Looking after your Contents

Our churches contain many objects of great beauty and craftsmanship, both ancient and modern. These can often tell a story of liturgical and social change, along with changes in fashion and architectural styles. The guidance on this page gives help and advice should you be considering altering, repairing, introducing or disposing of any objects within the church.


DAC guidance on pew removal and new seating in churches

Church Buildings Council guidance on new seating in churches

The introduction of new seating into a church building will require a faculty, as will the introduction of a nave altar or portable font. The Chancellor of the Diocese, Sir Andrew McFarlane, ruled in a Consistory Court Judgement that the purpose of a font is sacramental, and governed by canon, therefore “even temporary fonts (save for genuinely one-off use) should not be introduced” without a faculty.

Conservation of objects

The ‘Art, Artefacts and Conservation’ section of the Church Buildings Council’s ‘Churchcare’ website contains much guidance on caring for furnishings and artwork, including how to obtain a conservation report, how best to display and protect objects, along with details of grants available for such works. They also have guidance on Introducing New Art to your church, and a policy on the disposal of objects from churches.

The Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral, as part of its service to parishes in the diocese, offers a free, safe storage facility, both for parishes who wish their plate to be held permanently, for those who wish to withdraw it on occasion. If you would like to find out more about this Treasury facility, contact one of the Church Buildings Advisers.

Contested Heritage

Contested heritage is a complex concept but can be defined as historic objects, structures, buildings or places that are seen as symbols of injustice and sources of pain. This includes memorials and other heritage associated with racism and the slave trade. It is important that such symbols are acknowledged and addressed and the DAC endorses the Church of England Guidance on Contested Heritage which aims to help parishes tackle these issues.

New Memorials and Gifts

Guidance on installing a new memorial in a church


DAC guidance on Organs

Archdeacon’s Permission for Temporary Reordering

An APTR allows a PCC to undertake changes to their building for a period of up to 24 months, subject to approval by their Archdeacon. This type of permission is often utilised where a PCC may wish to remove a small number of pews to gauge local opinion, and to experiment with the space created. Any objects removed need to be stored in an agreed location for the duration of the permission, and nothing should be carried out whereby the items could not be returned to their former position. Should the PCC wish to make the changes permanent at the end of the 24 months, then a faculty should be applied for. Please contact your Archdeacon directly should you wish to explore this option.

Further Guidance

Information on the appropriate Liturgical Colours to be used can be found on this page of the Church of England website.

Exeter DAC have produced guidance on what to consider when introducing New Memorials in Church Buildings

For information on war memorials, see the websites of the Commonwealth War Graves CommissionWar Memorials Online, UK War Memorials, the Imperial War Museums and the War Memorials Trust.