Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Westonzoyland

This week, I was very fortunate to be able to go to Somerset. My husband celebrated his fortieth birthday last weekend and we were given a two night stay in East Bower, Bridgwater. It couldn’t have been more perfect because, as some of you know, I have been working on a novella about the Duke of Monmouth for the past month and a half, and this was amazing to finally see everything I had been studying. I feel so close to Monmouth and the Rebellion than ever before. This and the next series of posts will probably show this.

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Photo: Andrea Zuvich

The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Westonzoyland Church, has a very long and rich history. This beautiful Gothic church is situated in the lovely village of Westonzoyland, near Bridgwater and Glastonbury, and it was an absolute pleasure to be able to come here and see things in person. This church played an important role in the events of 1685.

Originally a mediaeval church built in the 1300s, this structure had changes in several stages, notably in the 1400s, 1500s, 1700s, and 1800s.

I thought this building was phenomenal. Look at those pinnacles and quatrefoils! It’s architecturally to die for!

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

But we’re not here for the other times, we are here for the 1600s!

The most important event this spectacular church is associated with is the ill-fated Monmouth Rebellion (also known as the Pitchfork Rebellion) of 1685, led by the Dashing, but Doomed Duke of Monmouth.

Sadly, quite a few people had a downright nasty time of it inside this sacred place. After their terrible defeat at the Battle of Sedgemoor really close by, around 500 rebels were captured and imprisoned here to await their fates at the Bloody Assizes, some died of their battle wounds inside, others were taken by royalist troops and hanged.

Image: Andrea Zuvich

Image: Andrea Zuvich

(OT: I must admit that I find museum dummies/mannequins slightly unnerving, but this one did not have the freak-out factor, which is always a plus).

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

They have a miniature recreation of the Battle of Sedgemoor. Two words: freaking awesome!

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Close-ups:

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

 

 

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Monmouth's flight from the Battle of Sedgemoor. Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Monmouth’s flight from the Battle of Sedgemoor. Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Image: Andrea Zuvich

Image: Andrea Zuvich

 

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

 

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Photo: Andrea Zuvich

I hope you enjoyed the photos of Westonzoyland Church. Due to increasing disinterest in the church in our secular society, this, like many other churches rich with history needs your help to stay open. Regardless of whether you are religious or not, I believe it is in everyone’s interest to maintain such important buildings in order to promote more understanding of our nation’s history. I was the only person visiting this church that day (at least the only one I saw there and the only one who signed the visitor book) so imagine how costly it is, perhaps around £1,500/week to keep this structure open to the public and insured, etc.

I donated money in person when I visited. Please donate by going to this website: http://www.zoylandheritage.co.uk/

Thank you.

 

 

 

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Hear ye! 2 thoughts — so far — on “Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Westonzoyland”:

  1. Julian Humphrys

    I’ve really enjoyed your posts and pictures about Sedgemoor. I was asked to speak at the opening of their little visitor centre but turned up too early. So I decided to go for a walk on the battlefield and, despite having led numerous walks across it for English Heritage, like you… I got lost! Eventually I got back, slightly muddy, in time to deliver a slightly breathless speech.

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