Charity representatives met with a bishop to respond to the need to maintain church buildings as they awarded grants worth almost £50k to local parishes.

The Trustees of Dorset Historic Churches Trust were addressed at a recent meeting by Dr Andrew Rumsey, bishop of Ramsbury.

He is one of two bishops who hold a national responsibility for church buildings.

The Right Reverend Dr Rumsey explained how the local diocese is planning to support rural churches that are struggling with maintenance bills and a shortage of volunteers.

Since the closure of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Grants for Places of Worship scheme in 2017 there has been no named source of funding aimed at helping to maintain church buildings.

The bishop emphasised the national scale of what he referred to as ‘the greatest heritage challenge’ of the next few years.

Since the responsibility for maintaining local churches falls chiefly on local people, such sources of help are more important than ever, he said.

While the Church of England is aiming to avoid closing churches and to allow them to have a ‘fallow’ status rather than sell them off, outside help is still needed.

‘Realistic’ support for smaller, rural communities is being explored, explained the bishop.

A number of church buildings community enabler posts are being created to help support parishes in Dorset and Wiltshire.

At the same meeting, the trust carried on with its mission to meet this need by awarding £47,500 worth of grants to eight current church maintenance projects in Dorset.

For over 60 years Dorset Historic Churches Trust has been helping parishes across the county to maintain and develop the fabric of their cherished churches for future generations.

Spread all round the county, successful grant applications were made by churches in Beer Hackett, Church Knowle, Okeford Fitzpaine, Owermoigne, Stoke Abbott, Holy Trinity in Weymouth, Worth Matravers and Wraxall.

The trust makes almost all of its income at the Ride and Stride event on the second Saturday of September, which will take place on September 14 this year.

 If you would like to join in the trust or see the work they do, visit