Secretary of State for the Environment to the Cotswolds Conservation Board

Published: Wednesday July 29, 2020

A rector of rural parishes in the Cotswolds has been appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment to the Cotswolds Conservation Board, which oversees the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Canon John Swanton, Team Rector of the South Cotswolds Team Ministry in the diocese of Gloucester, has responsibility for 15 parishes and 22 historic church buildings in the Cotswolds countryside.  Until 2011, John had been a self-supporting minister and working in local government in Surrey, primarily in housing, and attached to the parishes of Compton, Shackleford and Peper Harow in the Guildford diocese.  He has a particular passion for affordable housing and rural homes for local people.

The Cotswolds is the largest designated area of outstanding natural beauty in England covering just over 2,000 sq km.  It is a particularly special place – a living working landscape for everyone to enjoy.

Canon Swanton said, “This is a fascinating and challenging role – working with a team from county, district and parish councils seeking to welcome visitors to enjoy this countryside, whilst working to protect what is precious and support those whose livelihoods are made from the land.  I bring expertise and experience from my work in local government and in rural housing; as well as insights from ministering in Cotswold, and an understanding the practicalities of managing beautiful ancient church buildings – many of which are open to visitors each day of the year.  Bibury is a particular tourist hotspot amongst my parishes.”

The Cotswolds is a rural area of south-central England covering parts of 6 counties, notably Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.  Its rolling hills and grassland harbour thatched medieval villages, churches and stately homes built of distinctive local cream/yellow limestone.  The 102-mile Cotswold Way walking trail follows the Cotswold Edge escarpment from Bath in the south to Chipping Campden in the north.

Canon Swanton added, “The maintenance of ancient and environmentally important Cotswold drystone walls around churchyards is a particular challenge around here.  I have dubbed a couple of our churchyards ‘Operation Jericho’!  I know other PCCs face similar issues.”

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