Thursday 4 April 2024

St. Michael & All Angels church welcomes bats

by Gillian Halcrow, Churchwarden at St. Michaels & All Angels

St. Michael & All Angels, Withyham in East Sussex is a beautiful, historic country church with the Sackville Chapel and being the resting place in the crypt for the Earls and Dukes of Dorset. Lord and Lady De La Warr are our Patrons.

During renovations in the 1850s wooden ceiling tiles, with stars, were installed in the nave and chancel. The old nails holding these wooden tiles in place were now beginning to disintegrate and one fell a couple of years ago (luckily into an empty church) and others were not looking safe. We had reached a point when these tiles needed to be secured again with modern screws.

We had a trusted builder set to do the job in January 2024 when the thought of BATS came to us with bats and their droppings being seen in the Vestry. With the knowledge that bats are a protected animal, we had to take this seriously.

Initially we approached a company who would investigate whether we had bats but were shocked at the cost. It was suggested that we approach the Bat Conservation Trust, which I quickly did. Their service being free of charge.

From the start we had professional advice. Within a couple of weeks we had a volunteer visit our church with further helpful and friendly advice. She suggested that if we were willing to delay the work until April, being a time when the bats would come out of hibernation and before the new bat babies were born. Then she would recommend that we could go ahead during the month of April. Some weeks later we received a letter from Natural England confirming this.

During this process we have learnt a lot about our bats and feel honoured and protective of them, knowing that they find our roof tiles a safe hibernating place, although they make a mess in the Vestry, we can cope with that! We now feel that our bats are more part of our community!

We have made a donation to the Bat Conservation Trust. Although this is a very expensive job, they have saved us a lot of money initially and have given us a professional service. 

Thank you!

Please note, we rely on the generosity of Natural England’s Volunteer Bat Roost Visitors to undertake free bat surveys. Given the voluntary nature of this service, response times may vary. The statutory written advice received after the survey is personalised and will be dependent on various factors specific to your church. We can only provide advice that falls within the boundaries of the free advice service. Response times between visit and letter may also vary.

To find out more and get personalised advice for your church visit this page. 

No comments:

Post a Comment