To read this content please select one of the options below:

Quinquennial surveys

Alan W. Scott (Hunter Cowie Ltd, Darlington, UK)

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Article publication date: 12 July 2011




This paper seeks to review guidance on the undertaking of quinquennial surveys of Church of England parish churches, then to examine the approaches of Diocese Advisory Committees in administrating the surveys and finally to apply that guidance to a case study within one of the researched Dioceses.


The paper reviews current guidelines on undertaking quinquennial surveys of English parish churches, examining the methodology of both the inspection and reporting techniques of the survey. The paper also reports on a series of interviews carried out with Dioceses' Secretaries in Northern England who are responsible for administrating quinquennial surveys, and finally examines the application of national and diocesan guidelines by reporting on a quinquennial survey of St Olaf's Church in Wasdale, Cumbria, England's smallest church.


The principal guidance for quinquennial inspection of Churches is produced by the Council for the Care of Churches but this is currently out of print. Perhaps for this reason various Diocese Advisory Committees have produced their own guidance. It is possible that more standardisation in the format of reports is required as this will enable Dioceses to correlate electronic information in the production of their maintenance strategies. The alternative view is that to produce a standard pro‐forma does not do justice to an individual building which may have evolved over 1,000 years and requires specific advice. The 1991 Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measures extended the professional adviser capable of undertaking the survey from just Architect to Architects and Chartered Building Surveyor. But within the three Dioceses reviewed this has a limited impact with Architects being dominant by a ratio of 25:1.


To survey and report on buildings of such historic and community importance is a privilege and the pinnacle of conservation expertise. It is hoped that the guidance in this paper may stimulate interest in the surveying of churches by younger surveyors.



Scott, A.W. (2011), "Quinquennial surveys", Structural Survey, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 184-196.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles