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Gallery: Churches of Somerset
by Peter Kessler, 21 November 2020
SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 40:
Churches of Lydeard St Lawrence to Tolland
The Church of St Lawrence, Lydeard St
Lawrence, is on the western side of Nethercott Way, in the
central-southern section of the village. The church's official record
places a Saxon church on this site, prior to its replacement by a
Norman building. That too was replaced, by the core of the present
building in 1346, with additions in the 1400s. It is in the Decorated
and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, nave of four bays, a
north aisle, north and south porches, and tower.
That west tower, battlemented, with crocketed
pinnacles, contains a clock and (in 1902) five bells (since
increased to eight). The interior was restored in 1860 and 1870 at
a cost of £1,700, and the tower in 1880 when two of the bells were
recast; and in 1896 the plaster ceiling was removed and the roof
boarded. The chancel has a modern reredos, but retains its Decorated
windows, and sedilia and a piscina of the same date. On the south
porch is a sundial, marked 1653.
Lydeard St Lawrence Congregational Chapel
is on the eastern side of the main north-south lane through the
village, roughly a hundred and forty metres south of the Westowe
Hill junction. It is shown on Victorian OS maps as Congregational
but a date of opening is not available. It was still in use post-war
but is now Chapel Cottage, a converted private residence with three
loft windows, and with a visible bricked-up south gable window above
a small garage addition.
Scarr Congregational Chapel, Scarr, is on
the north side of the lane, immediately to the north of Scarr Bridge
and a lane which turns towards the east. A date of opening in what
would seem to be the easternmost of adjoined cottages is not
available but it existed by the end of the nineteenth century and is
shown on OS maps. It remains in use (in 2020) by the Evangelical
Fellowship of Congregational Churches, sometimes being referred to
more simply as Scarr Chapel.
St John the Baptist's Church, Tolland, is
about a hundred and fifty metres north of the main east-west Tolland
lane via a path or narrow lane that intersects immediately west of
Rock Farm. The present church was built in the thirteenth century,
but it clearly replaced an earlier structure as the church was given
to the Knights Hospitaller to support Buckland Priory, Durston, in
1180 (see links). After the dissolution of the monasteries the
property was transferred to the crown.
Remodelling work on the church was carried out in
1871 by C E Giles. The fabric consists of red sandstone rubble
masonry with Ham stone dressings, a two-stage west tower, rendered
on the lower stage, tiled roofs with ridge tiles, a three-bay nave
with north aisle and vestry, south porch, rood stair turret on the
south side, and a 1911 east window. Inside, altar rails are formed
by a low stone screen, like the pulpit and other fittings, all of
which date to the 1871 work.
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 by Huw Thomas,
and from Kelly's Directory of Somerset (1902). The tour now
progresses into SW&T (West Somerset).