...keeping Somerset's churches & chapels alive

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.

Bishops Peter and Ruth officially launch our 2019 Ride+Stride at The Bishop's Palace in Wells.

Fine Churches in NE Somerset
Start Date/Time:
17 August 2019 14:00
End Date/Time:
17 August 2019 17:00
Recurring Event:
One time event

Tour led by Julian Orbach, such an expert in the field of historic buildings that he needs no introduction. He wrote the latest (2014) Pevsner Guide of The Buildings of England for Somerset South and West.

Start at St Mary Magdalene, Great Elm BA11 3NZ, a small village church built in the 12thC that has a wall with early Norman herringbone stone courses, saddleback west tower of c1240 and an Elizabethan gallery approached from an external staircase (both the latter quite unusual). Also 17thC box pews, 14thC porch, 18thC north transept and a Norman font. On to St Mary, Orchardleigh BA11 2PH, in a secluded spot on an island in a lake, with no electricity, on a former estate, now a golf course. It has 13thC origins but is mostly 18thC. There is a stone screen dated 1879, Jacobean pulpit, Norman font, Royal Arms and other hatchments. There is a tribute to poet Sir Henry Newbolt (1862–1938), who was inspired by the story of a faithful dog called Azor, to whom there is a monument. Then toAll Saints, Lullington BA11 2PG, one of Robin Bush’s (author of Somerset, The Complete Guide) top churches in the county, notable in particular for its Norman north doorway and inside, its Norman tower arches. It also has a fantastic decorated font, elaborately carved stone capitals and ancient pulpit, 13thC south chapel and c1150 tapering tomb slab cover.

We finish at about 5pm at St George, Beckington BA11 6TD,with a 12thC west tower, lofty nave with clerestory and north and south aisles. There are several notable military memorials (1780, 1856, 1922 and 1940) as well as a 1485 brass of two figures, and three stone effigies dating from 1360–1400, and a monument to Samuel Daniel (died 1619), Poet Laureate. Tea here – donations please. Total drive between churches: 10.8 miles.

Book with William Newsom, email, tel: 01963 441533.

Our Next Event is on Friday 1st November.

Autumn Talk

Friday 1st November 7.30 pm

Wells Museum Lecture Hall

Monuments and Effigies of Somerset

Our Autumn Talk is at Wells Museum Lecture Hall, 8 Cathedral Green, Wells BA5 2UE. Our speaker is Dr. Tim Connor, an architectural historian who focuses on buildings and church monuments in Dorset and Somerset, and is hugely respected in this field. His study of early chest tombs in West Dorset and South Somerset appeared in 2014.

Tickets £5.00, to include a glass of wine/soft drink payable on the door. 

Click here to see the full programme for 2019.

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.

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