Church Recorders

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Background to Church Recording as a national activity

In 1971, the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum asked the help of The Arts Society to produce a detailed inventory of the furnishings and fabric of places of worship. It had realised that the nation was in danger of losing its heritage, so under guidance, the activity of Church Recording was established.

There are currently more than 2500 church recorders operating across the UK, whose task is to accurately document every item in a place of worship.


The documentation is divided into various areas, which are present in most churches. These are:

  • memorials,
  • metalwork,
  • stonework,
  • woodwork,
  • textiles,
  • paintings,
  • library,
  • windows, and
  • miscellaneous items.

The items in each section are described in detail according to a prescribed format and are also photographed. The completed record, which can take 3 - 4 years to create, is presented to the church, usually, at a formal ceremony, and also to various national archives e.g. the C of E, Historic England, the national art library at the V&A and other selected repositories. The records are valued for their high academic calibre, comprehensiveness and attention to detail. To date, more than 1800 churches have been recorded.


The Arts Society Peterborough contribution


The organisation of church recording comes under the aegis of the volunteering department of The Arts Society. This department liaises with the national church recording team, which in turn offers support and advice to area representatives. These representatives assist an individual church recording group, which may be based on one or more societies.

The Peterborough society is in partnership with the neighbouring Stamford society for the purposes of church recording. The churches recorded to date have all been in the diocese of Peterborough. It began in1991 with Longthorpe and Upton, Barnack, Peakirk, Castor, Wittering, Ufford and Marholm followed. The Marholm record was dispatched to The Arts Society headquarters in December 2012.

At present, our group is 17 strong, with a mixture of members from the Peterborough, Stamford and Burghley societies. We are in the final stages of recording the parish church of St Andrews at Thornhaugh, which we hope to complete and present next year.


St. Andrews, Thornhaugh


St Andrews Church forms part of the parish of Thornhaugh cum Wansford. St Andrews is situated just to the west of the A1 and was chosen for its interesting history and contents, and it has easy access from Peterborough and Stamford.

The earliest parts of the church date from the end of the 12th century and there was a considerable rebuild in the 1500s, after the church spire collapsed and destroyed the south arcade and aisle, which was not rebuilt. The current south wall follows the line of the previous arcade.

It has a ring of five bells, some cast by the former Stamford bell founder, Tobias Norris.

The church has connections with the Russell family, who later became Dukes of Bedford, and in the south chapel is the Russell monument of 1613.


(Church Recorder - Robin Freeman)

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