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WDFAS & NADFAS

Wirral Decorative and Fine Arts Society (WDFAS) 
Church Recording Group

Our group is part of a national society, National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS), which encourages groups to record - photograph, describe and draw - all items within a local church, with the Incumbent’s agreement. This includes everything, from church windows to the number of hymnbooks!  
Members, some with twenty years’ experience, visit the church regularly (at Neston on Tuesday and Thursday mornings) to carefully record items within their own sphere of expertise - woodwork, metalwork, memorials, stonework, books..... A photographer (George)  assists. Recording a church usually takes about two years, after which the details are compiled into book form. One copy goes to the church for their records, one to Church House, another to the group’s archives and another to NADFAS archive.  Churches are often very proud to have their churches recorded, as it reflects the beauty, value and wider interest of their building.
This permanent snapshot record of the church and its contents can be useful for insurance in case of theft or damage of items and helps “rediscover” lost or mislaid items (Joyce mentioned to me the set of brass vases which are split between flower arranging cupboard and small altar, and the remains of the old lectern). In other churches, real “treasures” have been identified and are then properly recognised and admired by the congregation, or re-insured and cared for properly.  In addition, items may have been placed in cupboards, lofts or bank safes and half forgotten about, so it’s a good opportunity to review what the church possesses and where and how it is cared for.
NADFAS helps local groups in their planning and training, and useful information is available on the NADFAS website, http://www.nadfas.org.uk/what-we-do/church-recording/introduction 

Our own society has a website,  http://wirraldfas.org.uk/OtherActivities/ChurchRecorders.aspx which also gives some details about our group’s work.

 Harriet Coates

Chairman, Wirral DFAS

nadfas and our local Society ‘Trail for Children’ at St Mary and St Helen’s Church

The National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS) www.nadfas.org.uk  is a leading arts charity, which works to advance decorative and fine arts education and appreciation, alongside promoting the conservation of our artistic heritage.
With inspiring monthly lectures given by top experts in their fields, together with days of special interest, educational visits and cultural holidays, NADFAS is an enjoyable way to learn. Society and Affiliate Members can become involved in worthwhile conservation volunteering projects in churches, museums, castles and historic houses. Church Recorders, Young Arts, Church Trails and Heritage Volunteers groups offer invaluable help to many public institutions, enhancing and encouraging the appreciation and understanding of art and our artistic heritage.
NADFAS societies all over the country have been compiling Trails for Children for some years now. These trails are designed to appeal to the 8-12 age range, encouraging them to observe and learn about the architecture, history and furnishings of a church – whether with a school group or individually while visiting with parents or grandparents. Children are provided with a double-sided sheet of trail questions while for adults there is an answer sheet with further detailed information.
Our local society, Wirral Decorative and Fine Arts Society, www.wirraldfas.org.uk is an affiliate member of NADFAS. Our group, Suzanne Cook, Ann Cowling, Ann Sutcliffe and Sara Postlethwaite started researching Wirral DFS’s first Trail last September for the Parish Church of St Mary and St Helen in Neston.  This church is full of so many interesting artefacts, many relating to Neston’s history, that our problem has not been what to put in but what had to be left out in order to fit the NADFAS template. This Trail for Children is now ready for children to enjoy – an ideal activity for the 8-12 year olds during half term or the long school holidays.

Sara Postlethwaite

Launch of the ‘Trail for Children’ at St Mary and St Helen’s Church 10.45am Sung Eucharist on Sunday 8th May 2016