Understanding Dunkeswell Abbey Church

Understanding Dunkeswell Abbey Church

HAP are delighted to be working on a project with Dunkeswell Abbey Church Trust, called Understanding Dunkeswell Abbey Church. The project, funded by The Pilgrim Trust, is exploring the history, current state and heritage significance of the former C19th church at Dunkeswell Abbey.

Exploring the current state of the church

A full condition survey will provide information on the current state of the church and include recommendations to help prioritise essential works. A visit by construction students at Petroc College to learn some conservation basics will form an important first step to deeper engagement in future.

Understanding the unique history of the church

The Victorian church has a remarkable history: it was built 180 years ago by Elizabeth Simcoe and her daughters, who poured their time and energy into mastering the craft skills needed to create the architectural fixings. Using a large drawing room at their home in Dunkeswell parish as a workshop, they produced stained glass windows, architectural fixings and church furniture. Archive cataloguing of the Simcoe collection (including new material) is being undertaken in partnership with the University of Exeter and South West Heritage Trust. Read more about the Simcoe sisters here.

Engaging the local community

The community focused side of the project aims to understand the current meaning of the church to local people and explore what it means to them. A second important strand is to raise awareness of the building’s significance so more people realise its value and feel invested in saving it. A call out for local stories, memories and anecdotes of the church is taking place in the Dunkeswell and Hemyock areas. An open day on May 7th (1-4pm), will welcome the local community to the site to discover more about its unique history. Members of the archive team will be at the open day to show people extracts from the Simcoe archives. A digital visitor counter being installed as part of the project will help understand how many people are currently visiting the site.

The aim of the project is to contribute to an evidence base that Dunkeswell Abbey Church Trust can use to build the case for the major funding that is needed to save Dunkeswell Abbey Church from serious deterioration.