General Historical Background
On November 5th 1308 Walter Haselshaw, Bishop of Bath and Wells, issued his Ordination of the Vicarage of St. Mary Magdalene in Taunton. This defined in considerable detail the duties and privileges of the Vicar, including the requirement that he should ‘provide a resident Priest for the parish of Trendle as soon as the parishioners provide a convenient dwelling place’. Evidently there was a Christian community in Trendle (Trull) by the end of the 13th century. The original church is thought to date from the middle of that century; the base of the tower (the oldest part of the present church) dates from those times when the church consisted of chancel, nave and tower. The south aisle is of the 14th century and the north aisle a century later; but the north doorway was probably moved from the north wall of the 13th century nave. The nave has a “wagon” ceiling with small carved bosses. Trull is unusual in having an ancient cambered beam instead of a stone chancel arch.
This is one of our special treasures; it is said to date from the middle of the 16th century (possibly later). A seating plan of 1569 shows it in the centre of the church, against the middle pillar of the north arcade; marks of this remain in wood and stone. It is probable that it was moved to its present position during much disputed changes, in 1863. It is remarkable that, unlike the smaller figures, the larger ones have escaped damage; perhaps the parishioners showed care and foresight by removing them to a safe place in troubled times! They represent St. John the Evangelist (holding the cup with the serpent) and the four great doctors of the Western Church, Pope Gregory (who sent St. Augustine of Canterbury and forty monks to carry the Gospel to England), St. Augustine of Hippo (the great theologian of the early church), St. Jerome (who translated the whole bible from the original language into Latin) and St. Ambrose (the gifted preacher who let his faith determine his politics!).
Much of the seating is ancient and most of the bench ends date from early in the 16th century. Curious figures on five of them would represent a church procession but they are scattered; one is in the north aisle and the other four are in the south. Another bench end, near the pulpit, shows the implements of the Passion—”tree” cross, hammer, pincers, nails, thongs and ladder; there is also a cock crowing.
There is much of interest in other carving on benches and in linenfold panelling on the west walls of the aisles; an inscription on this, in the north aisle, reads—”SIMON WARMAN, MAKER OF THIS WORK, ANNO DOMINI 1560, JOHN WAYE, CLERK HERE”.
The east window, dating from the 15th century, depicts the crucifixion with St. John and the Mother of Jesus at the foot of the Cross. This window has been considerably restored; at the top are the ancient signs of the four Evangelists and other early Christian symbols.
Perhaps the greatest treasure in stained glass possessed by the church is the “Dragon Window” in the south wall of the sanctuary. Late 15th century work, it portrays St. Michael, St. Margaret and St. George, all slaying dragons.
The Rood screen, an example of the fan-vaulted type that originated in Devon, dates from the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries; its original tracery has now gone. The stair to the Rood Loft was, unusually, in the north arcade and not in the north aisle wall; evidence of this can be seen. The two parclose screens in the aisles (erected to the memory of Thomas Keene, Vicar 1500-1525) contain some particularly beautiful carving and show traces of the original colouring.
Of the peal of six bells, two were cast before the Reformation. They were last tuned and rehung in 1933 and they are in regular use.
The ancient stocks are situated under a yew tree beside the path leading to the north-west corner of the churchyard.
Improvements and Restoration
In recent years much has been done to restore and beautify the Church and to meet the needs of the worshipping community. Today the Church stands as it has done through the centuries – a witness to the Christian faith and a centre of spiritual renewal and power for the people of Trull.
It is not a museum but a living focus of worship. To it people come for spiritual refreshment; from it people go to their daily tasks with renewed power and inspiration. It thus serves this generation as it has served every generation for nearly 700 years.
Trull Parish Archive Group
For a number of years documents, books, magazines, photos and drawings, artifacts and the like about our Church and village have been rescued from destruction and stored safely. They formed the core of an exhibition in 2008 to celebrate the 700th anniversary of our first resident priest.
Then in autumn 2010 the Trull, Staplehay & Angersleigh Local History Society was formed by a group of enthusiasts. And one of its first tasks has been to launch an Archive Group, to put our heritage in order at last. The five members act under the joint auspices of the Society and of All Saints Parish Church, in whose Parish Rooms their collection is physically based. So the ‘Parish’ in their title embraces both the ecclesiastical and the civil parishes, and the collection includes secular as well as church items. They are currently busy cataloguing all the documents, using a process based on the very helpful Guidelines of the Community Archives & Heritage Group, a national support organisation. Once this has been completed, they plan to hold regular displays from the wealth of material in the archive.
Some of the first items to be catalogued have been:
Trull Parish Magazine, a set of bound and more recently loose copies, starting in 1883
- a programme and photo of Trull Sports Club’s football team in the 1925/26 season, in their only Cup Final appearance!
- a Tithe book covering six parishes, of tithes levied and collected 1890–1914
- a raffia tea cosy made by one of the Society’s members as a Trull School pupil during the war Centenary Scrapbook of the Trull Branch of the Mothers’ Union
- an original Victorian tile from the roof of Trull School, salvaged when the building was recently re-roofed.
Those are just the start. We’ll keep you informed of what we find and what our plans are as we go along.
Publication: Trull Church Memorials
In this 700th anniversary year of Trull church being assigned its own priest, it is very pleasing to be able to produce the first edition of Trull Church Memorials, which was the last book written by Cyril Green, and finished in the year before his death in 1998.
Trull Church Memorials was the culmination of many years’ work. As well as descriptions and pictures of the actual memorials in the church, Cyril also included details of the careers, families and homes of many of the people commemorated. Where there was also a gravestone in the churchyard, this was mentioned, sometimes together with a photograph.
Although there were plans to publish Trull Church Memorials in the year 2000, there were problems with producing it on the equipment then available.
Fortunately, with the advent of digital photography and the very great assistance of Andy Murray, the original manuscript, some of Cyril’s black and white sketches, and Andy’s coloured photos, have now been transferred to a form suitable for publication.
Trull Church Memorials is a book of 60 pages (A4 size). The price is £5.00 and copies are available on order from the Parish Office, Church Road, Trull, Taunton, TA3 7JZ. Postage and packing is £1.50 extra (UK only).