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Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 19 June 2020

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 22: Churches of Chelmsine to Ford Street

Chelmsine Plymouth Brethren Chapel & Burial Ground, Taunton, Somerset

Chelmsine Plymouth Brethren Chapel & Burial Ground is at the south-eastern corner of the Budley-Quants Wood road, where it meets the easterly lane to Lowton, and about a kilometre west of Lowton itself. It is shown on OS maps of the late 1880s to 1910s and with a still-extant burial ground next to it (on its southern flank, shown in part here) which was still very well kept in 2019. It was built about 1880 and was converted into a private residence in the 1990s.

Chelmsine Plymouth Brethren Chapel & Burial Ground, Taunton, Somerset

John Leche Kraushaar (1819-1899) was born in Stepney in East London to a family with German heritage (there was a thriving community of German-speaking ex-pats in this part of London). Having been introduced  to religion by his cousins he later joined the Plymouth Brethren. When he moved to Somerset between 1867 and 1874, he built Chelmsine Chapel and its burial ground. His son John James was buried in Taunton in 1874, but John Leche was buried at Chelmsine.

Five Cross Way Plymouth Brethren Chapel, Taunton, Somerset

Five Cross Way Plymouth Brethren Chapel occupies a large section of the v-shape formed by the meeting point of Silver Street from West Buckland and a local north-east-heading lane, with three more lanes branching off to the south which includes Wildmoor Lane - the five ways to cross here. The chapel existed by 1887, as shown on the 1888 OS map. It remained in use by its congregation after the war but later closed and was converted into a private residence.

Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, West Buckland, Somerset

The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, West Buckland, is at the west edge of the village, accessed from Silver Street at the war memorial via Church Drive. A Norman church originally stood here, but it was replaced in the thirteenth century - roughly between 1275-1300 - by the present chert random rubble structure. Ordinarily known as St Mary the Virgin, the aisles were added in the early 1300s, the south chapel in the late 1300s, and the north chapel about 1509.

Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, West Buckland, Somerset

It consists of a two-bay aisled nave, chancel, and north and south chapels with hammerbeam roof, and a crenellated three-stage tower dating from 1509. The six bells are from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the oldest dating from 1606. It was cast and hung by George Purdue of Taunton. The church also has a Purbeck marble font. Between 1838 and 1891 there was a gallery which over the years accommodated a barrel organ, the church band, and the church singers.

Ford Street Plymouth Brethren Chapel, Taunton, Somerset

Ford Street Plymouth Brethren Chapel is mostly hidden from sight up a narrow, wooden-gated private footpath on Ford Street's northern side, about a hundred metres north of the turning for Gortnell Farm. The chapel is shown on the OS 25-inch map of 1888 (surveyed in 1887), although a date of construction is not available. It was seemingly already closed by the time of the Second World War. Today it is a private residence that is part of a larger property to its east.

Four photos on this page by P L Kessler, with two kindly contributed by Alison Day via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group. Former Taunton Deane area church names and locations kindly confirmed by South West Heritage Trust. Additional information by Alison Day.


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