All Saints Aisholt
The local Blessing a Crab Apple tree marking the Queen’s 60 years on the throne
General description of the Parish
Welcome to Aisholt. The parish is one of the six in the Quantock Villages Benefice. It is a small, sparsely populated rural parish, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the heart of the Quantocks. It is spread out geographically. The village of Aisholt is a small hamlet, with no shops etc. The remainder is spread-out farms and cottages, a total of some 20 dwellings, with a population of about 60 residents, 15 of whom are children and young people, although some of these will be living away at university much of the year. The Aisholt and Merridge Village Hall is available to be used for meetings, functions etc.
All Saints, aXVthCenturyChurch, which is small and very beautiful, is built on the site of a previous fifth to eighth century one. There is seating for eighty in a main aisle and a Lady Chapel. The Church is in excellent repair, well decorated, heated and cared for.
The wardens have ensured that all work scheduled in the last Quinquennial of September 2014 has been addressed. They have been proactive with commissioning maintenance work. Over £10,000 was spent last year on internal decoration and repairs to the roof. Fortunately, funds for the work were provided by the ‘Friends of Aisholt Church’ our associated supporting registered charitable group, and no fund raising campaign was needed.
March 2014: Friends of Aisholt Church provided funds to redecorate the interior of the church.
There is a Victorian Samuel Parsons Organ, a tower with three bells, which are hung to chime, a Victorian Clock in good working order, and a small vestry. There is attractive Communion Plate. The Church is surrounded by a well-maintained churchyard and has a good private car park. A short history of the Church is available on request.
The ‘hallmark’ of Aisholt Church is that services follow the format of the Book of Common Prayer. This has been a long and popular tradition and provides a branch of diversity for worship within the Benefice.
We have a website where information about church activities can be viewed http://www.aisholt.org/
The average congregation size over the last couple of years is 11. It includes a number of those who live in the parish but several come from neighbouring villages and further afield, attracted to the regular service pattern, the form of worship in the Church, and the warmth of fellowship and friendship. Congregation numbers swell to about 50 for festival services at Easter, Harvest, Remembrance and Christmas.
There is strong mutual support and caring, both within the congregation and the local community, and invariably a warm welcome for visitors.
Most of the congregation are retired, but there are a few families with children ranging in age from toddlers to university age students. Last summer twins living in the village were christened at a service in the church. The other residents of the Parish, who are not regular attendees of the services, are well known to members of the congregation. Nonetheless they support the Church. e.g. with financial support and by attending special services, helping with cleaning, arranging flowers etc. Many of these are affiliated to ‘Friends of AisholtChurch’.
A fund raising cream tea event organised by the FOAC was held at the church to encourage local folk to inspect and celebrate the newly decorated interior of the building as well as to share with visitors our very special place of worship.
Gatherings at events at the Church act as, pretty well, the only social forum that brings the village community together. The warmth of fellowship and friendship mentioned earlier in this report is always apparent at these gatherings.
Cream teas at the Church
Missionary and Charity Support
Nearly 10% of its total income, and some 33 % of its income after contributing the parish share has been given to charity. As a millennium project the Parish decided to support Daar al Awlad, a Missionary School in the Lebanon and this has continued and raised over £1000 from a coffee morning social event to send as charitable aid to the school. Progress reports on the children that are sponsored, and letters from the children, get sent back to the PCC and these are displayed in the church.
There are also some parish charities:
a. The Friends of AisholtChurch. This Charity raises funds to contribute to keeping the Church for all its traditional uses and assists in the maintenance and improvement of the Church. It extends interest in the Church to a list of regular donors, over a wide area beyond the Parish.
b. A group of small charities, with a small income, for the upkeep of the churchyard and certain graves. There is a more substantial trust fund to provide income to contribute to the lighting and heating in the Church.
A large number of visitors to this beautiful, isolated church, is testified by the entries in the Visitors’ Book.
The local Blessing a Crab Apple tree marking the Queen’s 60 years on the throne is shown in the header image.