Chelmsine Plymouth Brethren Chapel & Burial
Ground is at the south-eastern corner of the Budley-Quants Wood
road, where it meets the easterly lane to Lowton, and about a
kilometre west of Lowton itself. It is shown on OS maps of the late
1880s to 1910s and with a still-extant burial ground next to it (on
its southern flank, shown in part here) which was still very well
kept in 2019. It was built about 1880 and was converted into a
private residence in the 1990s.
John Leche Kraushaar (1819-1899) was born in
Stepney in East London to a family with German heritage (there was
a thriving community of German-speaking ex-pats in this part of
London). Having been introduced to religion by his cousins
he later joined the Plymouth Brethren. When he moved to Somerset
between 1867 and 1874, he built Chelmsine Chapel and its burial
ground. His son John James was buried in Taunton in 1874, but John
Leche was buried at Chelmsine.
Five Cross Way Plymouth Brethren Chapel
occupies a large section of the v-shape formed by the meeting point
of Silver Street from West Buckland and a local north-east-heading
lane, with three more lanes branching off to the south which
includes Wildmoor Lane - the five ways to cross here. The chapel
existed by 1887, as shown on the 1888 OS map. It remained in use by
its congregation after the war but later closed and was converted
into a private residence.
The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
West Buckland, is at the west edge of the village, accessed
from Silver Street at the war memorial via Church Drive. A Norman
church originally stood here, but it was replaced in the thirteenth
century - roughly between 1275-1300 - by the present chert random
rubble structure. Ordinarily known as St Mary the Virgin, the aisles
were added in the early 1300s, the south chapel in the late 1300s,
and the north chapel about 1509.
It consists of a two-bay aisled nave, chancel,
and north and south chapels with hammerbeam roof, and a crenellated
three-stage tower dating from 1509. The six bells are from the
Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the oldest dating from 1606. It was cast
and hung by George Purdue of Taunton. The church also has a Purbeck
marble font. Between 1838 and 1891 there was a gallery which over
the years accommodated a barrel organ, the church band, and the
Ford Street Plymouth Brethren Chapel is
mostly hidden from sight up a narrow, wooden-gated private footpath
on Ford Street's northern side, about a hundred metres north of the
turning for Gortnell Farm. The chapel is shown on the OS 25-inch map
of 1888 (surveyed in 1887), although a date of construction is not
available. It was seemingly already closed by the time of the Second
World War. Today it is a private residence that is part of a larger
property to its east.
Four photos on this page by P L Kessler, with two
kindly contributed by Alison Day 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.
Additional information by Alison Day.