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Church of St. Martin, Zeals

Church of St. Martin, Zeals Date Photo Taken 2003
Uploaded 25/10/2007 08:29:35
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

There is reference to a chapel of St. Martin at Zeals in 1220, which is likely to have been served from the parish church at Mere. A free chapel with a quarter of an acre of land is mentioned in 1583 but from the mid 17th to the early 19th centuries there is no reference to a place of worship and any services are likely to have been conducted by visiting preachers in secular buildings. In the first half of the 19th century the growth of non-conformity, with the Congregational chapel built in 1832, probably led to an appeal for money to build a chapel of ease, a parsonage house and a school on Zeals Green. The cost was around £3,000 and the Duke of Somerset gave the land for all three. The church was designed by Messers Scott (George Gilbert Scott) and Moffat and was built of local stone with dressings of Bath stone. There was accommodation for 300 people and the church was consecrated on October 14th 1846. It was a chapel of ease for two years and then a separate ecclesiastical parish of around 600 people was created out of Mere parish on 27th June 1848.

The rectory was built in 1865 and in 1876 Julia Chafyn Grove provided many fittings for the church and gave the money for the spire to be built. A heating system was installed in 1922, which was replaced by electrically heated tubes in 1955 that were in turn replaced by fan heaters in 1987. Until 1922 the church was lit by candles but in that year oil lamps were given to the church. These were replaced by electric lighting in 1945 and in 1987 spotlights were installed.Water was piped to a tap at the church gate in 1935 and was brought into the church itself by volunteers in 1993. The parish registers from 1846 (chistenings), 1848 (marriages) and 1847 (burials), other than those in current use, are held in the Wiltshire & Swindon Record Office. Earlier records are in the parish registers for Mere (from 1561), which can also be viewed in the Record Office.

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