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. An article in the Spring issue of SPAB Magazine reflected on three decades of the award.  Look out for blog stories and details of celebration events with the Betjeman Society on the website.

John Betjeman Award 2020 
In 2020, to mark the 30th anniversary of the award, we extended the competition to include 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.  However, the Ireland judges were delighted to have a range of strong submissions to consider in this first year. 

Following careful deliberation, the judges shortlisted the following projects in England & Wales:

Tenterden Wesleyan 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

And in Ireland:

Holy Trinity, Errislannan, Co Galway – repair of extensive vandal and storm damage

St Doulagh, Balgriffin, Co Dublin – external stonework conservation

St Bartholomew, Ballsbridge, Dublin – conservation of belfry stonework

Due to the Covid19 (Coronavirus) situation, the judges are not able to visit the shortlisted projects at the moment.  However, we hope that it will be possible to make visits later in the year and will look forward to announcing the winning projects in due course.