...keeping Somerset's churches & chapels alive

At The National Churches Trust “Local Treasures - People and Places” awards ceremony on 15th November 2019 Graham Harris of Leigh on Mendip was presented with an award for “his dedication and service to his church, community and for encouraging visitors and helping the Somerset Churches Trust through the East Mendips Churches Heritage Trail”. Our Treasurer, Tony Davies was there. Read his full report of the event by clicking on the headline.

William Newsom, trustee and organiser of the crawl welcomes Julian Orbach crawl leader at the church of St Mary Magdalene, Great Elm. Click on the heading for a full report of the day.

The final number of participating churches is 180 for Ride+Stride 2019. There is still time to download the complete list.

Woodwork and Effigies in SW Somerset
Start Date/Time:
22 June 2019 14:00
End Date/Time:
22 June 2019 17:00
Recurring Event:
One time event

With Julian Gibbs and Lucy Wood. Julian was Curator for the National Trust from 1979 – 2010. Member of Bath & Wells DAC. Lucy’s career is in historic furniture. As Senior Curator of Furniture, she was responsible for the new Furniture Gallery at the V&A. Today, she is a freelance consultant in late 17th to early 19thC furniture.

Start at SS Peter and Paul, Churchstanton, TA3 7QE. 18thC box pews, gallery faced with 16thC bench ends, Jacobean pulpit, Norman font, 13thC arcade to the south aisle and striking stained glass from the 1930s.

On to St Mary, Buckland St Mary, TA20 3SL. Described by Pevsner as ‘a noble incon- gruity’ built in the 1850s by the then rector in memory of his wife who died in childbirth. No expense was spared in creating ‘a lavish and ornate building’ that includes a memorial to his wife showing her and her child bursting out of the tomb to resurrection.

Then to St Andrew, Whitestaunton, TA20 3DL. Chancel dating from the 13thC, nave and south porch from the 14thC, windows from the 15thC and west tower, delicately carved rood screen, south chapel and some bench ends from the 16thC. Restored 19thC, retained features include the south chapel, behind a carved stone screen. Chemical toilet outside.

Ending at about 5pm at St Nicholas, Combe St Nicholas, TA20 3NE. Light and airy in the absence of stained glass. Spacious nave, matching north and south aisles and a fabulous rood screen dating from 1480 with carved fan vaulting. Two fonts, one possibly Saxon, 17thC pulpit, etched glass and a monument noting its reconsecration in 1239 following rebuilding. Tea here – donations please. Total drive between churches: 12.3 miles.

Book with William Newsom, email, tel 01963 441533.

Our Autumn Talk 2019

Our programme of events is now finished for 2019. We are currently working on our events for 2020.Our final event of 2019 was the Autumn Talk at Wells Museum on 1 November.

Before the talk, our Chairman, Dr Axel Palmer presents William Constantine with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to Ride+Stride. William raised over £6,000 cycling for Ride+Stride over many years.

A busy evening for our chairman, now seen here presenting Dr Tim Connor, our guest speaker with a copy of Hugh Playfair's book "Jewels of Somerset". Dr Connor gave us a fascinating and also most amusing insight into the church tombs and monuments of Somerset.

Notes from William's Travels
The first in an occasional series

William Newsom one of our trustees is on a mission to visit every church in Somerset. He is reporting back when he comes across anything unusual. There is always something new to discover in churches and William's first unusual find are mass dials. Sometimes known as scratch dials, these date from the time before clocks, and were a means of knowing when the next mass was to be said.  Effectively simple sundials, they are to be found scratched on the south facing wall of a church and are circular, usually about a foot wide, with a hole in the middle into which was fixed a wooden peg projecting out at right angles and various lines radiating out from the centre. As the sun traversed the sky the peg cast a shadow indicating the time at which services were held. Many churches in Somerset dating from the 15th century and earlier have them.  The church of Holy Trinity, Newton St Loe has two alongside the south porch.

The church of St Bartholomew’s, Ubly has one in the north porch which is in the wrong place as it was moved from the south wall when a major restoration was carried out in the 19
th century.



At the Annual Meeting held on 27th April Trustees agreed to match the £1,000 from Allchurches Trust towards the cost of installing a roof alarm. With metal prices on the rise theft of lead is more than likely to increase. Make the most of this one off opportunity to protect your church. Apply now before it's too late.

A Welcome from the Chairman

Welcome to our website. We are 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. I hope to meet you at one of our church crawls. If you need any information about our activities or how to apply for a grant do please get in touch. All the information you need is on our contacts page.
 Dr Axel Palmer Chairman

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     21st December 2019 for the trustees meeting on   21st January 2020.   
Click here for more information on Grant Applications.

See Where We've Been on our Church Crawls!

A complete list is now available of every church and chapel we have ever visited since the trust was formed in 1996. You can search by the date of the first visit or alphabetically. Click on the links below to go straight to the lists. If there is somewhere we have missed where you would like to visit then do let us know.

Churches and Chapels visited by date of first visit.
Alphabetical list of churches and chapels visited.


Click here for the following: Books for Sale, Annual ReportsTrustees Annual Reports and Accounts, Press Releases, Church Card Archive, Churches and Chapels Visited by DateChurches and Chapels visited by Location, Policies and Procedures

Our Patron Kevin McCloud, the presenter of Grand Designs says:

“Our churches are literally our historic and cultural touchstones – in our landscapes, built environment, family histories and our communities. They embody faith, beauty, craftsmanship and collective memory. So we should cherish them.”

Links Page

The Somerset Historic Environment Record is part of the much larger South West Heritage Trust website. Our Links Page has links to this website and over twenty other organisations concerned with religious and historic buildings.

copyright 2019 Somerset Churches Trust
web design by intechnia