The Churches of Taunton, Saturday, 3rd August 2024


Saturday, 3rd August 2024

The Churches of Taunton
Hosted by Philip G Skelhorn

The history of England features prominently in this Saxon village that, by the 10th century, had become a prosperous wool town with its own ‘Mint’. Situated on the river Tone, Taunton has continued to flourish. In 1125 an Augustinian Priory was built by the Bishop of Winchester who converted the Bishop’s Hall into a castle in 1138.  In 1497, Perkin Warbeck attempted to overthrow King Henry VII and in 1539, King Henry VIII closed Taunton Priory. In 1643 Civil War came to Taunton, when it was captured by Parliamentary troops and severely damaged by sieges but the town recovered. Then in 1685, the Duke of Monmouth led a rebellion which was defeated by Parliamentary forces at the Battle of Sedgemoor, the last battle to be fought on English soil.


The Minster, St Mary Magdalene, TA1 1SQ
The ‘biggest Somerset tower and giant Nave’ describes this Grade 1 listed building that became the town church of Taunton in 1308. The present church was completed in 1514 and is contemporary with Magdalene Collage, Cambridge & Henry VII’s chapel, Westminster. But it is the 163’ tower, rebuilt in 1858-62 by Benjamin Ferrey & George Gilbert Scott, described by Simon Jenkins as ‘the noblest parish tower in England’; an interior that is ‘a preaching and ceremonial auditorium’, festooned with angels and a ‘ferocious east window portraying ten Somerset worthies’, that matches the exterior in splendour.

Meet here at 11.30 am for tea/coffee on arrival for a prompt start at 12 noon.
Note: Lunch may be taken in the cafeʹ 12.30 pm.


St John the Evangelist, Taunton , TA1 4DG
Rev’d Federick Jeremiah Smith, Rector of   St Mary Magdalene, began to build this church in 1858 to the design of George Gilbert Scott, in the Tangiers area of the town to minister to the poorer areas. Scott, was a leader in the Victorian Gothic Revival Movement and the significance of St Johns has been recognised by English Heritage who re-graded it to Grade 1 listed status. The first Anglican church to provide all its pews without rent.  Highly visible from all directions is the distinctive sandstone spire, the only church in the town centre with a spire. Other characteristics are spectacular stained glass; a captivating architecture; enchanting atmosphere, national heritage and social history.

Meet here at 2.15 pm


All Saints, Trull. TA3 7JZ
Originating in the 13th century, All Saints church was served by the monks of Taunton Priory until 1308. The oldest part of the church, the lower tower, is 13th century with 14th & 15th century additions to the church. The exterior is modestly perpendicular but the interior contains some of the county’s finest woodwork particularly the pulpit, bench ends and the rood screen with fan vaulted coving towards the nave where the plaster tympanum has survived the Victorian restoration.

A very fine stained-glass window, ‘The Saints of the Golden Legend, the ‘Dragon Window’ dates from the late 15th century.

Meet here at 3.30 pm
Afternoon tea at 4.15 pm