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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Somerset

by Peter Kessler, 19 June 2020

SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 25: Churches of Wellington

Quaker Meeting House, Wellington, Somerset

The Quaker Meeting House is on the south side of the High Street, opposite the bus stop near the White Hart Lane junction, and through a brightly-coloured streetside facade. George Fox toured the south-west in 1663, holding meetings wherever he went. His return journey brought him through Wellington, giving rise to a Society of Friends meeting here later in the same century. Their meeting house was rebuilt in 1729 and 1842-1845, and had its own burial ground.

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, Wellington, Somerset

The town's Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses sat on the south side of the narrow White Hart Lane. During the 1930s this building was a clubhouse of some kind, itself replacing a carriage works. It became outdated and inadequate when it came to accommodating a growing JW congregation. That congregation joined the one at Taunton Vivary hall on the High Street, while plans in Wellington were approved in 2018 to turn the former hall into two private residences.

Millway Evangelical Church (Brethren), Wellington, Somerset

Millway Evangelical Church (Brethren) lies well back from the southern side of North Street, a little over a hundred metres west of the High Street junction. Brethren members first built a chapel here between 1839 and 1841, at which time it was known as Millway Meeting House. Construction of the present building was completed in 1862, with some modernisation, accessed via a short arched passage from North Street. Behind the building is a small burial ground.

Waterloo Road Bible Christian Chapel / Wellington Methodist Church, Wellington, Somerset

Waterloo Road Bible Christian Chapel is on the eastern side of Waterloo Road, overlooking the Corams Lane junction. It was founded in 1899, with Scott's Lane Chapel (see links) being left behind for this much more imposing building. In 1907 the chapel became Wellington United Methodist Church at the union. Further Methodist Union in 1932 created the present Wellington Methodist Church. The existing Mantle Street Methodist chapel remained in use, though, until 1985.

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Wellington, Somerset

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist sits at the north-eastern corner of the 'u'-shaped Church Fields, overlooking Taunton Road on its eastern flank. Some evidence exists to suggest that a Roman temple of some sort existed in this vicinity prior to the West Saxon conquest in the eighth century. The Church of St Mary existed on the present site by the early tenth century, if not before. The medieval establishment here was richly endowed and well-established.

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Wellington, Somerset

The church site (possibly a minster in the later Saxon period, and possibly overlying that earlier sacred place) still preserved some late Saxon foundations. A new building was erected in 1178. By the 1300s, that had largely been rebuilt, but at least elements of that version survive today. Again though, that building was heavily rebuilt, embellished, and rededicated at the Reformation. Fragments of the medieval reredos, defaced, were reused for paving stones in the chancel.

Five photos on this page by P L Kessler, and one by On the Market. Former Taunton Deane area church names and locations kindly confirmed by South West Heritage Trust. Additional information from Kelly's Somersetshire Directory 1889, from Somerset extensive urban survey: Wellington, Archaeological assessment, and Kelly's Somersetshire Directory 1889, and from The London Gazette, 1848.

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