Bridgwater Heritage Group

St Mary's Church
Bridgwater Archives Bridgwater Scientists Lost Bridgwater Friarn Research

St Mary's 1834 to 1937
Collection assembled by Dr P. Cattermole, notes by Dr. P Cattermole and T. Woolrich, additions by M. Kerr-Peterson.


The interior of the church in 1834, looking towards the East End. You can see here the two sets of screens seperating the Nave from the Chancel. The ornate jacobean outer screen was moved to the Corporation Chapel, the inner late medieval screen was divided and set up either side of the choir stalls. The large pulpit sounding board was also removed. In 1885 it was kept by a local builder, it's current location is unknown.

Reordering 1849-1851
Comprehensive rebuilding and restoration undertaken by H. W. Brakspeare

St Mary's 1865 East end with liturgy table c 1860. The old rood screen can be seen either side of the choir stalls, the new pulpit sounding board can also be seen.
Chancel and S side before aisle widening. Note the gas-lamp brackets. The High Altar c 1860s - note the removal of the inscription above the window arch.
The Aumbrey with wall tiling High altar with tiled wall and mosaic floor. This communion table is thought to be tudor in date, a replacement for the stone medieval high altar.
View to West end from Chancel. Note the walled-in tower arch and the stove pipe - the tower arch was filled for fear that the tower and spire might collapse. This fear was unfounded though. View to East end before the centre aisle was widened c 1870
View to the east from the crossing. The angels running the length of the Nave roof were donated by John Browne. Note that the pulpit sounding board has been removed. East end, Chancel and High Altar c 1870

Centre aisle widened by shortening the pews. The aisle was tiled. Mosaic floor installed in the sanctuary, and significant changes were made to the rest of the Sanctuary. Hot water heating installed. About this time the walling of the blocked arch of the tower was removed.

View to the east from the crossing, 1880s. Note the new chandelier in the chancel. Note the gas standard lamps between the pillars
Interior, 1902, before the new lights. Note the statue neiche next to John Browne's angels. There are four neiches in total, filled with statues of the four apostles, donated by James Cook, the town clerk. Chancel, E end, Electric light, S Chapel Screen c 1870. The elaborate memorial commemorates Francis Kingsmill.
Chancel, E end, c 1880

Opening Order of Service for when the tower arch was opened. Part of the emphemera collection here.


View to the High Altar c 1900 note the electric light bulbs View to the east from the crossing. Note the ornate light standards and the new pulpit sounding board.
Chancel, E end, Electric light, S Chapel Screen View to the High Altar following the 1870s changes
Looking south, past the pulpit towards the Corporation Pews. Looking west towards the tower arch, which had been opened in 1888.

St George's Chapel 1920
The chapel was dedicated on Armistice Day 1920 by the Bishop of Bath and Wells. The reredos was carved by Mr Taylorson of London, and the general carving and fitting of the altar, reredos and panels were done by Messrs Dart and Francis, Ecclesiastical woodworkers of Crediton, Devon.

Reredos First World War Memorial in St George's Chapel. The figures in the middle show Christ on the cross watched by the Virgin Mary and Saint John. The figure on the left is Saint George with the dragon. The figure on the right is Saint Louis of France with the banner of Saint Denis.

Reordering 1937
The East end was simplified by removing the tiling, and the floor of the sanctuary lowered, so making the picture more prominent. The tiling of the walls of the North and South aisles, as well as the transepts were replaced by plastering. The tower and spire were drastically repaired.

High Altar after the 1930s simplification View towards the chancel and altar
St Mary's late 1930s View looking east towards St George's Chapel.
View of the altar without the frontal after the 1930s restoration

Other Features of the Church

Decent from the Cross alter painting. For more details see here. The Pulpit, dated to the late 15th century.
The Corporation Pews Rear of the Corporation Pews
The tower stair doorway.

P Cattermole and T Woolrich. All Content © Bridgwater Heritage Group, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, do not reproduce material without permission.

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