The primary function of the office at that time seems to have been that of taking care of the Church building and its contents, including the responsibility of providing for the repairs of the nave, and of furnishing the utensils for divine service.
The Churchwardens had custody or guardianship of the fabric and furniture of the church, and even today, they are the legal guardians of the church’s moveable goods, such as moveable furniture, plates and ornaments.
For a detailed overview please read the following briefing notes writen by the Ven Mike Lodge.
Officers of the Bishop, Trustees of a Charity
As officers of the Bishop, churchwardens have a role in ensuring that church life is healthy. They will be expected to keep records and return reports, particularly to the Archdeacon.
They will be members of the Parochial Church Council (PCC), and as such trustees of a charity. Safeguarding, care of the fabric of the building, and the seeking of faculties (the church's equivalent of planning permission) all come within their remit.
For more on being an officer of the Bishop and the Trustee of a Charity, please see sections B and C of this briefing document, and for faculties please see Appendix 2.
Representatives of the Laity, Supporters of the Parish Priest
Wardens listen well to the congregation and wider community, and bring any concerns to the incumbent. They also have a key role in supporting the wellbeing of the parish priest and their household.
For more on being representatives of the laity and supporters of the parish priest, please see sections D and E of this document.
Leaders in Mission and Ministry, sometimes including a role in worship, especially in vacancies
The role of warden is one of spiritual leadership.
Sometimes, wardens may need to lead services of worship, or delegate the leading of them to others. Wardens have a particular role in vacancies.
For more on leadership in mission and ministry, worship, and vacancies, please see section F and G of this document.