Bats in Churches working party polishes up pews at project church

St Mary's Church in Edgeworth, one of the remotest villages in the Cotswolds, is home to three species of bat. With a small congregation and community, clearing up after the bats has proved difficult, and that's where the Bats in Churches Project comes in....

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Under the supervision of Bats in Churches heritage advisor Antia, and ably assisted by Millie the dog, the Bats in Churches team joined churchwarden Roger Eldridge and his wife, and DAC Secretary Adam Klups for a cleaning workshop to tackle the droppings and urine stains on the church's historic wooden pews.

The pews are now gleaming and smelling wonderful thanks to the renaissance wax used to polish them up.

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St Mary's sits in the heart of the Cotswolds AONB and the oldest part of the church dates back to the 11th century. Since then it has been extensively restored. The rare poppyhead pews date back to the 15th century.

Currently, St Mary’s provides shelter for a colony of serotine bats (Eptesicus serotinus) as well as other bat species including brown long-eared bats (Plecotus auritus). Serotine bats have their babies, called pups, during July, which are about the size of a baked bean at birth. The pup feeds on its mother’s milk until after about six weeks when it is old enough to start learning the tricky flying and echolocation skills that it will need to survive independently in the wild.

Providing a home for bats in churches causes considerable extra cleaning and potential damage to woodwork, brass and other artefacts.

Rose Riddell, Engagement Officer, said: 'Bat droppings are normally quite easy to clean up, although some people can be sensitive to the insect shells in them. It tends to be the bat urine which causes more of an issue as it’s very acidic, and the stains are permanent. We run cleaning workshops which have been really good – cleaning historic objects and the products to use.'

Bats in Churches also publishes cleaning tips and guidelines for churches and those helping care for churches with bats. You can download a copy of the guidelines here.


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