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Modern Britain

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, Taunton, Somerset

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, Taunton, Somerset

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 Church of St John the Evangelist, Parish Church of Staplegrove, Taunton, Somerset

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.

Staplegrove New Spiritualist Church, Taunton, Somerset

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, Staplegrove, Taunton, Somerset

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, Taunton, Somerset

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, Rowbarton, Taunton, Somerset

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 Hall.

Rowbarton Congregational Church, Rowbarton, Taunton, Somerset

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 United Reformed.

St Andrew's Church, Rowbarton, Taunton, Somerset

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 Methodist Church, Taunton, Somerset

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 entrance.

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.

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