RCfE Background Information

Inspired North East

Rural Churches for Everyone (RCfE) was one of a number of projects delivered by Newcastle Diocese. It built on previous projects delivered under the ‘Inspired North East’ programme, which was established to work with local congregations to help achieve a sustainable future for church buildings as living places of worship, used and enjoyed by local communities, welcoming to visitors, and unique heritage assets. These projects include:

  • Inspired Futures: worked with a number of churches in the North East of England to develop opportunities for heritage conservation, improvements to facilities and access, and open up potential for wider community use.
  • Spirit in Stone heritage project: a website celebrating many of our historic churches including details of their heritage and practical information to encourage people to visit them.
  • A Welcome for All - gave practical advice on making churches more accessible and inclusive.


Rural Churches for Everyone

RCfE was awarded funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2019. The project aimed to work collaboratively with four clusters of churches to find sustainable futures for their church buildings. Work continued from 2019 to 2021 and much valuable research was completed in this period, however the Covid-19 pandemic meant that engagement with the four rural cluster teams was limited. From October 2021 to November 2022 the Project Manager and Rural Development Consultant worked with 35 churches across deep rural Northumberland, 30 of which took part in a sustainability planning process designed and delivered by the RCfE team. The key output of the project is four Church Buildings Sustainability Plans, one for each cluster. Additionally, in partnership with Community Action Northumberland, a new church accreditation scheme has been developed, the Aspire Award

Watch the project video to find out more:

What RCfE delivered: RCfE in numbers.

Rural Churches for Everyone was a partnership project managed by Newcastle Diocese. Other partners in the project were:

The participating churches were: 

Pennine Moorland: 

  • St Mary’s Abbey, Blanchland
  • St Mary the Virgin, Slaley 
  • St John, Healey 
  • St Philip and St James, Whittonstall 
  • St James, Hunstanworth 
  • All Saints, Muggleswick 
  • St Matthew, Waskerley 
  • St Edmund, Edmundbyers 

Upper Wansbeck: 

  • Holy Trinity, Cambo 
  • St Bartholomew, Kirkwhelpington
  • St Wilfrid, Kirkharle
  • St Bartholomew, Kirkheaton 
  • St Andrew, Bolam 
  • St Mary Magdalene, Whalton 
  • St Giles, Netherwitton 
  • St Andrew, Hartburn
  • St John the Baptist, Meldon 


  • Holy Trinity, Embleton 
  • St Mary, Newton
  • St Philip & St James, Rock
  • St Peter the Fisherman, Craster
  • All Saints, Rennington
  • St Peter and St Paul, Longhoughton 
  • St Mary, Lesbury 
  • St John the Baptist, Alnmouth 
  • St Michael and all Angels, Howick

Northumberland National Park:

  • St Cuthbert, Bellingham 
  • St Cuthbert, Elsdon 
  • St Cuthbert, Corsenside 
  • St Peter, Falstone 
  • St Aidan, Thorneyburn 
  • St Francis, Byrness 
  • All Saints, Corsenside 
  • Holy Trinity, Horsley
  • St John, Otterburn

You can see the location of the churches included in the Rural Churches for Everyone project by viewing the map below.

  • blue markers are for churches in the Northumberland Coast cluster
  • green markers are for churches in the National Park cluster
  • orange markers are for churches in the Upper Wansbeck cluster; and
  • purple markers are for churches in the Pennine Moorland cluster.

Click on the individual markers to see information about each church they represent.


RCfE was supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund through their Places of Worship: Inspiring Ideas programme, which explores new ways of helping places of worship to become more resilient and adapt to their changing environment.

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