We are a group of volunteers belonging to the West Wales group of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS) which is a leading arts charity working to conserve our artistic heritage. Church recorders help to preserve our rich history of artistic expression and craftsmanship in places of worship by documenting and researching the contents and decoration. Participating churches are presented with an illustrated book detailing each item and its history. Copies are also kept at the appropriate diocesan authority and institutions such as the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

As well as being a source of interest and pleasure to recorders and worshippers alike the Record serves a number of practical purposes. It provides a complete inventory for church authorities particularly useful when a building is to be closed and its artefacts dispersed. Police and insurers use the accurate descriptions and photographs to identify stolen items and researchers use the material in theses and books on allied subjects.

You may have heard something about Church Recording and wondered what it is and who is involved. I don’t claim to be an expert but I’ll try to cast some light upon the subject. A Record documents the contents of a church or place of worship, its furnishings and decorations. With the help of photographs we describe the following:

a) Memorials such as wall tablets, armorial shields and brasses. The deciphering of ancient and often worn lettering can be a challenge. 

b) Metalwork All precious religious objects and functional ironwork. Describing the bells can involve clambering around in the tower.

c) Stonework Not the structure but the decorative features e.g. fonts, crosses and stoups. Fortunately we have not had to tackle fan vaulting!

d) Woodwork Benches, altar, reredos, chairs no matter how battered.

e) Textiles range from chasubles and intricate kneelers to humble curtains.

f) Paintings can be anything framed or glazed hanging on the walls.

g) Libraries include books and documents held in the church and the Record Office. Also all the hymn books have to be counted!

h) Windows whether they are plain or highly decorated are drawn and described in detail.