Sion Chapel, Friarn Street

Add titleSion Chapel, Friarn Street

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The former Sion Chapel in 1937, with the School Room on the right.

Summary Report on the Site by Bill Moffat, 2008

Documentary sources and abstracts

Updated 29 August 2007

Record Office

Site book, interim report, press cuttings and photographs for excavations at Friarn Street and West Quay, Bridgwater. 1983-1984
Part 2
Cellars inside Friarn Lawn on Stone Foundations. In Cutting B SW wall to The Friars located. Arches collapsing into the cellars. Limit of machine dig was 2.7 m. Finds: few but SF1 was a “chamfered column stone”.

T/PH/bw.1 “Tithe Map” ca. 1884 (actually Town Plan in Reports of Property Committee)

Plots 424 and 425 (latter to S of Durleigh Brook) or 423 not part of the property of the Borough of Bridgwater in 1835.


Bridgwater Borough plans. Friarn Fields Housing Scheme; site plan and compulsory order for Friarn Lawn. 1934 [not yet examined}

Westfield United Reform Church archives

Deeds relating to the Friarn Street Chapel.
Indenture the (i) Rev. Thomas Tatton of Bridgwater and Robert Codrington of Bridgwater, gent to (ii) the Rev. John Hey of Bristol, the Rev. Richard Herdsman of South Petherton, James Ingram of Bristol, sugar baker, James Clark of Redcliffe Street, Bristol, grocer, Peter Hicks of Bristol, shoemaker, Thomas Pope of Marlborough Street, Bristol, carpenter, James Tod of Castle Street, Bristol, breaches maker, William Green of Bath, minister, Thomas Earl of Wells, millwright, George Nikels of Wells, gent and John Dampier of Kingsdon, gent, of a house, now a Chapel on Friarn Street, 8 Dec 1792; deed of trust with same parties as in lease, 9 Dec 1792.

messuage or tenement situated on the south [inserted over North, crossed out] side of Fryern Street wheron a malt house lately stood a meeting [sic] for diving worship …. the same shall always continue for that purpose. The said messuage or tenement yard garden & premises …. [conveying] All that messuage or tenement now divided into two tenements malthouse now converted …. worship of Protestant Dissenters aforesaid yard and gardens being one burgage siruate standing and being on the south side of Fryern Street heretofore in the possession of Richard Boothby [with all rights including courts].

Also Lease from Robert Codrington for one year to Thomas Tatton two tenements and malthouse now converted .. one burgage on the south side of Fryern Street.

Documents stamped 1871


Bargain and sale of a Chapel. 1819

All that Chapel or meeting house situated in Bridgwater in which the Reverend Joseph Corp now officiates also those cottages or dwelling house
thereto adjoining.

Document stamped 1871


Church History and Roll 1822 – 1877
Contains Abstract of Title to Sion Chapel and Premises (recites /1 mentions Chapel and Cottages or Dwellinghouse)
In Origin “About 30 years since a Malt House on the spot of land on which the present Chapel now stands

Note: suggests continued occupation of the site since 1792, and not an earlier chapel in Roper’s Lane given in secondary sources.

The follows a long list of names on the Church Roll.


Ledger Sion Chapel 1823 onwards
George B Sully builder. Various individual accounts. Sums paid out for Opening Graves (many) 1843 Burials Stocks 1844.


Sabbath School 1843
Pencil annotation Built 1822. Names, and 1846 onwards, residences of boys. West Street, Friern Street, North Street, Honeysuckle Lane and others.


Two Insurance Policies (Protestant Dissenters)
1838, Buildings of Chapel in Friarn Street (£150) and Dwelling House, Vestry & School Rooms (£50).
1856, the description becomes Building, brick built and tiled occupied as School Room and Class rooms, situate adjoining and communicating with Sion Chapel £80 the fittings therof in said building. There is a furnace securely erected in said building. £270. [Evidently the Chapel was separately insured].

