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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 21 November 2020

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 37: Churches of Preston Bowyer to Cotford St Luke

Preston Bowyer Chantry, Preston Bowyer, Somerset

Preston Bowyer Chantry, Preston Bowyer, is on the north side of the B3227, level with the village bus stop. A medieval chantry existed here, although a dedication is not known. The present long house may not be the original building - and is doubtless much altered and expanded if it is. Instead it may have been built out of the core of the chantry structure in the late 1400s. British Listed Buildings gives it a late-1400s construction date to support this idea.

Hillcommon Bible Christian Chapel, Hillcommon, Somerset

Hillcommon Bible Christian Chapel is on the southern side of Hillcommon Road (B3227), about three hundred metres east of the junction with Cox's Lane. It was erected in 1846, although a date of 1842 is also claimed, soon after Hillcommon had first been built up. At some point it became Hillcommon Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (probably late 1800s). This red sandstone random rubble chapel closed after the conclusion of the Second World War, before 1974.

The Church of St John the Baptist Heathfield with Cotford St Luke, Somerset

The Church of St John the Baptist Heathfield with Cotford St Luke is set back behind a large gate and high hedges on the western side of the road through the hamlet of Heathfield, opposite large farm buildings. It is shown on the OS 25-inch combined map of 1892-1914 as sitting on the northern flank of Heathfield House which still survives, practically unchanged in its footprint. The church itself dates to the thirteenth century, although it has been much altered since then.

The Church of St John the Baptist Heathfield with Cotford St Luke, Somerset

The tower aside, the church underwent substantial rebuilding in 1869-1870, which is when the vestry was added, although the chancel had already been rebuilt in 1841 by Edward Ashworth. Today the building consists of a general red sandstone random rubble build, with slate roofs, decorative ridge tiles, coped verges on the porch, a west tower, two-bay nave, south-east former chapel (now the organ chamber) adjoining the south porch, and the three-stage tower.

St Luke's Church, Somerset & Bath Lunatic Asylum, Cotford St Luke, Somerset

St Luke's Church, Somerset & Bath Lunatic Asylum, Cotford St Luke, stands on the southern side of Graham Way, opposite the Stutts End turning. The chapel was built in 1897-1898 by Giles, Gough, & Trollope who also designed the hospital. It served the asylum and then Tone Vale Hospital when the asylum was converted. Now much of the former asylum grounds have been given over to a housing estate. By 2009 the chapel was a free house and restaurant.

St Luke's Centre, Cotford St Luke, Somerset

St Luke's Centre sits at the south-west end of Rogers Walk, which leads south from Graham Way. It was built on the very western edge of what used to be the Somerset & Bath Lunatic Asylum buildings (now gone, although the former chapel survives - see above). The centre was officially opened by the bishop of Bath and Wells on 21 October 2018, seemingly to make up for the closure of the former asylum chapel and also to be more local than St John, Heathfield (above).

All photos on this page by P L Kessler. Former Taunton Deane area church names and locations kindly confirmed by South West Heritage Trust.

Images reproduced


Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.