...keeping Somerset's churches & chapels alive

The Playfair Prize

Small rural church wins £5000 Prize for 'change and renewal'

The winning team from Norton Malreward

   The winning team from Norton Malreward.

   Geoff Thomas (churchwarden) 

    Revd Charles Roberts (Rector Chew Magna Benefice)
    Margaret Masding (Lay Reader and mastermind of the project),
    Michael James (designer and team member) 


Holy Trinity at Norton Malreward in North East Somerset was named as the winner of Somerset Churches Trust's prestigious £5,000 Playfair Prize at a ceremony in Wells Town Hall on Friday, 30th October. This small village church, Grade II Listed, is an extraordinary example of what can be achieved on a modest budget to bring an ancient building into 21st century life.

Click here for more details

Click here for details of the six finalists

Twenty four enter for our Playfair Prize

Entries closed for the Trust’s Playfair Prize at the end of June and we were delighted to have received twenty four from churches and chapels all over the county.  A descriptive list of all is given below and you will see that entrants range from large and complex town projects to simple but effective village church schemes.  Without exception the entries have been thoughtfully written and well presented, together with drawings and photographs. Our thanks go to all who have put so much hard work and enthusiasm into their submissions.

It is enormously encouraging to see the difference all have made to the life of their respective building, congregation and community.  Every entrant will be visited during the short listing which will take place in mid-August and will identify the four finalist to go forward for judging early in September.  

We are so privileged to have a very distinguished panel of judges; Lord Carey - who needs no introduction, Dr John Goodall, architectural editor of Country Life magazine, and who spoke at our launch event in November 2013 and Alison Pollard of the National Churches Trust.  They will be under the chairmanship of historian and writer, Julian Orbach. 

Please click here to see a copy of the article by Laura Linham which appeared in the Wells Journal, Central Somerset Gazette, Cheddar Valley Gazette and Shepton Mallet Journal about the visit by the judges for the Playfair Prize.

(Click to view list & brief description of entrants)

Playfair Prize organiser: Jane Venner-Pack, Stones Cottage, Station Road, Blagdon. BS40 7TD.
Telephone: 01761 463699. Email:
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Note: In 1996 when serving as chairman of the Diocesan Advisory Committee, Hugh Playfair together with a group of like-minded people identified the need for an ecumenical charitable trust to support churches and chapels in Somerset in their struggle to keep these beautiful, buildings in good repair and open for Christian worship. The Trust was founded in July 1996 under the name “Friends of Somerset Churches and Chapels”. As time went on, Hugh realised that to keep these buildings open many needed to become more ‘user friendly’ for their wider communities. His book, ‘Keeping Somerset Churches Alive’, published in 2010 has become an inspiration and guide for churches seeking to adapt to current needs and it is the additional mission of the Trust to support these endeavours.

‘Keeping Somerset Churches Alive’ is sold in aid of the Trust, costs £5.00 and is available from David Sisson, Providence House, Sexeys Road, Blackford, Wedmore, Somerset. BS28 4NA.

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