Category: Latest News

A Thank You to our long-serving Vice Chairman

Chris Hawkings retired from the position of Trustee and Vice Chairman in April 2022 after many years of service to the Somerset Churches Trust. But, as Chris’ interest in churches and chapels is undiminished,
we wanted to give Chris encouragement to further explore (even further afield) with a token of our appreciation, this took the form of a copy of Simon Jenkins’ Europe’s 100 Best Cathedrals signed by fellow Trustees. As Chris said ‘This book is a wonderful momento of my time not just at SCT but during my career and on my travels! As for the cathedrals, whilst I have seen a few of them, a European Grand Tour could be in the offing!’

The Trust is very grateful that Chris will continue to volunteer by helping our Grants Secretary with Church Assessment visits from time to time.

This is a timely reminder of the immense value of volunteers to our charity. Please consider if you could assist us in a capacity which matches enthusiam and support for the maintenance and resilience of our churches and chapels in this historic county of Somerset. Make yourself known to us via the Contact Us page and we will be in touch very soon!

Somerset Churches Trust – could you make a difference?

Trustees and Officers of the SCT are all volunteers and we are now looking for new volunteers to join in our work. We are interested in filling a number of key positions and welcome your expression of interest if you feel you might be willing and able to help.

Important areas concern overall Trust direction and strategy (Chair), Membership Secretary, Trust Secretary and a Trustee with Ride+Stride responsibilities. Ride+Stride is a key fundraising mechanism for the Trust and the ability to co-ordinate county wide is essential.

In general, enthusiasm and a passion for the continued existence and access to our historic churches and chapels is as important as any technical or professional skills which you may also possess.

If you are interested please do let us know via the Contact Us page and we will be in touch promptly. The next meeting of the Trustees is on June 28th and early expressions of interest will then be considered. We appreciate that volunteering can be burdensome but with a committed group who have the aims of the Trust at their heart, these roles can also be very rewarding.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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.

Church Crawl in September

Stop Press – a new Church Crawl is planned for September in the Wiveliscombe and Langley Marsh area. The proposed date is 24th September and we hope this and further details can be confirmed shortly.

This is excellent news and we hope this crawl will enjoy the support of members who may already know how wonderful and informative these church crawls are!

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

 

Sedgemoor Church Crawl announced! Saturday 1st October 2pm

CHURCH CRAWL SEDGEMOOR CHURCHES – ALL WITH RECENT SCT GRANTS!

Start at St Mary, Church Road, East Brent TA9 4HZ.  A Grade I listed church dating from the 15th century.  Amongst its fine features are the mediaeval glass in the north windows, the Gothic revival decorated plaster ceiling in the nave, and the 15th century carved bench ends.  The SCT grant helped with roof repairs and lead replacement.

On to St Michael, Church Lane, Brent Knoll TA9 4DG.  Another Grade I listed church, with a Norman arched doorway and other Norman features; a fine wooden ceiling to the north aisle; the Jacobean pulpit; 14th century carved bench ends; and a memorial to John Somerset on the south wall.  The SCT grant was again to assist with lead repair.

Finally to Holy Trinity, Church Street, Blackford BS28 4NR – a quite different church, built 200 years ago as a chapel of ease to Wedmore church.  This is a Grade II listed, octagonal, Georgian Gothic Revival church.  Both the exterior and interior have benefitted from major restoration this century.  The centre of the roof has an arcaded cupola with a single bell.  The SCT grant helped to improve disabled access to the church.  Tea here – donations please.

For any enquiries about this Crawl please contact Tony Davies 01225 336124.

 

Holy Trinity, Blackford

St Mary, East Brent

Vice Chairman to retire after 11 years of service

After many years of excellent service on 16th April 2022, Chris Hawkings will be relinquishing his role as a trustee and Vice Chairman of Somerset Churches Trust. Those involved with the trust during Chris’s tenure will appreciate that he has worked diligently and effectively to promote the trusts’ stated aims and objectives. Fellow trustees would like to express sincere gratitude to Chris for that dedication.

Chris will have served 11 years as a trustee and under the terms of the Trust Deed must stand down.  He has been involved with the trust since 2009 when, following his retirement from Ecclesiastical Insurance as a Senior Surveyor, he took up the role of Ride+Stride Organiser, at the suggestion of his wife Gill, who was Membership Secretary at the time. Chris held this position until 2017, during which time over £140,000 was raised for Churches in Somerset.

From 2011 until 2017 Chris was a member of the National Ride+Stride Standing Committee working with the National Churches Trust, and suggested the inclusion of “for churches” in the national Ride+Stride logo, having realised that the media really had no idea what the event was all about.

In 2017 Chris obtained a grant of £30,00 from Allchurches Trust allowing Somerset Churches Trust to make grants to 23 churches to help them install roof alarms following a huge upsurge in the theft of lead from our churches.

Over the years, Chris has played a part in various aspects of the work of the trust, including involvement with the relaunch of Friends of Somerset Churches and Chapels as Somerset Churches Trust in 2013 and the development and launch of the trust’s new website in 2021.

Chris says “It has been a great privilege to be involved with the trust and to play a small part in the preservation and improvement to widen the community use of our wonderful Somerset churches.”

New volunteers to help and support the work of the trust are most welcome to make themselves known and in the first instance, please make contact here

 

 

 

 

 

February Newsletter from our Chairman

With news of a recent and challenging project to deliver in Bridgwater, click here to read about our Chairman’s visit to St John’s Church and hear about the fantastic success achieved by the Rev Lis Sparrow. The SCT is delighted to have been able to help secure the fabric of this special place of worship.