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Somerset Historic Environment Record


Site Name: Church of St Mary Magdalene and churchyard, Taunton
Civil Parish: Taunton
Part of:
PRN 44440Medieval town, Taunton
PRN 17490Pipe trench watching brief (1992), Magdalene Street, Taunton
PRN 18050War memorial, Churchyard of St Mary Magdalene, Hammet St, Taunton
PRN 28757Watching brief (1992), Church of St Mary Magdalene, Taunton
PRN 28758Watching brief (1992), St Mary Magdalene's church, Taunton
PRN 28759Watching brief (1992), St Mary Magdalene's church, Taunton
PRN 45942Church of St Mary Magdalene, Church Square (East side), Taunton
Grid Ref: ST 2290 2461 (ST 22 SW)
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Image: Image of HER 44456 - Photo by Somerset County Council (May 1977)
  HER 44456 - Photo by Somerset County Council (May 1977)

Public access:

As far as we are aware this site is open to the public at certain times. [Information last updated on 10 December 2002]


Large church with double aisles of six bays and a tower of 163ft. The tower was rebuilt from the ground in 1862 by Ferrey and Sir G. G. Scott and is English Perpendicular. Several wills dating from 1488-1514 record money being left for the original building of the tower. Clerestory with four light windows. South porch dated 1508. The arcade between the two north aisles is the only conspicuous survival of the church before the present one and dates from the later C13. The roof has a moderate pitch with cusped tie-beams, king-posts, and angels against the king-posts. {1}

St Mary's church was probably established as part of the reorganisation of Taunton by Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, by 1180. The churchyard at St Mary's was encroached upon in the 18th century when Hammet Street was laid out; recent roadworks by the gasboard disturbed deposits of human bone in Hammet St and Magdalene St to the S of the church. {2}

Until the Dissolution in 1539 all inhabitants of the Taunton area were buried in the priory (PRN44436). {3}

There are a number of war memorials within the church. A stone tablet within the church records 13 members of the parish who died in conflict Afghanistan and 35 who were killed in colonial India in the 1840s. All were non-commisioned officers or privates of the Somersetshire Regiment of Foot. A white marble tablet is dedicated to members of the Somerset and the Cornwall Light Infantry who have died in the course of their duties since 1945. Two brass plaques from a series of four of the Coles family record two brothers, Crewe and Rowland, who both died in WWI. A white marble tablet records William Toller who was killed in 1918 in WWI. A brass plaque set into one of the window cills records Edward Usdell who died in 1945 during WWII. The badge of the Somerset Light Infantry is incised above the text. A further brass plaque records Conrad Brockington who was killed in 1916. There is a badge of the Welch Regiment above the text. The plaque was manufactured by Messrs W. J. Southwood and Co. Harold Waterman, killed in 1918 and is also commemorated on a brass plaque manfactured by Messrs W. J. Southwood and Co. A stained glass window commemorates The Somerset Light Infantry and is decorated with regimental badges. In 1912 each members of the 1st Battalion subscribed one days pay for the purchase and installation of the window. A nowy-headed bronze plaque on a marble backboard commemorate three members of the Joscelyne family who died during WWI. Above the text are depicted badges of the Somerset Light Infantry and the Berkshire Regiment. A military cross is shown at the base. A white marble tablet commemorates Theobald Walsh who served in WWI and died in 1921. Henry Walsh who was killed in 1918 and his son Archibald Walsh who died in 1915 in WWI are also commemorated on a brass plaque. The plaque was manufactured by J. Wippell and Co. Ltd. A brass plaque also commemorates Douglas Goodman who was killed in 1917. The plaque is ornamented with a badge of the South West Mounted Brigade. Another large rectangular brass plaque commemorates J. M. Vallentin who died in 1902 in the South African Wars. The badge of Prince Albert's Somerset Light Infantry is depicted above the text and an incised cross below. Hugh Wynter is also commemorated by a brass plaque. He was killed in action in 1914. The plaque was manufactured by Messrs Percy Spranklin. A brass plaque commemorates John Jeboult who was killedin the war against America in 1812. The plaque was erected by a descendent in 1914 and was made by Messrs Percy Spranklin. A brass plaque commemorates Harry Von Trop who was killed in 1916. The plaque was made by Messrs W. J. Southwood and Co.

A white nowy-headed marble tablet commemorates Cecil Rawling who was killed in 1917 in WWI. A small raised badge of the Somerset Light Infantry is at the head of the tablet. Two white marble tablets on a single back board commemorate John Thicknesse who was killed in 1916 in WWI and his eldest son H. J. A. Thicknesse who died in 1944 in WWII. The raised badges of the Somerset Light Infantry and the Royal Artillery are depicted on the tablets. A rectangular white marble tablet commemorates C. B. Prowse who died in the Somme in 1916 and his elder brother C. I. Prowse who was also killed in 1916 in the Battle of Jutland. The original wooden cross marking C. B. Prowses battlefield grave is also kept in the church. {4}


1 Description - Pevsner, N. The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset.  (1958), 310-12.
2 Excavation report - Hollinrake, C and Hollinrake, N. An Archaeological Evaluation at Corfield Hall and Co-Op Garage, Taunton.  Unpublished C and N Hollinrake report No: TCH93. (1993) Report location: HER files under PRN 44463.
3 Mention - Bush, RJE. The priory of St Peter and St Paul. In Leach, P (ed). The Archaeology of Taunton: Excavations and Fieldwork to 1980.  (1984) at 104-106 [specifically 105].
4 Data transfer - National Inventory of War Memorials. Record ID: 30157, 30158, 46386, 46387, 46388, 46389, 46390, 46391, 46392, 46393, 46394, 46395, 46396, 46397, 46
5 Description - Hunt, TJ. The Ordination of the Vicarage of St Mary Magdalene, Taunton.  (1958)
6 Guide book - Anon. A Pilgrim's Tour of St Mary Magdalene's Taunton.  (not dated) Copy held in Somerset Studies Library, Taunton
7 Link to external website - Church of England church heritage record: 601573. (Accessed 22/07/2015).

Record created in June 1995

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