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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Somerset

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

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 21: Churches of Bishopswood to Stapley

Bishopswood Plymouth Brethren Chapel / Bishopswood Chapel, Bishopswood, Somerset

Bishopswood Plymouth Brethren Chapel is on the north side of Royston Road in Bishopswood (formerly Bishop's Wood), about 450m west of the River Yarty crossing. The chapel is noted as having been built in 1874, although Victorian and Edwardian OS maps show it as a school. By the 1930s it was indeed being noted as a chapel. Now Bishop's Wood Chapel, it and a neighbouring cottage were badly damaged by fire in 2018. Both were fully repaired by 2021.

Churchinford Baptist Chapel, Churchinford, Somerset

Churchinford Baptist Chapel is on the western side of Gillards Mead, about two hundred metres north of Churchinford village square. Standing at the back of a small garden close to the lane, it was built in 1846 as a chapelry - or mission - of Newhouse Independent Baptist Chapel, Smeatharpe near Upottery in East Devon. The building consists of rendering over rubble, with roughcast returns, and a slate roof. The plain brick bell cote was added in the mid-1900s.

Churchinford Baptist Chapel, Churchinford, Somerset

The internal plan is of a single cell, a relatively common layout. The sundial over the entrance is inscribed with latitude and declination, along with the inscription 'The Heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork', and is signed 'JNA Blackmore fecit 1846'. With attendances dwindling in this sleepy location, the chapel closed late in the twentieth century and was later converted into a private residence, with many original features retained.

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.

Stapley Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Stapley, Somerset

Stapley Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was originally at the far south-eastern end of the narrow lane shown here, leading from the eastern side of the main road through this scattered hamlet. The chapel existed by 1888 as shown on the OS map of 1889, apparently adjoining a larger house. It lay immediately south of a silk mill which, even by 1888, was disused, with the chapel probably having been erected to serve its workers. The mill is now a restored private dwelling.

Stapley Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Stapley, Somerset

The tin tabernacle chapel was gradually decaying and was quite hard to reach - down a very boggy footpath near the mill stream. By 2019 neither it or its stone foundations could be found down there. According to a local, the hamlet's now-elderly historian and mortician would sit as a boy on the stone wall near the chapel to throw stones at the girls as they came out. Now he uses the chapel in which to lay out his 'patients', having moved it to the west side of the road.

Five photos on this page by P L Kessler, with one kindly contributed by Andrew Hill via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group. Former Taunton Deane area church names and locations kindly confirmed by South West Heritage Trust.

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