History Files


Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 24 January 2020

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 14: Churches of Creech St Michael to Thornfalcon

The Parish Church of St Michael, Crech St Michael, Somerset

The Parish Church of St Michael, Creech St Michael, is on the east side of Bull Street, a short way below the Vicarage Lane junction. Probably the oldest building in the parish, parts of it were erected in the twelfth century (it was owned by Montacute Priory from around 1105). A vicar was appointed in 1362, and the priory's appropriation of the church was confirmed. By 1532 the church was dedicated as All Saints Church, with St Michael replacing this by 1742.

The Parish Church of St Michael, Crech St Michael, Somerset

Next door to the church is the former Riverside Inn which was also once a monastic building. The church itself, built in rubble with ashlar dressings, consists of nave, chancel, four bays, aisles, and a tower on the north side (a west tower is far more usual). Nave and chancel were probably undivided in the early 1200s - the chancel arch is an insertion of the 1400s, while the nave's fine wagon roof is of the same date. There are several medieval wall paintings inside the church.

St George's Church, Ruishton, Somerset

St George's Church, Ruishton ('town of the [River Tone's] rushes'), is in the fork between Church Lane and Drake's Close at the village's northern tip. Christianity may have existed amongst Somerset's Dumnonian Britons, but Rome's updated form of it only arrived with the building of a Saxon minster church in Taunton in the 700s. Its missionary priests established a preaching place (or perhaps a chapel) in Ruishton, presumably on the site of today's church building.

St George's Church, Ruishton, Somerset

In 1120 the local manor churches were granted to Taunton's new Augustinian priory. It may have been the priory's canons who inspired the building of a new church in the same century, with a highly popular dedication. Its Norman remains can still be seen at the south door, but much was replaced over many centuries of improvements. By the 1500s work started on the west tower, but construction of this equal of any other Somerset tower was forever halted by the Reformation.

Ruishton Congregational Chapel, Ruishton, Somerset

Nonconformity was apparently late in arising in Ruishton. A preaching station here was closed by 1850 but it is believed that the Congregationalists had a 'tin chapel' in the village later than this date, which would effectively have acted as Ruishton Congregational Chapel. Unfortunately neither the location of the preaching station or the tin church are known, so this shot looks along Ruishton to provide a general view which includes the village school on the right.

Church of the Holy Cross, Thornfalcon, Somerset

The Church of the Holy Cross, Thornfalcon, stands at the eastern end of Church Lane in this small hamlet. It has its origins in the later part of the thirteenth century, although much of that fabric was replaced by rebuilding from the late fourteenth century on. It underwent a much more comprehensive restoration in 1882 by Benjamin Ferrey. Then the rendered two-stage tower was restored in 1912, the church restored again in 1920, and the vestry added in 1958.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler. Former Taunton Deane area church names and locations kindly confirmed by South West Heritage Trust.

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