Author: james

Church Crawl, Saturday, 6th July, 2024

The Churches of Pilton, Ditcheat and Croscombe
Hosted by Richard Raynsford

The star studded churches of this ‘crawl’ exhibit the most spectacular appearance both inside and out for the communities they have served for over a 1,000 years.

St John the Baptist, Pilton.
(BA4 4DX) dates from the 11th century, is Grade 1 listed and was most probably on the site of an earlier Wattle & Daub church built by early missionaries. The present Norman & medieval building, together with the local Tithe barn, are testament to the wealth of this community and its patron, Glastonbury Abbey.
Tea/ Coffee on arrival at 1.30 pm for a prompt start at 2.00 pm.

St Mary Magdalene, Ditcheat
(BA4 6RB) there has been a church on this site since 824 AD although the present church has 12th century origins. Inside this Grade 1 listed church, built by the Abbots of Glastonbury, apart from many treasures is a large wall painting of St Christopher dating from the late medieval period.
Arrive here at 3.00 pm

Blessed Virgin Mary, Croscombe.
(BA5 3QS) this magnificent Grade 1 listed church with its Jacobean woodwork dated to 1616; its boxed pews, canopied pulpit and two desks for the parish clerks. However, the furniture that dominates the church of St Mary is the rood screen complete with cross.
Afternoon tea here at 4.30 pm. Donations please

October Crawl: Cameley, Paulton & Timsbury 2023

Saturday 7th October 2023

“Listed Churches in North East Somerset”

– Hosted by Tony Davies

North East Somerset, especially around Radstock and Midsomer Norton, has a largely industrial heritage. But the area contains some fine examples of church architecture, and on this trip we will visit three of those. Two of the churches date back to the 12th / 13th centuries, whilst the third is Georgian; but all three have Grade I or Grade II* listing and have some fine features.

The three churches are in very different settings. Cameley is an almost abandoned village, in rural isolation on the side of a hill. Paulton is a busy industrial village. Timsbury stands high on the hillside overlooking the valley of the Cam Brook.

We begin at 2 pm at the church of St James, Cameley (BS39 5AH) . Park on the lane by the church. St James was made redundant in 1976 and is the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It stands on the side of a hill overlooking a fishing lake and the Cam valley, and is almost on its own since the villagers left for nearby Temple Cloud.

The C15th red sandstone tower dominates the setting. It contrasts with the rather unprepossessing Mendip blue lias limestone church. Inside you will find both mediaeval benches and Georgian pews; two galleries (one of which is reached up a flight of stairs next to the porch and was ’Erected for the free Use of the Inhabitants’ in 1819); a two-decker C17th pulpit with canopy, and a square Norman font. There is a lot of dark wood around the church. But the highlight is the collection of fabulous wall paintings from the 12th to the 17th centuries. At the west end of the churchyard you will find a clutch of gravestones commemorating the long line of William Rees-Moggs over the centuries.

We go on to Holy Trinity, Paulton (BS39 7LG) at 3 pm. Park in the village car park; drive past Holy Trinity down to the Triangle roundabout , turn left and the free car park is on the right after just a few yards (signed “Accessible Parking”). This Grade II* church was built in 1235. It was rebuilt in 1757 (when the tower was constructed), and restored in 1839 by John Pinch. Inside you will find a very well-used church space, but also some of the ancient artefacts dating from before the rebuilding, including a 14th century font. Under the tower are two ancient stone effigies, probably of knights from the Paulton family. Look up in the chancel to see a host of angels keeping watch. Above them is a gallery stretching across the nave, above a crowded work area. In the churchyard is a cholera pit and monument, remembering 72 lives lost in 1832 and a further 62 lost in the 1844-1850 outbreak.

Our final church is St Mary, Timsbury (BA2 0EJ). There is a very small car park on High Street opposite the church, but parking is easier on The Avenue, next to the grassy bank just uphill from the church. This is a much more modern church, built in 1826-32 when the old church had fallen into disrepair, with a new chancel designed by Sir Gilbert Scott added in 1852. It is a light and airy church, very Victorian in most of its features. But it still has an ancient font near the door, and inside the tower a perfect Mass dial. Note the lively gargoyles on the chancel parapet, and the fine old sanctuary lamp. The East end of the church is built in three bays, but the seating in the nave has just one aisle. Again there is a gallery at the west end of the church, with a royal coat of arms decorating the gallery wall. The walls are adorned with a host of elaborate plaques, many of them to members of the Samborne family. And, hidden behind the organ along with the vestments, you will find the tomb of Barnaby Samborne. This church, like that at Paulton, has toilet facilities.

We plan to have afternoon tea here, at or shortly after our arrival at 4 pm.

Donations please, to be shared between St Mary’s and the Somerset Churches Trust.

Contact: Tony Davies. phone 01225 336124, mobile 07747 630421

Church Crawl, Saturday 17 June 2023

I am very much looking forward to seeing you on Saturday. I visited all three churches last week and take this opportunity to confirm the following details:

Car parking

At Camerton, the car park (alongside the vicarage) is reached down a narrow driveway with twisty bends in it.

