The Corporation of the Church House
The Corporation of The Church House is a charity that was established by Royal Charter in 1888 in celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Its aims are to own, maintain and operate Church House, Westminster on behalf of the central institutions of the Church of England, allowing them to have a headquarters building in the centre of London at a significantly lower cost than could be achieved by leasing or owning their own building. Although legally separate from those institutions, the Corporation is effectively a part of the central structures of the Church of England.
Church House, designed by Sir Herbert Baker, was built in the 1930s and extensively refurbished in 2006. The building occupies a large site close to the Palace of Westminster, overlooking Westminster Abbey. The General Synod of the Church of England meets at Church House at least one week a year and the building houses almost all the staff of the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board.
The charity is governed by a Council of 9 trustees, one of whom is the Chair and another of whom is the Treasurer (the trustee appointed to maintain close contact with the Secretary and the daily running of the charity). The Charity has recently amended its Royal Charter to allow limited grant making.
The suite of rooms required for the General Synod, that would be under-used for much of the year, was refurbished in 1990 for use as a commercial conference centre, operated by a wholly owned trading subsidiary of the Corporation; the rental and covenanted profit from the conference centre constitutes an important part of the charitable income of the Corporation. Other space in the building not required by the Church of England are let commercially to non-church tenants.
The present Secretary has been in post for almost 10 years and will be retiring after the Annual General Meeting in July. He reports to the trustees through the Treasurer but also has close and regular contact with the Chairman.
The Secretary is the chief executive officer of the Corporation. He is also an executive director of Church House Conference Centre Limited. He acts as the de facto landlord to the tenants of Church House but has the closest relationship with the principal tenants - the Church of England National Church Institutions. The effectiveness of this relationship is crucial to the purpose of the Corporation as a charity. In addition, the success of the conference centre, as an income generator, is critical to the success of the charity in providing public benefit.
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