Bridgwater Heritage Group

St Mary's Church
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Victorian Benches in St Mary's Church

Click on an image for a larger one
type 1
Nave Type 1 bench end
width typically 14½in
Nave Type 2 bench end
width typically 14½in
chancel end
Chancel bench end
Nave front bench end
A front nave bench
nave crossing end
End nave bench
carving detail
Carving Detail stripped bench end near south door
Double bench end adjacent to font
Historical notes

Newspaper abstracts


From the Victoria County History
The pews, elaborately carved in Gothic style, were installed in 1849.

From S G Jarman A Handbook of St Mary's Church Bridgwater 1885
quotes: "The accommodation in this church was increased by re-arranging the seats in 1853, by which means additional accommodation for 497 persons was obtained. ... a further grant of £200 by the Bath and Wells Diocesan Church Building Society, on condition that 834 seats described in the annexed plan should be set apart and declared to be free for use of the poor for ever; the provision of church-room previously to the alteration being to the extent of 827 seats, 200 of which number were free for the use of the poor. The word free is marked on each free seat. RICHARD, Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells" etc.
The plan referred to is also affixed to the vestry wall. The conditions as to the free seats were not followed for any long period... now only about 300 remain.
Prior to 1849 ... the old uncomfortable box seats were in vogue, and had two steps leading up to them, but they were replaced by modern benches, the ends only being used again, although they showed no elaborate carving.
There are forty-six free seats in the church, each representing six, seven, or nine sittings. The church will seat about 1,500. The sums received as pew rents provide for the payment of £60 yearly toward the salary of a curate, the salary of the organist, lighting the church, attendants &c.
sw view
A view of the south west nave benches
A view looking to the west
1907 postcard
A view looking east - postcard postmarked 1907

14 March 2007 P. Cattermole. All Content © Bridgwater Heritage Group, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, do not reproduce material without permission.

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