At Priston, the vicar has agreed to let us use the car park behind the village hall. Don’t go down Church Farm Lane.

At Wellow, there is ample on-street car parking, but in addition on the right hand side of the church is a narrow lane which leads to a grassy field suitable for car parking.


At both Camerton and Priston, there is a loo reached through the vestry.

At Wellow, there are two Portaloos located in the churchyard alongside the east end of the church.

Other points

Do bring friends if you wish. We have a great speaker, Andrew Foyle, who wrote the relevant Pevsner guide.

At Camerton, the usual entrance door will be locked. Enter through the door into the vestry down some steps on the south side. If the weather is good, I suggest we assemble outside alongside the lych gate.

Donations will be shared between Somerset Churches Trust and each of the churches.

I confirm that tea will be served at Wellow.

William Newsom

Church Crawl, Saturday, 15th July 2023

Somerset Churches Trust – Church Crawl, Saturday, 15th July, 2023
“How to Read a Church”
Hosted by Philip G Skelhorn

Churches and cathedrals were meant to be ‘read’ and to be able to do so is a rare skill, even among regular churchgoers. The purpose of this ‘crawl’ is to help the visitor to understand the richness and depth of Christian signs and symbols they find around them when they visit the churches of Somerset. Christian theology, Church history and Church architecture all have vital parts to play in the story of Churches and we will touch on these briefly as we go along but this is not about theology, history or architecture. It is an overview and introduction to the most common images, signs and symbols you will encounter when you visit these most beautiful of buildings.

The church of St Peter & St Paul, Charlton Horethorne (DT9 4NL) Listed Grade II*, this church was built in the 12th century although a place of worship probably existed here before the conversion of the West Saxons to Christianity in the 7th century. 14th century corbels, capitals, statuary niches and tomb recesses all contribute to the attraction of this ancient church.
Coffee on arrival here at 10.00 am for a start at 10.30 am.
Donations please.

Set in an elegant Edwardian building, the ‘Kings Arms’, Charlton Horethorne boasts traditional charm and period features. Lunch has been arranged for 12.45 pm were a ‘specials menu’ has been negotiated before moving to our second church visit of the day. Please confirm if you would like to take lunch here?

St Barnabas, Queen Camel (BA22 7NE) This is a magnificent church, listed Grade I with much to interest the image and symbol hunter. The
‘Rood’ screen is superb. This ostentatious work survived the reformation. The pulpit is of similar date c.1500 The roofs exhibit characters of medieval bestiary with the 35 bosses in the Chancel. Each beast is a metaphor for a liturgical incident, Unicorn, the nativity; Phoenix, the resurrection and the Eagle, the Ascension.
Afternoon tea here at 4.00 pm. Donations please.

North Somerset Church Crawl, 17th June 2023

Visits to three fine churches in North Somerset led by Andrew Foyle

We are privileged to have persuaded Andrew Foyle to lead this crawl.  Andrew is the author of two volumes in the Pevsner Buildings of England series: Somerset North and Bristol (2011) and Bristol City (2004). He studied architectural history at the University of Bristol and the Courtauld Institute of Art, winning the Hawksmoor Medal in 1998. Andrew now works as a freelance architectural historian based in North Somerset.

St Peter, Camerton (BA2 0PU)

We begin at 2.00 pm at the church of St Peter, Camerton, a large part of which dates from 1638, although the font is 300 years older and the first recorded vicar was in 1237.  Alongside the chancel is the Carew chapel containing an impressive collection of Carew tombs dating from that time (17/18 century) including recumbent effigies and kneeling children.  Look out for the stone carvings of a rhinoceros and an elephant.  During the Victorian era the church was enlarged and beautified, many fittings dating from 1891.92 including the rood screen

St Luke & St Andrew, Priston (BA2 9EF)

We then go on to St Luke & St Andrew, Priston getting there by 3.15 pm. On the face of it, a fine church of Norman origins with Norman arches beneath a central tower.  First recorded vicar in 1207 and south door from 1350-1400.  However, Pevsner says “All is confused by an illiterate Neo-Norman restoration” in 1860/61. Much original work was retooled.  Our leader will be able to elaborate.  Some striking modern stained glass.  A fine weathercock “1813, very big at 5 ft” in gold.

St Julian, Wellow (BA2 8PU)

We then go on to St Julian, Wellow getting there by 4.30 pm.  Originally built in 1372, this magnificent church remains remarkably unaltered since that time.  Externally, the “robust west tower is dominant” (Pevsner) and inside it is a “light and noble place aglow with bright windows” (Arthur Mee) and a high level clerestory.  The 500+ year old nave roof is supported on 40 wood and stone angels with hundreds of bosses.  14th century benches with finely carved ends and poppyheads.  Rood screen painted and gilded.  Various effigies including a series of 12 “excellent small carved heads” (Mee).

Toilet facilities are available at all three churches.  Tea will be served at Wellow.  At Camerton there is a car park down the church drive alongside the Vicarage.  On-street parking at the other two churches.

Crawl organised by William Newsom              01963 441533

Wiveliscombe crawl – 1st April 2023

Church crawl meeting to be held at Wiveliscombe.  Meet at St Luke’s church Langley Marsh at 1.30pm

NB Parking at Langley is very restricted, and you will need to park in the road and walk back to the church.

