to show how the past can inform the present and help to shape the future. The chief findings include the importance and benefits of managing multiple functions within one building effectively; the need to understand historical patterns of use of space; the need to create 'human-sized' spaces with specific focal points, similar to those which existed in medieval buildings; the key roles played by art, architecture, sensory experience, and movement in learning and response, and the need to provide appropriate prompts and tools. The connected strands of this impact strategy have been designed with partners to help apply these findings to their planning and practice. The responsive nature of this project will thus ensure the longevity of the benefits through incorporation into existing, sustainable partner programmes and activities. Impact will be evaluated, collated and compared through partner networks. The evidence will help shape the long-term strategic outputs at national level.

All partners are actively seeking new strategies but lack research capacity. This project will thus have a transformative impact at national, regional and local levels, with direct beneficiaries including policymakers, public sector agencies, practitioner groups, cathedrals and other historic churches, local communities, and the wider public, including over 20 million people from all cultural and faith backgrounds who visit cathedrals and other historic churches every year. Chief beneficiaries will be:
1. THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND CHURCH BUILDINGS DIVISION, THE CHURCH BUILDINGS COUNCIL, THE CATHEDRALS FABRIC COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND And THE ASSOCIATION OF ENGLISH CATHEDRALS who are developing new guidance for cathedrals and major churches on understanding the dynamics of sacred places, managing, enhancing and supporting creative use of spaces and promoting visitor engagement with history and spirituality. PEC research will shape these outcomes
2. HISTORIC ENGLAND AND THE NATIONAL AMENITY SOCIETIES (including SPAB) who have a statutory responsibility to review and comment on proposed development schemes. Historic England wish to review policy and guidance on the uses of and changes to historic buildings in the light of the PEC findings
3. CLERGY AND LAY STAFF RESPONSIBLE FOR PRESENT AND FUTURE MANAGEMENT, USE AND SUSTAINABILITY OF CATHEDRALS AND MAJOR CHURCHES PEC-generated analysis and evidence will be applied to specific Case Study church projects and then incorporated into national guidance for all churches
4. VOLUNTEERS Cathedrals typically have hundreds of volunteers whose performance is vital to effective space management and successful visitor engagement but the Church of England has no national policy on volunteer recruitment, training, support and discipline. A new Volunteer Managers' Forum has been established to address these issues and PEC research findings will help shape the priorities within a new policy and training strategy
5. FUNDERS who wish to provide more understanding and guidance to strengthen future development projects
6. VISITORS OF ALL AGES AND BACKGROUNDS PEC evidence shows that visitors today are very keen to engage with buildings but often lack the historical knowledge to do so. This project will develop new tools and approaches to help visitors explore and enjoy the largest sector of our national built heritage

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description New approaches in the areas of Volunteer Management and Visitor Engagement are being developed at a national level for local implementation which will enhance tourism and community engagement
Exploitation Route The outcomes of this funding will be capable of application not only by cathedrals but by many of the major churches and 16000 parish churches in England
Sectors Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description Consultation sessions and workshops bringing together original research findings and partner responses have led to changes inf cathedral strategies for visitor engagement, management of buildings, and new approaches to the supervision and training of thousands of volunteers
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Policy & public services

 
Description Creating a framework for volunteer management and training in England's cathedrals
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Working with The Church of England to devise a new guidance document as part of their policy framework for cathedrals.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact The policy development has already improved collaboration and led to revision and the improvement of other related policy documents.
URL https://www.churchofengland.org/more/church-resources/churchcare/cathedral-fabric-commission/advice-...
 
Description Church of England Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division 
Organisation Church of England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Working with the Church of England and other key partners at national level to embed research outcomes from the Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals project in new guidance and policy which will influence cathedral planning and practice in the future, with significant implications for enhancing visitor engagement.
Collaborator Contribution The Director of the Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division (CCB) serves on the Advisory Board of the project. The Senior Cathedrals Officer serves on the Executive Board. The CCB team are working with the PI, RA and Impact Officer to incorporate research from the AHRC Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals project into policy and guidance which will shape cathedral practice and development projects. CCB will disseminate the final outcomes through their structures from June 2020 onwards. CCB also host meetings in London as required.
Impact New national policy and guidance documents will be released in June 2020
Start Year 2018
 
