Michael Palin gets behind campaign warning of Deathwatch Beetle threat to historic churches

Michael Palin(Photo: National Churches Trust/John Swannell)

The UK's historic churches are in need of support as they struggle to protect their buildings from leaking roofs, crumbling stone work and the dreaded Deathwatch Beetle, warns a new campaign fronted by Michael Palin.

The actor and TV presenter, much loved for his role in Monty Python, provides the voiceover for a new animated video produced for the National Churches Trust encouraging more members of the public to support the nation's historic churches by joining its Friends scheme. 

The video highlights the historical value of the churches but also some of the threats to their buildings, such as the Deathwatch Beetle, which can cause significant damage to ancient timbers by boring into the wood. 

"Churches and chapels are fascinating and sometimes surprising places to visit," said Palin. 

"They are rich with history and stunning architecture and also places for quiet reflection and venues for concerts, exhibitions and even beer festivals.

"But sadly many are threatened by leaking roofs, crumbling stonework. And even death watch beetles.

"The animation shows just how important churches are to our history and heritage and also to local communities. With post offices, shops and even pubs closing, churches are often the only community building left in many parts of the country."

The trust works to protect ageing churches by providing grants for repair, maintenance and modernisation, and by promoting the value of the buildings to the wider community.

In 2018, the trust gave out 228 grants to churches and chapels totalling £1.2 million for urgent repairs, the installation of new facilities, maintenance and project development. 

An annual Friends subscription costs £30 and goes towards the grants that the trust gives out to help preserve churches. High profile Friends of the National Churches Trust include BBC news anchor Huw Edwards.

Mr Palin continued: "The National Churches Trust does so much to help keep the UK's church buildings open and in good repair. It's a great charity to support.

"Friends get a chance to visit some of the UK's most fascinating churches and learn about their history and heritage. Even more importantly, they help the Trust safeguard more historic churches for the future."

Claire Walker, CEO of the National Churches Trust said: " We are delighted that Michael Palin has become the voice of the National Churches Trust in a new animated film about our work.

"This animation will allow more people to find out about our work. I hope it will also bring us new Friends and supporters so that together we can ensure that the UK's churches and chapels continue to be at the heart of our national heritage for many, many years to come."