St Mary’s Church, Edgeworth, is one of a small group of churches working with the Bats in Churches Project to survey its bat populations and come up with solutions to minimise the mess, nuisance and damage being caused by bat droppings and urine.
Tucked away at the end of a narrow lane in a remote village in the Cotswolds, St Mary’s sits high above the wooded slopes of the River Frome. For over a thousand years, the church has been the centre of Christian worship for the small worshipping community it serves and has also been a frequent home to bats.
Currently, St Mary’s provides shelter for a colony of serotine bats (Eptesicus serotinus) as well as other bat species including brown long-eared bats (Plecotus auritus). Serotine bats have their babies, called pups, during July, which are about the size of a baked bean at birth. The pup feeds on its mother’s milk until after about six weeks when it is old enough to start learning the tricky flying and echolocation skills that it will need to survive independently in the wild.
Providing a home for bats in churches causes considerable extra cleaning and potential damage to woodwork, brass and other artefacts and can lead to a conflict of interests between worshipping communities and bat conservation groups. The Bats in Churches project seeks to mitigate this conflict of interest and to provide solutions through workshops and other resources.
Rose Riddell, Engagement Officer, says, “Bat droppings are normally quite easy to clean up, although some people can be sensitive to the insect shells in them. It tends to be the bat urine which causes more of an issue as it’s very acidic, and the stains are permanent. We run cleaning workshops which have been really good – cleaning historic objects and the products to use. We can do something about the wood stains so at Edgeworth we will be waxing the pews there, using special renaissance wax.”
To assist with cleaning at St Mary’s, the Bats in Churches Heritage Adviser is running a pew cleaning and waxing workshop on Monday 10 July beginning at 11am. If you would like to join the workshop or require further details, please contact Roger Eldridge, Churchwarden on 01285 821578 or email: moc.t1695443986enret1695443986nitb@1695443986egdir1695443986dlemr1695443986
To find out more about the Bats in Churches Project visit www.batsinchurches.org
Looking for resources to engage with children and families at your church? Children’s book explains issues around bats in churches