Description Development of a National Cathedrals Volunteer Policy and Visitor Engagement Planning Guidance 
Organisation Association of English Cathedrals
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Using key research outcomes from the Pilgrimage and England's Cathedral project to shape (a) the first national cathedrals Volunteer Policy; (b) national guidance on creating Visitor Engagement Plans to enhance tourism and community engagement
Collaborator Contribution The Chair of the Association of English Cathedrals (AEC) serves on the project Advisory Board, the Executive Director serves on the Executive Board. Four members of the AEC are participating in the project as case study cathedrals (Coventry, Lichfield, Ripon and Wakefield). Between them, they provide a very wide range of contexts and challenges for pilot projects. Researchers present and discuss research outcomes at future AEC-sponsored events. The AEC will use its website and other channels to disseminate information about the project's outputs to its members and beyond. The AEC make a contribution in kind, through the contribution of the Chair, Executive Director and other Executive members, in staff time in organising and publicising events, hosting the researchers at its conferences, and disseminating project outcomes.
Impact The policy documents and guidance will be lauched in June 2020
Start Year 2018
 
Description Policy and guidance development with Historic England 
Organisation Historic England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Working with Historic England staff to embed research outcomes from the AHRC Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals project within the statutory advice brought to bear on cathedral management of buildings and development projects. HE will disseminate the final outcomes through their structures and staff training from June 2020 onwards.
Collaborator Contribution The HE Head of Places of Worship Advice serves on the Executive Board; the Assistant Director of Planning for Historic England served on the Advisory Board. HE staff are collaborating on policy review and creation of the new online guidance for cathedrals and major churches. HE will also use the Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals' research findings, and the new approaches devised, in internal and external training.
Impact National guidance will be disseminated from June 2020.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Working Group Meeting at Westminster Abbey - Volunteer Policy and Training 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting led by Dee Dyas to create an outline plan and timetable for the development of a volunteer policy and training module for all UK Cathedrals and to identify examples of good practise in church contexts and beyond.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description 2020 Year of Cathedrals: Year of Pilgrimage Training Conference Manchester Cathedral 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented the session, Welcome: How can we do this better? The Briefing Day also provided the opportunity to share information about our research and to hear from delegates about their experiences and ideas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description 2020 Year of Cathedrals: Year of Pilgrimage Training Conference Southwark Cathedral London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented the session, Welcome: How can we do this better? The Briefing Day also provided the opportunity to share information about our research and to hear from delegates about their experiences and ideas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Association of English Cathedrals Executive Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Discussion/planning to embed research outcomes permanently in cathedral management.
Decision to make 2020 a national 'Year of Cathedrals and Pilgrimage' with major national, regional and local tourism initiatives
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL https://www.englishcathedrals.co.uk/
 
Description Cathedrals 2020 National Steering Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact National planning group for 2020 Celebration of Cathedrals, Saints and Pilgrimage
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
 
Description Ecclesiological Society lecture May 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Lecture on the sustainability of churches and how people engage with them.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description English Cathedrals Growth Network 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 3 hour presentation/workshop by Dee Dyas using Pilgrimage and Cathedrals research and Visitor Engagement Policy developments to inform discussion
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Meeting at the House of Lords 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Dee to complete
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Meetings at Houses of Parliament 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Dee to complete
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description National Cathedral Volunteer Managers Forum meeting at Christ Church Cathedral Oxford 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Dee Dyas on research into visitor engagement within cathedrals and the implications for recruitment, training and management of cathedrals volunteers and the need to establish a national Church of England policy to establish and spread best practice
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Planning meetings 5 Sept 2019 and 12 Mar 2020 with Coventry cathedral for the impact outcomes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Planning for impact outcomes for Place and Space linked to wider plans for Coventry as City of Culture 2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description Planning meetings with Wakefield Cathedral 13 Nov 19 and 24 Jan 20 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact These meeting were to develop the individual engagement projects with one of our case study cathedrals. The meetings were to ensure that the practical impact from the research was mapped directly to the needs an aspirations of the cathedral.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description Planning meetings with partner cathedral on the project - Ripon 4 July 2019 & 9 March 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meetings to plan the delivery of outcomes for impact from the Place and Space visitor engagement strand.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description St Davids Cathedral Annual Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A lecture by Dee Dyas on pilgrimage and visitor engagement with sacred spaces past and present and the implications for the current and future management and interpretation of the cathedral .
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Working Group Meeting - Visitor Engagement Strategy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting led by Dee Dyas, to create an outline plan and timetable for the development of a new Visitor Engagement Guidance document for all UK Cathedrals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop - Volunteer Policy Working Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop led by Dee Dyas and Louise Hampson to draw on existing material and research to create a draft which the Working Group will then improve and finalise.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage Executive Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Planning meeting for the 2020 Year of Cathedrals. Year of Pilgrimage visitor engagement initiative for England and Wales
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL https://www.englishcathedrals.co.uk/