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Abstract  Whether churches should be demolished, rebuilt, restored or preserved is a contentious issue. Some hold that the needs of a present worshipping community should take precedence over antiquarian or aesthetic interest, others that we owe a debt to the ages. Arguments mirror those between developers and environmentalists. It is argued here that it is not abstract rights that matter, but a sense of history, and of the sacred. Church buildings and landscapes are to be maintained not as museum pieces but as living elements of a humane piety.