Church Recording

In 2021 the Arts Society Stopped Sponsoring Church Recording. The following is from the Arts Society Website:

Between 1973-2020 Church Recording volunteers completed the momentous task of recording the contents of over 2,000 churches. Working in small groups volunteers researched and documented the memorials, metalwork, stonework, woodwork, textiles, paintings, libraries, windows and miscellaneous items found in churches across the country. Church Records now reside with local record offices, Church Care, Historic England and the National Art Library at the V&A. These records have previously assisted with local fundraising, grant applications, insurance and research. Interesting past finds have also been reported to The Royal Armouries, National Portrait Gallery and Royal Museums Greenwich to expand their own archives. We wish to offer our sincere thanks to Church Recorders past and present for their hard work and dedication to completing this amazing project.

From 2021 The Arts Society is no longer affiliated with Church Recording but the work is continued by The Church Recording Society and for information on The Church Recording Society and its activities please see -  

Our church Recorders participated in the fascinating activity of recording the details of the fabric and internal furnishings of churches, these include:

  • Memorials
  • Metalwork
  • Stone and woodwork
  • Textiles
  • Paintings
  • Windows

The completed records are held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, English Heritage's Public Archive and the Church Buildings Council Library.

How it all started

In 1971 when the Victoria and Albert Museum, aware of the vulnerability of the content of many churches to damage and loss, sought the assistance of The Arts Society (then called NADFAS) members to produce detailed inventories of that heritage before it was too late. So, Church Recording was born as an activity undertaken by The Arts Society volunteers. .Over the years since then 1,789  Church Records have been presented to churches and copies of those Records deposited in national and local archives as a lasting record of the unique heritage associated with our historical churches.

The Arts Society Blackmore Vale have so far completed records for five churches in our area. Our recorders are currently working on completing the records for Saint Mary’s Church Sturminster Newton, a task they hope to conclude before the end of 2018.

The group of six volunteers who have done most of the work in compiling this record, joined from time to time by others and supported by The Arts Society, talked to me about their experiences in making the record.

They all agreed that they now look at churches in a completely different way and with so much more interest. Their quest to  find out more about furnishing and decoration, about what objects are and what they are used for, how the linens have acquired their ancient names, what inscriptions mean and why a church is endowed with particular stained-glass windows has given them all fascinating insights.

The discovery of photographs of the roof of the church taken some years ago when scaffolding had to be erected has afforded the opportunity to examine the 15th century carved angels that are normally too high to be seen clearly. This has helped the group with their recording – an activity to which they all bring different skills. None are professional church recorders and part of the joy and interest in what they have been doing has come out of sharing the different researches and working in a cohesive group.

The Arts Society provides training and support for Church Recorders both in the Wessex area and at national level. As the work on Saint Mary’s Sturminster Newton draws to a conclusion The Arts Society Blackmore Vale will be looking at another church to record. If you would be interested in forming a group or joining a group please contact: churchrecording@theartssocietyblackmorevale


The Churches We Have Recorded 

St Mary's Church Sturminster Newton

The latest project to have been completed - December 2019

St Gregorys Church


A previous project.


St Nicholas Church Silton 


A previous project: