England’s Churches Make An Uneasy Peace With The Bats In Their Belfries

"A £5m project is helping more than 100 historic churches deal with the damage caused by bat colonies "

"High above the pews of All Saints church in Thornham, north Norfolk, a roost of soprano pipistrelle bats have made their home. The nooks and crannies of the medieval church are perfect entry points for the winged mammals, whose bodies are about the size of a thumb. In the warmer months, they emerge every evening from the rafters as darkness falls.

“They like our church,” says Janet Needham, the warden, over tea and chocolate digestives in the church library.

“The other day, someone asked me if bats are religious. I always say they are Anglican,” adds Diana Spencer, the Bats in Churches engagement officer for East Anglia. “It’s safe, it’s dry, there are insects in here, they can feed, there’re no predators, no rain, it’s dark. They just like it.”

The feeling has not always been mutual. The mess caused by sharing an old church with a colony of bats – which have formed nationally significant roosts in the buildings – has threatened some churches with closure, as droppings and urine built up, damaging artefacts that had survived Henry VIII and the English Reformation."

Patrick Greenfield reports for the Guardian October 9, 2023.

Source: Guardian, 10/11/2023