History of St Thomas Church

St Thomas Church from the south-east with the vicarage, built by George Blisset

In the mid 19th century, East Wells - now St Thomas Street - was a ghetto for the poor and disreputable, even though it was only just beyond the Cathedral precincts. Dean Jenkyns took pity on these people and visited them, and when he died his widow Troth determined to build a church to continue his work. The well known Victorian architect S S Teulon was entrusted with the design and St Thomas was completed within three years of Jenkyns' death. Sadly by this time Troth herself was dead too, having caught a chill at the foundation-stone laying.

Dean Jenkyns | Troth Jenkyns

The Revd George Blisset - a relation of Troth - was the first Vicar and during his seventeen years the new church made a tremendous impact within this community by its social and welfare work, by its educational work for all ages and by providing a spiritual focus for a previously marginalized people. So much so that within ten years the church had to be enlarged.

Since those days the parish has grown, both by new building and by the inclusion within it of East, West and, more recently, South Horrington - the development that has replaced the old Mendip Hospital. Although in a century and a half the parish has changed in many ways, St Thomas's remains true to its founding principles of concern for all its parishioners regardless of their church allegiance, and compassion for the needy regardless of where they live.

Although by Wells standards St Thomas's is a recent arrival on the scene, many visitors comment on the peaceful, spiritual atmosphere of the building; it is a place which has been hallowed by the prayer and service of those who have gone before us.

We try to be faithful to the values of our founders and those who have worshipped here before us. We pray that these values will characterize St Thomas's for generations to come.

Note: Resources for further research into the history of St Thomas's are held at the Somerset Record Office: www.somerset.gov.uk archives