ST MARY THE VIRGIN, BRUTON
The church of Saint Mary the Virgin sits on an historic site at the centre of the town. The present church was started in the twelfth century, but sits on the site of one of the earliest churches in England, founded by King Ine in the seventh century AD. The church is described by Pevsner as one of the proudest churches in the county.
The church exhibits many fine features, including a magnificent Rococo chancel built by the Berkeley family in the eighteenth century. It is unusual in that it has two towers, a fourteenth-century north one and a much larger west tower, built roughly one hundred years later. The west tower houses the oldest dated bell in Somerset (1528). The nave has a magnificent oak tie-beam roof, and there is an intricate Jacobean screen in the base of the west tower.
As well as having some of the finest architecture in Somerset, St Mary’s also has a thriving church community. We have an adults’ and a children’s church choir. The adult choir sings once a month on the first Sunday and our children sing at our All-Age service, which is usually on the third Sunday of the month.
We have a beautiful, heavy ring of six bells and a dedicated team of method ringers. Visitors to the tower are always welcome.
There are two main services a week in St Mary’s, both on a Sunday. There is a morning Eucharist at 8am, which follows the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
The other main service of the week is either at 10.30am or 11am depending on the day and is either a sung Eucharist or an All-Age service. We share our church with the Roman Catholics who have a weekly Mass on Thursday morning at 9.30am.
The church is open daily from 9am until dusk. If you would like further information then you can visit the Bruton Church website: www.stmarysbruton.org.
ST MARY’S ACCESS FOR COMMUNITY
We are working hard towards making the church, with its new space, more accessible to the community.
I have been running both the FaceBook Page and Twitter accounts for St Mary’s for nearly a year. With this in mind, we want to enable anyone who has something to advertise that will happen in the church to contact me. If you want to be included on the FB page or on Twitter, please email me.
My direct contact email address is firstname.lastname@example.org; my name on FB is Bee Brook and on Twitter it is @ForgottenBee; mobile 07917 572 273. For anyone wanting to make connection with St Mary’s, any media can be emailed directly through me, Bryony Brook.
BRUTON METHODIST CHURCH
There is some evidence that John Wesley visited Bruton in 1776 and preached at the Cross, and that a Methodist society was in existence here between 1777 and 1783. A chapel was built in 1842 and linked to the Frome Circuit until 1847. The present building was opened at the West End in 1848 and linked with Castle Cary. Later extensions, alterations and refurbishments were undertaken in the 1880s, 1900 and 1986. In 2009 glass doors were fitted. We still have pews!
The present church is in the Bristol District and is one of 24 in the Somerset Mendip Circuit under the superintendency of Rev. Nick Lakin, who lives in Street. The minister for Bruton until August 2015 is Rev. Ken Chalmers, who lives in Cary. Church Stewards are Mrs Angela Pearce and Mrs Berenice Robinson.
Regular services are at 10.30am on Sundays, taken by the minister, or other staff and local preachers from the Circuit. We are regularly visited by the local schools, and during the year there are special services on Covenant Sunday, Easter, Chapel Anniversary, Harvest and Christmas. Fortnightly discussion groups take place in the church on Tuesdays at 2.30pm and we hold three charity fund-raising coffee mornings during the year.
We are part of Bruton Area Christians Together and join in united activities including the Walk of Witness on Good Friday, the Women’s World Day of Prayer, Lent Lunches and Harvest Supper.
Rev. Ken Chalmers, 01963 351 598; email@example.com
Fr Louis Beasley-Suffolk, Wincanton Catholic Church; Mass in St Mary’s at 9.45am on Thursdays
ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, BREWHAM
St John’s Church serves both North and South Brewham, and is situated close to the centre of the village in South Brewham on the lower part of Charcroft Hill.
There has been a church building on this site since the eighth or ninth century, but it has been rebuilt and altered many times over the years. Parts of the existing building date back to the twelfth century, and extensive alterations were carried out in Victorian times, including the addition of the south aisle, the chancel, nave and north aisle being considerably older.
