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Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 15 November 2019

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 9: Churches of Staplegrove to Hestercombe

Plymouth Brethren Meeting Room (Exclusive Brethren), Staplegrove, Taunton, Somerset

Staplegrove's Plymouth Brethren Meeting Room (Exclusive Brethren) lies in an enclosure on the southern side of Corkscrew Lane on the edge of Taunton. The plain brown-brick building is apparently windowless (the two on the eastern side have been bricked up). At the end of the nineteenth century this land was part of Pinkers Farm. The streets to the immediate east were laid down post-war, so the Brethren building no doubt dates to around 1960 or so.

Kingston St Mary Independent Chapel, Somerset

Kingston St Mary Independent Chapel stands on the southern side of Greenway (sometimes known as Quantock Way), about a hundred metres west of the local school. It is marked as a chapel on the OS 25-inch map of 1892-1914, and is still marked as such on the OS 1:10,560 of 1949-1968. Its date of closure is unknown but was probably post-war. The building is now known as Chapel Cottage and its former congregation now meet in the church of St Mary the Virgin (see below).

The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Kingston St Mary, Somerset

The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Kingston St Mary, occupies a generous churchyard on the north-western side of Church Lane, flanked by The Old School to the north. The village was formerly referred to as Kingston-juxta-Taunton, with the present name only becoming dominant from the 1950s. The building was largely erected during the reign of Henry VII, with a lofty ornamented tower containing six bells. The chancel contains a fine altar tomb of the Warre family.

The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Kingston St Mary, Somerset

The Warres of Hestercombe held the church from the reign of Henry III (1216-1272). It has a west tower of about 1490, with interesting 'hunky-punks' perched high on the corners (named possibly because the carvings are squatting on their hunkers). Many alterations have been made over the centuries but the building essentially has a thirteenth century Early English core which was enlarged and transformed in the Perpendicular style three hundred years later.

Warre Chapel, Herstercombe House, Taunton, Somerset

The Warre Chapel stood in the grounds of Hestercombe House, a short way to the east of Kingston St Mary. The Warre family were resident here from around 1400. The above image just about shows a painting of Hestercombe House around 1700 by an unknown artist. The Gothic chapel with bell turret can be discerned at the centre front. It was demolished about 1766, having been linked to the house by a tree-lined avenue, lying alongside an orangery/greenhouse.

St Mary's Church Hestercombe, Taunton, Somerset

St Mary's Church Hestercombe (otherwise known as the Portman Chapel) was sited about seventy metres north-east of Gotton Lodge on the lane towards Gotton Copse, on its south-eastern side. Timber-framed and clad in corrugated iron sheeting on a brick frame with a thatched roof, it was built for the estate by the Portmans around 1894. The vicar of St Andrew's in Taunton was required to hold the services. The church was subsequently moved to Taunton around 1952.

Four photos on this page by P L Kessler, and one kindly contributed by Hestercombe Gardens Trust Archive. Former Taunton Deane area church names and locations kindly confirmed by South West Heritage Trust.

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