In 1860, reports of severe dilapidations. Deacons Report on possible course of action: The shape of the piece of ground on which the present building stands unfortunately prevents any addition to the width.

Minutes 1838 to 1870

1860 floor of chapel in a very bad state.

Record Sub-Committee set up June 2 1848 to watch the interests of Sion Chapel with respect to the projected public (general) cemetary Reported on March 30 1849 piece of ground offered “rejected (unanimously)”.

Bound volume of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials November 1818 to September 1865
Burials given from ff250 onwards for 18ff at about 19 entries per page, so say at least 350 recorded burials.
Range of ages – infants to elderly. Entries in 1838 and after give full details of addresses. Register certificate on 5 August 1837 re central register in London.
Many current local names, Sealy, Dyer, Preece, Board etc. Locations generally not given, and plan not found. But spotted that in 1828 G Bryant buried In front of the Chapel; Capt Bryant 1830.

Other References

Updated 29 August 2007


Bridgwater Library

Unitarians listed in Dampiet Street exclusively throughout.

Hunts Directory Independents Fryern Street Rev R Panks 1848

Slaters 1852-3 Independents Fryern Street Rev R Panks

Kelly 1861 Independents Friarn Street Rev Edward Henry Jones also

Brethren (Ministers various)


Post Office 1875 No independents in Friarn Street

Bridgwater Almanac

Whitby 1878

Brethren & Friends only in Friarn Street.

Town Missionary Mr Champion in Friarn Street


Salvation Army Friarn Street Capts Bullard & foote. Others as before.


Will Locke “Bridgwater as seen in the 1920s and 1930s nd.

The Salvation Army then in its Friarn Street Hall, its original place was called Zion Chapel.”

Jarman S G A History of Bridgwater London: Stock 1889

p 223 The Congregational Chapel. In 1793 a small Independent congregation gathered in Roper’s Lane, now Albert Street. The new congregation met in a malt house. Scarce one is living who can remember the gloomy little room that served thus as a place of divine worship. the indenture of lease and release reads:- “Part of the said premises whereon a Malt-house lately stood…”. Rev Thomas Tatton was first called. There were some cottages attached to the property, the rent of which formed a small endowment for the minister’s support.

In 1818, Mr Joseph Corp commenced an “aggressive evangelistic work”… and he also held meetings in a room on Salmon Parade. three years’ earnest work in the town and

p 224 neighbourhood resulted in such increased prosperity that the need for a larger Chapel was generally felt. As the old building could not be enlarged it was resolved to put up a new one., and a system of collecting weekly subscriptions for this purpose was inaugurated in 1822. Mr Thomas Hellier [below Corporation docs] appeared on the scene; he supported Mr Corp very materially and chiefly through his efforts Zion Chapel, in Friarn Street, was built. The foundation stone was laid March 6th, 1822 and the Chapel was opened on August 20th in the same year.

The next ministers in succession were: Rev. Evan James, Rev. John Bishop, Mr Robert Panks, Mr Philip Chapman Barker, Rev. Edward H. Jones, Rev. Edward S. Prout, and the Rev. Edwin J Dukes. Mr. Jones’s ministry in the town was marked with great success. The Chapel in Friarn Street was filled to overflowings, as well as the school-rooms built for the Sunday school, adjoining.

A new Chapel in Fore Street was opened September 22nd 1864. There was a tea … at Zion Chapel, attended by 1,100 persons.

p 227 The Salvation Army This organisation commenced operations in Bridgwater about the latter end of 1880, by Captain Tom Crocker, of Bristol. At Easter, 1881, the services commenced in the present “Barracks”, formerly the skating rink, and earlier still the Zion Chapel used by the Independents before moving to their handsome Chapel in Fore-Street.

Powell Bridgwater in the Later Days Bridgwater: Page & Son 1908

p 249 The attempt to reach the very humble and poor, as well as the degraded and outcast, has for some years been taken in hand by a branch of the Salvation Army, whose head-quarters are located in the Old Zion Chapel in Friarn Street, which was built through the exertions of Mr Corp, for the Congregationalists, some eighty-five years ago.


