DorsetFest's debut appearance was in 2014. However, before we became a festival, we were a village fete. The Three Churches Fete showcased some of the most beautiful homes in the area raising money for the churches in Hilton, Cheselbourne and Melcombe Horsey. These churches are not only historic buildings, but they are also the cornerstone of our rural communities. Therefore, the fete was run solely by volunteers. However, after a particularly wet fete in 2013, we decided we wanted to do something a little different. The collective and welcoming spirit remains at the heart of our festival. We may have grown, but our roots remain the same.
Therefore, DorsetFest is still run, organised and executed exclusively by local volunteers. All of the money raised is split between the churches, as well as donating to Weldmar Hospice.
The attractive rural village of Hilton lies in a fold in the chalk downland beyond the mighty Milton Abbey. This is a quiet place and the church is tranquil too. The present building, thought to have been erected in 15c, almost certainly replaced an earlier version because there is evidence of both Saxon and Norman masonry.
St Martin's, Cheselbourne
The origins of this very attractive church, with a proud upstanding tower and constructed largely from flint, are shrouded in mystery, although the guide suggests there has been worship taking place on the site for about a thousand years.
St Andrews - Melcombe Horsey
This delightful little country church rests in the grounds of a great house in what must be described as an exquisitely beautiful setting. There was certainly an earlier church on the site, the records of which go back to 1150 and are held in the County Museum Library.
The money raised by DorsetFest is essential to maintain these beautiful buildings and the communities that they support.
where the money goes
Weldmar Hospice is a charity that provides end of life care for people living in Dorset who require specialist support. They employ nurses, doctors, therapists, social workers, as well as offering counselling services. They work in patients’ homes, the hospice and in the community, supported by trained volunteers.
All care provided by Weldmar Hospicecare is totally without any charge to patients and their families. At present their running costs are just over £8 million per year and whilst they do receive a grant from the NHS of approximately 25% of their costs, this still leaves an excess of £6 million to raise every year.
For more information:
Our rotating charities
Julia’s House is a children's hospice based in Dorset and Wiltshire. They provide practical and emotional support for families caring for a child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition. Julia's House offers frequent and regular support in families own homes, in the community or at their hospices.
Julia's House is also involved in research for improving the care of both children and their families.
For more information: