A Brief History of Holy Trinity, Cleeve


A short history of the Church at Cleeve, Compiled by L.I. Roberts in 1973 and updated by R. Ford in 1999 and T. Dyer in 2000.

In the early 19th Century Cleeve, together with Kenn was part of the Parish of Yatton. When Kenn became a separate parish, the Rev. Richard Symes, who had become Curate of Yatton in 1829 devoted a lot of time to the Village of Cleeve, and commenced to hold services in the school room, which had once been a barn.

In the late 1830's it was decided to build a Church at Cleeve, According to an early history there is a legend that, "the owner of. Brockley Hall a Pigott or a Smyth-Pigott, fell out with the Vicar of Brockley, a relative, and so that he could show his independence he built a Church at Cleeve, to which he attached nearby, (On ground now occupied by Mr. Haworth) a coachhouse and stables, which he built for his personal use." Whether this is true or not, I do not know, as letters from the family (great niece) of the Rev. Symes, says, "He (Symes) was chiefly instrumental in the building of Cleeve Church of which he became incumbent in 1843, he brought Cleeve Hill where he lived until he died in 1886, leaving it to become tile Vicarage."

A subscription list was opened, and a total of .£1928. 15. 8d. was collected, with J.H.S. Pigott Esq. of Brockley Hall heading the list with a donation of £200.0.0., £100.0.0. towards the building, £50.0.0. for the Tower foundation, and £50.0.0. towards tile cost of the land. Subscriptions came from far and wide. As well as donations from the local gentry and clergy, donations came from as far as Hastings, Dawlish, Preston, Weymouth and Birmingham. A bazaar was held at Yatton school and raised £30.19.2., whilst one held at Cleeve Court raised £311.13.2.

Two interesting entries in the list read, "collected at Cheam School by Master Jenkinson £3.3.0." and "contents of a box Master Jenkinson £1.3.6."

The Architect was G.P. Manners Esq. of Bath, who was also the Architect of many Churches in these parts. Holy Trinity Church is one of the few Churches built in Somerset in the 19th century that was built in the Romanesque style. The Church was built with stone from the local quarry. Records show:- "To Mr. Blackman, for raising 120 loads of stone at Cleeve Quarry, at a total cost of £.6.0.0. Haulage was by Mr. Hayes at 6d. a ton - £.2.0.0., and a Mr. Raines at 5d. a ton £1.18.1½." This makes a total of 151½ tons of stone from Cleeve Quarry. The builder was Mr. J. Dadley of Bristol, who either died or sold his business during the building, as half way through money was paid to the trustees, or the assignees, of J. Dadley. The builder received a total of £1328.1.0. and Mr. Manners fee was £129.13.10. The land cost £103.0.0. with legal fees of £13.15.8. The Registrars fee for the consecration came to £29.11.10. These represent the larger amounts out of a total cost of £1721 18.9½. Of the remainder subscribed, £201.15.10½ was paid to Queen Annes Bounty to be invested by the Treasurers for the endowment of the Church, this left a total of £5.1.0. in hand.

The Foundation Stone was laid by the Lady of John Hugh Smyth Pigott Esq. of Brockley Hall on the 14th June 1838, in the presence of the Rt. Rev. George Henry, Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, and was consecrated by the Bishop as a Chapel of Ease of the Parish of Yatton, on the l8th June 1840, and the Rev. Richard Symes became Curate. In 1843 Cleeve became a separate Parish, and the Rev. Symes became the first incumbent of the living, which was, and still is, a gift of the Vicar of Yatton.

To this day the Vicar of Yatton remains Patron of the Parish. The Rev. Symes became Prebendary of Ifton in Wells Cathedral in 1853, and also at a later date Rural Dean. He took a great interest in the Village, and it was largely due to his efforts that the New School was built and opened in Cleeve in 1861. This School was situated by the quarry, and was the village school until 1972, when Court de Wyck School was opened.

The Rev. Symes took his last baptism in 1875, when he had a succession of curates possibly due to his advanced age. He died in 1886 at the age of 90.

The Rev. Isaac Sadler Gale who later became Prebendary of Wells and Rural Dean, was inducted into the living in 1887. In 1888 the Church was restored and renovated, when some major alterations were carried out. Up to this date, the organ had been situated to the south of the Chancel, with the heating apparatus to the north. The organ was now moved to an archway made to the east of the north transept, while chambers for the heating apparatus were made, under it. Up to the time, of the restoration the transepts were filled with high inconvenient seats, and those of the nave were too narrow for kneeling, at the restoration these seats were taken out and replaced with chairs. At the same time stained glass was put in the windows of the Chancel as a memorial to the Rev. Symes, first Vicar of the Parish. The south transept windows were filled with stained glass in memory of E.J. Daubney Esq. J.P. late of Cleeve Court. The restoration cost approximately £600.0.0. and the Church was reopened by the Bishop of Bath and Wells on the 12th December 1888.

In 1898 the west windows were filled with stained glass to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. In 1899 the north transept windows were filled with stained glass by the Rev. Canon Alford in memory of his Father Bishop Alford of Victoria, Hong Kong.

In 1902 the Rev. Christian Hartley was inducted into the living; he remained Vicar until 1927, and is still remembered by our older parishioners with many fond memories. At the beginning of his term of office the present organ was installed at a cost of £200.0. 0. It was dedicated by the Bishop of Bath and Wells on the 11 th October 1905. A feature on the day of dedication was two organ and violin recitals. One was held in the afternoon, and a longer one was held during the evening, during which the Rev. C. Hartley sang "There is a Greenhill." During the months that followed many organ recitals were held to raise money for the cost of the organ.

