One man was
presented for recusancy in 1593-4 and another
as a suspect in 1613. (fn. 1) Three male and two female
papists were reported in 1767, one man a toll
keeper, one woman keeping a cook's shop. (fn. 2)
There was one reputed papist c. 1776. (fn. 3)
Mass was celebrated weekly in a private house
from 1845 and following the conversion to Catholicism of J. Moore Capes, founder and first
minister of St. John's church, a Catholic chapel,
dedicated to St. Joseph, was opened in 1846 in
Gordon Terrace. (fn. 4) Capes and Bishop (later
Cardinal) Wiseman contributed towards the
cost. (fn. 5) The church was first served from Cannington, but in 1851 it had a resident priest. (fn. 6) In
1878 there were 60 Easter communicants. (fn. 7) A
new church with the same dedication was built
in 1882 in Binford Place, (fn. 8) of red brick with Bath
stone dressings; it was extended in 1982. (fn. 9) The
church in Gordon Terrace was a workshop in
In 1850 a small group of Dominican tertiaries
attempted unsuccessfully to establish a house in
the town. (fn. 10) Between 1885 and 1891 Sisters of
Mercy occupied a building in King Street. (fn. 11) A
group of Sisters of the Holy Rosary opened a
convent in Eastcroft, Durleigh Road, in 1939. (fn. 12)
The convent remained open in 1990.
Recusant Roll, ii (Cath. Rec. Soc. lvii), 141; S.R.O.,
||House of Lords R.O. 'Complete lists of papists 1767'.
||S.R.O., D/D/Vc 88.
||G. Oliver, Hist. of the Catholic Religion in Som.
(London, 1857), 65; St. George's R.C. Ch., Taunton, Parish
Mag. Summer 1982; above, churches.
||H. E. Field and T. B. Dilks, Parish of St. John the
Baptist, Bridgwater (1946), 5.
||P.R.O., HO 107/1925.
||R. I. Hancock, 'St. Joseph's R.C. Sch., Bridgwater,
1883-1983' (TS. at St. Joseph's sch., based on original
sources since destroyed), 3.
Lond. Gaz. 1 Sept. 1883, 4075.
Bridgwater Mercury, May 1982.
||Oliver, Catholic Religion, 65; Hancock, 'St. Joseph's
||Hancock, 'St. Joseph's Sch.' 4-5; O.S. Map 1/5,000,
Som. L. 11. 21 (1887 edn.).
Bridgwater Mercury, 15 Oct. 1985.