History Files

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 175

Target: 400

Totals slider

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.



Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 6 September 2019

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 4: Churches of Central Taunton

Temple Methodist Church, Taunton, Somerset

Temple Methodist Church is on the northern side of Upper High Street, about thirty metres east of The Crescent junction. On his way to Cornwall John Wesley stopped off to preach in Taunton in August 1743. A second meeting was held at the County Hotel (now Waterstone's). The subsequent Octagon Chapel proved too small so 'The Temple' was built, opening in 1812. In 1846 the façade was extended, and the chapel was rebuilt in 1866 along the existing east-west axis.

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witness, Taunton, Somerset

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses is on the southern side of Upper High Street, twenty metres west of The Crescent. The building is in a seemingly typical brown-brick with black façade fixtures. As well as ministering to central Taunton's congregation, the building has also paid host to the Wellington congregation since they left their aging, somewhat cramped building, and the Priorswood congregation which has its focus on the northern part of Taunton.

St George's (Old) Catholic Church, Taunton, Somerset

St George's (Old) Catholic Church is on the eastern side of The Crescent, about fifty metres north of the Upper High Street junction. In 1787 the first renewed Catholic mission in Taunton began under Father George Baldwin. It was 3 July 1822 when opened this church, their first in the town since the Reformation. They quickly outgrew it and moved to the (New) St George's, with the old building becoming St George's Hall, later to provide a home to a Masonic lodge.

Quaker Meeting House, Taunton, Somerset

The Friends Meeting House (Quakers) occupies a long slot with a narrow frontage on the southern side of Bath Place, at its western end alongside a car park which exits onto The Crescent. The building dates from 1834, but Quakers have been meeting in Taunton since the late seventeenth century - the earliest days of permitted nonconformity. The meeting makes use of two local burial grounds, at Spiceland and Milverton, the latter being purchased in 1679.

Convent of Perpetual Adoration, Taunton, Somerset

The former Convent of Perpetual Adoration still sits on the northern side of Park Street at the junction, and facing out onto The Crescent. The convent was established in 1808, and provided support to the early Catholic mission of St George's Church (above). The Franciscans moved to their new St Joseph's Convent in 1858 but retained the Park Street building until it was sold to the Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy in 1950. They moved to Staplegrove in 1976.

St John's Church Tangier, Taunton, Somerset

The Church of St John the Evangelist is perhaps better known locally as St John's Church Tangier after the district in which it is located. It was built on the north-eastern corner of the junction between Park Street and St Johns Road as the first Anglican church in town to have no 'pew rents'. It was the first perpetual curate in 1842 of Holy Trinity, Rev Frederick Jeremiah Smith, who resigned the living in 1858 to build this new church in the Tangier area of Taunton.

St John's Church Tangier, Taunton, Somerset

The church was to be dedicated to St John the Evangelist and was to be primarily for the poor. Reverend Smith obtained the services of Sir George Gilbert Scott, one of the most eminent architects of the Victorian age and a leader of the Victorian Gothic Revival Movement. The foundation stone was laid on 9 November 1858 and the completed church building was dedicated in 1863. The spire - which sits on a tower 24.4 metres high - can be seen for quite some distance.

Riverside (Old) Church, Tangier, Taunton, Somerset

The general site upon which Riverside (Old) Church once met is now occupied by Taunton's Tesco superstore. Two Christian Fellowships merged in 1992 to meet at Thomas Street (see links). In 1997 they moved to this location, in the old Marshalsea House near the River Tone (the new Marshalsea House is on Venture Way). They were renamed the Riverside Church. In 2001 financial improvements meant they could move to Hamilton Road while retaining their riverside name.

Carmelite Abbey, Taunton, Somerset

Taunton's Carmelite Abbey included a church 'in honour of the blessed Virgin'. It was founded in 1341 by Walter de Meriet, lord of Combe Florey. Its site was a short distance to the west of Taunton Castle (shown here) in a place called Paul's Field (nine acres of meadow alternatively called 'Cokkesmede'). Some construction seems to have started but certainly never went beyond its initial stage. Walter died on 18 May 1345 and the idea seemed to die with him.

Ebenezer United Methodist Church, Taunton, Somerset

Ebenezer United Methodist Church stood on 'North Street', approximately at the north-western corner of the junction with Wood Street. By 1903 Rowbarton Methodist Church was considering the need for a larger building but the idea was abandoned. Following the conclusion of the First World War congregations were so very low that the church was considered for closure, but instead it was Ebenezer United Church that closed, its members joining Rowbarton.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler. Former Taunton Deane area church names and locations kindly confirmed by South West Heritage Trust, with additional information from The Chapels Society visit to Mid-Somerset, 28 September 2013, by Peter Daniel, David Dawson, and Roger Thorne.

Images reproduced


Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.