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29 October 2014

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You are in: Somerset > Faith > Sacred Somerset > St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton

St Mary Magdalene Church

St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton

St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton

Find out all you need to know about St Mary Magdalene Church in Taunton.

Name of your place of worship

St Mary Magdalene Church

Address of your place of worship

Church Square, Taunton, TA1 1SA

Religion or faith that is practised there

Christianity. The church is part of the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican community, but all are welcome.

St Mary Magdalene Church

The West Window in St Mary Magdalene's

Number of people that attend the place of worship

About 230 people attend services weekly, but double this number come for major events and festivals such as Christmas.

The church also attracts many visitors, particularly in the summertime.

Age of the building

The present building was completed in 1508. The earliest written record of St Mary Magdalene Church is 200 years earlier, but it is believed there was a church on this site in Saxon times.

Style of architecture of the building

The style is decorated Tudor. Most of the statues and stained glass date from the Victorian restoration.

Extra-religious activities that the place of worship takes part in

The church is frequently used as a venue for concerts, plays and other artistic events.  There is a coffee shop, as well as a book- and gift-stall, and the church is open daily.

The place of worship's best feature

We hope the best feature is the welcome. The building is famous for its tower (the tallest in Somerset), the gilded roof with angels and shields, and the West Window.

Interesting people or facts connected to the building

We have been scratching our heads over famous people associated with the church.

The head of King Edward I is carved on one of the oldest parts of the building, but we do not know for certain that he ever visited the church.

The vicar of St Mary's, the Reverend George Newton, and his curate, the Reverend Joseph Alleine, both left the Anglican Church after the Restoration, when King Charles I enforced the Act of Uniformity.

St Mary Magdalene Church

The tower of St Mary Magdalene Church

They went up the hill to form Paul's Meeting. The present United Reformed Church is the second building on that site stemming from that original meeting.

The two clergymen were nevertheless both received back into St Mary's on their deaths and were buried under the chancel. Joseph Alleine was an important writer on theological matters, and some of his books are still referred to today.

Tauntonian Richard Huish founded the almshouses in Taunton and left money for a school. Its successor in South Road still bears his name.

The great Victorian architect George Gilbert Scott oversaw the restoration of St Mary Magdalene's, including the reconstruction of the tower.

Cecil Rawling was a famous explorer of New Guinea and Tibet and is credited with discovering the source of the Brahmaputra river. He was killed in Flanders in 1917 and, like so many of Taunton's service personnel, is remembered among dozens of military memorials along the south wall of the church.

last updated: 18/12/2007 at 15:46
created: 11/11/2005

Have Your Say

Have you been to the church? What do you think of it?

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bbc.co.uk/somerset
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Shirley Dobson
It is a lovely old church with plenty of history and so many centuries of craftship built together to make an interesting place of worship. Just imagine knights of old and bishops of years gone by passing through the aisle.

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