All over the UK, churches are falling into disrepair or being demolished. As a nation we are increasingly turning away from going to church regularly, and only 15% of the UK population regularly goes to church, down from an estimated 50% after the Second World War. This massive decline has meant that a huge amount of church buildings are coming onto the market, and some communities have found very innovative uses for them.
Perhaps the most conventional use for an old church building is to turn them into a house, or a block of flats. Property buyers love the quirky nature of living in a historic building, and many developers try to keep features such as stonework, windows or entrance doors intact while converting the building. Permission to convert a building to residential use can also give the opportunity to provide housing in areas of high demand, and it is estimated that 500 churches have been converted into houses in the past 5 years in London alone. With a relaxation in the planning laws on the cards, this trend shows no indication of slowing down.
Living in a converted building full time isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but many people are willing to try something a little unusual when it comes to holiday accommodation. Distinctive properties such as lighthouses, railway carriages, converted churches and barns are in high demand, and when converted sympathetically and furnished to a high standard they can make a very profitable business for their owners.
Churches were historically at the heart of their community, and their central location means that they are ideal for converting into restaurants or pubs. In many locations where there are planning restrictions around adding windows or doors, this is an easier option than converting into flats. The high ceilings and stone walls of churches often have excellent acoustics, and this makes then a great choice for concert venues, or for pubs with live music acts. The Vatican has spoken out criticizing the use of churches for these sorts of purposes.
One of the more unusual uses for an old church is found near Portsmouth in Hampshire, where the Miracles spa operates out of an old church building. The pews, stained glass windows and pulpit remain, but the main area of the church has been changed into a swimming pool. Many people find the atmosphere in the converted building peaceful and relaxing, which enhances the overall spa experience for the lucky customers.
The high ceilings found in traditional churches make them the ideal location for an indoor climbing wall, and one of the biggest centres of this type is found in Glasgow. The centre makes full use of the cavernous interior of the old church, even the spire, and caters for all ages and abilities with facilities such as hire of climbing equipment and a café. Experienced climbers with their own climbing equipment can be found scaling the walls every day of the week.
Trekitt offer a large range of climbing equipment for use on everything from climbing walls to full on assaults on the north face of the eiger!