St Mary Magdalene, Taunton
|St Mary Magdalene|
Location within Somerset
|Architectural style||Early Tudor Perpendicular Gothic style|
|Town or city||Taunton|
History and description
St Mary's church was probably established as part of the reorganisation of Taunton by Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, by 1180, and has been the town church since 1308. A new chapel was consecrated in 1437.
It is built of sandstone and has a painted interior. Most of the statues and stained glass date from the Victorian restoration. Within the church are a variety of memorials and tablets including War Memorials for soldiers from Somerset, including the Somerset Light Infantry.
The 163 feet (50 m) tower was built around 1503, financed by the prosperity created by the wool trade, and was rebuilt in 1858-62 (in replica) by Sir George Gilbert Scott and Benjamin Ferrey, using Otter sandstone from Sir Alexander hood's quarry at Williton and some Igneous Diorite from Hestercombe. It is considered to be one of the best examples of a Somerset tower and a 163 feet (50 m) tall landmark.
The tower was described by Simon Jenkins, an acknowledged authority on English churches, as being "the noblest parish tower in England." The tower itself has 12 bells and a clock mechanism. Two of the hammers on the clock mechanism are not striking. The tower contains twelve bells hung for ringing plus three accidental (semitone) bells hung for chiming. The bells were made by Thomas Bilbie from the Bilbie family of Chew Stoke, Taylors Eayre & Smith of Loughborough, and various members of the Mears and Stainbank families of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
The church has suffered from the weather over the years and there have been various appeals for funding to repair the fabric of the building including one for £135,000, to repair the tower's stonework after two pinnacles fell through the roof. In 2009 vandals damaged some of the windows of the church, however the stained glass, which includes fragments from the medieval era were undamaged as they are protected by wire mesh.
- "Church of Mary Magdalene". Images of England. Retrieved 2008-01-19.
- "Church of St Mary Magdalene and churchyard, Taunton". Somerset Historic Environment Record. Somerset County Council. Retrieved 2009-04-14.
- "History". St Mary Magdalene. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- Dunning, Robert (2007). Somerset Churches and Chapels: Building Repair and Restoration. Halsgrove. p. 47. ISBN 978-1841145921.
- "St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton". BBC Somerset. BBC. Retrieved 2009-04-14.
- Poyntz Wright, Peter (1981). The Parish Church Towers of Somerset, Their construction, craftsmanship and chronology 1350 - 1550. Avebury Publishing Company. ISBN 0-86127-502-0.
- "The Bells of St Mary Magdalene, Taunton, Somerset". Bell Historians. Retrieved 2009-04-14.
- Dunning, Robert (2007). Somerset Churches and Chapels: Building Repair and Restoration. Halsgrove. p. 26. ISBN 978-1841145921.
- Leete-Hodge, Lornie (1985). Curiosities of Somerset. Bodmin: Bossiney Books. p. 70. ISBN 0-906456-98-3.
- Jenkins, Simon (2000). England's Thousand Best Churches. Penguin Books. p. 617. ISBN 0-14-029795-2.
- "Taunton—S Mary Magd". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Central Council for Church Bell Ringers. 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
- Gibbon, Joanna (1992-07-25). "Church Appeals". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-04-14.
- "Vandals strike church that got in their way". This is Bristol. 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2009-04-14.
- "Somerset Guide". Englands Christian Guide. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
- "Jof Alleine". The Gentleman's Magazine (89): 518.
- Cottle, James (1845). "Some account of the church of St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton, and the restoration thereof: together with several notices on ecclesiastical matters". Retrieved 2009-04-14.
- Goodman, Alfred E. (1908). The Church of St. Mary Magdalene Taunton 1508-1908. The Phoenix Press.