A meeting house for Independents, in St. Mary Street near the south gate, was licensed in 1787, and another, possibly for the same congregation, in 1792. A different Independent congregation met in a disused malthouse in Friarn Street, which was also licensed in 1792. (fn. 59) Yet another group of Independents met in a malthouse in Salmon Lane, on the east bank of the Parrett, but in 1817 their leader took over the Friarn Street meeting house and the two congregations probably united. A Sunday school was added in 1818 and the chapel, known as Zion, was rebuilt in 1822. (fn. 60) It was closed in 1865 and was used as a skating rink before being taken over by the Salvation Army in 1881. (fn. 61)

OS Sheet L II 21 1887 50″

Nonconformist Chapel seats 700 with Burial Ground (disused) to south.
Chapel pink; supposed schoolroom yellow.

Armoury site to north west – probably contained excavated Unitarian burial ground (vide infra)

To SW other side of Broadway Friends’ Burial Ground Wesleyan Burial Ground

A note on the Unitarians in Friarn Street

Lawrence, B Coleridge and Wordsworth in Somerset Newton Abbot: David & Charles 1970

p 39 John Howel (Unitarian Minister 1793, buried in Dampiet Street Unitarian School Room).

Mr Howel enjoyed the free use of a house known as the Parsonage House, and in spite of the demolition that has taken place in its vicinity it has proved possible, though difficult, to establish its identity, although the Meeting House records show only that it was situated in Friarn Street on ground known as Sealy’s, that in 1835 part of its garden became the Unitarian burial ground, that the house ceased to be the Parsonage House in about 1850. A study of the Corporation Schedule of Property (1836) reveals that it was a double-fronted house standing on the north side of Friarn Street, in line with the Green Dragon Inn. Calculations based on this evidence point to the fact that the Parsonage House was the property now called the Old Armoury Garage, which, in line with the Green Dragon and several pairs of old cottages, stands back a little distance from the carriage-way. The bright blue paint on the doors and window-frames of its double-fronted house makes it conspicuous. A senior member of the Unitarian congregation recalls that the site of the petrol pumps was formerly a burial ground and that years ago she saw two old tombstones leaning against a wall of the house.

Report of the Committee Appointed by the Council of the Borough of Bridgwater .. For Improving the Town 10th December 1836 Bridgwater: Whitby

Property Report Reference 26 reference to the Town Plan 362 Dwelling House and Garden North Side of Fryern Street In possession or occupation of Mr Thomas Hellier ref above – proposed to be sold.

Dr Peter Cattermole 3 January 2014

Burial Register

This is a transcription of the Burial Register for the Sion Chapel in Friarn Street. SHC D\N\bw.wur/5/1/1. Thanks are due to WM 2007 E&OE.

Rec.No.SurnameChristian NameMonthDayYearAgeFamily / commentAddress
1CordingJohn18222son of Wm and Elizabeth Cording 
2RedfordWilliam18226son of George Redford
3SeakerJohn1822Infson of James and Ann Seaker
4BoardThomas1822Infson of James and Sarah Board
5WallJaneFeb1823Infdaughter of Wm and Elizabeth Wall
6CordingEliza1823Infdaughter of Wm and Elizabeth Cording
7WarrJane1823Infdaughter of Wm and Harriet Warr
8Griffiths1823Infson of John and Elizabeth Griffiths
9SeleyEliza18239daughter of John and Jane Seley
10WallJaneNovember1823Infdaughter of Wm and Elizabeth Wall
11FurzeJaneFeb182440wife of Nicholas Furze
12SeakerMaryMay182437wife of James Seaker
13SeakerJuly41824Infson of James and Mary Seaker
14Hodge1825Infson of James and Elizabeth Hodge
16HodgeJanuary1826Adultmother of Sarah Hodge
17WearesAugust18262a child aged 18 months from Mr Weares
18WoodridgeJohnAugust18269son of – & John Woodridge
19GriffithsCharlesAugust18261son of John and Elizabeth Griffiths
20HancockBettySept1826Adultmother of Mr Cording
21OrchardJanuary17182739wife of Joseph Orchard
22PreeceJosephJanuary1718270son of Tom and Mary Preece
23HodgesJanuary2318270Mr Hodges child aged 6 months
24HerveyJanuary31182746Mrs Hervey aged 46
27HodgeFebruary3182813son of Mr Hodge aged 13
28BryantGFebruary101828AdultMrs G Bryant buried in front of chapel
29GriffithsMarch141828Infinfant son of Mrs Griffiths
30WallJohnMarch2318283son of Wm and Elizabeth Wall
31CordingJos May1818283son of Wm and E Cording
33EsseryNovember11182875Mrs Essery
34DunwearSarah WallNovember23182814
37WillsDecember51829AdultMrs Wills mother of Mrs Wall
38BerrySilasJanuary101830son of George and Hannah BerryEastover
39WareMary AnnApril221830 daughter of Wm WareEastover
40WareWilliamMay251830son of Wm WareEastover
41DaviesEdwardJuly25183020Mary Street
42BirdDavidAugust29183020Fryarn Street
45PreeceHannahDecember2618302West St
46BryantJanuary31831Infinfant child of Mr Robert BryantNorth Gate
47GriffithsElizabethApril31831AdultFryarn Street
48OnionAmySeptember41831AdultBath Road
49HembroutGeorgeNovember61831AdultCanal Basin
50Sully January 1832Infinfant child of Mr J W Sully
51GriffithsSarah February101832AdultEastover
52FishleyJamesApril81832AdultCapt Rupele place
53BiceSeptember1832Adult27th and 2nd ? No ageFryarn Street
54WallJamesSeptember271832AdultNorth St
55WestMaryJanuary131833AdultNorth St
56LongAnneJanuary201833AdultSilver Street
57BufseleRobertJanuary291833AdultValetta Place
58AdamsMaryFebruary241833AdultWest St
60Dyer March241833Infinfant child of Thomas Dyer?Zway
61BurnellElizabethAugust181833AdultRufsele(?) Place
62BerryElizabethAugust251833AdultEastover turnpike
63ZwierWilliamAugust311833AdultFryarn Street
65BerryLucretiaSeptember30183319Eastern turnpike
66PreeceDecember251833Infchild of Thomas PreeceWest St
67PreeceHannahDecember251833AdultWest St
69WoodridgeRebekahMay2018342Fryarn street
70BolsonRobertJune25183420fRyarn street
71WallWilliamJuly27183453North st
72L’uiterneElizabethJuly27183472 Mount
73WestJuly291834Infinfant child of Edward WestNorth St
75Hile or FileWilliamOctober1183473West St
78WareJosephNovember3018342Crowpile cottage
79CotteceleJohnNovember301834AdultWest St
80SullyThomasDecember1183463Salmon Lane
81StoryGeorgeDecember518345Barclay St
82BirdJosephDecember518344Salmon Lane
83WareElizabethDecember16183422Crowpile cottage
84SymesWilliamDecember2818344Barclay St
85FisherWilliam cJanuary2518354Pig Cross
86WengateAnneFebruary221835AdultFryarn Street
87ThornJohnApril121835AdultFryarn Street
88QuierWilliamApril121835AdultSt Mary St
89WoodlandWilliamApril2218352Pig Cross
90SilkMarySeptember6183571Fryarn Street
91HillEllenMarch1318364West St
92BiceCatherineMarch18183620Salmon Lane
93SymesWilliam HenryJune1918361Barkley St
94NipplessFrancis GunfieldSept2183668Fryarn Street
95DobingMary AnnNovember16183621Barkley St
96FrenchAnneJanuary27183786 Â 
97LeakerMaryFeb11837AdultFryarn Street
98HenbrowMaryFeb12183748Canal Basin
99BerryHannahFeb15183719Eastern turnpike
100BolsonJohnApril31837AdultFryarn Street
101WoodlandJohnApril918375 Â 
103WingateMartha MillardDecember2718370twiceCorse Hill
104HellierNancyFeb2183875twiceBarkley St
106DuckhamEmmaFeb2218381yr 9 Â 
107PoolWilliamMay7183847Pig Cross
108MagfordElizaJune101838AdultSalmon Lane
110LearEllenAugust12183819St Mary St
111StephensGeorge RussellSept1518382Spaxton
112WetridgeMartha November2718382Fryarn Street
113SullyThomasDecember2118380East over
115PoolElizabethFeb19183939Coffee House Lane
116BishopHenry VowlesFeb2718391
118EnglandJamesApril211839AdultBarkley St
120WoodridgeSarahAugust21183911Fryarn Street
121CaseMaryNovember15183928Cannington Rd
122Jones November15183970Mrs
123DobingWilliam John LeighJanuary1018405St John St
129Strily [?]Mary AnnMay1718401
130ParslowRebecca AnnMay2418402
131BurnellCapt. J.Sept271840Adult
132BurnellunknownSept281840AdultSon of the above
133Bower (Bowen)WilliamSept241841Adult
134JonesWilliamJanuary71842AdultJones snr – had a son william?
136WebbClara May Bacon WebbOctober2418425Russell Place
137TamlinWilliamDecember1618426Casey Thomas crossed out and William written overEastover
138TamlinCasey ThomasDecember2718425Eastover
139WestRobert William RichardsJanuary7184314North st
140PreeceunknownJanuary27184314Ropers Lane
141HarmanWilliamFeb1518430High Street
142BerryHannahMarch5184354Bath Road
143FryMaryMarch10184320Ropers Lane
144SymondGeorgeJuly101843InfCoffee House Lane
145SymondAnn Sep131843AdultCoffee House Lane
146SmithSarahOctober22184387St John St
149FisherJohnOctober2118434Barclay St
150StephensMary AnnJanuary2418441
151ManchipEliza JaneFeb2118443
153StoreyCapt. GeorgeApril211844AdultJohn St
154QuierJohn EdwardNovember24184417
155HarmanJames Brewin[?]May71845Inf
158HillunknownJanuary301846Adult  West St
161BovettSamuel WallaceMarch32[!]18461twin of lucy jane
162BovettLucy JaneMarch 32[!]18461twin of samuel wallace
163ReadingAnnMarch 26184563recorded 1846Bradney Place
164TurnerJaneApril918451recorded 1846Hamp
165SullyEliza JaneJanuary3184517recorded 1846
166BondHesterJune5184673 Fore St
167PriorElizabethJuly3184644 Chandos St
168AshEdwardJuly171846Inf Eastover
169SullyEmily JaneAugust818463 Wembdon
170BishopElizabethSept20184642 Fore St
171BryantEllen LouisaSept2518464 Salmon Lane
172BishopElizabethFebruary10184772 Fore St
173LeakerSarah AnnFebruary2118471 Fryarn Street
174FussellSusanApril23184753 Mount
175LintettRobertMay5184719 North St
176WoodridgeJamesMay12184756 Fryarn Street
177BakerRobertMay28184716 Quay
178PranhardSarahJuly28184718 Ropers Lane
179DeaconAnna MariaAugust318472 Quay
180WoodlandHannahAugust20184719 Pig Cross
181HawkinsThomasSept4184731 The Dock
182Bower (Bowen)EmmaSept18184722 St Mary St
183SladeJohnDecember25184713 St Mary St
