The parish of Brompton Ralph with Tolland has two churches – St. Mary’s and St. John the Baptist.
The village of Brompton Ralph certainly boasts a curious name. The derivation is not certain, but the village lies on the lower slopes of the Brendon Hills so Brompton is likely to be a corruption of Brendon, and Ralph was probably Lord Ralph, lord of the manor in the late 12th century.
Formally known as the Church of The Blessed Virgin Mary, the date of original construction is not known, probably about 1400. The south doorway and tower arch are 15th century and the large window in the south aisle 16th century. The Church was said to have been extensively rebuilt around 1738, the north aisle was added in 1847, and various restorations of the building have been carried out over the centuries. The latest was in 2013, which included retiling of the roof with Delabole slate.
Some of the old furnishings remain, including a 16th century font. Among the oldest relics are two of the bells, which date from the 15th century and have been at the Church ever since. Of these, the older is the tenor bell, inscribed Gabriel, which was cast about 1400 (on the right in the picture). Work was done on the tower in 2006 and the ring was augmented from four to six bells, including a newly cast treble bell. So St Mary’s now has a family with an age range of over 600 years, surely that’s some kind of record!
In addition to the Church, Brompton Ralph is fortunate to have a village shop (open six mornings a week) and post office (three mornings). The shop is owned and run by the community, and as well as providing facilities for purchase of groceries and stamps, use of cash machine, etc, the shop acts as a lively centre for exchange of news and views.