A short history of the Minster Ilminster

Situated on raised ground in the centre of the town, St Mary’s Church, or The

Minster as it is also known, is generally recognised as being one of the finest parish

churches in the county. It is thought that a Saxon Church stood on this site from

around 720 AD until the present church was built in the second half of the 15th

Century. Wells Cathedral was the inspiration for the design of the crossing under the

magnificent 90 foot central tower of golden Ham Hill stone.

The North Transept, known as the Wadham Chapel, contains the tombs and effigies

of Sir William Wadham, who died in 1452, and of Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham,

who died in the early part of the 17th Century.

In 1680, James, Duke of Monmouth, attended services here during the time that he

was seeking support as a champion of Protestantism for his disastrous invasions

which took place five years later.

Over the centuries successive generations have left their mark, making extensive

alterations including raising the height of the nave and the aisles, adding side

galleries to accommodate large congregations (and later removing them) and much

more. In the last century the roof was further raised and just before the First World

War the exquisitely carved Reredos of Caen Stone was installed behind the High

Altar. It contains twelve statues, painted in mediaeval colours in 1954, of Old and

New Testament figures. Among the tracery are hidden two caterpillars and two snails

which visitors enjoy trying to spot.