Author: jili

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.

In view of the current coronavirus situation we are unable to visit churches to undertake assessments, but please continue to submit applications. We are planning  a trustees meeting in October so please  submit applications for grants by  31 August 2021 for consideration at that meeting. The next application deadline is 30 November 2021.

For more information, see our Grants page.

Turkey Talks! Rev’d Elizabeth Dudley in Istanbul

(From our Istanbul correspondent!) It is not unusual at this time of year to think of Turkey – in our case, though, it is the inventiveness of our great supporter Liz Dudley.

Liz (aka Rev’d Elizabeth Dudley, Vicar of Christchurch and St Mary’s, Frome) did not let the matter of her honeymoon get in the way of supporting Somerset Churches Trust’s Ride+Stride 2020. If she could manage to negotiate getting married in the year of lockdowns and restrictions, the mere matter of being in Istanbul over the R+S weekend was not going to deflect her from fundraising. And, what a magnificent achievement as her efforts raised over £800! With arctic temperatures in Somerset in January, she can think back to September in 30C heat as she and husband Rob visited 10 of Istanbul’s churches in one day (face masks must have been a trial).

Liz said “Christianity is the minority faith which has faced persecution previously and is beginning to feel it once more. It made me very aware of the enormous privilege and even complacency in England with the prominence and acceptance of our buildings in our communities something that we take so much for granted that we often see our buildings as burdens rather than treasures.”

Raise Money for Ride+Stride Without Leaving the House!

I have been an avid Supporter of Ride+Stride for many years, having been the organiser for Somerset for nine years from 2009 to 2017 during which time we raised £134,000 for churches and chapels in Somerset.

For a number of years I was a member of the National Committee where I think my biggest achievement was to add “for Churches” to the Ride+Stride logo on the grounds that the national media really had no idea what the event was all about.

Over the years I have cycled the thirty plus mile “Ten Towers” route form Wedmore out to Brent Knoll and back, walked the Bath Route which takes in twelve churches and chapels from St John’s Hospital Chapel to Magdalene Chapel Holloway, and visited all of the churches and chapels in and around Wells.

However, with Covid 19, 2020 has been different to all previous years and for a long time it was unclear if Ride+Stride would even take place or if churches would be open or could be stewarded. Even being allowed to stray far beyond our own front doors was in doubt. So, having “rode and strode” for many years it suddenly occurred to me why not just undertake a virtual Ride+Stride and stay at home.

Having created a Virgin Money Giving sponsorship page I posted “My Story” as follows:

“I have now been a trustee of Somerset Churches Trust for ten years. During that time we have raised money not only to maintain and repair churches but more importantly to keep them at the heart of their communities. In many villages the church is the only community building and many still don’t have basic facilities such as a toilet or simple catering facilities. Now, more than ever we need to help rural communities to ensure that their church is fit for purpose in the 21st century. That’s why I’m raising money to help keep Somerset’s Churches alive for the community. Ride+ Stride on 12th September is our main annual fundraising activity. However, in view of the current Covid 19 situation, our programme of walks and cycle rides is unable to go ahead in the usual way. So instead of sponsorship I would be really grateful if you could make a donation to help us in our mission of keeping our wonderful churches at the heart of our communities. Many thanks.”

This was accompanied by photographs of me with my bike and at the Launch event which we held at the Bishops Palace Wells.

I am pleased to say that my friends and relatives were incredibly supportive. Their donations with Gift Aid enabled me to raise £638.

Next year, however, I may not have an excuse and may have to get out on my bike again!

Chris Hawkings

Mucheleny to Glastonbury Tor

Our intrepid organiser, Philip Skelhorn, decided to walk from the early Benedictine monastery in Muchelney, near Langport, to Glastonbury.

Many will remember Muchelney from national headlines in 2014 when the Somerset levels flooded. Thankfully, for Philip and friends, shorts were the order of the day rather than scuba gear! And, having undertaken a ‘risk assessment’, just in case of rain, Philip decided to end on the Isle of Avalon at Glastonbury Tor which has been a beacon of safety for millennia! (More pictures online).

Reporting on the latest campaign, Philip said “being the boss enables you to work through all those ideas which you were convinced were ‘game changers’ but which never quite managed to reach fruition. The well-tried, traditional, approach of walking and cycling between churches was not always possible as the Covid restrictions on our life began to bite.

However, there were a number of fantastic personal campaigns such as the churchwarden of Sparkford, St Mary Magdalene, Ted Marsh, who is 91 and visited eight churches on his disabled scooter in the benefices of Cam Vale and Six Pilgrims, a distance of approximately 25 miles, because he just wanted to help. He raised £860. And the associate vicar of St James, Yeovil, the Rev Ruth Chapman who cycled 52 miles around all the churches of the Yeovil deanery and raised £1,190 for the trust and her church.

But the top of the fundraisers across the county was the rural dean of Crewkerne and associate vicar of the Wulfric benefice the Rev Jonathan Morris who raised a magnificent £1,286.

2021: Time to Celebrate our Silver Jubilee

Can it really be 25 years ago since the trust was founded? Well, yes, it will be on 25th April 2021.

This provides a perfect opportunity to recognise that the trust was founded to meet specific issues – these are still with us and, with the world in a very different place, keeping ‘Somerset’s churches and chapels alive’ is a real challenge. After a quarter of a century and raising and distributing over £800,000, Somerset Churches Trust is even more relevant.

We will celebrate our past contributions and look forward to the next decades. Let us be educators, enlighteners and generous benefactors while at the same time having fun!

Virtual Church Crawl: St Michael’s, Compton Martin.

Following the release of Tony and William’s video, our Chairman, Dr Axel Palmer couldn’t resist the urge to produce a video as well. Here he talks about his own church of St Michael, Compton Martin.

The Parish church of St Michael the Archangel is in the village of Compton Martin, Somerset, England. The church is a grade I listed building, and several of the monuments in the church yard also have listed status. The church is dedicated to St Michael the Archangel.

The church, which was built in the 12th century in a Norman style funded by William FitzWalter. The tower was added in 1441. Norman vaulting can be seen in the chancel, arcades firming aisles north and south of the nave and clerestory. There is Jacobean work in choir stalls and organ screen. In the north wall is a recess containing the effigy of Thomas de Moreton which was discovered in 1858. One of the columns in the South side of the nave has an unusual spiral fluted decoration known as an apprentices column.

Above the ceiling of the Bickfield Chapel there is a void which contains a columbarium or dovecote. This housed 140 “squabs” or pigeons in 1606 for the rector’s table.

The four stage tower is approached from the nave via a lofty Tudor paneled arch which together with the tower itself which is supported by diagonal buttresses, dates from c. 1370 or 1443. It is some 70 feet (21 m) high and contains six 18th-century bells, five of which were cast by the Bilbies of Chew Stoke.

View the virtual church crawl video below: