There are five parishes and six churches within the Wulfric Benefice and we hope that you will find a spiritual home in one of them. The Benefice name celebrates the medieval Saint Wulfric who lived in Haselbury Plucknett. He encouraged everyone with God’s love and prophetic wisdom, from King Stephen to the local villagers.
We are your parish churches and are always here for you, whether you simply want a quiet place to pray and feel the presence of God; to mark one of those special occasions in life – a wedding, baptism, or funeral; or to explore your journey of faith. We aim to be welcoming to all generations and have a developing program for families and children.
You will find specific details about our services and other activities in our parish magazines, Voice and Village News.
St Bartholomew’s is the Parish Church of Crewkerne and has been at the heart of the community for over 1000 years. We have a range of formal and informal services and we aim to grow in faith and reach out with God’s love, bringing the Hope of Christ to every home in the town.
We are committed to mission and outreach and would love to help you find the wonders and extent of a full life in faith.
The first church was built here in Saxon times with the present building standing above the town for over 500 years.
We do hope that you will come to the church to see the stunning architecture, join in with our seasonal events such as Christmas Bazaar, Christmas Tree Festival and Carol Services or come each Sunday to worship with us.
Our congregation is very welcoming and we invite you to join us. We have a range of services and events – visit the news and events pages for more information.
We love to welcome everyone to our church and have family-friendly services on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month.
Our Choir provides excellence in music and a real depth to our services.
We believe that we exist to share Christ’s love and hope, and that our Sunday Services are when we come to worship God, but that our worship extends to every day of the week as we serve Christ by blessing everyone in the town.
St Bartholomew’s is not a museum but a house of prayer and worship. Our forbears built this place for the love of God.
We are proud of our church building which was rebuilt in the late 15th and early 16th centuries when Crewkerne was in the heyday of its medieval prosperity as a centre of the wool and textile industry. It is one of the best examples in Somerset of the “Perpendicular Gothic” style, widely admired for its grand west front and window tracery. The main building material throughout is the beautiful golden-coloured Ham Hill stone. Simon Jenkins, author of “England’s Best Thousand Churches” has given St Bartholomew’s four stars.
No major structural alterations have taken place since the Reformation in the 16th century but there have been many changes to the furnishings and fittings to suit the various phases of protestant worship that followed. The principal restoration that left the church interior much as it is now took place in the late 19th century. It was more sympathetic to the church’s character than many Victorian church restorations.
The Nave which is almost square is lent a light and airy character by the broad six-light aisle windows, slender stone columns and arches and the clerestory that soars above. The font by the south door is a survival from the Norman church. Pews date from around 1900 and have attractive bench-ends. The central section of the west gallery was removed in the late 19th century to reveal the great west window. The organ there was relocated to the south transept. Stained glass was inserted in 1930.
The focal point of the church is the crossing. There are massive columns that encase masonry from the previous church and support the central tower, and a wooden fan vault that was added in 1903. The main altar was moved here in the 1960’s and a new altar table, made in burred oak by local craftsmen, was provided in 2003.
Narrow and low compared with the nave, the chancel reflects the form of the earlier church. Behind the high altar there is a carved stone reredos from 1903 depicting the Last Supper. On either side are 15th century doorways, now blocked, which led to a former vestry. The oldest memorial in the church, on the south wall, is a brass effigy of Thomas Golde dated 1525. Corbels once supported a rood screen at the entrance to the chancel, one of these features a fine “green man”.
The north transept, with its group of Tudor-style chapels, is architecturally the richest part of the interior and the last part to be completed. The Woolminstone Chapel is flooded with light from the broad flat-arched windows. The tiny former Children’s Chapel contains a 17th century memorial to the Merefield family. The limed oak screens are mid-20th century.
A room above the stone fan-vaulted ceiling in the south porch can be reached by a door high up on the wall of the nave. Outside there is a niche with a statue of St Bartholomew above the door and there is a concentration of gargoyles and other grotesque carvings that decorate the parapet around the building, including a series of musicians.
From the top of Church Steps there is a good view of the tower and its hexagonal stair turret crowned with pinnacles. Masonry from the previous church remains in the walls on the side. The purpose of the arched niche with a seat or shelf inside, a feature unique to Crewkerne, is unknown.
The west front is considered to be the finest in Somerset after Wells Cathedral. It is suggested that the design with its seven-light window flanked by octagonal stair turrets, was influenced by St George’s Windsor and King’s College Chapel due to royal chaplains present among the rectors of the period. The moulded doorway with adjoining niches, sculpted figures and tracery, although decayed, is of exceptional quality.
Further information may be obtained by purchasing “Crewkerne Parish – its Church and People”, a book written by Peter Wingrave-Newell in 2018.
CJ Davis – Rector
The Rev David Newman
The Very Revd Robert Key
Photography of St Bartholomew's Crewkerne Clergy and Churchwardens © Jeffrey Hutson