Bridgwater Heritage Group

Lost Bridgwater
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Sion Chapel site Friarn Street Bridgwater

Documentary Research in progress
updated 29 August 2007

Record Office Detail is now here


Bridgwater Library

Unitarians listed in Dampiet Street exclusively throughout.

Hunts Directory Independents Fryern Street Rev R Panks 1848

Slaters 1852-3 Independents Fryern Street Rev R Panks

Kelly 1861 Independents Friarn Street Rev Edward Henry Jones also

Brethren (Ministers various)


Post Office 1875 No independents in Friarn Street

Bridgwater Almanac

Whitby 1878

Brethren & Friends only in Friarn Street.

Town Missionary Mr Champion in Friarn Street


Salvation Army Friarn Street Capts Bullard & foote. Others as before.


Will Locke "Bridgwater as seen in the 1920s and 1930s nd.

The Salvation Army then in its Friarn Street Hall, its original place was called Zion Chapel."

Jarman S G A History of Bridgwater London: Stock 1889

p 223 The Congregational Chapel. In 1793 a small Independent congregation gathered in Roper's Lane, now Albert Street. The new congregation met in a malt house. Scarce one is living who can remember the gloomy little room that served thus as a place of divine worship. the indenture of lease and release reads:- "Part of the said premises whereon a Malt-house lately stood...". Rev Thomas Tatton was first called. There were some cottages attached to the property, the rent of which formed a small endowment for the minister's support.

In 1818, Mr Joseph Corp commenced an "aggressive evangelistic work"... and he also held meetings in a room on Salmon Parade. three years' earnest work in the town and

p 224 neighbourhood resulted in such increased prosperity that the need for a larger Chapel was generally felt. As the old building could not be enlarged it was resolved to put up a new one., and a system of collecting weekly subscriptions for this purpose was inaugurated in 1822. Mr Thomas Hellier [below Corporation docs] appeared on the scene; he supported Mr Corp very materially and chiefly through his efforts Zion Chapel, in Friarn Street, was built. The foundation stone was laid March 6th, 1822 and the Chapel was opened on August 20th in the same year.

The next ministers in succession were: Rev. Evan James, Rev. John Bishop, Mr Robert Panks, Mr Philip Chapman Barker, Rev. Edward H. Jones, Rev. Edward S. Prout, and the Rev. Edwin J Dukes. Mr. Jones's ministry in the town was marked with great success. The Chapel in Friarn Street was filled to overflowings, as well as the school-rooms built for the Sunday school, adjoining.

A new Chapel in Fore Street was opened September 22nd 1864. There was a tea ... at Zion Chapel, attended by 1,100 persons.

p 227 The Salvation Army This organisation commenced operations in Bridgwater about the latter end of 1880, by Captain Tom Crocker, of Bristol. At Easter, 1881, the services commenced in the present "Barracks", formerly the skating rink, and earlier still the Zion Chapel used by the Independents before moving to their handsome Chapel in Fore-Street.

Powell Bridgwater in the Later Days Bridgwater: Page & Son 1908

p 249 The attempt to reach the very humble and poor, as well as the degraded and outcast, has for some years been taken in hand by a branch of the Salvation Army, whose head-quarters are located in the Old Zion Chapel in Friarn Street, which was built through the exertions of Mr Corp, for the Congregationalists, some eighty-five years ago.


A meeting house for Independents, in St. Mary Street near the south gate, was licensed in 1787, and another, possibly for the same congregation, in 1792. A different Independent congregation met in a disused malthouse in Friarn Street, which was also licensed in 1792. (fn. 59) Yet another group of Independents met in a malthouse in Salmon Lane, on the east bank of the Parrett, but in 1817 their leader took over the Friarn Street meeting house and the two congregations probably united. A Sunday school was added in 1818 and the chapel, known as Zion, was rebuilt in 1822. (fn. 60) It was closed in 1865 and was used as a skating rink before being taken over by the Salvation Army in 1881. (fn. 61)

OS Sheet L II 21 1887 50"

Nonconformist Chapel seats 700 with Burial Ground (disused) to south.
Chapel pink; supposed schoolroom yellow.
Click for larger.

Armoury site to north west - probably contained excavated Unitarian burial ground (vide infra)

unit.jpg - 278Kb

To SW other side of Broadway Friends' Burial Ground Wesleyan Burial Ground

A note on the Unitarians in Friarn Street

Lawrence, B Coleridge and Wordsworth in Somerset Newton Abbot: David & Charles 1970

p 39 John Howel (Unitarian Minister 1793, buried in Dampiet Street Unitarian School Room).

Mr Howel enjoyed the free use of a house known as the Parsonage House, and in spite of the demolition that has taken place in its vicinity it has proved possible, though difficult, to establish its identity, although the Meeting House records show only that it was situated in Friarn Street on ground known as Sealy's, that in 1835 part of its garden became the Unitarian burial ground, that the house ceased to be the Parsonage House in about 1850. A study of the Corporation Schedule of Property (1836) reveals that it was a double-fronted house standing on the north side of Friarn Street, in line with the Green Dragon Inn. Calculations based on this evidence point to the fact that the Parsonage House was the property now called the Old Armoury Garage, which, in line with the Green Dragon and several pairs of old cottages, stands back a little distance from the carriage-way. The bright blue paint on the doors and window-frames of its double-fronted house makes it conspicuous. A senior member of the Unitarian congregation recalls that the site of the petrol pumps was formerly a burial ground and that years ago she saw two old tombstones leaning against a wall of the house.

Report of the Committee Appointed by the Council of the Borough of Bridgwater .. For Improving the Town 10th December 1836 Bridgwater: Whitby

Property Report Reference 26 reference to the Town Plan 362 Dwelling House and Garden North Side of Fryern Street In possession or occupation of Mr Thomas Hellier ref above - proposed to be sold.

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