General Account of West Somerset, description of the valley of the Tone, and the history of the town of Taunton. Edward Jeboult

Stoke St Mary is a small parish and pretty village, situated three miles South-East of Taunton, and ten miles North of Chard, was formerly called Stocha or Stooke, and derives its second name from its patron Saint.  At the time of the Norman Survey by William I, it was not particularly described, as it belonged to the Manor Taunton.  It was at that time, however, specifically exempted from sending men to the army.  The reason is supposed to have been from the small number of residents, who were required at home to till the ground.  In other respects it was subject to the same customs as Taunton Deane.  The Bishops of Winchester had anciently a right of free-warren in this, as in all the parishes of the manor.  The village of Stoke is beautifully and pleasantly situated backed up on the East by high hills, covered with underwood.

The following hamlets or places are in this parish: Stoke Hill and Broughton, 1 ½ miles to the South-West.

The church is a pretty little edifice, dedicated to St Mary, and consists of nave, porch (South aisle recently added), chancel and South transept.  It is principally built of blue lias stone, in the Gothic style of architecture, and has undergone many alterations.  The font is heavy, and has been lately restored.  The seats are all new, and of deal.  The pillars are circular, and deserve notice.  The pulpit is of stone, also new.  Very few of the old windows are left.  This church was restored in 1854.  All the seats are free.  The chancel is paved with encaustic tiles, and fitted with handsome stalls.  The church contains a monument of the Doble family.  The East window is filled with stained glass.

The tower is a small square building with a pretty little stained glass window.  It has a peal of four bells.

The church of Stoke was formerly considered a Chapel of Ease [A chapel of ease (or chapel-of-ease) is a church building other than the parish church, built within the bounds of a parish for the attendance of those who cannot reach the parish church conveniently] attached to that of St Mary’s Taunton.  

The living is rectorial, of the annual value of £110, is the gift of Lort Portman and held by the ~Rev FB Portman MA.  The Rev WH Lance is the curate in sole charge. There is no rectory house.

The school is conducted with that of Thurlbear (the adjoining parish).

The churchyard contains monuments to the memory of the Marsingall, Brown, Bond, Jacobs, Murless, Brass, Stodgell, Marler, Jennings, Harman, Brown, Daymond, Maine and Farrant families.

The Independents have a commodious chapel, erected in 1825 at the entrance to the village.

Stoke St Mary lies in the escarpment of the lias series of rocks, the Western part of the parish being on the new red sandstone.  The soil is very clayey and produces chiefly wheat and beans.  There are quarries of lias stone, which contain numerous fossils.  

There are a few plants and flowers peculiar to the neighbourhood.

A revel is held on the Monday after the 8th of September.  Races have recently been established.

The hills are steep and many of the roads narrow and deep.

The chief landowners are Lord Portman, EJ Esdaile and Capt Patton.

The principal seats are Stoke Court occupied by Major WS Altham and Stoke House.

The area of Stoke is 911 acres.

The population in 1821 was 248; in 1831 it was 275; in 1861 also 275.