BBC Songs of Praise goes batty for Radstone church

Earlier this year, BBC Songs of Praise filmed at our project church of St Lawrence in Radstone. The results were broadcast on BBC One on Sunday November 20 in an episode of Songs of Praise entitled All Creatures Great and Small.

BBC Songs of Praise presenter Gemma Hunt interviewing churchwarden Penny Bonner inside St Lawrence church

Back in the summer of 2022, BBC Songs of Praise got in touch with us at Bats in Churches to inquire about filming at one of our churches for an episode devoted to the theme of All Creatures Great and Small.

We suggested our project church of St Lawrence in Radstone, a charming village in Northamptonshire, for the filming. St Lawrence is one of Bats in Churches flagship project churches and a big success story for the project.

The church was once so badly affected by its resident bat population that it had to close for worship as the cleaning burden had become unmanageable.

The largely medieval, Grade I listed church is home to a nationally important maternity colony of Natterer’s bats, which began using the church after significant changes to surrounding roost sites like agricultural buildings and veteran trees. Common pipistrelle bats also use the building.

In 2020, following several in-depth bat surveys by ecologist Chris Damant of Bernwood Ecology, the Bats in Churches project funded the installation of a new chancel ceiling and alterations to the bell tower to allow the bats to continue to roost in these parts of the church building without disturbing the congregation. The work was carried out under the supervision of church architect Adrian Ringrose and in consultation with Historic England and other heritage organisations.

The new ceiling has proved successful not only in preserving the bat roost, but also lightening and brightening the internal space, as well as improving the acoustics.

Interior of church ready for Christmas looking towards the chancel, with covers on choir stalls to protect from bat droppings

In 2020, the church reopened for worship once more and in 2021, it was re-dedicated in a special service attended by the Archdeacon of Northampton.

This summer, churchwarden Penny Bonner and the Bats in Churches team welcomed BBC Songs of Praise to St Lawrence's. Following interviews with Penny, our engagement officer Rose Riddell, and ecologist Zoe Paraskevopoulou of Bernwood Ecology, presenter Gemma Hunt enjoyed a bat walk with members of the church community and the Nene Valley Bat Group.

You can watch the episode in full here.

A bat flying under an ancient beam inside a church tower