Tales of the Unexpected

Tales of the Unexpected

  • A Mystery Cup

    A silver communion cup with a deep conical bowl just didn’t look right for the job.  Engraved on the bowl on one side is the sacred monogram IHS, and on the other are armorial bearings on an oval medallion suspended from a ribbon above a wreath, and the date 1773.  Blazon: Per pale.  Left side – Argent, a lion rampant Azure langued and armed Gules holding in his dexter paw a wreath of laurel proper and issuing from his mouth a scroll charged with the word EMMANUEL [EMMANUEL COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE]. Right… Read more… 

  • St John, Bishopstone – News from Seville

    A few months after finishing our Church Record of St John Baptist Church in the summer of 2017, the Bishopstone village website was contacted by Martin, a student at Seville University studying for a PhD and investigating British people who visited Seville in the early 19th century. He had come across Reverend George Montgomery and his wife, and wondered whether there were any records of this in the village. Read more… 

  • Mary Lowndes Window – lessons in behaviour

    This beautiful window is in the church of St Mary, Sennicotts, Funtington, West Sussex, a tiny church built in 1829 by Charles Baker the owner of Sennicotts house, who fell out with the local vicar and decided to build his own church and barred, by decree, the local vicar from ever preaching there. Not very Christian when compared to ''Acts of Mercy'' the East Window designed by Mary Lowndes and erected in 1913.  Mary Lowndes Window This window depicts all the things Christians should do for others, feeding the hungry, giving… Read more… 

  • A ‘Vinegar Bible’

    Our recorder, who records the books in the Library section, came out of the vestry in St Andrew's church Etchilhampton, Wiltshire, and said, excitedly, "We've got a Vinegar Bible!" "A vinegar what?" I said, not having a clue what she was talking about. She led me to the vestry where, on a table, there was a very large very old bible in a very sorry state.  The bible was exactly 300 years old and many of the pages were very fragile and the case had come away from the block and the spine. There were… Read more… 

  • Historic milestone in church records

    In 2012 the Church Recorders of the Arts Society began the mammoth task of recording all of the contents of St Wilfrid Harrogate - the silver, the paintings, the woodwork, the organ, the bells and textiles. The volunteers catalogued all of this, recording the names of donors, memorial dedications and history. Stunning photographs and expert drawings accompany the listings Read more… 

Image Gallery

Church recording photos

Examples of a Church Record

Examples from a church record

Church Recording – Guided Tour

Religious buildings are full of so many items, each with its own history and detail; how do we even start to record them all?


Click on a heading below to reveal the detail

Who are recorders

Recorders at work

First we should explain that all recorders are volunteers. Many start with no experience or detailed knowledge but learn with experience and training. There are groups of recorders all over the UK, many sponsored by a local The Arts Society. Whilst independent, they share their knowledge and experience with other groups in the area. They call on the advice of CRS advisers and external specialists..

How do you set about recording a building?

Church recorders subgroup

Whilst in some groups, everyone works together, going through the categories one by one, in most the recorders specialise, one or two for each category to be studied, such as memorials, metalwork, woodwork, stonework, textiles and windows. All the objects within a category are listed and the recorders and work through their lists, recording the details of each item. They work with a photographer to provide images that show the important characteristics of each item.

So much detail …

In order to provide an orderly structure to the mass of detail, the record for each item is laid out as follows:

Example from Woodwork
  1. Description
  2. Materials
  3. Date made
  4. Measurements
  5. Artist, designer or craftsperson
  6. Manufacturer or retailer
  7. Brief history
  8. Donor
  9. Inscription
  10. References

Photographs and drawings make things clearer

Photographs and Drawings

What does a completed record look like?

Records are computer written and compiled. They are delivered as bound books and in digital form, depending upon the recipient.

Where do they go and can I see one?

Records go to national libraries, national church authorities, the V&A Art Library, local church authorities and the church recorded. Access to them depends upon the sensitivities of the church. In principle, people with a legitimate interest should have access. To achieve this, access is controlled. An Index of names and features is to be available on this website. Churches are able to use their Records for promotion, education, grant applications, insurance and similar purposes. They have been very useful in cases of fire, damage and loss.

A Record is a permanent archive of the church’s artefacts at the time of recording, which is to be available for 100s of years.