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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 21 November 2020

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 41: Churches of Lydeard St Lawrence to Tolland

Church of St Lawrence, Lydeard St Lawrence, Somerset

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.

Church of St Lawrence, Lydeard St Lawrence, Somerset

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, Somerset

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, Somerset

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, Somerset

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.

St John the Baptist's Church, Tolland, Somerset

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).

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