The Russian countryside is littered with tens of thousands of ruined churches as big as cathedrals that have been neglected since the 1917 revolution. Ever since, their historic fabric has suffered from both deliberate destruction and negligence; today many are on the edge of collapse. One tiny organisation, the Society of the Village Church, led by the intrepid babushka Svetlana Melnikova, have been patching up churches in Tver Province, North of Moscow.
But the methods they are using to repair the churches are poor including the widespread use of modern materials – modern brick and cement. This is already causing problems.
Cue the arrival of a team of British specialists from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB, UK) to lead a training programme, restore the wonderful church of Zamytie and awaken the sleepy village.
The Brits have to cope with Russian ideas of health and safety and the comparitive backwardness of rural Russia- no plumbing, bad roads, lots of drinking. The story will also pick up on different attitudes to restoration: the SPAB believe that the repairs must be obvious so as not to deceive, while the Russians are not concerned with the authentic and like things to look new.
Local government and church will be involved in project – shining a light on the Russian political system and the reawakening Russian church.