St John’s is a simple, attractive old village church, where regular services are held on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Sundays each month, and at festival times. The church is still considered to be at the centre of the parish community, and in demand for weddings, funerals and baptisms.
The churchwarden is Mr Jon Mott, treasurer Mrs Ann Saxton and secretary Mrs Gloria Barber. Do come and join us at any of our services … visitors are always most welcome.
ST LEONARD’S CHURCH, PITCOMBE
St Leonard’s in Pitcombe has been associated with Bruton for more than 1,000 years. A medieval church was rebuilt by G.E. Street in 1854–8 and is noted for its fine Victorian copies of medieval bench ends as well as for its original ironwork fittings. The church is a member of the Prayer Book Society and uses the Book of Common Prayer and the 1611 Authorised version of the Bible. Services are held every Sunday, Holy Communion on the first and third Sundays, matins on the second and fourth, with evensong when there is a fifth Sunday. In the last ten years the church has been re-roofed and had its original three bells augmented to a peal of six: bellringing practice is on Saturdays at 9.30 and the bells are rung every Sunday before services.
ST PETER’S, SHEPTON MONTAGUE
The ancient parish of Shepton Montague, shaped like an irregular crescent 3 ½ miles from west to east and no more than about a mile deep, comprised the three manors of Shepton, Knowle and Stoney Stoke given by William the Conqueror to one Drogo De Montague. These three manors became an ecclesiastical parish with one church in Lower Shepton, more accessible for many parishioners when all had to walk to church.
Today Higher Shepton is the best known member hamlet, on the school commuter link to Bruton and with the Montague Inn for refreshment. It always was the largest hamlet and in the past offered more facilities, a forge, filling station, shop and post office, though these have all faded over the years.
To find the church you turn east at the Inn crossroads for Lower Shepton and drive on for about a mile.
Through autumn hedges
You see the tower first,
pinnacles pointing to the sky.
Further down the squat grey church sits in
its green valley, horses graze with sheep beside.
But walk beyond the church, look back and see
Its chancel gone, sliced clean away, a garden now.
The church burnt to the ground in 1964, the walls and tower only left standing. You see now the medieval church remade, without chancel, new oak pews for 120, once 220. The contrasting modern interior is unique and surprising. Admire the coat of arms, ‘the Achievement’, given generously by our current Queen Elizabeth, the modern pipe organ in the west end gallery and the significant shields on the ceiling: Montague, St Peter, Fox-Strangeways and St Aldhelm.
The church is open in the day – do record your visit. Reminisce and reflect in peace.
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, WYKE CHAMPFLOWER
(Chapelry within Bruton)
The first chapel was built in the 12th century. It fell into disrepair but was rebuilt and enlarged in 1623 and reconsecrated the following year. The rebuilding was undertaken by the Southworth family, who owned the Manor at that time.
It first served as a private chapel but is now the church for the small hamlet of Wyke Champflower. The church is attached to the rear of the Manor House.
The church, externally, is built of local rubble stone, rendered. The windows are in the Perpendicular style of English Gothic architecture. The stone tile roof has been replaced by cedar shingles, as the weight of the stone was pushing out the walls, despite the insertion of tie-rods. The ancient door, it is suggested, is even older than the 1623 arch. Its style and construction may date from the 14th century.
For most people entering the church, their focus will be on the box pews and wainscoting dating from 1623. All are complete with hat-pegs and acorn finials. Equally eye-catching is the display of heraldry on the screen, separating nave from chantry, and the twelve shields and royal arms on the nave ceiling. At the foot of the nave stands a new font (1945). Of greater interest is the finely decorated oak and ash font cover. There is a beautifully carved stone pulpit, most probably designed for elsewhere.
A comprehensive guidebook is available in the church, which is kept locked, but the key can be obtained by appointment (telephone 01749 813 203). Services are held according to the Book of Common Prayer, on the fourth Sunday of each month and on major festivals. All are most welcome, but check the listing in The Dove for times.