Repairs to the tower at St Oswald, Grasmere in Cumbria won this year’s award. In the 1920s the church was re-rendered using hard cement mortar, whose failure led to water penetration and a fall of material from the west wall. The repair project, carried out by Crosby Granger Architects of Kendal and UK Restoration Services of Burnley, completely removed the old render from the tower, stitched a structural crack, and re-rendered using hot lime (roughcast and three coats of limewash), alongside associated repairs.
John Betjeman Award
John Betjeman Award
Established in 1990 and named in honour of writer, conservation campaigner and SPAB Committee member (1952-1977) Sir John Betjeman, this award celebrates excellence in the repair of places of worship of all denominations and faiths. Shortlisted and winning entries are featured here and in the SPAB Magazine.
The award is given for projects of repair or conservation at historic faith buildings (such as churches, chapels, meeting houses, synagogues, mosques, temples) which remain in use for worship. However, cathedrals of any denomination are not eligible. Projects can be of any scale, but must be for a specific part of the building’s fabric (e.g. tower, wall, roof, floor) or a significant element of its fittings or furnishings (e.g. monument, screen, tomb, seating), rather than a general programme of works. Projects must have been carried out within the previous 18 months.
Importantly, the award is always made to the building rather than to an individual, so this is a chance for a whole community to celebrate the quality of work completed in its building. The award takes the form of a certificate featuring an image of Inglesham Church in Wiltshire, a favourite church of Betjeman’s and the subject of an early SPAB campaign by the Society’s founder, William Morris. This striking image was created for the SPAB by artist and friend of Betjeman, John Piper.
Celebrating 30 years of the John Betjeman Award
In 2020 the SPAB celebrates 30 years of the John Betjeman Award. The first award was presented in 1990 to St Anne, Limehouse, London for work to repair the tower. Since then the judges have considered over 350 entries and visited almost 100 shortlisted projects, resulting in 25 winners and six commendations. Look out for an article in the SPAB Magazine reflecting on three decades of the award, and details of celebration events with the Betjeman Society.
John Betjeman Award 2020
In 2020, to mark the 30th anniversary of the award, we are extending the competition beyond England and Wales, to include faith buildings across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Awards will be made for conservation projects in three areas: 1) England & Wales (including the Isle of Man, Channel Islands and Scilly Isles), 2) Scotland, 3) Ireland (Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland).
Information about the award can be downloaded here. Entrants are also advised to refer to the SPAB Approach document.
Entries for the 2020 award are now closed. Details of shortlisted projects will be available here soon.