...keeping Somerset's churches & chapels alive


The Playfair Prize


Arrangements are steaming ahead for the award of the Trust’s exciting £5,000 Playfair Prize in the autumn. Wells Town Hall is booked for a gala prize-giving on Friday, 30th October and tickets will shortly be available (see Programme of Events). The closing date for entries was 30 June 2015.

The £5,000 Playfair Prize will be awarded on 30th October 2015 to a project completed between 1st January 2005 and 31st March 2015. By the closing date of 30 June 2015 twenty-four entries had been received.


The first stage of judging will take place during the summer to arrive at a shortlist of four for the final judging, which will take place early in September. Our distinguished judges for the finalists are Lord Carey, Dr John Goodall, Historian and Architectural Editor of Country Life Magazine, and Alison Pollard of the National Churches Trust. Chairman of the judges will be Julian Orbach who has just revised the Somerset: South and West edition of Pevsner.

Our Ambition

It is our ambition that all the entries we receive will act as an inspiration to others in the county, encouraging church congregations to see that even modest schemes, if well thought through, can result in greater use and appreciation of their building by whole communities - something that many see as vital to the growth and life of the church and the Christian faith. We hope that in the future the stories of many of our entries whether winners or not, will appear on this website as shining examples of what can be achieved.

To remind you of their role in the community

Some congregations in Somerset have already made great strides in bringing our beautiful Christian buildings into fuller community use, while striking a balance between guarding their historic integrity and giving them greater relevance in 21st century life. Rather than leave them empty on all but one day of the week, we need to give them back to their communities to use for drama, concerts, exhibitions, hospitality, young and old people’s meeting places and children’s playgroups, food banks where they are needed and, as Archbishop Justin envisages, a home for a credit union. This can mean improving access and opening up space, adding serveries and toilet facilities, upgrading heating and lighting and, most important of all, involving the whole local community.

It is to recognise and encourage such projects that the our Chairman, David Sisson, and the Trustees have inaugurated the Playfair Prize, named in honour of our founding Chairman, Hugh Playfair. It will be awarded to the Somerset church or chapel whose project in the opinion of the judges best meets these 21st century needs.

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