Category: Events

Church Crawl, Saturday, 15th July

Somerset Churches Trust – Church Crawl, Saturday, 15th July, 2023
“How to Read a Church”
Hosted by Philip G Skelhorn

Churches and cathedrals were meant to be ‘read’ and to be able to do so is a rare skill, even among regular churchgoers. The purpose of this ‘crawl’ is to help the visitor to understand the richness and depth of Christian signs and symbols they find around them when they visit the churches of Somerset. Christian theology, Church history and Church architecture all have vital parts to play in the story of Churches and we will touch on these briefly as we go along but this is not about theology, history or architecture. It is an overview and introduction to the most common images, signs and symbols you will encounter when you visit these most beautiful of buildings.

The church of St Peter & St Paul, Charlton Horethorne (DT9 4NL) Listed Grade II*, this church was built in the 12th century although a place of worship probably existed here before the conversion of the West Saxons to Christianity in the 7th century. 14th century corbels, capitals, statuary niches and tomb recesses all contribute to the attraction of this ancient church.
Coffee on arrival here at 10.00 am for a start at 10.30 am.
Donations please.

Set in an elegant Edwardian building, the ‘Kings Arms’, Charlton Horethorne boasts traditional charm and period features. Lunch has been arranged for 12.45 pm were a ‘specials menu’ has been negotiated before moving to our second church visit of the day. Please confirm if you would like to take lunch here?

St Barnabas, Queen Camel (BA22 7NE) This is a magnificent church, listed Grade I with much to interest the image and symbol hunter. The
‘Rood’ screen is superb. This ostentatious work survived the reformation. The pulpit is of similar date c.1500 The roofs exhibit characters of medieval bestiary with the 35 bosses in the Chancel. Each beast is a metaphor for a liturgical incident, Unicorn, the nativity; Phoenix, the resurrection and the Eagle, the Ascension.
Afternoon tea here at 4.00 pm. Donations please.

North Somerset Church Crawl, 17th June

Visits to three fine churches in North Somerset led by Andrew Foyle

We are privileged to have persuaded Andrew Foyle to lead this crawl.  Andrew is the author of two volumes in the Pevsner Buildings of England series: Somerset North and Bristol (2011) and Bristol City (2004). He studied architectural history at the University of Bristol and the Courtauld Institute of Art, winning the Hawksmoor Medal in 1998. Andrew now works as a freelance architectural historian based in North Somerset.

St Peter, Camerton (BA2 0PU)

We begin at 2.00 pm at the church of St Peter, Camerton, a large part of which dates from 1638, although the font is 300 years older and the first recorded vicar was in 1237.  Alongside the chancel is the Carew chapel containing an impressive collection of Carew tombs dating from that time (17/18 century) including recumbent effigies and kneeling children.  Look out for the stone carvings of a rhinoceros and an elephant.  During the Victorian era the church was enlarged and beautified, many fittings dating from 1891.92 including the rood screen

St Luke & St Andrew, Priston (BA2 9EF)

We then go on to St Luke & St Andrew, Priston getting there by 3.15 pm. On the face of it, a fine church of Norman origins with Norman arches beneath a central tower.  First recorded vicar in 1207 and south door from 1350-1400.  However, Pevsner says “All is confused by an illiterate Neo-Norman restoration” in 1860/61. Much original work was retooled.  Our leader will be able to elaborate.  Some striking modern stained glass.  A fine weathercock “1813, very big at 5 ft” in gold.

St Julian, Wellow (BA2 8PU)

We then go on to St Julian, Wellow getting there by 4.30 pm.  Originally built in 1372, this magnificent church remains remarkably unaltered since that time.  Externally, the “robust west tower is dominant” (Pevsner) and inside it is a “light and noble place aglow with bright windows” (Arthur Mee) and a high level clerestory.  The 500+ year old nave roof is supported on 40 wood and stone angels with hundreds of bosses.  14th century benches with finely carved ends and poppyheads.  Rood screen painted and gilded.  Various effigies including a series of 12 “excellent small carved heads” (Mee).

Toilet facilities are available at all three churches.  Tea will be served at Wellow.  At Camerton there is a car park down the church drive alongside the Vicarage.  On-street parking at the other two churches.

Crawl organised by William Newsom              01963 441533

Wiveliscombe crawl – 1st April

Church crawl meeting to be held at Wiveliscombe.  Meet at St Luke’s church Langley Marsh at 1.30pm

NB Parking at Langley is very restricted, and you will need to park in the road and walk back to the church.

We will then return to Wiveliscombe to visit the Congregational Church in Silver Street.

at 2.45pm and then on to St Andrew’s Parish church for 3.30pm and tea and refreshments.

Lift share possible – meet in Croft Way Car Park Wiveliscombe(TA4 2JP) at 1.15pm to share lift to the church.

There is another car park at North Street Taunton TA4 2LJ  Car parking in Wiveliscombe use North Street or Croft Way.

