...keeping Somerset's churches & chapels alive

Welcome to Somerset Churches Trust...

... an independent, non-denominational trust raising money for the repair and improvement of churches and chapels open for Christian worship in the historic county of Somerset. The Trust, founded in 1996 under the name Friends of Somerset Churches and Chapels, exists to encourage interest and the involvement of all members of the community in the magnificent heritage of our fine religious buildings. Already, since its founding, the Trust has made grants of almost £700,000 to over 300 churches and chapels in Somerset.

Grants Available for Roof Alarms

We are delighted to be able to announce that the trust has been awarded £30,000 from Allchurches Trust to enable us to give grants to churches to help towards the installation of roof alarms to provide protection against theft of lead. We can grant up to £1,000 per installation including systems that are already in the process of being put in. The grants are on condition that churches must be members or become members of Somerset Churches Trust for a period of at least 3 years, that the alarm is approved by insurers and is maintained for at least 5 years.

Applications will be dealt with on a first come first served basis. For an Application Form please go to our Grants Application Forms page.

Grant Applications and Closing Date

We welcome applications from churches and chapels of all denominations for grants towards repairs and improvements to enable wider community use subject to our grant terms and conditions. Applicants who are not already members of the trust must become members for at least three years in order for a grant to be paid. Grant applications must normally be received one calendar month before the date of the trustees meeting at which the application will be considered. The next closing date will be 16th March 2018 for the trustees meeting on 14th April 2018.
Click here for more information on Grant Applications.

2018 Programme

Our Programme of Events for 2017 is now over with the last event being the talk and organ recital in the Bishop's Palace Chapel Wells given by Ray Willis. See the News Item below for more details.

We are now working hard on putting together another varied and exciting programme for 2018. With the success of Ray's talk and recital we are looking at including organ recitals as part of at least one of our church tours in 2018. 

Our full programme for 2018 will appear here soon, but in the meantime have a great Christmas and New Year.

New Chairman and Trustees Appointed

Somerset Churches Trust has appointed a new chairman and five other new trustees. Dr Axel Palmer pictured above is the new Chairman, taking over from David Sisson who has led the Trust for the last six successful years.

Dr Palmer, a member of the Bath and Wells Diocesan Finance Group, is a former Churchwarden and Parish Council Chairman. Professionally, he has a banking background, specialising in insolvency and litigation. He holds a PhD in Economic Crime, writing and lecturing at Bristol Law School on fraud, bribery and corruption.
The other new trustees are:
Father Peter Clarke, a Roman Catholic Priest, who  is Chaplain to Leweston School and acts as a locum for a total of 18 churches across Somerset. During his Anglican days, he was a member of the Diocesan Finance Committee, on the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) and a Prebendary at Wells Cathedral.
Bob Croft, Head of the unit of Historic Environment and Estates Manager in Somerset Records office he is a long-standing member of the DAC and active member of Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society.
The Venerable Simon Hill, Archdeacon of Taunton who will help maintain and cement our important links to the Diocese and DAC.
Andrew Stebbings a partner in a leading firm of London lawyers, he is currently winding down to retirement. He is actively involved in the running of two significant charitable trusts.
Anthony Sutcliffe a retired Chartered Surveyor having practiced in the UK and abroad he is a governor of his local primary school, he has been a churchwarden and has a keen interest in church buildings. Anthony has taken over from Jim Allwood as Grants Secrtetary.

Axel Palmer said, ‘it is a privilege to be asked to Chair the Board of Trustees of Somerset Churches Trust at a time when local communities throughout the county face challenges in keeping Somerset’s churches and chapels alive. I am delighted to say that we have a strong group of Trustees and we are focusing our efforts on raising funds so that we can help hard-pressed parishes to continue to upgrade facilities for the benefit of worshippers and their local communities.’


Click here for the following:

Books for Sale
Annual Reports
Trustees Annual Reports and Accounts
Press Releases
Church Card Archive
Policies and Procedures

Dr Axel Palmer was interviewed on 14 January 2018 by BBC Radio Bristol and BBC Radio Somerset about the theft of lead from church roofs and the joint SCT and Allchurches Trust initiative to provide funds toward the installation of roof alarms. Axel said that the theft of lead from church roofs is a heritage crime. The intiative has also received wide coverage in local newspapers across the county.

Members will wish to know that, Hugh Playfair, founder of our Trust and Chairman for many years, died peacefully on 21st December 2017. Hugh was the inspiration and guide of the Trust. His vision for the future of our churches and chapels is described in his own words...'a glorious and sustainable future in which the buildings, made fit for today’s purpose, is shared with the community’… but remaining … ’a sanctuary for worship, prayer and reflection’. Our thoughts and prayers are with Hugh’s wife, Bridget, and their children and grandchildren.

We ended our 2017 programme with a most successful talk and organ recital by Ray Willis at The Bishop's Palace Chapel in Wells on Friday 24th November with everyone joining in a rendition of The Old Hundredth to demonstrate the development of church music down the ages. Click on the heading for more.

South Somerset Church Tour
Start Date/Time:
20 May 2017 14:00
Recurring Event:
One time event
Meet at St. Martin of Tours, West Coker, BA22 9BD. On to Blessed Virgin Mary, East Chinnock, BA22 9DP and then Blessed Virgin Mary, Hardington Mandeville, BA22 9PQ. Tea here - donations please.
Book with Simon College, tel 01460 75815 or email
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