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Last Friday, 3rd February, having spent a couple of hours, and taken lunch, at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton Castle, about which I blogged yesterday, and with a couple more hours before my bus back home, I decided to visit the beautiful church of which I had caught just a glance in the morning.

At 50 metres, 163 feet, the tallest tower in Somerset. Peregrines have had a breeding station at the top since 2017.

I paused to look at what I imagined to be the four Evangelists – they were not accompanied by their normal symbols – at the west door, and was struck by the humanity written on the face of whom I took to be St Luke.

I stepped inside. Susan!

Susan. Susanpoozan, loyal reader and commenter on my blogs, sister to two other loyal readers and to two other siblings, died just two weeks ago. I had seen her in November on my last trip to London. My next visit will be to attend her thanksgiving service later this month.

Susan herself wrote a weekly blog, She loved travel and she loved churches, especially their ceilings. One of her last posts was of her trip to Exeter, when its cathedral figured largely in what she wrote about the city. In the early months of 2021, when we were all unable to get out and about, she wrote up 21 ‘Tales from a mid-life gap year‘ about her travels in Europe in a van, in 1984/5.

I felt Susan was with me all the time as I explored this beautiful church.

The minster was founded by the Saxon king, Ina, when he founded the town of Taunton early in the 8th century. It became a parish church in 1308, and once more became a minster in 2022, ‘to reflect its ‘widening work engaging with civic life, as a hub in the west of the diocese…; as a major heritage attraction; and in serving the community and business life of Taunton’. The present church was completed in 1508.

West window
‘The nave is one of only five in England with double aisles and divided into five sections – the nave being almost a square of 26 metres.’ [Leaflet]
A glance up at the ceiling over the nave
… and at the ceiling over the chancel. Susan would have loved both.
The Father Willis organ was built in 1882. ‘Look for ‘Alleluia’ angels on the pipes!’

Soldiers’ Corner. The Minster is the regimental church of the Somerset Light Infantry. The bell is the treble that was replaced along with the minster’s entire peal, in 2016.
‘The 1902 window features historical figures associated with the church.’

It was time to look more closely at those angels. These were gilded in in 1968, and are among more than 200 of the beings to be seen somewhere in the church.

‘Where is one for Susan? She was a music teacher. Found it!’

And here’s her angel, facing the west door.

These were commissioned in 2008, designed and engraved by Tracy Sheppard.

I walked round the outside of the minster, clockwise.

Silhouetted against the sun
In the sun
The south porch and that tallest tower

With the permission of the two of her siblings I know best, I am dedicating this blog post to Susan Hutton, 1934-2023. I have in mind also RK, 1945-2023, with whom I sang in a London choir in the 1970s. He was very closely involved with Salisbury Cathedral. I lost touch with him when I left the great wen. He made contact again in 2016 and I have learned of his death just this morning. Also Brian, 1923-2023, a dear friend from Reading and in recent years Yorkshire, whose thanksgiving meeting for worship I was able to attend virtually last week. May they all rest in peace.