BPCA news archive

02 July 2019

Monty Python actor warns of Deathwatch Beetle threat to UK churches

British comedian and documentary filmmaker Michael Palin is supporting the future of the UK’s historic churches and chapels with a voiceover for a new animated film.

Michael Palin Death Watch Beetles

The 80 second animation, produced for the National Churches Trust, highlights why churches are some of the nation’s best loved buildings.

It also shows some of the dangers facing church buildings, including the dreaded Xestobium rufovillosum - more commonly known as the Deathwatch Beetle.

The Deathwatch Beetle is a serious wood-boring pest which can cause major damage to church timbers. When an adult, the beetles produce a rapid tapping sound by beating their heads against wood as a mating call.

Michael said:

“Churches and chapels are fascinating and sometimes surprising places to visit.

“They are rich with history and stunning architecture...but sadly many are threatened by leaking roofs, crumbling stonework and even Deathwatch Beetles.”

He continued, “The animation shows just how important churches are to our history and heritage and also to local communities. With post offices, shops and even pubs closing, churches are often the only community building left in many parts of the country.”

In the animation, Michael says that people who want to save historic churches for the future can support the work of the National Churches Trust by joining its Friends scheme.

Support for churches

The National Churches Trust charity supports churches throughout the UK by providing grants for urgent repairs and community facilities. In 2018, it gave 228 grants to support projects around the UK. Demand for its grants rose by 24% in 2018, compared to 2017.

Source: National Churches Trust press release