At the end of the war in 1919 it was decided to erect a cross in memory to the men of Cleeve who fell in the war. Permission was sought and granted, as the faculty states : - "To place a Memorial Cross in the Churchyard of the Parish Church of Cleeve. The Cross to be placed five feet from the wall separating the road from the Churchyard, the wall being lowered to a height of fifteen inches with an open railing on top giving a vision of the Memorial from the road". The faculty was granted on the 14th November 1919. The cost of the Cross was borne by donations from the village and was dedicated on the 20th April 1920, by the Venerable Archdeacon of Bath, Archdeacon Fish.

In 1926 the Churchyard was extended to the east. A point here was that when the wall was built iron bars were required to be built in the wall, so that netting could be put up to stop Mr. Miller's ( the farmer) chickens getting in Churchyard.

A list shows that a total of £187.15.3 was collected for the Churchyard fund.

In the late 1920's the present pews in the nave were installed to replace the chairs which had been used since the restoration, I do not know if they were the original chairs, these pews were a gift of Mr. Meade-King, Vicar's Warden at the time. All the wood, American Oak, was planed by hand. The remaining pews in the Chancel and transept were given by Mr. Millier (1934) and Mr. Evans (1937).

This was the time of the Depression, and the Church ran a clothing and coal club to help the needy of the parish. Many well known shops are shown in the bills that exist. The accounts for the year January to December 1930 shows an income of £76.4.5, which includes a "donation from Vicar's Warden to meet deficit £6.1.6." In the expenses column we find such items as, "George Gosling, organ blower £1. 10. 0.". "Coal, Oil and Faggots £7. 1 0.," "Repairs to roof and new down pipes and installing electric light in porch £5. 14. 0."

On Tuesday the 18th June 1940 the Centenary Celebrations of the Consecration of the Church were held. Many former Ministers and other people connected with the Church were invited, and attended. A social gathering, which had been planned for the afternoon, was cancelled because it was war time. On the 24th September 1946 the New Altar was consecrated, and a reredos, stools, communion rails and a choir screen were dedicated by the Bishop of Bath and Wells. At a later date it was decided that the reredos did not fit or blend with the Church, so it was removed.

A black day in the history of the Church was Christmas Eve 1950. On this day the Church plate was stolen. One item was recovered at the time, but the remainder was not seen again until November 1952, when it was found by Mr. Mark Rogers on the rubbish dump in the Churchyard. At the time of the theft the dump had been searched and nothing had been found, so it seems that the thieves could not dispose of the Plate, even though it was silver. Due to the fact that the full claim of the insurance of the Plate had been paid, the Plate was now the property of the Assurance Company. The Assurance Company showed great generosity by restoring the Plate to the parish without cost.

In 1960 the Church room was built as a vestry, but it has been very useful as a Sunday School classroom, and for use at various functions.

The present Altar Frontal was dedicated on the 29th March 1970. The embroidery was carried out by three devoted ladies, two of the parish and one from Backwell. It reminds us that there are still many people who are prepared to give time and effort to perpetuate the Greater Glory of God, as well as giving money. In 1971 the Churchyard was extended to the west, and this was dedicated on Passion Sunday, 27th March 1971.

It was decided in 1972 that the organ should be completely overhauled and renovated. A faculty was applied for and granted. The work was commenced at the beginning of December of that year, and the work was sufficiently completed for the organ to be played for the Christmas Services. The renovation was completed in January 1973 and tile total cost was £1180.00. The Money was raised by a house to house collection throughout the village and by subscriptions by the members of the Church, as well as coffee mornings, social gatherings and the like.

The car park was added in 1997 at about the same time as an amplified sound system. The car park was officially opened by the archdeacon, the Rev'd Robert Evens. The cost of land purchase and construction was £14,000 which was all raised by public appeal and donations. This was all achieved in a matter of months. The planning and construction was overseen by Mr. Roger Ford and the landscaping was provided by Mr. Michael Pitman.

to be continued...............

List of Ministers

18401886 Rev. Richard Symes
- Curate 1840
- Vicar 1843
- Prebendary of Ifton in Wells 1853
- Rural Dean
Died 1886 age 90 years
18751878 Rev. W. Esdaide - Curate
18781879 Rev. J. F. Browne - Curate
18791880 Rev. W. B. Powell - Curate
18811882 Rev. C. S. Saxton - Curate
18831884 Rev. I. A. Price-Jones - Curate
18841885 Rev. Martin Alford - Curate
18861887 Rev. Phillip C. Caffin - Curate in Charge
18871902 Rev. Isaac Sadler Gale - Vicar
Prebendary of Wells
Rural Dean
19021927 Rev. Christian Hartley - Vicar
1927  Rev. H. C. Dudding
19271931 Rev. C. M. Alford
19311932 Rev. Frank Marriot - see below
1932  Rev. E. J. Roberts
19321933 Rev. Frank Marriot - see above
19331934 Rev. Theodore Brocklebury Davis - Vicar
Rev. J. R. .Winterton
Rev. Dr. Sweetapple
Rev. Anthony Dixon
Rev. F. Hedger - Vicar
19351941 Rev. James Frederick Snee - Vicar
19421947 Rev. Ronald Percy Frank Plaistow - Vicar
19481951 Rev. John Dawson Ainger - Vicar
19521959 Rev. Walter J.C. Hislop - Vicar
19611963 Rev. Edwin Greek Stoneman
19631971 Rev. Patrick John Blake
1971  Rev. Bertram William Jeremy Mitford - Vicar
19791983 Rev. Peter Etterly
19831992 Rev. Michael Jones
19922000 Rev. Chris Horseman
20012018 Rev. Cathy Horder
2018present Rev. Nigel Thomas