Building » Wincanton – St Luke and Teresa

Wincanton – St Luke and Teresa

South Street, Wincanton, Somerset, BA9

A large urban church built by Canon Scoles for the Carmelites, whose priory to the rear of the site he had built twenty years earlier. It replaced a smaller chapel which in 1881 had been converted from outbuildings and which survives alongside. The church contains a number of fine furnishings including the high altar, reredos and hanging rood by Percy A. Lamb, and has recently been sensitively reordered. The west front makes a notable contribution to the local townscape.

The earliest recorded Mass at Wincanton in modern times was said in 1881 by clergy from the private chapel at Bonham House in Stourton, Wiltshire. Acorn House in South Street was acquired and its stables or outbuildings converted into a chapel (photo centre left at the top of the report) which opened on St Luke’s Day, 18 October 1881. The following year, a group of Carmelites arrived, having been invited by the Bishop to serve the mission. They established the second post-Reformation Carmelite priory in Britain. They used Acorn House as a temporary priory and extended the chapel, connecting it with Acorn House. Fr (later Canon) Scoles soon built a large Priory for the order whose foundation stone was laid on 16 July 1888 and which opened on 18 August 1889. The builder was Ketch (or Kitch) of Bridgwater and the overall cost was £2,200.

On 7 November 1907, Bishop Burton laid the foundation stone for a new church to be built on the site of Acorn House, alongside the old chapel. He opened it on 19 November the following year. The architects were Scoles & Raymond, a partnership formed in 1903 when Canon Scoles took his nephew Geoffrey Raymond into the practice. The builder was Bryer of Bridgwater and the church cost £4,000. The high altar by Percy Lamb was installed in time for the consecration in 1913. Two of Lamb’s brothers were Carmelites at the Priory, and one of them, Fr Francis, was prior at the time of the church’s construction. During the First World War, the Priory was used as a Red Cross Hospital and nearly 900 soldiers were nursed there.

Since the late 1960s, the retro-choir (formerly the community choir) has been used as the sacristy. In 1969, major repairs were undertaken to the towers and the exterior stonework was repointed. In 1995, the Carmelites left Wincanton, and two-thirds of the priory complex was converted to private residential use. Part of the site was also developed with new housing (Lansdown Place).

In 2007-08 the church roofs were re-felted and re-tiled (architects: John Stark & Crickmay Partnership) and the interior was reordered and refurbished by the same architects in 2009-10. Dry rot in the floor was eradicated and the affected timber pulpit removed to storage. An organ loft with a glass balustrade was installed, with a glass narthex screen below which curves around the relocated font. A new access door to the gallery stair was created at the west end of the south aisle and a confessional installed at the west end of the north aisle.


The church is described in the list entry (see below). This can be amended and augmented/updated as follows

  • The list description conflates the date of the opening of St Luke’s chapel in 1881 with the date of the church (which was built in 1907-08)
  • The retro-choir behind the reredos was not a ‘chapter house’ but a community choir before its current use as sacristy 
  • The high altar and reredos were designed by Percy Lamb and made for the 1913 consecration and completed in 1918 (according to a commemorative plaque). The altar frontal depicting the Adoration with flanking musician angels is of opus sectile work, not mosaic as stated in the list entry. The hanging rood is also by Lamb
  • During the recent reordering two sections of the marble sanctuary rails were moved to the arches between the sanctuary and side chapels
  • The fine timber altars in the side chapels (dedicated to the Virgin May and St Joseph) were made by Stuflesser of Ortisei, Tyrol 
  • Above the Lady altar hangs a copy in opus sectile of Murillo’s Immaculate Conception
  • The Stations of the Cross are by the Austrian firm of Ferdinand Demeiz 
  • The timber pulpit with canopy was also made by Ferdinand Demeiz. It was recently removed due to severe dry rot and is now in store
  • The retro-choir contains the Holy Infant altar made by Percy Lamb, with panels depicting Christ in the Temple and St Teresa (added in 1925 when Therese of Lisieux was canonised)
  • The original timber narthex screen and organ gallery were replaced with a new largely glazed design in 2009-10 (architects: John Stark & Crickmay Partnership)
  • There are a few stained glass windows in the church: Four lights in the apse have depictions of saints and two windows in the Lady Chapel have stained glass. One of those (St Martin and St George) was donated in 1919 by the British Red Cross Society to commemorate the use of the Priory as Hospital during 1914-18. 

List description


Roman Catholic church and presbytery. 1881; by Canon A.J.C. Scoles. Stone rubble with freestone dressings, rock-faced west front and towers. Steeply-pitched Bridgwater clay tile roofs with small stone corbels under the eaves.

PLAN: Nave with entrance under west gallery between twin west towers, north and south aisles with chapels at east ends, chancel with chapter house behind reredos and cloister on south side leading to chapter house and priory at east end; presbytery attached to south west. Early English style.

EXTERIOR: Gabled west front has cusped rose window with statue niche in gable above and tall 5-light lancets below over the portal with double order of shafts, deeply moulded arch and carved tympanum with Carmelite arms; flanking towers with 1-, 2- and 3-light lancets and embattled parapets; flight of steps to west doorway. North and south 2-light clerestorey lancets, continued around the chancel apse. Chapel on south side of chancel has gable-ended roof with apex crosses rising above the south aisle, cinquefoil clerestorey windows and stone bell-cote over south cloister with wrought-iron cross; similar cinquefoil windows to vestry gables to the south east. The south cloister has 2-light square-headed windows.

INTERIOR: Plastered walls and wagon roofs. 4-bay arcades with double-chamfered 2-centred arches and octagonal piers with moulded capitals. Similar tall chancel arch and chancel chapel 2-bay arcades with compound piers. Carved stone reredos with chapter house behind and altar in front with mosaic front. Marble arcaded Communion rail, carved wooden pulpit with canopy, very intricate wooden chapel and aisle altars, Crucifix hanging from chancel arch, gallery at west end, seating and stained glass.

The Roman Catholic Church of St Luke and St Teresa is a good and very complete example of the work of the priest/architect Canon A.J.C Scoles.

National Grid Reference: ST 71357 28545

Former priory


Carmelite priory. 1888-9; by Canon A.J.C. Scoles. Stone rubble with freestone dressings. Clay Bridgwater tile roof with coped gable ends. Ashlar stacks.

PLAN: U-shaped on plan; entered via a cloister from the church to stairs in the left [west] wing; the right-hand [east] wing contains the refectory on the ground floor and the library above on the first floor; in central range an axial corridor at rear and cells at front. Jacobean style.

EXTERIOR: 3 storeys and basement. 1:3:2 bay south front, end bays in projecting gabled wings; stone mullion-transom windows, the ground floor with hoodmoulds continued as stringcourse, second floor with stringcourse at cill level and with hoodmoulds; right-hand gable has statue niche; smaller left gable has lancet ventilator; asymmetrical fenestration of stone windows on north and south sides; rear wall blind.

INTERIOR: Stairs in left [west] wing with stick balusters and square pointed newels. Axial corridor at back of central range with depressed 2-centred arch recesses and cells in front; right [east] wing has refectory on ground floor and library above on first floor, complete with bookcases.

The Priory, together with the Roman Catholic Church of St Luke and St Teresa, is a good example of a complete late C19 monastic complex.

National Grid Reference: ST 71383 28562

Heritage Details

Architect: Scoles & Raymond

Original Date: 1908

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II