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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 6 September 2019

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 2: Churches of Central Taunton

Christadelphian Hall, Taunton, Somerset

The Christadelphian Hall stands at the south-east corner of the Priory Avenue and Winchester Street junction. On the OS 25-inch map of 1892-1914 this area of Taunton had not yet been built up, although the terraced houses were coming close. All of the land to the east of this point was open ground, partially the fields of Lambrook Farm. A small structure on the 1937-1961 maps may or may not be the hall itself. By the time of the 1949-1968 series the hall certainly is there.

Canon Street Pentacostal Church, Taunton, Somerset

Canon Street Pentecostal Church is on the western side of Canon Street, flanked by the large car park on its northern and western sides. The London Gazette of 26 August 1952 states: 'A separate building, duly certified for religious worship, named Pentecostal Church, situated at Canon Street, Taunton in Taunton registration district in the county of Somerset was on the 14 August 1952, registered for solemnising marriages therein'. The building still stands.

Magdalen Street Ebenezer Chapel, Taunton, Somerset

Magdalen Street Ebenezer Chapel stood at the very eastern end of the street, opposite the southern exit of Canon Street. SW Heritage provides precise coordinates, but the chapel is absent on the OS 25-inch map of the 1890s-1910s, so it seems to have closed by that date. 'Ebenezer' was most often used by the Baptists, suggesting an early Baptist chapel. Its congregation may have moved to Silver Street. The site is now occupied by the apartment block shown here.

Tancred Street Chapel, Taunton, Somerset

Tancred Street Chapel stood on the street of that name, but a precise location is unavailable. In 1732 Presbyterian members of the Paul Street meeting seceded and built the Tancred Street meeting house. It is described as a compact building fifty feet in length, decorated in front by lime trees. The chapel attracted 'poorer cloth workers' and those involved in the less skilled trades. They had to leave their now-ruinous chapel in 1814 to merge with the Unitarians.

The Octagon Chapel, Taunton, Somerset

The (New) Octagon Chapel sits on the southern side of East Reach, opposite the Esso petrol station which itself is about fifty metres east of Haydon Road. The Methodists left the original Octagon Gospel Chapel in 1809 but retained it for Sunday School work until 1832. Then it was used by the Bible Christian Methodists until 1840 when the Christian Brethren bought it. They sold it in 1965 when they moved to their new Octagon Chapel, but this closed in 2012.

Our Lady of Glastonbury, Taunton, Somerset

The Church of Our Lady of Glastonbury is on the eastern side of South Street, overlooking the entrance of Alma Street. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, in response to the repeated requests of young men who were interested in a traditional priestly formation, founded the Society of Saint Pius X on 1 November 1970. Eleven young men began their studies under the archbishop at a new seminary in Econe, Switzerland, and this is one of the society's Catholic churches.

Salvation Army, Taunton, Somerset

The Salvation Army Community Hall in Taunton stands on the western side of South Street, opposite the Queen Street junction. The building was officially opened on 21 October 2009 by then-Taunton Deane Mayor Bob Bowrah, Taunton MP Jeremy Browne, and national representatives of the Salvation Army. It replaced a 1950s building. Before that was erected, OS maps show what could be business premises on the site - no gardens and a small yard to the rear.

Holy Trinity Church, Taunton, Somerset

Holy Trinity Church sits at the south-east corner of the junction between Church Street and Trinity Street. In 1569 the number of people who lived in the Trinity area was around forty. In 1831, with the development of the railway network, this figure reached over two thousand. In 1839 the bishop of Bath and Wells agreed to the establishment of the parish of Holy Trinity, with the new parish church shown here opening on 18 June 1842.

Holy Trinity Church, Taunton, Somerset

The church itself stands out from the terraced buildings surrounding it. Clad in white lias stone, it has a tower nearly twenty eight metres tall, and is a large airy but compact building, which originally seated over a thousand people. It is very plain, almost austere to look at, but many people going in for the first time comment on its beauty. The tower contains a ring of six bells. The parish has never been wealthy, with the church serving the former workhouse nearby.

Victoria Street Chapel, Taunton, Somerset

The now-lost Victoria Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel stood on the eastern side of the street, immediately north of No 3 which is part of a Victorian terrace. The chapel stood back from the street, roughly where the modern utility building now stands. It had a gabled front with corner buttresses and pinnacles, gabled porch with traceried doors and grouped lancets. The chapel was built in 1839 but it closed 1979 and was later demolished (it had gone by 2009).

Nine photos on this page by P L Kessler. Former Taunton Deane area church names and locations kindly confirmed by South West Heritage Trust, with additional information from The Chapels Society visit to Mid-Somerset, 28 September 2013, by Peter Daniel, David Dawson, and Roger Thorne.

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