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Church Locking in England
May 16, 2007 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Church Locking: shattering the myth that "all churches are locked". With the aim of visiting every church in England and recording whether it is kept locked or unlocked, this ten-year-old 'side project' now has statistics by county and diocese, county maps, and a map of the country showing their progress.
posted by chrismear (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huh! Neat.
posted by cortex at 12:30 PM on May 16, 2007


Forgive me, but I don't have enough background to understand what this is about. I'm a non-Christian American, and I was somehow under the (very likely mistaken) impression that churches were ideally supposed to be unlocked and open to all comers at all hours. What is the myth that is being shattered here?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:35 PM on May 16, 2007


I wonder what the statistics are on Mosques and Synagogues in England. I would guess the security is much tighter.
posted by SBMike at 12:36 PM on May 16, 2007


Huh. I'm more interested in the origins of the myth that 'all churches are locked' than I am in this survey to see if they are all, in fact, locked.
posted by jmccw at 12:37 PM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Odd Primes: shattering the myth that "all prime numbers are even". With the aim of... итд.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:40 PM on May 16, 2007


It would be interesting to see this overlayed with area crime rate statistics.
posted by SilverTail at 12:48 PM on May 16, 2007


is this a real myth?
posted by bhnyc at 12:50 PM on May 16, 2007


From the article:
some churches only open on weekdays

I know nothing about English churches, but in the US one would expect churches with limited hours to be open on sundays. Perhaps someone whose conception of locked churches has been shattered by this article can recover enough to explain it?
posted by yohko at 12:52 PM on May 16, 2007


how pataphysically delightful.
posted by unknowncommand at 12:53 PM on May 16, 2007


What a fascinating list. Now all I need to do is:

1. Cross reference unlocked churches with lists noting those with objects of historical importance.
2. Plunder at will.
3. Profit.
posted by MasonDixon at 1:04 PM on May 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


churches were ideally supposed to be unlocked and open to all comers at all hours

Ideally, yes. But with a lot of churches unable to have a steward there all the time, the threat of vandalism and theft is often seen as too great to risk leaving the church open every day.
posted by chrismear at 1:05 PM on May 16, 2007


Our church is locked overnight.

It wasn't always the case. The policy was changed after a series of minor vandalisms during the 80's (before we moved to the area and joined).

There's also a resident at the church at all times. There's a small efficiency apartment in the church basement, and it's rented out at a below-market price to, usually, a single grad student. A doorbell rings into their apartment, in case someone comes to the church at night and needs help.

A lot of other churches have the parsonage (house owned by the church where the minister stays) right next door to the church for similar late night emergencies.
posted by dblslash at 1:12 PM on May 16, 2007


This is all utterly cryptic.
posted by aramaic at 1:16 PM on May 16, 2007


C of E in "Churches in Birmingham more likely to be locked than those in rural Cornwall" shocker...
posted by patricio at 1:36 PM on May 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Strange... It appears from the map and site that they don't have churches in the north of England.

Or maybe the person compiling this is scared of going north of the midlands?

What about Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Northumberland...
posted by humblepigeon at 1:36 PM on May 16, 2007


Apparently, it was enough of an issue that a whole non-profit was set up to combat the phenomenon of locked churches. Though the Open Churches Trust has closed its doors as of December 1st, 2006.
posted by Kattullus at 1:41 PM on May 16, 2007


It's a work-in-progress, humblepigeon.
posted by chrismear at 1:42 PM on May 16, 2007


All the churches that I know of lock their doors during the week because they have day cares. The thought seems to be that it would be impractical to leave the sanctuary unlocked, but then leave the rest of the church locked. There was a Presbyterian church in my home town that fought tooth and nail against a soup kitchen being put in next to it, because they didn't want the homeless people near their kids in daycare. It is funny how fast "What would Jesus do?" gets replaced by "Won't somebody please think of the children?". Mrs. Lovejoy 1 Jesus 0.
posted by ND¢ at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


i got yer key right here!
posted by bruce at 2:07 PM on May 16, 2007


Knock and the door, and all that.
posted by Alt F4 at 2:18 PM on May 16, 2007


Strange... It appears from the map and site that they don't have churches in the north of England.

The North of England is quite godless. Hence all the awesome rock music.
posted by The World Famous at 3:37 PM on May 16, 2007


Some local (Portland, OR area) Catholic churches that have Perpetual Adoration have installed electronic keypad operated locks that allow access after the school and the office close.
Many churches started locking up at night when their sound systems were routinely stolen.
posted by Cranberry at 4:16 PM on May 16, 2007


Last September while visiting Brighton, my friend Jessica and I went to Wilmington in Sussex to look for the ancient Yew tree in the churchyard. It was a Saturday afternoon and we lucked out as it was an open church day with the Rector around to answer questions. A 1600 year old tree, a 900 year old church, and good fun for this Californian.
posted by msjen at 4:24 PM on May 16, 2007


Cranberry: So, is there some sort of papal bulletin where you get the code every week, if you're a catholic?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:37 PM on May 16, 2007


Aside from the obvious folly of using jpeg images for all that line art, this is pretty neat. I wonder how many of the churches that were unlocked when checked 10 years ago are routinely unlocked today.
posted by heydanno at 8:48 PM on May 16, 2007


I always thought churches were traditionally left unlocked, but it looks like if there is a trend to more of them locking the doors, it's been around since at least the 18th century. Maybe longer, since church-locking technology has been around since 2000BC.
posted by sfenders at 4:19 AM on May 17, 2007


The North of England is quite godless. Hence all the awesome rock music.

That's only Sheffield, with all its heavy metallists. Manchester found God

(I've got to say I really enjoyed the Manchester Passion when it was on TV, even though it was a bit clunky in parts.)
posted by humblepigeon at 5:57 AM on May 17, 2007


I wonder what the statistics are on Mosques and Synagogues in England.

And Sikh temples.

But you're missing an important point about Christianity, and that is the drive to help the poor and needy: essentially, christian values. Other religions have this too, but Jesus was really keen on it!

This isn't exactly why churches are often kept open, but it's part of it. People can find shelter, if they need to. In the past, people have used churches as shelter from persecution. This was even happening recently.

Nowadays it's a lot to do with tourism too, and collection boxes are often very prominent. Fair enough, but they're wise enough to only break-out the valuable stuff on Sundays.
posted by humblepigeon at 6:01 AM on May 17, 2007


(I've got to say I really enjoyed the Manchester Passion when it was on TV, even though it was a bit clunky in parts.)

I was heartbroken when I found out they didn't play Happy Mondays' Kinky Afro during the crucifixion "Yippie yippie ya ya yay yeh yay/I had to crucify some brother today/And I don't hear what you gotta say/So come one and say it/Come on and tell me twice."

Heartbroken, I tell ya.
posted by Kattullus at 8:18 PM on May 17, 2007


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