Below is a summary of the responses I received to my recently posted
question as to how diocesan record offices were applying the provisions of
the Parochial Registers and Records Measure and how dioceses were
contributing to the funding of the survey work.  Thanks to all those who

Mike Page
Team Manager, Heritage Stewardship and Preservation,
Surrey History Centre
130 Goldsworth Road
Surrey, GU21 6ND

Tel: 01483 518756


Office 1: responsible for two dioceses, keeps up with quinquennial surveys
and applies two different rates per survey (100 per survey and 500
administration fee each year for one diocese; between 50 and 150 per
survey for the other, depending on parish size).  However dioceses have
agreed that the 2008 survey work can be contracted out, under the
supervision of an archivist.

Office 2: also maintains a full programme, the Diocese paying the salary of
an assistant archivist for 3 years from 1980 to 1983 to undertake the
initial survey of each parish church and to take in all the records over
100 years old.  Thereafter the Diocese agreed to continue to provide the
finance for an archivist one day a week to survey each church every 5
years.  The County Council pays for travelling expenses and clerical and
administrative back-up for the survey.  It also, of course, pays for the
cataloguing and microfilming, where necessary, of the records.

Office 3: the archdeacons are the inspecting officers in the diocese under
the measure and in theory they send copies of the lists they make as part
of the visitation process to the diocesan record office(s) which are then
followed up as necessary.  However the system has not worked well.  The RO
would probably not now take on the burden of inspection without

Office 4: had an inspection programme in the 1980s and early 1990s but
abandoned it partly as a result of the refusal of the diocese to consider
funding; about 25% of the parishes, ancient and modern, were covered.  Now
inspections are done whenever requested and possibility of inspection is
brought to the attention of reluctant depositors.  Only really current
material is left in churches; this means that the inspection has very
little to inspect.  All ancient parishes have deposited.  There is no
prospect, within the context of office's present funding and commitments,
to re-commence inspection.  "It is arguable that the measure did its job
very efficiently in the 1970s and 80s and has succeeded in creating a
different mindset among incumbents and PCCs, who now mostly see deposit
almost as a law of nature. Although it is useful to have it in the
background, I don't think, unfunded, that in 2007 I would regard the
inspection programme envisaged by the Measure as a priority even if I were
running a properly resourced record office".

Office 5: the diocese pays for an archivist to undertake inspections.

Office 6: because of space constraints has not been carrying out surveys
recently as this would inevitably lead to deposits.  Where they have taken
place the diocese has paid 100 per survey.

Office 7: within the same diocese as office 6 and carries out surveys at
the same cost and often reduces overheads by doing more than one survey in
a day.

Office 7: still aims to complete surveys on a roughly quinquennial basis
across its very large diocese.  The diocese pays a fixed sum each year
(initially 3,000, to which inflation is added) which is used to add a day
a week to the Research Archivist post to make it full-time.  Before this
arrangement started, office struggled to do the inspections in ordinary
staff time, but it was impossible to keep up the pace.

Office 8: carried out the initial survey of parishes back in the1970s and
1980s but since then has not been able to maintain a programme.  Occasional
surveys are done when collecting large amounts of records from parishes
that had previously not deposited much.  Staff losses mean this situation
is unlikely to change.  No charge is made.

Office 9: the Diocese reimburses travelling costs incurred in carrying out
the surveys.  The office has "made every effort to fulfil our obligations
but on our own terms". First reasonably comprehensive survey carried out
between 1979 and 1986. Between then and 1997 office simply responded to
approaches from parishes as it was felt demand on resources was too great.
In 1998 a comprehensive second survey was initiated to end in 2008 and
annual targets for the number of Measure surveys are now set.  "I have been
very surprised at what has come in through the second survey. It is evident
that we were not necessarily shown all records on our first survey and I
feel that the resources we have committed have therefore been quite
justified. It has been very worthwhile. However we have done it very much
to suit our resource level at all times and I have made this absolutely
clear to the diocese. We have not yet decided how or if we continue with
further surveys but there are still a number of loose ends to follow up and
this might provide the prioritisation for a 'third' survey programme .....
the surveys are useful in other ways- in getting younger archivists out to
learn the county's geography, in providing them with useful experience of
negotiating with depositors, so building confidence, in teaching them to
cope with surveying in often far from ideal conditions and also in raising
our profile, especially the more that one has to deal with churchwardens or
PCC members".

Office 10: does not consider it is obligated to survey every five years and
targets non-compliant parishes as a priority ... "otherwise we're too busy
to invest too much time is what is, after all, an activity with such
obvious diminishing returns".

I was also referred to an article by Michael Stansfield on parish
inspections in the Society Journal Vol 22 No 2 for October 2001.

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