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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 26 September 2020. Updated 28 January 2022

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 26: Churches of Wellington & Chelston Heath

Millway Evangelical Church (Brethren), Wellington, Somerset

Millway Evangelical Church (Brethren) lies well back from the southern side of North Street, a little over a hundred metres west of the High Street junction. Brethren members first built a chapel here between 1839 and 1841, at which time it was known as Millway Meeting House. Construction of the present building was completed in 1862, with some modernisation, accessed via a short arched passage from North Street. Behind the building is a small burial ground.

Waterloo Road Bible Christian Chapel / Wellington Methodist Church, Wellington, Somerset

Waterloo Road Bible Christian Chapel is on the eastern side of Waterloo Road, overlooking the Corams Lane junction. It was founded in 1899, with Scott's Lane Chapel (see links) being left behind for this much more imposing building. In 1907 the chapel became Wellington United Methodist Church at the union. Further Methodist Union in 1932 created the present Wellington Methodist Church. The existing Mantle Street Methodist chapel remained in use, though, until 1985.

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Wellington, Somerset

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist occupies a large churchyard at the north-eastern corner of the 'u'-shaped Church Fields in Wellington, overlooking the Taunton Road on its eastern flank. Some evidence exists to suggest that a Roman temple of some sort - possibly even a settlement - was located in this vicinity prior to the eighth century West Saxon conquest. The Church of St Mary the Virgin existed on the present site by the early tenth century, if not before.

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Wellington, Somerset

The medieval establishment here was richly endowed and well-established. The church site was possibly a minster in the later Saxon period, and possibly even overlies the Roman temple which has been suggested by archaeological findings. That medieval building still preserved some late Saxon foundations, but it was swept away by 1178 in favour of a new building. This generally followed the same floor plan as the original, so that the foundations show the same traces.

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Wellington, Somerset

By the 1300s, even that building had largely been rebuilt, but at least elements of that version survive today. Again though, that building was heavily rebuilt, embellished, and rededicated around the time of the Reformation. The church's dedication was changed around the same time, favouring St John over Mary, although the reason for such a change is now clear. Fragments of the medieval reredos, defaced, were reused for paving stones in the chancel.

Chelston Congregational Chapel, Chelston Heathfield, Somerset

Chelston Congregational Chapel, Chelston Heathfield, is on the southern side of the Heathfield Road (A38), about five hundred metres east of the Chelston Heath roundabout. The chapel's history seems largely unknown, but it existed by 1886 when it was recorded for the OS 25-inch England and Wales maps. By 1929 it was Chelston Chapel (Brethren), with a burial ground. That name remains in use to this day (2019), while immediately to the north-west was a brickworks.

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 Kelly's Somersetshire Directory 1889, from Somerset extensive urban survey: Wellington, Archaeological assessment, and from The London Gazette, 1848.

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