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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 21 November 2020

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 32: Churches of Greenham to Stawley

St Peter's Church, Greenham, Somerset

St Peter's Church, Greenham, is on the southern side of Bishop's Hill, just a hundred metres or so west of remnants of the Grand Western Canal. It was consecrated in 1860 as a chapel-of-ease to St John the Baptist, Ashbrittle (see below), saving the people of Greenham a long uphill walk to Ashbrittle. The building is in the Gothic revival style, albeit in a miniature and plainer version. A three-part stained glass window sits at the east end depicting the Trinity.

Appley Cross Union Chapel (Nonconformist), Appley Cross, Somerset

Appley Cross Union Chapel (Nonconformist), Appley Cross, is on the northern side of the lane at Appley Cross, about sixty metres east of the junction which leads north to Appley. The original chapel existed here by 1887, sited where today is located a freestanding garage for the main house on this corner. That original chapel was replaced in 1914 by the much larger one that today forms the private dwelling shown here, with the earlier chapel then being demolished.

Church of St John the Baptist, Ashbrittle, Somerset

The Church of St John the Baptist, Ashbrittle, stands on the inside of the lane which loops off the southern side of the main road through the hamlet, and about seventy metres east of Rectory Road as the crow flies. A church existed here by 1297 when its earliest-known rector was appointed. The present building started out as a fifteenth century replacement, built in random rubble red sandstone with Ham stone dressings, and principally Perpendicular in style.

Church of St John the Baptist, Ashbrittle, Somerset

The tower, north aisle, and chancel were heavily rebuilt and the nave 'restored' around 1874, largely due to the generosity of then rector, Charles Penrose Quicke. He also installed the fine clock. Records suggest that the church was in a very poor state by the time the work was started. The stained glass in the east window depicts 'The Raising of Lazarus', from the workshop of William Wailes. The north chapel windows contain actual portraits, given by Sir Edward Watkin.

Church of St Michael & All Angels, Stawley, Somerset

The Church of St Michael & All Angels, Stawley, sits at the far western end of a path which leads out from the farm here. The origins of the church lie in the eleventh century, seemingly for the most part after the Norman conquest but using local builders who were only familiar with Saxon building techniques rather than the more grandiose stone-building practices of their new masters. A section of the herringbone walling on the outer north wall of the nave gives this away.

Church of St Michael & All Angels, Stawley, Somerset

Despite this the church is mentioned neither in Domesday Book (1086) nor in Pope Nicholas' Taxatio (1191). It is particularly noteworthy for its unrestored interior, although Kelly's directory of 1875 says it was restored in 1873 (this is not particularly evident). The exterior was rendered with cement in the late 1900s but this was removed in the early 2000s to take the church back to its original flat lime mortar pointed exterior. It has only a few modern touches.

Five photos on this page kindly contributed by Huw Thomas and one by Mike Ware, all 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 Huw Thomas.

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