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St George's Church

A Grade II* Listed Building in Taunton, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.0093 / 51°0'33"N

Longitude: -3.1065 / 3°6'23"W

OS Eastings: 322470

OS Northings: 123902

OS Grid: ST224239

Mapcode National: GBR M1.JLTY

Mapcode Global: FRA 46CF.ZJM

Entry Name: St George's Church

Listing Date: 4 June 1952

Last Amended: 10 February 2011

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1060018

English Heritage Legacy ID: 269716

Location: Taunton Deane, Somerset, TA1

County: Somerset

District: Taunton Deane

Town: Taunton Deane

Electoral Ward/Division: Taunton Manor and Wilton

Built-Up Area: Taunton

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

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Listing Text

744/7/159 FONS GEORGE
(North side)
St George's Church

(Formerly listed as:
Church of St George)

Some Saxon stonework (west end); C13 and C15 alterations; east end much enlarged by Richard Carver, 1837-8; tower, 1853; reordered 1870 and later by J. Houghton Spencer.

MATERIALS: Mixed rubble with much Ham stone in the dressings. Slate roofs.

PLAN: West tower, five bay nave, south aisle with porch, north aisle, two-bay chancel with shorter symmetrical chapels, vestry east of the north chapel.

EXTERIOR: The outside is mostly Victorian, but a little long-and-short work in the west wall south of the tower is evidence that the west end of the nave incorporates some remains of a Saxon chapel. The tower was completely rebuilt in 1853, on the model of smaller Perp village churches in Somerset: of two stages, with diagonal buttresses, embattled parapet and two-light bell openings. At the north-west angle is a taller stair turret with embattled crown and spirelet. There is a Perp window of three lights above the west door. The two eastern bays of the nave, the chancel and its chapels were added by Richard Carver, 1837-8, in an unusually authentic-looking Gothic for that date. He replicated the two-light Perp windows of the west bays of the nave. The south porch has a moulded entrance arch, largely C19 reworking. Flanking the chancel are lower chapels with flat parapets and single-light Perp windows. A vestry at the north-east is probably of 1897 or 1905, replacing one in the position of a north porch that was extant by 1837.

INTERIOR: High narrow nave with wagon roof, but without clerestorey. Nave arcades with four-centred arches and shafted piers, the eastern two bays of 1837-8, of slightly different profile and made of plaster. The western piers are C14 or C15 century, with reset C13 responds against the west wall. Victorian ringers' gallery in the tower. Over the chancel arch, three C19 windows arranged 1:3:1. Narrow aisles.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The church was reseated with pine benches in 1870 by J. Houghton Spencer, who also reordered the chancel in 1897. The chancel was further reordered in 1905 by A. Basil Cottam, including a red-and-white marble floor and dado to the chancel, with opus-sectile panels of trees. Reredos with relief of the Ascension, 1887. Pulpit by J.H. Spencer, 1907; green and grey marbles, with gilded mosaic figure panels. Carved and painted Royal arms dated 1787. Stained glass: in the north aisle west window, two small pieces of armorial enamelled glass, the date 1674 now illegible. East window by J. Dudley Forsyth, 1905, and one by him in the south aisle, 1907. The south chapel east window is a good semi-abstract design in vivid purple-blues, signed Paul Jefferies, 1962. Good west window in a typically hot 1850s palette, in the style of William Warrington. Some minor early C19 tablets, and one large one (Sir Benjamin Hammett, d. 1800) by Richard Westmacott junior; the Grecian style suggests a date of a decade or two later.

HISTORY: A Saxon chapel was established near a well called Fons George. Only c. ½ mile south-west of Taunton, Wilton (well-tun) was an early endowment of Taunton Priory, and was served by the vicar of St Mary from 1308. Medieval changes were subsumed by enlargement of the east end in 1837-8, by which time Wilton was absorbed into Taunton. The designer was Richard Carver (c.1792 -1862), an active local architect, as was John Houghton Spencer (d.1914), who was responsible for the reorderings after 1870. His father was vicar of Wilton for many years.

Church website - http://www.stgeorgescofetaunton.co.uk/ - history by Robert Dunning (former VCH editor, Somerset)
Faculties at Somerset Record Office, Taunton
Incorporated Church Building Society archive (www.churchplansonline.org) ICBS file ref. 02180 Folios 23ff.
Obituary of J.H. Spencer, Proceedings, Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Soc., (1915)

St George's Church, Fons George, Wilton is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* The continuity of religious worship on this site for perhaps 1000 years is represented by small Saxon, Early English and Perpendicular remains within a largely C19 structure
* The church remains an important landmark and focus for this former village on the outskirts of the town centre
* The C19 rebuildings are important for understanding the work of two good minor local architects
* The largely Victorian fittings include some pieces by nationally important names

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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