We will then return to Wiveliscombe to visit the Congregational Church in Silver Street.

at 2.45pm and then on to St Andrew’s Parish church for 3.30pm and tea and refreshments.

Lift share possible – meet in Croft Way Car Park Wiveliscombe(TA4 2JP) at 1.15pm to share lift to the church.

There is another car park at North Street Taunton TA4 2LJ  Car parking in Wiveliscombe use North Street or Croft Way.

For full details click here – SCT Wiveliscombe church crawl 1st April 2023

Virtual Church Crawl: St Mary Magdalene, Langridge.

Our Treasurer, Tony Davies and William Newsom, our Photographer in Chief have been suffering withdrawal symptoms during the current lockdown, being unable to go on any of our planned Church Crawls. Unable to contain themselves any longer, they have produced a virtual church crawl. This, the first of what they hope will be many features St Mary Magdalene Langridge.

St Mary Magdalene’s Church at Langridge in the parish of Charlcombe, Somerset, England dates from the 12th century and has been designated as a Grade I listed building. It was restored by James Wilson between 1857 and 1861.

There is a small nave and a two-stage Norman tower. Also Norman are the chancel arch (restored 1870) and south doorway. Above the chancel arch is a rare figure of the Virgin and Child, described by English Heritage as 13th-century, but by the church guidebook as “probably 11th century”. The apse was added by Charles Edward Davis, the Bath City Architect, between 1869 and 1872.

In the nave are various monuments and memorials. A 37-inch (94 cm) brass of Elizabeth Walsche, who died in 1441, depicted in widow’s weeds, was stolen in 2002. Another monument, this one in stone, to the same woman remains. Other members of the family also commemorated including a brass dating from 1790 which was drawn by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm.

The parish is part of the benefice of Weston, Bath All Saints with North Stoke and Langridge within the deanery of Bath.

View the video here:

Roof Alarm Grants Still Available

We are pleased to announce that grants for roof alarms are now available direct from Allchurches Trust. Allchurches are offering grants of up to £2,500 subject to a maximum of 50% of the cost of the installation. Systems must have the approval of the church insurers and be subject to a five year maintenance contract.

APPLY NOW by clicking on this link to Allchurches website where you will find an Application Form.

Ted Marsh: A Ride+Stride Hero

Realising on Sunday 6th September that the next few days’ weather was likely to be of favourable conditions, I decided to take on what I had promised — that of being to drive my mobility scooter to eight village churches within close proximity to where I lived in aid of Somerset Churches Trust Annual Ride+Stride. I alerted the local trust co-ordinator, Philip Skelhorn of Sutton Montis and he came forward with two colourful A3 posters which I fixed at both the front and back of the scooter together with two small Union Jacks attached to the rear seat.

At 10.30am the next morning I ‘sailed forth‘ full of expectations of whom I was likely to meet on my travels — first stop being my own church at Sparkford. This was closed due to the Covid-19 virus compulsory closure regulations following a service the previous Sunday. I left a ‘calling card’ which I had printed earlier and then proceeded on to Weston Bampfylde. Here again the church was closed — another ‘calling card’ tied to the church door handle. Back down the hill and the lower road to Sutton Mantis passing round the foothills of the legendary Cadbury Camp. The first point of interest I noticed was at the entrance to the village was an ancient, recently mondernised house with the name of Village End, to be met at the church by Philip who set me up for some photographs. Whilst going on through the village, more slowly than in a car, which I had done on many occasions in the past, I was amazed at the variety of well kept and quite fashionable houses. The only area I found that had pre-1940s social housing were situated within close proximity to what used to be known as Sutton Farm. I expect that these were houses built for the agricultural workers who were employed on the farm.

On my way through to West Camel I encountered three heavy builders’ lorries which meant a case of stop and give way. At West Camel church I found the door closed — another ‘calling card’. Then I was on my way to Queen Camel — again an other closed church — same again.

Back home for some lunch and to recharge the scooter battery.

Refreshed and recharged, I was on my way to Lovington. This is where the memories came back. On my way to the church door I passed a cremation stone; looking down as a matter of interest I saw it was associated

with a former teacher who taught pupils during the period of the late 1930s to 1944 when she left after her marriage to a naval officer — I was one of her pupils. The church door was open and in I went — that was when I started to think of the past. I had the privilege and pleasure of playing the organ for several years and what was most memorable was being able to play the organ for Mr and Mrs Walter Day’s three daughters for their respective weddings. Another memory was at that time the organ had to pumped for the bellows by hand and on a number of occasions I used place my eldest daughter, Brenda, on a child’s seat attached to the rear of my bicycle and take her with me to pump the organ. I left a ‘card’ stipulating the fact.

On to North Barrow — again the church was closed — but here was where I married my late wife, Ellen, on the 2nd September 1950 — another card.

Then to my final destination, South Barrow. This is the village where, with my late brother, I spent four and a half years in the foster care of two elderly spinsters, and during that period I was taught by an elderly disabled resident to play the piano, and eventually the organ.

Ted Marsh