Bridget Gillard


The thesis aims to determine the effectiveness of the Church of England’s (C. of E.) guidance for writing statements of significance. It examines the adoption of ‘significance’ as a system for deciding what elements of the historic environment should be conserved and in what way. The growing influence of significance-theory will be examined along with the emerging practice of defining significance through the identification of multiple values. The question of who should be involved in the process of identifying significance will also be discussed in the context of the increasing importance of public engagement both politically in the U.K. and in the international conservation world. The issues which make the C. of E. a separate case from the secular system of conservation will be examined including its separate system of building consent, different conservation principles, the particular issues surrounding historic buildings which remain in their original use and the C. of E.’s emphasis on voluntary, pubic involvement. The thesis uses St. John the Baptist, Plymtree a parish church in East Devon as a case study in order to test the effectiveness of the C. of E.’s current methodology for determining significance. Before this examination takes place the historic development of Plymtree church is examined in the context of the regional and national background. In addition to assessing the significance of Plymtree church according to the C. of E. methodology the church will also be appraised using three other methodologies for assessing significance; two secular methods and the Churches Conservation Trust methodology. The results of these four appraisals will then be analysed for their strengths and weaknesses and a new methodology created which reflects these results.

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