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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 1 May 2020

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 20: Churches of Blagdon Hill to Churchinford

Blagdon Hill Nonconformist Chapel, Somerset

Blagdon Hill Nonconformist Chapel is inside the tight v-shape formed by the junction on the western side of the Taunton road with the Churchstanton road, about halfway up the steep hill climb here. The chapel was in existence at least by about 1900, and is shown on the combined OS 25-inch map of 1880-1910s. It survived into the 1920s (OS 1:1m to 1:63k, 1920s-1940s), and at least until about 1940 (Bartholomew Half Inch 1940-1947). It is now a private residence.

Otterford Nonconformist Chapel, Otterford, Somerset

Otterford Nonconformist Chapel is on the eastern side of a northbound lane, a little under two hundred metres north of the fork which sees the B3170 diverging to the north-east, and some way to the north-east of Otterford itself. Known also as Blackdown Nonconformist Mission Chapel, it may have been built in the 1700s, or early 1800s. The 'British School (mixed)' was added some metres to the south in 1874. The chapel later closed and became a private residence.

Church of St Leonard, Otterford, Somerset

The Church of St Leonard, Otterford, is on the eastern flank of Church Farm and the northern side of the acesss lane in otherwise open countryside. Its earliest record dates to 1158 - the 'Chapel of Otriforde' was granted to Taunton Priory (see links) by the then-bishop of Winchester, whose seat held the parish in AD 854-1822. The history of the parish and the manor are closely intertwined, this likely being the reason that no village developed around the isolated church.

Church of St Leonard, Otterford, Somerset

It is not known exactly when the church was built. Local belief is that it was a pilgrim church, a half-way resting place for pilgrims travelling between Exeter and Glastonbury. Externally it has a simple form with a high tower, nave, aisle, and chancel. The south elevation has changed little over the centuries, but the north aisle was added in 1861, at which time a good deal of the rest of the building's fabric was heavily restored. Only the tower escaped such attention.

Churchinford Baptist Chapel, Churchinford, Somerset

Churchinford Baptist Chapel is on the western side of Gillards Mead, about two hundred metres north of the village square. It was built in 1846 as a chapelry - or mission - of Newhouses Independent Baptist Church, near Upottery in Devon. The plain brick bell cote was added in the mid-1900s. The building consists of rendering over rubble, with a slate roof. The internal plan is of a single cell. The chapel closed late in the twentieth century and is now a private residence.

Churchinford Old Chapel, Churchinford, Somerset

Churchinford Old Chapel lies on the road verge on the southern side of Moor Lane, immediately north of Fairhouse Farm and close to Churchingford Mill to the east of the village itself. The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) notes the remains of an ancient church here, with no further details. The OS 25-inch combination map of 1892-1914 also marks it as the site of the chapel, most certainly a small one given its present size. Since 2009 it has become a cottage.

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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