History of our churches

This page provides a brief history of both parish churches. The information has been reproduced by kind permission of Bridget Wheeler and her father who each have produced a more in depth history.


Tickenham Church Logo
Tickenham Church Aerial Flight
We have been given permission to feature the following aerial flight of our church, please click here (this will open a new window outside this website).
The following text is condensed from the booklet “A short guide to the history of this ancient Parish Church” which is available from the church itself or from the Benefice Office.

The parish church of Tickenham has the unusual dedication of St Quiricus & St Julietta. Julietta was a widow travelling with her three-year old son Quiricus in the year 304 AD when, in Tarsus, she was recognised as a Christian, arrested, taken before the Governor Alexander, and invited to recant. This she refused to do and was being tortured for her beliefs while her small son Quiricus was held on the knee of Alexander. Quiricus attempted to reach his mother, and in doing so scratched the face of Alexander. This angered the Governor who threw the boy down on the stone steps, killing him. Thereupon, Julietta thanked God for granting martyrdom to her son. Alexander was infuriated and ordered that she be beheaded. This joint dedication is only found in a few churches in this country, for example at Luxulyan in Cornwall, where the church is dedicated to St Cyriacus and St Julitta or in Newton St Cyres in Devon to St Julitta and St Cyriac.

The Church, situated on a rocky outcrop on the upper North Somerset Levels, can be dated definitely to the late 11th century by its early Norman chancel archway, but the nave walls may well be of Saxon origin due to their height and narrowness.

The north and south aisles were added during the 13th century with the Lady Chapel, or Bave Chapel, a little later. The chancel, entered through the 11th century archway, was extended in the 13th/14th century, which is why the East window appears off-centre when viewed from the nave. The original short tower of the 13th century was heightened in the 15th century and the present parapet and spirelets date from the end of the 19th century with statues representing the story of SSs Quiricus and Julietta. The belfry houses six bells, the oldest dated 1632. The main church door is 13th century, the stone step being worn into a deep hollow over the centuries.

The pulpit is 17th century. Above the pulpit is the doorway to the narrow and steep spiral staircase built into the wall of the Lady Chapel, probably constructed to reach the rood above the chancel arch but taken down at the Reformation. The Victorians removed the deteriorating plaster from the walls of the church, revealing the rough stonework of all shapes and colours of natural stone from the district. The contribution added by the current generation, at the millennium, is the welcome addition of two modern toilets constructed off the old Vestry!

This is indeed a brief history of Tickenham Church. We have to keep the church locked unfortunately on recommendations from the police, but in the porch is a telephone number you can ring for an appointment and the church is open on Saturdays and Sundays during August for guided tours.



TI from air

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The History and Antiquities of Somerset 1791 describes the village of Nailsea as “situated to the west of Flax Bourton, and to the Southwest from Wraxall in a deep and miry country, in some parts (particularly that called Nailsea Heath which has the appearance of a disused and neglected forest) thickly tufted with timber-trees, holly and common briar. The soil abounds with coal, of which there are four pits within the precincts of (civil) parish. A manufacture of crown glass plate has lately been established here by Mr John Robert Lucas, of Bristol, at which a great number of hands are employed, and a range of houses, forming as it were a small colony, is erected for the habitation of the workers and their families. The village of Nailsea, comprising the parish church (Holy Trinity) lies westward on the skirts of a large moor, to which it gives its name.” Although one doesn’t really like to disagree with what was written in 1791, at this date the present parishes of Wraxall, Flax Bourton and Nailsea constituted the one parish of Wraxall. There was no “parish church” or Rector at either Flax Bourton or Nailsea. They were both known as “Chapelry Districts”, and as such were part of the one parish of Wraxall, under the rector of Wraxall.

In 1811, Nailsea, with Flax Bourton was separated from Wraxall, and in that year, Nailsea became a separate parish, constituted a Rectory, and with Flax Bourton attached to Nailsea as a “Chapelry”. In 1844, a further separation of Flax Bourton took place, and in 1866, it was constituted as a Rectory.

In January 1844 the “District Chapelry” of Christ Church, Nailsea was formed; the district assigned being roughly the same area as the present parish of Christ Church, Nailsea. For 18 months, it remained subject to the superintendence and control of the incumbent of the Parish Church of Nailsea, but as an Act, which became law on 31st July 1845, this superintendence ceased, and the incumbent of the “District Chapelry” acquired the sole and exclusive “cure of souls” within the district.

In 1856, under the Act 19 and 20, Vict.c.104, Christ Church, Nailsea became a “New Parish”, ie a “separate and distinct parish for all ecclesiastical purposes”. By an Act passed in 1868, the incumbents of all such new parishes were designated Vicars, and their benefices vicarages.

In 1831, the census recorded Nailsea as having a population of 2,114. This number was potentially going to increase with the opening of the Bristol and Exeter railroad passing through part of the parish. Holy Trinity could only hold 360 people (excluding the gallery, which was for the use of the Sunday school children).

It was proposed to erect a new church near the glasshouses, which could hold 400 people. Sir John Smyth presented a piece of land with work to commence when sufficient funds were available. The foundation stone of Christ Church was laid on 22nd February 1842 by Thomas Kington of Charlton House, Wraxall. The church was consecrated on Friday April 12st 1843 by the Lord Bishop of Salisbury.