About the Friends

Standing at the heart of a large but scattered farming community about four miles south of Sherborne, the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Holnest is a beautiful Grade I listed building dating largely to the 15th century. With its short tower and variety of roof shapes, it forms a delightful feature in the landscape; its structure is of considerable architectural and historic interest and the large churchyard which surrounds it has been designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest due to the fact that it supports nine Dorset notable species of wildflower.

The church lay redundant for many years and was narrowly saved from demolition in the 1950s thanks to the efforts of Ivor Bulmer Thomas and his newly-formed charity, the Friends of Friendless Churches, together with a small band of local volunteers.


Today, the church remains open to the public on a daily basis and services are held once a month. Like all heritage buildings it requires an ongoing programme of repairs and maintenance to ensure that it continues to remain open and be handed down to future generations in a fit and proper state.

With this in mind, the Friends of Holnest Church was founded as a charitable body in June 2016 with the aim of helping to conserve, maintain and improve the fabric of the church and to support the Parochial Church Council in the upkeep of the building and its grounds. We also seek to foster public interest in its fascinating history and architecture, and welcome all those who, like us, find it a place of peace and inspiration.

Our purposes are mainly achieved through organising an annual programme of events (these include guided tours, talks, exhibitions and concerts) and by inviting people to join our growing and enthusiastic membership. This is open to all those who wish to support the charity in its aims; you don’t have to be a member of the worshipping congregation to join us or even live in the locality. Instead, our members come from far and wide, and are simply united in their interest for the church and their desire to help care for it and see it preserved for future generations.