CHURCH STREET Widcombe
Church of St Thomas a Becket
Anglican parish church. 1499-1525, for Prior Cantlow, enlarged 1820. By HE Goodridge, restoration and fittings 1860-1861, by CE Davis.
MATERIALS: Limestone ashlar, slate roofs, stone slate to porch.
PLAN: Nave, north porch, west tower, chancel, south chapel and crypt, late Perpendicular design, building set into steeply rising ground, with access to crypt from tower base, and east end well below adjoining graveyard level.
EXTERIOR: Perpendicular windows with deep casement mould generally, with stopped drips. Tower in two stages plus lower ground level, with diagonal buttresses, moulded string courses, with two gargoyles to each face, and crenellated parapet with small corner pinnacles. Bell stage has small two-light openings with stone louvres, and to west above small rectangular light, large three-light. At lower level, immediately on road, C16 doorway with basket arch on plank door with strap hinges. On south side blocked doorway, with four-centred arch and drip course, and north side has full height octagonal stair turret in four stages. Porch, with C20 glazed outer doors, has coped gable to ball finial over four-centred opening, and diagonal buttresses. C19 inner door plank, framed and braced, with strap hinges, in four-centred arch with drip, above deep image niche. Nave has low pitched roof to continuous crenellated parapet on hollow mould string, raised attic behind porch. Two two-light cusped windows to north and south sides. East end of nave, north side, octagonal projection with stone roof, has inner arch to pulpit, and seems too low to have served rood. Chancel has pierced parapet above C19 two-light, and east end has large five-light window, below small pierced quatrefoil, with high central coped gable flanked by short lengths of horizontal pierced parapet, returned and continued over projecting chapel. South side of nave adjacent to tower projects forward, with broad buttress, and small C20 boiler flue.
INTERIOR: Ashlar walls are unrendered and unpainted. Nave in three bays, with C19 cambered tie trusses, ridge crown posts, single purlin and brattished plate, on stone slab floor, with timber under pewing. Windows plain embrasures with steep flush sills. Tower arch broad double chamfer with central mould on shafts. Tower has sixteen-compartment ceiling carried on drops to corbels on four sides. Small lancet above nave arch. North and south sides have each deep recess to four-centred head, and small plank door to belfry. Walls have linenfold wainscot, continuing detail of fine oak screen of 1913, with central doors and three lights each side, inscription records as memorial to George Moger. Chancel arch four-centred, with intrados of Perpendicular panelling. Chancel, one step, has very complex C19 ceiling in three facets and many panels, each with dropped cusped surrounds, to bold carved bosses. South wall has two arched openings, larger of these has unusual stone screen, with door and four panels below three large vesicae containing very close set and cusped tracery bars, and central quatrefoil with multiple cuspings. Pevsner thinks these of "...the craziest and most incorrect tracery". Other high arch has late C20 timber screen. Behind organ loft and vestry
FITTINGS and GLASS: All glass C19 or C20, tower west window has form of grisaille with blackberry decoration, and three coloured panels. Polished hardwood pews have small doors, richly carved broad octagonal pulpit on five high stone steps, and small brass lectern. Font, under tower, fine early C18 bowl supported by three winged cherubs, and with gadrooned base. Reredos of 1914 in sanctuary by F. Bligh Bond with cresting, and central icon-like painted panel of Christ, flanked by painted panels of the Beatitudes . Carved oak screen of 1913.
MEMORIALS: There are many C19 white marble tablets in nave. Earlier memorials of interest are two white marble cartouches with crowning cherubs, at west end of nave, that to north to Anna Bennet, d.1730, and to south to Martha Bennet, d.1739. At south side, rear of nave large oval white marble tablet, with crowning swag and fulsome epitaph, to Etheldreda Chester, d1797, aged 38, and her daughter in 1798, aged 10. In tower, south side, thick slab of 1610, with artisan lettering and inscription, to Jane Gay, and large rococo cartouche in white marble to .... Lewis, 1791. On north side fine double tablet with pediment, and weeping figure. Over chancel arch painted Royal Arms dated 1660.
HISTORY: In porch painted panel records first vicar as 1322, but there is thought to have been a church here in the C12. In 1573 parishes of Widcombe and Lyncombe were merged with rectory of Bath, and vicarate was not revived until 1855. Church immediately opposite Widcombe Manor (qv), and group was included in landscaped layout of Prior Park (qv). SOURCES:(The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: North Somerset and Bristol: London: 1958-: 109; Colvin H: A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects. 1600-1840: London: 1978-: 352; M. Scott, Discovering Widcombe and Lyncombe, Bath (2nd ed 1993), 38 ff. ).
Listing NGR: ST7597263877