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Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 1 May 2020

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 17: Churches of Hatch Beauchamp to Curland

Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Hatch Beauchamp, Somerset

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Hatch Beauchamp, can be difficult to find, hidden as it is behind the stately home of Hatch Court. Access is via what seems to be a private road beside the entrance to the house. The church is on its far side. Built for the most part in blue lias stone with ham stone dressings, it existed in its earliest form before 1206, at which time it was recorded in the Patent Rolls. Unfortunately no other records exist to describe that early church.

Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Hatch Beauchamp, Somerset

The tower, nave, and part of the north aisle date to about 1500. The chancel is earlier, but many alterations have been made to it. The chancel arch replaced the original Norman arch which was removed in 1867, and stands slightly to the east of it, shortening the chancel. Much other work was carried out in the same year thanks to the building being 'in a very ruinous condition', with stonework crumbling. The south aisle and the transept-like vestry were added in 1834.

Hatch Beauchamp Baptist Chapel, Somerset

Hatch Beauchamp Baptist Chapel is on the eastern side of Village Road, about a hundred-and-seventy metres south of the Bickenhall Lane turnoff. The meeting was founded in 1630, reputedly the earliest in western Somerset. It soon became 'Particular' or 'Strict' in nature, probably meeting in members' homes. The chapel was erected in 1784, with lecture rooms added in 1883, and a manse in 1855. The chapel was closed for services in 2012 and is now a private residence.

St Paul's (Old) Church, Bickenhall, Somerset

St Paul's (Old) Church, Bickenhall, was on the east side of the lane which heads north to Bickenhall Wood, around a hundred metres north of Prospect House. A date of initial construction seems unavailable, but it was noted as being a typical medieval village church. In something of a state of disrepair at the time, the church was demolished in 1849 by the rector and then rebuilt nearer his rectory as St Paul's (New) Church (below). The graveyard remains behind the stone wall.

St Paul's (New) Church, Bickenhall, Somerset

St Paul's (New) Church stands on the northern side of the 'New Road', about a hundred metres east of the Grughay Lane junction. When the rector of the old St Paul's Church (above) demolished his dilapidated church in 1849 he had it rebuilt here. For that reason it must be assumed that the appearance and general layout remain largely unchanged, using blue lias stone and ham stone dressings. Declared redundant in the late 1900s it is now Neroche Hall, Bickenhall.

Curland Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Curland, Somerset

Curland Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Curland, sits at the back of its own burial ground on the southern side of the Curland to Bickenhall lane, at the heart of the hamlet. Another lane passes behind the site to give a good view of the former school room (to the right here). The chapel is dated 1824, but it was largely rebuilt, widened, and extended in the mid-1800s. It was closed around the year 2000 and was later converted into a five-bed private residence.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler. Former Taunton Deane area church names and locations kindly confirmed by South West Heritage Trust. Additional information from The Baptists of Hatch Beauchamp, W Fisher (Baptist Quarterly, January-April, 1946).


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