One of the Bats in Churches project three pilot churches, All Saints in Braunston-in-Rutland is a Grade II* listed church set at the highest point in the heart of the village Conservation Area, so the tower and its small spire can be seen from most approaches.
The church houses three medieval features of historical interest: 15th century wall paintings in the south aisle, a Norman font, and the late medieval bishop’s indent at the chancel step.
Bats had been recorded in the church for decades, but the population increased dramatically about seven years ago when a nearby chimney collapsed and a maternity colony of soprano pipistrelles moved in.
The bats were using holes in the ceiling to enter the church and bat droppings could be found on most floors and walls with a concentration in the south aisle where the most significant heritage items are located. The cleaning burden and the smell became so acute that at one point it was feared that the church might have to close. Desperate for help, the church wardens contacted their local MP who helped to publicise their plight, which led to the church becoming one of the three pilot churches in the development stage of the Bats in Churches project.
After carrying out the necessary bat surveys, specialist ecologist, Dr Charlotte Packman, concluded that there was no need for the bats to enter or fly inside the church and recommended the temporary blocking of holes in the ceiling to cut access into the church from the roost, meaning that the bats would no longer be entering the nave.
Continued monitoring showed that the temporary blocking had not affected the numbers of bats using the roost so permanent blocking then took place and the soprano pipistrelle colony continues to thrive with more bats using the south aisle roof space than ever before, but with no mess or nuisance inside the church.
Sue Willetts, one of the church wardens who championed the church’s involvement in the Bats in Churches project said: “It’s been a fantastic outcome for us. The church can now be used as intended.”