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Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 26 September 2020

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 26: Churches of Chelston to Bradford-on-Tone

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.

Church of St Peter & St Paul, Runnington, Somerset

The Church of St Peter & St Paul, Runnington, is on the south side of the lane, immediately to the west of Runnington Cider Barn, and about four hundred metres north of the River Tone as the crow flies. The list of rectors for the church starts in 1326, while the first church building may have been erected in the twelfth century. The present red sandstone building replaced that original church at an uncertain point between the fifteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

Church of St Peter & St Paul, Runnington, Somerset

It has a nave, chancel, and small tower, but has undergone a number of alterations over later centuries, notably the removal of the rood screen, used by singers and musicians until the coming of the organ, which is when it was removed. The access point to it can still be seen. Alterations during the Victorian period seem to have been limited largely to laying a tiled floor. The church stood in for Wellington's damaged parish church during the Commonwealth period.

Church of All Saints, Nynehead, Somerset

The Church of All Saints, Nynehead, is on a raised area of land at the south-west corner of this hamlet, immediately south of Nynehead Court which is now a series of converted apartments. A church probably existed on the site prior to the arrival of the Normans as the building was mentioned in Domesday Book in 1086. That building was replaced by the present one in the fourteenth century. It is built mostly of the distinctive local red sandstone in the Perpendicular style.

Church of All Saints, Nynehead, Somerset

The south aisle and a chapel date to about 1410, while the building underwent a Victorian restoration in 1869. About that time a substantial addition was made by Edward Sanford of Nynehead Court with the building of the Sanford Memorial Chapel (seen above in the first photo), along with a new vestry and organ chamber. The Sanfords were a prominent local family, and the chapel windows feature roundels of coats of arms, giving the family history from 1638-1800s.

Bradford-on-Tone Congregational Chapel & Burial Ground, Somerset

Bradford-on-Tone Congregational Chapel & Burial Ground can be found on the eastern side of Regent Street, immediately north of the curve in the road where it heads to meet Back Lane. The date below the roof reads 1859, while the chapel remained in use until after the First World War. When closed and sold to the Berry family who lived next door (now Bradford House), it became 'New Hall' and then the garage for the original Berry's buses. Now it is a private residence.

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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