For full details click here – SCT Wiveliscombe church crawl 1st April 2023

Programme of Events 2023

1 April 2023
Crawl based on Wiveliscombe. Bob Croft organising – details on “Events” page.

17 June 2023
Visits to three fine churches in North Somerset led by Andrew Foyle: St Peter’s, Camerton; St Luke & St Andrew, Priston; and St Julian, Wellow.

15 July 2023
‘How to read a church’ – “Gastro” Crawl arranged by Philip Skelhorn around Queen Camel.

16 September 2023
Heritage Open Day

7 October 2023
Crawl arranged by Tony Davies to Cameley, Paulton & Timsbury.

November 2023
Annual Meeting and talk by William Newsom


Other events are in course of organisation.

Presentation by William Newsom on “Somerset Churches: Forgotten Little Gems”

The Somerset Churches Trust is absolutely delighted that William Newsom has kindly agreed to give the keynote lecture, after the Annual Meeting of the Trust on Wednesday 23rd November, at 7.30pm at the Wells and Mendip Museum in Wells. Doors open at 6.30pm with refreshments available and the Annual Meeting will commence at 6.45pm. Further information will be posted shortly.

William Newsom has the distinction of having visited over the last five years every parish church (bar two) in the Diocese of Bath and Wells, taking numerous photographs along the way. Having taken 30,000 photographs covering 556 churches, he has an unrivalled database to draw upon for the benefit of this presentation. Somerset is well known for its larger churches with magnificent towers, but William leaves those to others to cover elsewhere and instead will be providing a celebration of small churches from all across Somerset covering both ancient and modern.

We look forward to welcoming you there!

Porlock gets ready to Ride+Stride!

This is the first year that Porlock churches have participated in Ride+Stride and we wish them all the very best of luck!

Porlock St Dubricius is in the High Street, Porlock and is a Grade I Listed C12 church with a notable truncated wooden spire. There are facilities in the village for visitors. Post code TA24 8QJ

Stoke Pero Church is on Exmoor and is a Grade 2 Listed C13 church, south of Porlock but isolated and high up on in the national park. There are no facilities for visitors here. Map grid reference SS 87835 4395.

St Nicholas Church is on Worthy Toll Road in Porlock Weir and is a late C19 Tin Tabernacle in a conservation area. Facilities are in Porlock Weir, 100 yards away. Post code TA24 8PA.

All three churches are well worth visiting and we wish you happy walking between them!

Stoke Pero Church and St Nicholas Church, Porlock Weir


Somerset Churches celebrate the Platinum Jubilee

Round Somerset towns and villages, not to mention the cities, there was great celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on 2nd  – 5th June. For our member churches and chapels in particular we would like to showcase some of the ways in which this took place. Please do let us know about your event and add some photos.

In West Somerset, our local church, St Petrock’s in Timberscombe, had a heritage exhibition including church records dating back to 1656 on show alongside the village schoolchildrens representations of the Queen and with a large selection of royal and Jubilee memorabilia loaned by villagers which all made a stunning display. Beautiful flower arrangements and the original Coronation music provided a fitting backdrop to the event. The bellringers pealed to open the exhibition and again as required on 3rd at 11.30am. The Somerset Churches Trust supported this church with a grant in 2018 to help provide a servery and an accessible toilet. It is absolutely certain that without their support the PCC would have found it very hard to access support from the National Churches Trust as this SCT grant gave credibility to the project. Our visitors commented on how welcoming it was to have a servery with non stop refreshments and a ‘comfort stop’.

This all goes to exemplify the important work the SCT does and how it enables communities to thrive. We welcome your support – whether in the form of donations or as a volunteer. And do please send those records of your church events for us to showcase as well. Thank you.

What are church crawls?

When I became a Trustee of the Somerset Churches Trust I didn’t know what a ‘Church Crawl’ actually was. I am learning that they provide an opportunity to enjoy the peace, beauty and craftsmanship evident in so many places of worship in Somerset.

I couldn’t possibly put it better than did Athena – Cultural Crusader – recently in an article in Country Life edition dated March 30th 2022. With the kind permission of Country Life an extract from this beautifully written piece follows:

With one surprise following another on a church crawl Athena found that ‘what crowned her enjoyment of these lovingly maintained buildings and their contents was the fact that every single church door she tried was open. That’s something she would not necessarily have expected in times gone by and is testimony to the unsung labours of parishioners. Athena both thanks and salutes them. She wonders retrospectively whether this reality reflects something of a change in the perceived importance of these buildings: during lockdown, all of us became aware of the things that existed on our doorstep and in the process, came to value them more than before.

Church buildings are part of our common inheritance that we can all enjoy. As places of worship, they are more than museums, as monuments, they are more than venues for services and, as public buildings, they are more than the possession of their congregations. It further adds to their appeal that, as buildings with a deep history, they don’t entirely belong to one generation or, indeed, to one family or group. Instead, they transcend time and society, embodying in our landscape and streets collective possession, history and identity.

These are not – to state the obvious – qualitites susceptible to quantification on a spreadsheet. We need to cherish churches as much as we can, particularly at the present moment, when the future of these buildings is once again in the headlines.’

Well said. And do join a Somerset Churches Trust Church Crawl and sample our own county treasures!

Marion Jeffrey