184StoodleyElizabethJanuary28184872 George Lane
185ButcherAnnFebruary19184897 Eastover
186BakerJohn GeorgeFebruary2518487 Quay
187BovettSamuel WallaceMarch2418481 George Lane
188SmithEmmaApril818482 Pig Cross
189BennettElizaJune27184819 Crescent
190BowenMarthaJuly8184830 St Mary St
191AshJamesAugust318486 Eastover
192SmithMaryAugust15184870 Bath Road
193MillardAnnNovember1118484 Provident Place, Wembdon
194Hardidge (Jones)CharlesDecember22184825 West St
195YeardleThomasJanuary27184928 Gloster Place
196GriffithsWilliamFeb2418492 Eastover
197QuierJoannaMay9184986 St Mary St
198LillycrapHenry June1818490 Pig-Cross
199EdwardsMaryOctober16184925 West St
200EdwardsJohnOctober2418491 West St
201BondAlfredOctober2618492 Crescent
202PranhardMaryNovember2184954 Ropers Lane
203PreeceJohnNovember1918497 Barclay St
204PritchardEdwinNovember2118492 Eastover
205GriffithsMary JaneNovember2118496 Eastover
206ScottMary AnnNovember26184912 Hamp
207GoldMaryFeb1185070 Matthews Field
208PreeceJamesApril1318501 Barclay St
209LewisEdwin HenryJune118501 Pig-Cross
210FryWilliamJuly20185062 Dampiet St
211BovettArthur HenryAugust1018501 George Lane
212FussellJamesSept2318506 Fryarn Street
213TapperSamuel November2918501 West St
214HoweMary AnnDecember2518505 Bws
215DeaconGilesFebruary3185124 The Mount
216RichFrederic SilasApril1618511 Bristol Rd
217ThomasMatilda RebeccaApril1818511 The Quay
218GabrielEmily CatherineApril2618511 The Dock
219WestEdwardJune4185112 North St
220ParksRobertJune2118510 King’s Sq
221PreeceHannahJuly26185185 Ropers Lane
222QuierSamuel MaxeySept17185114 St Mary St
223JonesLucy ElizabethSept2018510 Salmon Lane
224WestMary AnnSept20185157 North St
225MillardBenjaminNovember118512 Provident Place, Wembdon
226PriceElizaNovember818512 Ropers Lane
227PennyThomasFebruary 185231 Barclay St
228EscottRichard HenryMarch818520 Valetta Place
229TamlinMary JaneJune101852Adult Eastover
230DymentAnnAugust11185257 Chilton
231PreeceJohnAugust251852Adult Barclay St
232DymentSarahOctober18185228 Crescent
233HooperClara October301852Adult Eastover
234ManchipEliza JaneMay2118539 High Street
235AshEllenNovember2518530 Eastover
237MoggWilliamDecember171853Adult The Quay
238HensleyMrs Jane[ill]14183226omitted in proper place – recorded 1853
239OldmanMarySept11855Adultdate alt. from 1854North St
240PattisonThomasNovember9185543 Valetta Place
243Hile IsaacNovember21185560 
245BriceMaryFebruary20185693 Fryarn Street
246ToutJohnApril91856Adult West St
247PreeceBetsyMay5185645 Barclay St
248NormingtonMaryDecember24185628age indistinct 
249KnipEstherJanuary  1857Adult  West St
250ButtlerJaneJanuary281857Adult  George Lane
251GreenJohnFebruary71857Adult  Barclay St
252PriestsSamuelFebruary7185747  Barclay St
253BovettCharlotteMay7185745  George Lane
254BiceDavidJune5185778  Wembdon
255BowenSarahJune5185740  St Mary St
256PaullJosephJune51857Adult  Monmouth St
257PitmanWilliam HenryJuly11857Adult  High Street
258CreedyHenry August318570  Golds Buildings
259RitchLaviniaAugust20185721  West St
260StillingSamuelNovember41857Adult  Barclay St
263HileFrederick JohnJanuary2018590 

Final Clearance

Picture of the site when cleared for surveying, 14 July 2008
Picture of the site cleared before enhumation, 22 May 2015
Picture of the site before enhumation, July 2015
Picture of the site after enhumation, September 2015
Picture of the site before enhumation, September 2015