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CHRIST CHURCH, NAILSEA – A BRIEF HISTORY
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 12th 1843 by the Lord Bishop of Salisbury.
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