Natalie Merry started work as assistant church buildings officer for the Diocese of Oxford in 2006, having read medieval history as an undergraduate at Merton College, Oxford. From 2008-9 she completed a postgraduate diploma in Building Conservation at the University of Bournemouth, delivered at the Weald and Downland Museum and focussed on the practical knowledge and understanding of traditional building forms and materials.
From 2009 until 2016 she was senior church buildings officer for the Diocese of Oxford. In this role she was responsible for assessing over 550 applications for permission annually, well in excess of any other diocese in England. She also played a key role in guiding and facilitating ambitious projects to conserve and develop the diocese’s 815 church buildings. This centred on giving clear professional advice based on a thorough understanding of the significance of each building, of the needs arising from that significance, and of the needs of those using the building to meet very 21st century demands.
Natalie has a practical focus and wide expertise on subjects ranging from fundraising and maintenance through to complex conservation issues such as the accommodation of new building work on historic sites, consolidation and repair of historic masonry, timber framing, and the analysis of the building environment. She has also developed excellent working relationships with Historic England officers, local planning authorities, and amenity societies including the Victorian Society and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. She has a wide network of contacts in the heritage industry, including award-winning contractors, architects, surveyors, and specialist conservators.