Church Micro 1495, St John the Evangelist, Taunton
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A quick cache and dash at a lovely church in Taunton for the Church Micro Series
Parking nearby is limited but this is a short stroll from the town centre. Nearby are the fine buildings of the old Grammar School, now the municipal buildings, the end of The Crescent, The County Court Shire Hall building and the crescent shaped offices of Somerset County Council.
Note: - You do not have to enter the church grounds to access the cache.
This is a magnetic micro, you may need tweezers. Please replace as found.
St John’s story begins when the Reverend Frederick Jeremiah Smith arrived in Taunton in 1842 as the first perpetual curate of Holy Trinity Church. During his ministry, he worked hard and gave generously in order to improve the standard of living of the children and poor people in the parish. By 1858 he had resigned the living in order to build a new church in the Tangier area of Taunton.
It was to be dedicated to St John the Evangelist and was to be primarily for the poor.
Only the best was good enough for God, so the Revd Smith obtained the services of Sir George Gilbert Scott, one of the most eminent architects of the Victorian age and a leader of the Victorian Gothic Revival Movement, influencing buildings such as the Natural History Museum, Albert Memorial, Houses of Parliament and Keble College.
On 9th November, 1858, Master Frederick John Smith, the ten year old son of the founder, laid the foundation stone using a silver trowel with ivory handle, which is still kept at St John’s.
In 1863 St John the Evangelist, was dedicated, and at the luncheon afterwards, the Revd Smith made it clear that the church was primarily for the use of the poor, although the wealthy would be welcomed if they wished to attend. He announced that there would be no “pew rents” in the new church ignoring the class system of the time, becoming the first Anglican Church in Taunton where all pews were available for all worshippers. The new church had cost the Revd Smith £12,000 which was a huge sum of money at that time.
The original parish covered Shuttern, Tangier and parts of Bishops Hull, thus serving the western part of Taunton. The first glimpse of the Church then, as now from all points, would have been of the spire, which sits upon an eighty-foot tower, the only Church in the town centre with a spire, “a veritable finger pointing towards Heaven”.
The church's decorative interior offers much of interest: the fine wrought-iron chancel screen (depicting amongst other things, the animals moving towards Noah's ark); the gold leaf high altar frontal; the carved wood font cover; and the numerous stained-glass windows. There is also the renowned Father Henry Willis organ which was installed in 1864. This - together with the church's fine acoustics - makes St. John's an ideal venue for the organ, choral, and jazz recitals and concerts that take place throughout the year. On a part of the wooden screen behind the console is Willis’ autograph:
“Henricus Willis Londonii anno1864 mente concoepit, manu fecit”
It is only the second church in Taunton to be awarded Grade 1 listed building status.
If the church is open, do take the opportunity to have a look inside.
If anybody would like to expand to this series please do, I would just ask that you could let Sadexploration know first so he can keep track of the Church numbers and names to avoid duplication.
Congratulations to Serendipity51 and Dragonsty for the joint FTF
Rkphfr zr; lbh pna’g Cnex ‘rer!
- St John the EvangelistPhotograph courtesy of Nigel Troake
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum