Friends of St Mary's Church
Cerne Abbas
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Building History


St Mary’s Church was given to the village by the Abbey in about 1300 and has been used as a place of worship ever since. For about 700 years the worshippers have cared for the building.

Recently the church has also been used for community events such as exhibitions, the music festival and as a general meeting place. Recognising the importance of the building to all residents and visitors to Cerne, gifts and legacies have often come from outside the worshipping community. As a way of acknowledging, and encouraging these contributions the Parochial Church Council suggested that a separate organisation drawing on the wider community be set up as a focus for raising funds specifically to maintain the church and its immediate environment (the war memorial and the Squibb Garden). A charity “The Friends of Saint Mary’s Church, Cerne Abbas” has been set up for this purpose*. The idea is that when the Church is faced with significant expenses associated with the building it will approach the Friends for help. However, the Friends will not contribute to expenses directly related to the ministry of the church.

To establish the system the Parochial Church Council passed to the Friends funds already set aside for building works, which we hope, will be augmented by future contributions.

How The Need Arises

Every 5 years a full inspection of the building (the Quinquennial Inspection) must be carried out by a specialist architect whose report will list the work to be done over the next 5 year period. In the last such QI period (2006-2011) this core commitment cost around £21,000 and has ensured that the building has been kept in good order.

Between QIs other essential work gets identified from time to time, for example installing the roof alarm system and overhauling the heating system. Over the last quinquennial period this work cost £18,000.

Lastly there has been discretionary expenditure of £14,000 including such things as the Squibb garden, and the new stone steps down to the memorial lawn.

So, over this last quinquennial period, maintaining the fabric needed about £53,000.

How To Become A Friend

A charity needs to have a committee of trustees and to formalise this we need Friends who can vote. To qualify as a Friend an individual must be over 18 years of age and subscribe £10 per year.

There will be an AGM for Friends and we hope to produce an annual Newsletter and have a special annual Friends’ evening service and reception in the church. The £10 is aimed at covering the anticipated costs of these activities.

It is hoped that in due course the Friends will contribute to the expenses involved in maintaining the fabric, either by supporting any appeal which may become necessary to raise funds, making occasional donations, or leaving a legacy.

Because the Friends is a charity, donations may be made tax efficient using Gift Aid and any legacy would be exempt from Inheritance Tax.

Website by Bob Foulser