John Betjeman Award

John Betjeman Award 2017

“Places of worship are… the history of English art displayed in living form…” - Sir John Betjeman

Photo credit: the SPAB (St Pancras, Euston Road), the CCT (panel at Holy Trinity, Torbyan), Ann Longstaff (Blessed Virgin Mary, Portbury)

The John Betjeman Award is given to celebrate excellence in the conservation and repair of places of worship of any faith in England and Wales.

This year’s Award attracted a record 29 entries from a wide geographical area - ranging from Cumbria to Devon, from Wiltshire to the Wirral, from Anglesey to East Anglia, and all points in between. Entries came from Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, the Church in Wales and the Baptist Church, and all dates and styles of church architecture were represented.

The range of projects submitted was equally diverse, including stained glass conservation, repairing brick and stone in walls and towers, and conservation of furnishings, wallpaintings, weathervanes and bellcotes. The large number of entries concerning roof repair in part reflected the availability of grant aid over recent years through the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund.

The judges selected a shortlist of three buildings to visit.

Blessed Virgin Mary, Portbury, Somerset – re-roofing the chancel, using on the south flank a quantity of Red Pennant tilestone salvaged from the existing roof and, as this distinctive stone is no longer quarried, on the north slope sandstone tiles sourced from Herefordshire as the closest geological and aesthetic match.

Holy Trinity, Torbryan, Devon – repair, stabilisation and reinstatement of two painted panels from the fifteenth century rood screen. Already suffering from beetle holes, the panels were further damaged when they were kicked out of the screen and stolen in 2013. Having deteriorated before they were recovered in 2015, the panel fragments required re-assembly and an additional supporting structure to enable them to go back into the screen. 

St Pancras, Euston Road, London - The Portico Project, to repair the roof, stonework and terracotta decoration of the western portico.

The judges have visited all three sites, and the outcome of this year’s Award will be announced at the SPAB Members’ Weekend in York on 10 June.

Find out more about the Award, and about John Betjeman and the SPAB at a John Betjeman birthday event with the Betjeman Society 

Wednesday 30 August at 6pm

Goodenough College, Mecklenburgh Square, London, WC1N 2AB

Guest speaker Rachel Morley - conservator and SPAB Betjeman Award judge.
Tickets £18.

For more information:

To book:

2017 Award

The Award is given to celebrate excellence in the conservation and repair of places of worship of any faith in England and Wales.  It recognises and rewards the highest standards of conservation craftsmanship and the winning project is publicised as an  example to others of good practice. The Award takes the form of a scroll featuring a specially commissioned print by John Piper of the interior of Inglesham Church, a building much loved by Sir John Betjeman. The Award will be presented at the SPAB’s 2016 Members’ Meeting. 


The Award is made for the repair or conservation of the fabric, fittings or furnishings of historic churches, chapels or other faith buildings in England or Wales, which remain in use for worship. However, cathedrals of any denomination are not eligible.
It is not essential that the building is listed as being of architectural or historic interest. The age or architectural significance of the building is less important than the quality of the repair.


The Award is made to the place of worship and not to any individual responsible for the work.  It celebrates the project, the building, and the community that cares for it. The Award is given for specific repair to, or conservation of, a single element of the building, rather than a general programme of works.  Repair work of any scale is eligible, but it must be to the fabric of the building (e.g. roof, tower, wall, floor, window) or to a significant item of fixed internal fitting or furnishing (e.g. screen, monument, tomb, pews, pulpit). Work to enlarge or extend a place of worship, to rearrange its internal space, or to alter or adapt its fittings or furnishings is not eligible. The work must have received appropriate approval (Faculty or equivalent permission / listed building consent) and have been completed within the previous 18 months.