Cambridgeshire Historic Churches Trust
The Trust was founded in 1983 and since then has offered over £2,000,000 in interest free loans and over £500,000 in grants for works of repair and improvements to places of worship across Cambridgeshire. Trustees continue to give priority to making loans (currently up to a maximum of £20,000), as these help congregations to embark on a project with the confidence that they can manage the cash flow – and once work starts, donations often increase. Like other trusts, our grants (currently to a maximum of £3000) are paid on completion of the project.
Cambridgeshire has more than 350 churches and chapels of historic and architectural interest. They span over a thousand years from the Saxon period at Great Paxton to the 1958 Stephen Dykes Bower church at Arbury. In almost every village and town it is the places of worship and their churchyards that root the place in history. The churchyard may contain the only substantial trees, areas of ancient grassland and rare habitats, and the church building is the bastion of local distinctiveness of building styles and materials. The limestone spires of old Huntingdonshire strike an obvious contrast with the chalk and cobble towers of south Cambridgeshire.
The care of places of worship falls squarely on the local community and especially its active members. They carry the burden of continuous maintenance and the raising of huge funds for repair. The Trust helps them with grants and loans and advice. We also offer funding towards improvements that enable the building to be more widely used in the 21st century, to projects that provide toilets and serveries, better heating and modern wiring. We also reserve £3000 each year for grants towards the repair and conservation of memorials and monuments, including those in the churchyard. We do not offer support for churchyard walls, redecoration or liturgical reordering, or towards exploratory work or reports.
The Trust’s charitable objectives also include encouraging everyone to enjoy and to understand the art and architecture of the county’s marvellous churches and chapels. We hold an annual conference in the spring on a specific ecclesiastical theme and run church tours in the summer months. We visit three churches and chapels on a Sunday afternoon, with our experts explaining the history and architectural features to be seen in each building. We finish with tea and evening prayer at our final stop.
Our biggest fund raiser (nearly £25,000 in 2013) is the national Ride and Stride Day, which in Cambridgeshire we have decided to make “Ride, Drive and Stride”. Participants can use cars as well as bicycles, horses, buses or their own two feet to visit as many churches and chapels as they can on the second Saturday in September. By getting sponsorship for each church visited, money is raised for the Trust and whatever church or chapel is nominated to receive half the total each person raises.
All these events are open to everyone, but are arranged primarily for our members who know that their subscription goes towards the repair and maintenance of the county’s historic churches for future generations to enjoy, just as we do today. By growing our membership, the Trust can offer more grants and loans and encourage greater appreciation and use of these splendid public places of worship.
Please join us!
Cambridgeshire Historic Churches Trust is a registered charity, number 287486