Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Rectory to the Roman Catholic Church of St George, Billet Street, Taunton, TA1 3NN


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Statutory Address:
Rectory to the Roman Catholic Church of St George, Billet Street, Taunton, TA1 3NN

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Taunton Deane (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Rectory to a Roman Catholic church. Probably c1860/61 and designed by Benjamin Bucknall; some minor internal updating. Also a gateway of 1882, late C19 garden building, and mid-C19 boundary railings.

Reasons for Designation

The rectory to the Roman Catholic Church of St George, gateway, garden building and boundary railings are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: a well-executed and carefully-proportioned rectory in a late-medieval/Tudor style which provides a successful contrast in terms of scale, style and materials to the adjoining church; * Degree of survival: the rectory is substantially intact and retains a high proportion of original fixtures and fittings; * Group value: the rectory, gateway, garden building and boundary railings form a distinctive and historically-related group and complement each other well.


The Taunton mission was established in the 1780s by the Reverend George Baldwin and received further impetus after the arrival in 1808 of Franciscan nuns from Bruges, via Winchester. In 1821-23 a small classical Catholic chapel (now the Masonic Hall, listed Grade II*) was built in The Crescent, dedicated to St George. By the 1850s, it had become too small as well as unfashionable in style, and plans were made for a larger church. The present site at the S end of Billet Street was bought by the nuns and the foundation stone was laid on 19 August 1858. The architect was Benjamin Bucknall and the builder was John Spiller of Taunton. The completed church was opened by the Bishop of Plymouth on 24 April 1860 and was consecrated on St George’s Day 1912.

The rectory is set well back from the road and is attached to the sacristy. It was built about the same time as, or shortly after, completion of the church.


Rectory to a Roman Catholic church. Probably c1860/61 and designed by Benjamin Bucknall; some minor internal updating. Also a gateway of 1882, a late C19 garden building, and mid-C19 boundary railings.

MATERIALS: the RECTORY and GARDEN BUILDING are constructed of buff-coloured brick under patterned slate roofs. The rectory has ashlar dressings and large ridge and gable-end stacks that have diagonally-set chimney pots and stone coping to the gable ends. The windows have stone surrounds and iron casements with twisted iron stays. The GATEWAY is built of stone rubble with freestone dressings, and the RAILINGS are cast iron.

PLAN: the RECTORY has an L-shaped plan, comprising a five-bay range with a central projecting porch bay and a gabled wing of two bays to the SW end. Attached to the wing are two late C19/early C20 lean-to additions. The GATEWAY stands to the NE of the rectory; the GARDEN BUILDING at the SW corner of the grounds; and the RAILINGS form the SE boundary to the site.

EXTERIOR: the two-storey RECTORY is in a late medieval or Tudor style. It has a brick and stone plinth and a string course over the ground floor. The projecting full-height porch has diagonal buttresses; a four-centred arched entrance with a chamfered, flat-arched surround; a statue niche above containing the Madonna and Child; and a mullioned window of two lights to the first floor. To either side of the porch are a pair of two-light windows with cusped heads and two first-floor gabled dormers of paired lights under drip moulds at first-floor level. The wing has a three-light mullioned window to its gabled end; a dormer window to the first floor of the NE and SW elevations; and also to the SW elevation is a four-light mullioned and transomed window and late C20 inserted window to the ground floor and four small, square modern lights to the first floor. The rear, garden elevation has an irregular arrangement of windows, all mullioned and transomed, and of two, three and four lights with two-centred heads in flat-arched, moulded surrounds. There is also an off-centre doorway with a stone surround and late C19 timber door, and towards the right-hand end is a full-height canted bay which has a window to each floor and a stone shield in the apex of the gable. There is a modern greenhouse against the rear wall of the wing which stands on the site of a C19 glasshouse.

The gabled, pedestrian GATEWAY of 1882 was built by the founder and first rector of the church, Canon John Mitchell. It has a pointed-arched doorway with chamfered surround and a modern metal gate. The NE elevation has an inset weathered stone shield above the doorway, and on the opposite face is a stone plaque that records the erection of the gate by the Canon. Within the rear garden, and built against a boundary wall, is a small Gothic-style GARDEN BUILDING, which was probably erected in the late C19. It is built of brick under a patterned tiled, gabled roof with crested ridge tiles. Its front elevation has a doorway which is flanked by windows with intersecting timber tracery, and diagonal weatherboarding above. The side elevations each have a single fixed light with pointed head. INTERIOR: RECTORY: the porch has fixed wooden benches and a chamfered Tudor-arched doorway with mid-C19 timber door with ornamental strap hinges. The principal ground-floor rooms are accessed from a corridor which runs the length of the building; this arrangement is replicated on the first floor. There is a good range of historic fittings, including a timber staircase, doors, architraves and door furniture and decorative stone and marble fire surrounds. In one of the upstairs rooms are fitted cupboards with glass doors that have glazing bars and cusped heads. The roof timbers are chamfered and there are braced principals and a single row of purlins.

GARDEN BUILDING: not inspected internally (2016).

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the rectory garden is bounded to the SE by cast-iron RAILINGS with fleur-de-lys heads. There are iron supporting brackets to their SE side and they are fixed to brick piers with moulded stone caps at either end. The ground slopes slightly to the E and here the railings are carried on a low brick wall with stone coping.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Harding, J A, The Diocese of Clifton, 1850-2000, (1999), 191-94
Orbach, J, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England. Somerset: south and west, (2014), 614
St George, Taunton. The Architectural History Practice Limited, 2015
Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser, Wednesday 25 August 1858 & Wednesday 25 April 1860


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 08 Feb 2006
Reference: IOE01/14720/35
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr John H. Sparkes. Source Historic England Archive
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