I assume they were all destroyed once sold then, yes?

England’s vicarages and parsonages are almost as iconic as its churches. But campaigners say they may be all but gone after a 70-year process of selling-off which began after the Second World War and has seen thousands of vicars ejected from the historic buildings and moved into private houses.

What’s more, they have raised concerns that many modern priests have no interest in living in the properties – leaving them vulnerable to being sold.

Campaign group Save Our Parsonages estimates that 8,000 such houses have been sold by dioceses since the Second World War, causing the Church of England financial loss because of the growing value of property.

For that’s the only way we should be worried about “saving them” isn’t it?

For non-Brits here, vicars and parsons were people of some substance in Ye Olde Englande, their housing reflecting this. Substantial buildings built for a largish brood plus a clutch of servants. Often the second or third largest house in a village for example.

This is not a requirement for a parish these days, given the size of today’s nuclear families, even among churchmen.

19 thoughts on “I assume they were all destroyed once sold then, yes?”

  1. Given the decline in church attendance and the general downgrading of the status of the CofE, there really is no particular reason for the vicar to live in a fancy house – albeit that I do know there’s a requirement for some decent room for entertaining and meeting space.

    “The Old Vicarage” near our local church is a massive Georgian pile now carved into two very expensive houses; the vicarage proper is a biggish modern property a couple of streets away. Still way bigger than the vicar and family need.

  2. In case we needed reminding that most ‘news’ stories these days are simply recycled press releases from some lobby group or other ….

  3. Save Our Parsonages can apply to put Listed status on more of them if they want, provided they also campaign to delist an equal number of dull, ugly and uninteresting buildings imv.

    Historic England records a few hundred thousand listed buildings in England of which 763 contain the word ‘parsonage’. That’s not the same as them all being parsonages as it includes anything with parsonage in the description. 3661 contain the word ‘vicarage’ and 4703 contain the word ‘rectory’.

  4. My church sold its attractive Victorian parsonage and replaced it with a smaller (but not tiny) reasonably modern building the best part of 25 years ago. We took the view that the job of a church is to shepherd people to God, and to provide a community for Christian to come together to worship God, rather than to preserve crumbling Victorian buildings.

    Strangely enough, the old parsonage, now a private house, is doing just fine, and is in better shape than it was when we sold it (as the new owners have spent a lot of money we couldn’t have afforded to on it).

  5. Bongo: ‘…provided they also campaign to delist an equal number of dull, ugly and uninteresting buildings imv.’

    I put in a request for Barking railway station facade to be on that list.

  6. The vicar and his partner Clive can just as easily live in a flat, it will illustrate the egalitarianism they hold so dear these days.

  7. We know a chap who bought an old rectory. He’s had to spend a fortune restoring it; the Church had expelled the rector a generation ago and then left the house standing empty rather than letting it or selling it. That sort of boneheadedness is worth complaining about.

  8. had the church hung on to its buildings, it would now have a portfolio worth £8 billion

    But if it had hung on to those buildings it would not have had the money it raised by selling them. Listed buildings are not cheap to maintain, a liability more than an asset.

  9. Stone the crows Julia , Barking Station Booking Hall is a Listed building.
    1961. Architect H H Powell, Eastern Region Architect; Project Architect John Ward. Fair-faced concrete and precast concrete with much glazing. The booking hall stands on a bridge over railway tracks and is fourteen bays long. The concrete roof trusses span the booking hall in three unequal pitches, and are cranked out over the road to provide cover for waiting cars. The fascia to the roof over the road is vertically ribbed fair-faced concrete. High level glazing surrounds the building on all elevations and front is fully glazed. Station trading units have been added in recent years adjacent to the street glazing, but there is still a fine sense of space within the hall. A well proportioned and will detailed building.

    Delist it.

  10. ‘causing the Church of England financial loss because of the growing value of property.’

    Financial loss? From “growing value?” What a maroon!

    ‘Church of England ‘lost £8bn’ in rush to sell off historic parsonages’

    ‘all but gone after a 70-year process of selling-off’

    Is English a second language to Olivia, or is she really this stupid? And what fine editor at the Telegraph allowed this to be published; do they still have a job?

  11. ‘causing the Church of England financial loss because of the growing value of property.’

    Lol. This is the absolute essence of homeownerism – you deserve the increase in the value of an asset even years after you sold it.

  12. A stupid article about a stupid campaign.

    Apart from a few legacy staff, the Telegraph editorial team seems to be strictly 27-year old morons these days.

  13. Bloke in North Dorset


    “The vicar and his partner Clive ….”

    Where have you been for the last 20 years? Try:

    “The vicar and her partner Clarissa …”

  14. “causing the Church of England financial loss because of the growing value of property”

    The financial loss only arises if the CofE would sell the buildings now rather than having sold them in the past. But Save our Parsonages would complain if they tried to sell them now. So there is no real financial loss.

  15. Prior to WWI Rectories and Vicarages were large enough to house servants as well as the Rector/Vicar and his family in order that the Rector/Vicar might spend his time shepherding his flock and not worrying about housework.
    Since WWII only the rich have had servants and looking after a 5- or 6-bedroom house is an excessive burden on the Rector/Vicar’s wife (and in my previous parish she was an university lecturer and the main bread-winner*), so selling the “Old Rectory” to a rich person made sense.
    The houses could be sold for more money now – if they hadn’t collapsed for lack of maintenance, which would involve the Rectors/Vicars spending too much time maintaining their large rambling housesinmstead of doing their job

    *Something caused me to look up the salary of the Archbishop of Canterbury and I was shocked that he was paid less than I, in my early 30s, was: clergy had gone from highly-paid to genteel poverty.

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