The Benefice Community

The Benefice Setting

The Benefice covers a number of welcoming and varied rural communities in a wonderful part of Somerset, where the church is often at the heart of that community. Set close to the Blackdown Hills, the area offers all the pleasures of rural life, with its outstanding countryside. The villages benefit from being only a few miles from Ilminster and Taunton, with a range of shops, schools, entertainment facilities, and ease of access to other areas by either road or rail. The M5 is within 10 minutes and the A358 which connects the A303 and the M5 runs through the Benefice. The Benefice is part of a Local Ministry Group (LMG) with the adjoining Blackdown Benefice (see below for more information about this).

All seven villages are predominantly rural based and have all developed from a farming background.

Farming and the countryside are still at the heart of the communities which include farms, smallholdings, stables and nurseries, although fewer people are employed in these areas than in the past. Most working residents (mainly professional) commute daily to Taunton, Yeovil and even further afield for their employment. There are also many people who have moved to the villages on their retirement.

The villages are predominantly middle-class, with owner-occupied housing. There are some housing association properties in most of the villages but on the whole the cost of housing makes it difficult for young families to move into the villages. There are approximately 300 children and young people living in the Benefice, nearly half of this number in Hatch Beauchamp and Curry Mallet.

Each village has its own Parish Council and they are situated in either Taunton Deane Borough Council or South Somerset District Council areas. The populations are as obtained from the electoral rolls and do not include anyone under 18 years old:

There are five well maintained village halls in the Benefice at Curry Mallet, Hatch Beauchamp, Staple Fitzpaine (Neroche), Stoke St Mary and West Hatch. They are well used by many local clubs and organisations.

Beercrocombe Population 120 Web site

A small village with approximately a third of the population retired, Beercrocombe shares a village hall in Curry Mallet.

For Church details click here



[Mothering Sunday at Beercrocombe] 


Curry Mallet Population 345  Web site

A Duchy of Cornwall village with a Public House/Restaurant

(The Bell), a Post Office and General Stores, a Village Hall

and a church Primary School (69 pupils). There is an irregular bus service to Taunton. A small affordable housing development has just been completed in the village. A youth group run by local volunteers meets in the village hall

                                                                                         [Pupils leaving Church after Easter Service]

Fof Church details click here

Hatch Beauchamp Population 511 Web site

This village has light industry in the form of a fencing company, a pre-cast concrete works and several units recently built on the site of the old station yard. There is an inn (The Hatch Inn), a hotel (Farthings), Beauchamp House Nursing Home, two garages and a church Primary School (40 pupils).  A Village Hall is located adjacent to a playing field and Multi Use Games Area. A small, mainly private housing development was completed in 2007. Hatch Court and Hatch Park are large country house estates in the village. There is a regular bus service to Taunton and Ilminster.

[The Good Friday Walk of Witness reaches the church]

For Church Details  Click Here

Orchard Portman Population 60

This is a small village on the edge of Taunton Racecourse and Polo Club. The Orchard Portman Nursing Convalescent Home and The Lemon Tree Nursery School are in the village.

[Preparation for the Harvest Service at the Nursing Home]

For Church Details Click Here


Staple Fitzpaine Population 140 Web site

Staple Fitzpaine is the largest of the three villages/hamlets in the Parish of St Peter's.

Staple Fizpaine, Bickenhall and Curland are situated on the Blackdown Hills in an area of outstanding natural beauty. There is an Inn (The Greyhound) at Staple Fitzpaine and Neroche Hall is midway between the hamlets of Bickenhall and Curland. Staple Fitzpaine is on a bus route with services to Taunton, Chard and Ilminster.                                                                         [Annual Boules Tournament] 

For Church details click here



Stoke St Mary (with Thurlbear) Population 426 Web site

Stoke St Mary is a compact village within easy reach of Taunton (3 miles). Facilities include an inn (The Half Moon) and a Village Hall. Thurlbear is a scattered village adjacent to Stoke St Mary with a large church Primary School (201 pupils) drawing pupils from the outskirts of Taunton and a redundant church in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. There is no longer a regular bus service.  


  [Open Gardens Day at Stoke St Mary]    

For Church details click here  



                                                                                                    West Hatch Population 243

A scattered village on either side of the A358 between Hatch Beauchamp and Stoke St Mary. There is an RSPCA centre, a Public House/Restaurant (The Farmers Arms) and a Village Hall (the old school) adjacent to the church. The Huish Woods Scout Campsite is located in West Hatch.

For Church details click here


[Dog show with a difference at West Hatch Fete]


For information about how the Churches work within the Community, click here

For the Benefice Mission Statement  click here