Contact the Church Buildings and Pastoral Department

The Church Buildings and Pastoral Department is based at the Diocesan Offices on Barton Road in Ely, but we can often be seen out and about throughout the Diocese, working with parishes and churches to care for, maintain and develop their buildings and to offer support and guidance where pastoral reorganisation is under consideration.

Please feel free to contact any of the team at any time.

However all initial enquiries about works to your building or churchyard and queries about the faculty process or applying for consent should please be directed to the Sally Gilson, Administrative Assistant via

The Team

Click on any of the team members below to read more about them.

Frances Godden: Head of the Church Buildings and Pastoral Department, Deputy Diocesan Secretary, DAC and Pastoral Secretary

Geoffrey Hunter: Church Buildings Consultant

Holly Isted: Historic Church Buildings Support Officer

Sue Dickinson: DAC and Grants Officer

Sally Gilson: Team Administrator and Assistant to the Pastoral Secretary

Frances Godden
Head of the Church Buildings and Pastoral Department, Deputy Diocesan Secretary, DAC and Pastoral Secretary

DD: 01353 652727

Frances heads up the Church Buildings and Pastoral Department of the Diocese and acts as Secretary to the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches (DAC) and the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee (acting through the Archdeaconry Mission and Pastoral Committees) as well as Trusts Officer to the Diocesan Board of Finance. Frances is also the Deputy Diocesan Secretary, working closely with Paul Evans and the senior management team to support the implementation of Ely 2025.

Frances is a qualified solicitor specialising in ecclesiastical, education and charity law. Prior to taking up office in April 2016, she served as the Deputy Registrar and legal adviser to the Diocese as an Associate at Westminster firm Lee Bolton Monier-Williams, having qualified as a corporate lawyer with leading City firm Slaughter and May, where she worked for two and a half years.

Alongside her legal qualifications, which include a certificate in Art Law from Sotheby's Institute, Frances holds a first class degree in History from Durham University and a Masters Degree in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute. Following graduation, she worked as a copywriter and member of the Communications and Marketing team for global auction house Bonhams for four years.

Frances has long held a particular interest in the work undertaken by the cathedrals and buildings division of the Church of England, and has provided specialist legal advice whenever issues of art and heritage arise in the maintenance and/ or disposal of ecclesiastical assets or buildings. She has built on this background to offer legal and procedural advice on matters arising under the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 in her capacity as Pastoral Secretary, as well as the capacity to review and advise on the many parochial and ecclesiastical trusts and charities managed and administered by and throughout the Diocese.

As a 'daughter of the vicarage' Frances has long been involved with church life within both urban and rural communities. A founding member of the girls' voices section of Lincoln Cathedral Choir, she now sings with Ely Cathedral Octagon Singers and other choirs throughout the country.

Geoffrey Hunter
Church Buildings Consultant

DD: 01353 652737

Geoffrey joined the team in April 2016, having worked for the Diocese of London since 2006 in a variety of roles. As Church Buildings Consultant he is engaged full time in matters pertaining to both church and non-church parish buildings. He acts as case officer for major DAC projects in terms of repair, conservation and development, as well has having oversight of the processes and procedures which can dominate the relationship between parishes, the DAC and the Church Buildings and Pastoral Department.

Geoffrey is working closely with the DAC to realign its role to enable the reimagining of our buildings in line with the aspirations outlined in Ely 2025. This will include an audit of the complete building stock in 2017.

Aside from his membership of the Church of England's Church Buildings Council, Geoffrey (who lives in Downham Market) is also a Church Warden at St Margaret's, Thorpe Market in the Diocese of Norwich.

Geoffrey is a history of art graduate of the Courtauld Institute of Art and also holds an MSc degree in Conservation of the Historic Environment, and is a member of the Association for Studies in the Conservation of Historic Buildings and the Norfolk Churches Trust. He is currently studying for an MBA at the Cranfield School of Management. Outside of work, Geoffrey is an amateur musician and enjoys playing with old cars.

Holly Isted
Historic Church Buildings Support Officer

Holly Isted has joined the Diocese of Ely as the Historic Church Buildings Support Officer thanks to a partnership with Historic England and Cambridgeshire Historic Churches Trust. Holly will be focusing on a key group of churches where the heritage is considered most at risk, to assist congregations in understanding, managing, maintaining and making the best use of their buildings. Holly will also will also be organising training events, open to all churches in the diocese, on topics such as maintenance and energy efficiency, as well as helping to promote Ride and Stride.

Holly is a qualified secondary school teacher with a degree in Heritage Conservation, which she has combined over the last decade to become a specialist in Heritage Learning and Interpretation. She has worked for museums, the National Trust and most recently The Churches Conservation Trust, creating and delivering a number of activity and engagement programmes.

Her most recent project to "Breathe New Life into St Nicholas Chapel, King's Lynn, successfully increased visitor numbers, donations and income, by bringing new uses and new audiences to a much under used, but cherished local building. Away from work Holly enjoys calligraphy, yoga and walking along the riverbank near her home in Guyhirn.

DD: 01353 652729

Sue Dickinson
DAC and Grants Officer

DD: 01353 652705

Sue joined the Church Buildings Department in April 2016 as the Department's Administrator. Sue now works 3 days a week, concentrating on DAC matters and support for parishes wishing to make grant applications.

Born and brought up in Liverpool, where she attended a Church of England Grammar School, she graduated from the University of Hull with a joint degree in History and Latin. She also holds a Diploma in History of Art from Birkbeck College, University of London.

Sue worked for thirteen years for English Heritage (now Historic England), first as a grants case officer and casework manager, dealing with funding applications for historic building repairs and working closely with architects and other historic building professionals. She was then Secretary to English Heritage's Commissioners, organising their meetings and annual tour. Shortly after the creation of the National Lottery, she moved to the Heritage Lottery Fund, where, for six and a half years, she assessed grant applications for all types of heritage projects, and monitored their progress through implementation.

Taking a break from heritage to indulge her love of animals, she ran her own boarding cattery for a while, but returned to historic buildings in 2013, to work for the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk. Whilst there, she wrote two successful funding bids to the Heritage Lottery Fund, securing £1m for a townscape project in the historic heart of King's Lynn and over £800,000 for the Victorian seafront gardens in Hunstanton.

Her interests include animal welfare, knitting, sewing and gardening.

Sally Gilson
Team Administrator and Assistant to the Pastoral Secretary

DD: 01353 652729

Sally joined the Church Buildings and Pastoral Department as Administrator on 22 August 2017. Sally was born in South London but has lived in Cambridgeshire since she was eight years old. Sally has spent the last 17 years in local government for both Fenland District and the County Council in various guises including as a Senior Personal Assistant, Business Support Officer and Manager.

Sally is the first point of contact for the Department for all enquiries from parishes about building works and handling routine casework. She also provides administrative support to Frances in her role as Pastoral Secretary.

In her spare time Sally has a passion for watching Formula 1 racing, enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and travelling, and has just completed a Diploma in Business Administration.