Wellington, St Margaret of Antioch
The handsome medieval Grade I listed church of St Margaret of Antioch is an important feature in the Wellington Conservation Area. The building is notable for its roof carpentry, that of the south porch being particularly remarkable, and for the survival of three medieval bells. The church also has post-medieval furnishings of note, including a series of distinctive late Georgian wall monuments.
The chancel was heavily restored in the 1880s and most of the furnishings date from the late Victorian restoration. The churchyard contains a medieval cross, several listed table tombs and a war memorial. The church is currently fund raising to install a kitchen and a toilet to provide facilities for community activities.
Three bat species are recorded in St Margaret’s—Natterer’s bats, brown long-eared bats and soprano pipistrelles. Bat droppings and urine from the maternity colony of Natterer’s bats are widespread in the nave, aisles and transept. Covers are needed throughout the summer breeding season to protect the fittings, furnishings and memorials, and the constant need to clean up the bat mess, especially throughout the summer, places an onerous burden on the church volunteers.
Bats in Churches Class Licence surveys were carried out in 2019 by the registered ecologist and solutions are focused on ways to reduce the impacts from the main colony of Natterer’s bats. The pipistrelles and brown long-eared bats are present in low numbers and only appear to roost occasionally in the church.
The plan is to move the Natterer’s bats away from the west tower and nave (where most mess occurs and where the PCC wants to develop a space for community activities), into the less sensitive area of the north aisle and north transept. The first stage of this work was completed in March 2021 and the second in April 2022. The Bats in Churches Project is providing support for cleaning while the bat mitigation works are undertaken.
In February 2020 children from Wellington Primary School visited St Margaret’s to learn about bats in churches.