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Gallery: Churches of Somerset
by Peter Kessler, 6 September 2019
SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 7: Churches of Norton
Fitzwarren to Rowbarton
Norton Fitzwarren United Reformed Church
is on the northern side of the B3227, about seventy metres west of
Rectory Road. The adjoining manse is on the left-hand side of the
building as seen here. Originally chapel and manse were listed as
two separate items, with the chapel opening as Independent in 1821.
In the mid-1800s it was enlarged, and as a Congregational church it
was altered in the 1900s. By July 2019 the building was being
offered for sale.
The Church of St John the Evangelist, Parish
Church of Staplegrove (formerly listed as St John's Church),
occupies a large churchyard on the northern side of Manor Road,
flanked on either side by Rectory Road. The nave, chancel, and tower
were built in the thirteenth century, while the north aisle was
added in the fourteenth century. The tower was altered and made
taller in the 1300s or 1400s, and a small south aisle was added at
an unknown date.
The south aisle was altered and extended into what
is now the south transept in 1619-20. The church was extensively
restored in 1857 when the nave was extended to the west. Later in the
1800s most of the stained glass windows were installed, and a porch
was added in 1902. However, most of the current detailing was added
in 2017 when the church was extensively reordered, and the fixed pews
were removed and replaced with oak chairs and movable pews.
Taunton New Spiritualist Church meets in
Staplegrove Village Hall on the northern side of Staplegrove Road.
The hall is a modern construction with two halls, a first floor
meeting room, and a kitchen. The town's New Spiritualist Church
meets there twice a week, for a service on Sundays and a healing
session on Wednesdays. A development group which is connected to the
church is held at the secretary's private dwelling in the nearby
town of Wellington.
Taunton School Chapel lies within the
school grounds, on the eastern side of the main school building.
The chapel is just about visible from Staplegrove Road and also
from the railway west of Taunton station. Taunton School was
founded in 1847. Originally housed in what has since become one
of the boys' boarding houses, the school moved to its current Grade
II listed Gothic-style building in 1870. In 1907 William Henry
Wills sponsored the chapel's construction.
Thomas Street Christian Fellowship,
Rowbarton, was probably located towards the southern end of the
street, and most likely on its eastern side in the building shown
here. Greenway Christian Fellowship and Taunton's Fountainhead
Christian Fellowship (perhaps previously meeting in a private
house) merged in 1992 and began meeting mainly here. In 1997 the
fellowship moved to a new meeting place in the old Marshalsea House
and became Riverside (Old) Church.
Rowbarton Congregational Chapel is on the
western side of Kingston Road, facing Clifton Terrace. In 1869 the
Congregationalists and Baptists combined to build this as their
joint chapel. The Baptists later withdrew to St James Chapel-of-Ease
and then Albemarle Chapel. The Congregationalists continued, extending
the building in 1900 to seat 220. In 1910 a new chapel was built across
the road (below). The old chapel became a schoolroom - now Callebaut
Rowbarton Congregational Church was built
to replace the old Rowbarton chapel (see above) in 1910. It occupied
the grounds now inside the v-junction formed by Kingston Road (left)
and Clifton Terrace (nearest the camera). A plaque marks the site
(visible in the central flower bed). The Congregationalists here
originated in Paul's Meeting in the town, but their new chapel was
lost to road-widening in 1972 so they returned to Paul Street, now
St Andrew's Church Rowbarton stands at
the north-western corner of Kingston Road and Greenway Avenue.
Anglicans were the first to become active in this growing area
when St James Chapel-of-Ease opened in the 1850s-1860s period.
St Andrew's Church was consecrated on 14 July 1881 thanks to the
generosity of Rev Smith of Holy Trinity. In 1893 the south aisle
was rebuilt and extended, together with the Lady Chapel beyond
it - the north aisle was retained.
Rowbarton (Wesleyan) Methodist Church is
at the south-western inside corner at the junction between Kingston
Road and Greenway Road. It was opened in 1893 when its location was
shown as Greenway Lane, an indication of the rural character of the
area at the time. The members of Ebenezer (United Methodist) Chapel
joined it after the First World War. In 1985 the church underwent
major alterations, being extended to the south with a new main
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.