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Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 26 September 2020

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 27: Churches of Bradford-on-Tone to Hillfarrance

Church of St Giles, Bradford-on-Tone, Somerset

The Church of St Giles, Bradford-on-Tone, sits at the north end of Regent Street, towards the northern side of a large churchyard with the River Tone on its west flank (on the far side here). It probably occupies the site of a wooden church of the later Saxon period, having replaced it and potential later rebuilds in the 1200s, built in the Early English style. It was fully renovated in 1858-1859 when the tottering north wall was strengthened and a new roof was added.

Church of St Giles, Bradford-on-Tone, Somerset

The interior pillars are almost certainly Norman and the organ now occupies the fifteenth century north chapel. The fourteenth century south chapel was a chantry chapel and the blocked up priest's door can be seen from the churchyard. The eighteenth century pulpit was removed from St Mary's in Taunton (see links) and an effigy of a knight in armour in a niche on the south wall is that of Sir John de Merriet, lord of the manor and patron of the church between 1350-1391.

Rumwell Reading Room, Rumwell, Somerset

Rumwell Reading Room was contained in the southernmost (closest to the camera) of the three stone cottages on the western side of the main lane in the tiny hamlet of Rumwell, about a hundred and forty metres north of the A38 Wellington road. The OS 25-inch map of 1888 (surveyed 1887) shows it as Rumwell Independent Chapel. By 1902 it was a reading room. Even that role was over by 1929 (OS map 1930) when the building seemed to be in secular use.

Church of the Holy Cross, Hillfarrance, Somerset

The Church of the Holy Cross, Hillfarrance, is at the south side of the triangle junction at the centre of the village, opposite the village green. It was erected in the fourteenth century, seemingly early on. Built in stone in the Early English style, the church consists of chancel, nave, south chapel, south porch, and a western tower with turret staircase on the north side and containing five bells. The south chapel was built by William De Vernai in 1333, and he is buried here.

Church of the Holy Cross, Hillfarrance, Somerset

The porch contains the remains of a holy water stoup, while the tower was only added in the sixteenth century, late in England's great tower-building phase. The church was restored in 1857, and currently affords sittings for 160 persons. In the late twentieth century or early twenty-first it was modernised to include now-customary additions such as a small kitchen area and toilet facility. The bell tower was also upgraded to include a bell-ringing simulator.

Hillfarrance Bible Christian Chapel, Somerset

Hillfarrance Bible Christian Chapel is on the south side of the main lane, right on its edge, about ninety metres west of Holy Cross. The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) fails to mention a nonconformist chapel here, but it is shown on the OS 25-inch map of 1888 (surveyed in 1887) and also in 1904 (1903). By 1930 (1929) it was a recreation room. Today's private residence is a bigger building, but the front section may be the original chapel, much altered.

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 Directory of Somerset 1902.


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