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About the SBPT

The Somerset Building Preservation Trust

The Somerset Building Preservation Trust works to save the architectural heritage of Somerset its people and the nation as a whole.  We work to save historic buildings that would otherwise be lost through dilapidation and neglect.  They are then converted into a variety of uses - a tithe barn into a community hall, some 16th century almshouses into social housing, an 18th century Congregational Chapel into an area for the local community to enjoy exhibitions …… and much more. 

Somerset Rural Life Museum

Our last completed project is the refurbishment of the Somerset Rural Life Museum. In December 2013 the SBPT took an 80 year lease on the Rural Life Museum at Glastonbury.  After over 40 years the Museum which was run by Somerset County Council closed at the end of March 2014.  
The SBPT together with the South West Heritage Trust, SCC and the Friends of the Museum have raised over £1.8m, mainly from HLF, VC and the Garfield Weston Foundation, towards the repair and improvement of the farm buildings and the Grade I listed Abbey Barn and worked together to bring about a restoration and renovation of this important group of buildings.  
The new look Somerset Rural Life Museum at Glastonbury has been re-modelled with a lift installed to provide wheelchair access to all areas and a new multi-purpose centre created in the old farm courtyard that can be used by visiting schools and for conferences, meetings and community events.  New kitchens were designed and installed so The Abbey Tea Roms offer delicious refreshments.  
The museum re-opened in summer 2017 and is run by the newly formed South West Heritage Trust.  More information can be found on the Rural Life Museum website at
Castle House, Taunton

15th century Castle House (Grade 1 listed), which comes within the curtilage of Taunton Castle was completed in 2014.  It was officially opened by HRH The Duke of Gloucester on 22 April 2014.  Working in partnership with the South West Heritage Trust and Somerset County Council, our current project is the renovation of the Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury.  We are also currently supporting the renovation project at Halswell House in Goathurst, we are working with Mendip District Council and a group of Wells residents to help bring about the renovation of the Bishop's Barn, we are supporting the Minehead Development Group in their bid to find a sustainable use for the old Minehead Hospital Buildings and we are working with South Somerset District Council to find a solution to buildings in Fore Street, Chard which remain on the Historic England 'At Risk' register.  See below for more information.

Very generous funding for this project was received from Heritage Lottery Fund (over £600,000),  Viridor Credits donated £390,000 as "start up" funding,   English Heritage granted £130,000, Garfield Weston Foundation gave £50,000, Somerset County Council gave £50,000, and large anonymous donations of £10,500 and £10,000 were received along with much appreciated smaller personal donations.   We are very grateful to all our funders.  With sufficient funding in place, our contractors (W Coombes of Ilminster) moved on site in July 2012 and completed at the end of July 2013.    The ground floor is now open to the public to  simply absorb its glorious history or get involved in adult learning activities.  Castle House is now managed by the South West Heritage Trust in conjunction with The Museum of Somerset, further information can be found at:

Bishops Barn, Wells
The SBPT are currently working with Mendip District Council and local Wells residents over the future of the Bishop’s Barn and playing fields at Wells.  The entire site is currently owned by the Wells Recreation Ground Trust, a charitable organisation. 
The Barn is a Grade I listed building and scheduled ancient monument. It is currently underused and in need of updated facilities and essential repairs.  In conjunction with MDC and the local community possible options for securing the beneficial future of the Barn and the improvement of the 3 hectare recreation ground, including relocating the existing bowling green and bandstand, are being explored.   
Work on refurbishing the outdated kitchen and toilers is now underway together with some minor repairs to the roof and doors.  The contractors antiicpate finsihing the project by October 2017.  
Dip into this site to discover all you want to know about the SBPT and how you, too, can become involved in its activities by becoming an Associate or Life member.  Every year we visit historic buildings which are not normally open to the general public.  


Jane St John Webster, SBPT Secretary.  Telephone: 07968 083741.  Email: