Wasted par­son­ages

The Sunday Telegraph - - Letters to the editor -

SIR – I have sym­pa­thy with Bill Wood­house’s com­ments about his rec­tory (Let­ters, Septem­ber 24), but there are sev­eral points to make.

First, grand houses like his were ex­cep­tional, even in the Sev­en­ties, and the Church has for years been sell­ing off man­age­able four- or five-bed­room Re­gency or Vic­to­rian par­son­ages ideal for fam­i­lies, where there is cer­tainly no need for staff. Even the dio­ce­ses (not the Church Com­mis­sion­ers since the Sev­en­ties) have usu­ally seen fit to in­stall cen­tral heat­ing, poor though their main­te­nance has oth­er­wise of­ten been. In­deed, if the dio­ce­ses had at­tended to rou­tine main­te­nance bet­ter, emer­gency re­pairs of the kind de­scribed by Mr Wood­house would not have been nec­es­sary.

Se­condly, the mis­sion of the Church is not pri­mar­ily about the in­cum­bent. The tra­di­tional par­son­age is a fo­cal point for the en­tire com­mu­nity in host­ing events such as fetes, for which most new par­son­ages are in­ad­e­quate. In­deed, where such events con­tinue, the Church has of­ten had to rely on the good­will of the pri­vate pur­chasers of their par­son­ages to host them.

The an­swer to Mr Wood­house’s fi­nal ques­tion is that, in our view, the par­son­ages should not have been sold at all. Cap­i­tal as­sets are an in­vest­ment, and if you sell one in­vest­ment you only have to find an­other. At least the cap­i­tal would have grown sub­stan­tially, which has not hap­pened when it has been trans­ferred to gen­eral ac­counts that are no longer ring-fenced for in­vest­ment. An­thony Jen­nings Di­rec­tor, Save our Par­son­ages Lon­don WC1

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