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 repairs to a specific element of a building, rather than for a general programme of works, and projects must have been completed within the previous 18 months. Work of any scale is eligible, but must be to the fabric of the building (e.g. tower, wall, roof, floor) or to a significant element of its furnishing (e.g. monument, screen, tomb, pew, pulpit). Cathedrals are not eligible.
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 will celebrate 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 a celebration event with the Betjeman Society next year.
John Betjeman Award 2020
The award is open to faith buildings in England and Wales, including the Isle of Man, and we would be especially pleased to see projects from a wide range of denominations and faiths, and a greater number of entries from Wales.
Most excitingly, to mark the anniversary, in 2020 we are extending the competition to also make awards for repair and conservation of faith buildings in Scotland and Ireland.
Information about submitting an entry for the John Betjeman Award 2020 will be available here shortly. Submissions will open in the autumn and the closing date is 25 February 2020.