St Mary Magdalene, Taunton

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St Mary Magdalene
St Mary Magdalene Taunton.jpg
Coordinates: 51°00′59″N 3°06′00″W / 51.0163°N 3.1001°W / 51.0163; -3.1001
Location Taunton
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Church of England
Heritage designation Grade 1 Listed Building
Style Early Tudor Perpendicular Gothic style
Completed 1508
Parish St. Mary Magdalene Taunton
Deanery Taunton
Archdeaconry Taunton
Diocese Bath and Wells

The Church of St Mary Magdalene is a Church of England parish church in Taunton, Somerset, England. It was completed in 1508 and is in the Early Tudor Perpendicular Gothic style. It is designated as a Grade I listed building.[1]

History and description[edit]

St Mary's church was probably established as part of the reorganisation of Taunton by Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, by 1180,[2] and has been the town church since 1308.[3] Prior to 1308 the church was dependent on the Augustinian Taunton Priory.[4] A new chapel was consecrated in 1437.[5]

It is built of sandstone and has a painted interior. Most of the statues and stained glass date from the Victorian restoration.[6] Within the church are a variety of memorials and tablets including War Memorials for soldiers from Somerset, including the Somerset Light Infantry.[2]

The 163 feet (50 m) tower[7] was built around 1503,[8] financed by the prosperity created by the wool trade,[9] and was rebuilt in 1858-62 (in replica) by Sir George Gilbert Scott and Benjamin Ferrey,[1] using Otter sandstone from Sir Alexander hood's quarry at Williton and some Igneous Diorite from Hestercombe.[10] It is considered to be one of the best examples of a Somerset tower and a 163 feet (50 m) tall landmark.[1][11]

The tower was described by Simon Jenkins, an acknowledged authority on English churches, as being "the noblest parish tower in England."[12] The tower itself has 15 bells and a clock mechanism. The tower contains 13 bells hung for ringing plus two accidental (semitone) bells hung for chiming. The present ring of bells were cast by Taylors of Loughborough in 2016.[9][13]

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.[14] 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.[15]

Joseph Alleine the noted Puritan minister and author was curate of the church in the 1660s[16] and is buried in the churchyard.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Church of Mary Magdalene". Images of England. Retrieved 2008-01-19. 
  2. ^ a b "Church of St Mary Magdalene and churchyard, Taunton". Somerset Historic Environment Record. Somerset County Council. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  3. ^ "History". St Mary Magdalene. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  4. ^ Dunning, Robert (1996). Fifty Somerset Churches. Somerset Books. pp. 80–83. ISBN 978-0861833092. 
  5. ^ Dunning, Robert (2007). Somerset Churches and Chapels: Building Repair and Restoration. Halsgrove. p. 47. ISBN 978-1841145921. 
  6. ^ "St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton". BBC Somerset. BBC. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ a b "The Bells of St Mary Magdalene, Taunton, Somerset". Bell Historians. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  10. ^ Dunning, Robert (2007). Somerset Churches and Chapels: Building Repair and Restoration. Halsgrove. p. 26. ISBN 978-1841145921. 
  11. ^ Leete-Hodge, Lornie (1985). Curiosities of Somerset. Bodmin: Bossiney Books. p. 70. ISBN 0-906456-98-3. 
  12. ^ Jenkins, Simon (2000). England's Thousand Best Churches. Penguin Books. p. 617. ISBN 0-14-029795-2. 
  13. ^ "Taunton—S Mary Magd". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Central Council for Church Bell Ringers. 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  14. ^ Gibbon, Joanna (1992-07-25). "Church Appeals". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  15. ^ "Vandals strike church that got in their way". This is Bristol. 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  16. ^ "Somerset Guide". Englands Christian Guide. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  17. ^ "Jof Alleine". The Gentleman's Magazine (89): 518. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]