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Gallery: Churches of Somerset
by Peter Kessler, 21 November 2020
SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 33:
Churches of Langley Marsh & Wiveliscombe
St Luke's Mission Church, Langley Marsh,
is set back from the southern side of Blackwater Lane, towards the
eastern end of the hamlet. This mission replaced one in the nearby
Hillside Barn, believed to have served the local miners.
Locally nicknamed 'Langley Cathedral', it opened on 14 October 1893,
with seating for a hundred. Made of corrugated iron, this 'tin chapel'
was erected at the expense of Reverend Howard McCricks on land given
by the Bouchers of Greenway Farm.
Wiveliscombe Evangelical Congregational Church,
Wiveliscombe, is located in The Manse, on the western side of Silver
Street (Golden Hill), about sixty metres south of The Mews
turning. It was erected in 1708, making it one of the oldest such
buildings. Enlargement work was undertaken in 1825. It is rendered,
with a shallow-pitched Welsh slate roof. The south (far) side and
east bay were slightly enlarged around 1900 to take a new organ. The
church remains open.
Wiveliscombe Reading Room is on the
eastern side of Silver Street (No 10), about fifty metres north-east
of the High Street junction. Reading rooms were imposed upon the
working classes by the upper classes, mainly the church and local
landowners. This one was opened in 1887, but the need for reading
rooms declined throughout the twentieth century. Wiveliscombe's
became parish council rooms for an uncertain period, but today the
building serves as a guesthouse.
St Richard's Catholic Chapel was in a
former newsagent shop on Silver Street, seemingly close to the High
Street junction (the right-hand side of the street is shown here).
Catholics initially met wherever they could find an available room,
including (apparently) hired rooms in local public houses and, for
a while, a room in the town hall chambers. A mission started in
1942 and the chapel opened in the same year. It was replaced by a
permanent building in 1967 (see links).
St Andrew's Church, Wiveliscombe, sits a
little way back from the south side of Church Street, flanked to
the west by Rotton Row, and with a very large churchyard behind
it. A church here was first documented in 1179. Under Bishop Ralph
a new church was later built on the same site. Whilst evidence of
its design is limited, it is known that there was a particularly
handsome carved and gilded oak rood screen and carved oak seat ends
and pulpit, plus a south entrance.
In 1826 the building's pillars were found to be
out of true and the cracked tower oscillated when the bells were
rung. With the necessary repairs not much less than the cost of a
brand new building, in 1827 it was demolished, and the present
church was consecrated in 1829. It is in the Gothic style, with
seating for 1,250. An organ was first installed in 1845, enlarged
and moved to the south aisle in 1892, and moved back in 1929. More
work took place in 1995 and 2000.
Four photos on this page by P L Kessler, plus
two kindly contributed by Huw Thomas 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 from The Rise and Decline
of Village Reading Rooms, Carole King (Cambridge University