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 in the UK and Ireland. 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 two years.
Importantly, the award is always made to the building rather than to any individual, so this is chance for a whole community to celebrate the quality of work completed in its building.
Celebrating 30 years of the John Betjeman Award
In 2020 the SPAB celebrated 30 years of the John Betjeman Award. Over those three decades, the judges have considered over 350 entries and visited almost 100 shortlisted projects, resulting in 25 winners and six commendations.
In 2020, to mark the award's 30th anniversary, it was extended to embrace faith buildings in Scotland and Ireland (both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland) alongside England and Wales. Unfortunately, insufficient entries were received from Scotland, though the Ireland judges were delighted to have a range of strong submissions to consider in that first year.
2020 award – England & Wales
Four projects were shortlisted:
• Tenterden Methodist Church, Kent – repair of the war memorial pipe organ
• St Margaret of Antioch, East Wellow, Hampshire – repair of the south door
• St Andrew, Trent, Dorset – conservation of spire stonework
• St Alfege, Greenwich, London – repair of external masonry
Following careful deliberation, the judges were unanimous in declaring Tenterden pipe organ the winner. The repairs at Trent were highly commended. The award was presented at our 2020 online AGM, watch the acceptance speech and award introduction.
2020 award - Ireland
Shortlisted projects were:
• Holy Trinity, Errislannan, Co Galway – repair of vandal and storm damage
• St Doulagh, Balgriffin, Co Dublin – external stonework conservation
• St Bartholomew, Ballsbridge, Dublin – conservation of belfry stonework
The judges were pleased to award St Doulagh's Church, Balgriffin the first John Betjeman Award in Ireland. Find out more.
John Betjeman Award 2022
Entries for the 2022 award open on 1 October 2021. For more information about eligibility and how to enter, download the Notes for Entrants.