Securing our history for the future

Church Gates Mystery

churchyard gates

At the start of the Second World War the gates and light supports at the three entrances to the churchyard were removed for safekeeping. This was meant to be for the duration of the war. The gates were hidden in the Rectory garden whilst the arches supporting the lamps were buried there.


At the end of the war the gates were replaced but for some reason not the arches. Although over the years their absence was remarked upon, nothing was done, and it appeared that they had been lost forever. Then in 1969 Rev. Rigg arrived at the Rectory. He was a keen gardener and started digging and very soon came across the buried arches!


They were cleaned up and put back in place and using money donated at a funeral and the electricity was reconnected. The only thing not put back, possibly because they were damaged, were the glass panels that protected the light bulbs – these are still missing to this day.


Link Magazine Nov 2001



W W Wheatley 1811-1885

William Walter Wheatley is thought to have been born in Bristol in 1811 and died on 1st March 1885 at the age of 74.

In the mid 1880's probably just prior to his death, it is recorded that he was quite old and living in reduced circumstances and lodging at Hatfield Buildings, Widcombe Hill, Bath. He is also known to have lived at Rode prior to 1860, and in 1923 was well remembered by a few members of the village. He lived there in a house in Marsh Lane with his wife and son. At that time there were recollections of his geniality and for possessing a tame cuckoo.


He was a prolific sketcher and watercolour painter, particularly of churches including aspects of their interiors. He was commissioned by a number of local worthies. G.W. Braikenridge of Brislington employed Wheatley to illustrate a new publication of Collinson's History of Somerset, originally published in 1791. He provided similar work for W. ADLAM and for Prebendary J S W Horner, which is now in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Earl of Oxford & Asquith respectively. The Somerset collection of Braikenridge was bequeathed to the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. (Illustrations in the collection of Som. Arch. Soc. are held in the Somerset Studies Library above the Public Library in Taunton.) He is known to have exhibited his work at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1854

These are his paintings of Bawdrip Church from circa 1843

church 1843church internal ww wheatley 1843achurch simon 1843a

Early Photographs of the Church.

 bawdrip church

The photograph is an old view of the church, taken from near the gate to the Old Rectory. In the photograph there are some people in the photo that catch the eye and place it as a 19th century photo. The more modern photograph shown below will enable you to see the differences.

church 1800b

Firstly, there were more trees in the churchyard which have now gone, apart from the yew, although the patch of ivy is still there hanging over the boundary wall. Looking at the church itself the tower looks strangely tall. Closer examination shows that all is not as it seems. There is no clock face, only a blank south face. Then looking further down the tower, the roofline seems to have changed. This is in fact what happened when the church was restored in the 1860’s by the Rev. Warren.

Amongst other works was the lowering of the floor inside by two feet. If you go into the church and stand with your back to either the south or north walls and look back up to the tower you can see where the roof line originally ran. Looking at the east side of the church there is what appears to be a plaque on the wall where there is now a window. Again, on examining the church today there is a great difference in style between the windows on the south wall of the chancel (more on window shapes in the ABC of church architecture in a future article). There is also a door at the entrance to the porch and what look like railings around some of the graves (and of course there are fewer gravestones). The photograph must date from approximately the mid 1800’s and certainly pre-1860.

Link Magazine July 2004


Photograph of the inside of Bawdrip church.


The photograph shown is the view looking towards the altar from the West end. The impressive candelabras shown are attached to the middle of the pew backs. This gives a good insight into how the church was lit in pre-electric days. These look very similar in form to the large freestanding candelabras that are currently behind the altar. Looking more closely you can also see the solid fuel heater; a rather different lectern and it appears that there is a pew right in front of the font. The old pot-bellied stove that stood outside the vestry area was eventually replaced by electric heating it also got dangerously hot and at least one bride had to be saved from singeing by her husband!

In the church today if you look at the pews on some of them you can see the marks where the candelabras were attached. You will also note that the flue for the boiler has been removed – possible for the benefit of the photograph. If you stand outside the vestry door and look up to the roof you can make out the circular pattern where the flue exited the church. The tentative date for the photograph is the 1930’s.

Link Magazine Nov 2003