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Gallery: Churches of Somerset
by Peter Kessler, 21 November 2020
SW&T (Taunton Deane) Part 31:
Churches of Greenham to Stawley
St Peter's Church, Greenham, is on the
southern side of Bishop's Hill, just a hundred metres or so west of
remnants of the Grand Western Canal. It was consecrated in 1860 as a
chapel-of-ease to St John the Baptist, Ashbrittle (see below),
saving the people of Greenham a long uphill walk to Ashbrittle. The
building is in the Gothic revival style, albeit in a miniature and
plainer version. A three-part stained glass window sits at the east
end depicting the Trinity.
Appley Cross Union Chapel (Nonconformist),
Appley Cross, is on the northern side of the lane at Appley Cross,
about sixty metres east of the junction which leads north to Appley.
The original chapel existed here by 1887, sited where today is located
a freestanding garage for the main house on this corner. That original
chapel was replaced in 1914 by the much larger one that today forms
the private dwelling shown here, with the earlier chapel then being
The Church of St John the Baptist,
Ashbrittle, stands on the inside of the lane which loops off the
southern side of the main road through the hamlet, and about seventy
metres east of Rectory Road as the crow flies. A church existed here
by 1297 when its earliest-known rector was appointed. The present
building started out as a fifteenth century replacement, built in
random rubble red sandstone with Ham stone dressings, and principally
Perpendicular in style.
The tower, north aisle, and chancel were heavily
rebuilt and the nave 'restored' around 1874, largely due to the
generosity of then rector, Charles Penrose Quicke. He also installed
the fine clock. Records suggest that the church was in a very poor
state by the time the work was started. The stained glass in the
east window depicts 'The Raising of Lazarus', from the workshop of
William Wailes. The north chapel windows contain actual portraits,
given by Sir Edward Watkin.
The Church of St Michael & All Angels,
Stawley, sits at the far western end of a path which leads out from
the farm here. The origins of the church lie in the eleventh century,
seemingly for the most part after the Norman conquest but using
local builders who were only familiar with Saxon building techniques
rather than the more grandiose stone-building practices of their new
masters. A section of the herringbone walling on the outer north
wall of the nave gives this away.
Despite this the church is mentioned neither in
Domesday Book (1086) nor in Pope Nicholas' Taxatio (1191).
It is particularly noteworthy for its unrestored interior, although
Kelly's directory of 1875 says it was restored in 1873 (this is not
particularly evident). The exterior was rendered with cement in the
late 1900s but this was removed in the early 2000s to take the church
back to its original flat lime mortar pointed exterior. It has only a
few modern touches.
Five photos on this page kindly contributed by
Huw Thomas and one by Mike Ware, all 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 Huw Thomas.