History Files

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 175

Target: 400

Totals slider

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.



Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 1 May 2020. Updated 28 January 2022

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 20: Churches of Blagdon Green to Otterford

Blagdon Mission Room, Blagdon Green, Somerset

Blagdon Mission Room, Blagdon Green, is at the north-east corner of the main road through Blagdon Hill and the junction with Curdleigh Lane. The building was erected in 1878 for the benefit of parishioners who lived along the long, steep climb up the Blackdown Hills to its immediate south. Judging by the sign clipped to the doorpost, the building still serves an occasional function as a meeting room, even though its main use has been given over to a small business.

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, stands on a rising hill on the eastern flank of Church Farm and the northern side of the access lane in otherwise open countryside. The earliest record of a religious house here dates to 1158, when the 'Chapel of Otriforde' was granted to Taunton Priory (see links) by the then-bishop of Winchester, Henry de Blois, grandson of William of Normandy, whose seat held the parish in the millennium between AD 854 and about 1822.

Church of St Leonard, Otterford, Somerset

The history of the parish and the manor are closely intertwined, with this most likely being the reason that no village developed around the isolated church. As a result it has remained somewhat isolated. It is not known exactly when this Gothic church was built. Local belief is that it was a pilgrim church, a half-way resting place for pilgrims who were travelling between Exeter and Glastonbury. Its Grade II listing suggests that it was constructed in the fourteenth century.

Church of St Leonard, Otterford, Somerset

Externally the building has a simple form with a high tower measuring about fifteen metres, plus a nave, aisle, and chancel. The south elevation has changed little over the centuries, but the north aisle (seen in the second photo, above) was added in 1861, at which time a good deal of the rest of the building's fabric was heavily restored, so much so that it is described as being 'mostly of 1861'. Only the tower escaped such attention, while the church remains in use today.

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

Images reproduced


Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.