top of page

Heritage and history

In AD 685, St Aldhelm built a small mission church ‘in honour of St John the Baptist, on the river which is called Frome’. His purpose: to bring Christianity to the wild and barbaric tribes who inhabited Selwood Forest, and St John’s became the ‘Light in Selwood’ in whose shadow grew the settlement of Frome.

St John’s has been at the heart of the community since then. Both the church and town have seen periods of growth, decline and renewal over the centuries, but St John’s retains a dominant presence in the town. It is a major architectural and artistic feature of the town, unique in the diversity of its features and loved by many who are not regular worshippers here as well as those who are.

Our site has seen a number of church buildings: from the first Saxon church founded by St Aldhelm through its later substantial stone replacement, to the Norman structure of the late 12th century and its gradual extension until reaching the present footprint around 1420.

The centuries have also seen much internal change: from Saxon simplicity to medieval glory, followed by radical puritan simplification and then nineteenth century restoration and decoration in the context of Anglo-Catholic revival and the Oxford movement.


From our archives and others we can piece together some of that story:

More about our archives

To find out more about our church building look at:

our church guide

Images of our church through time

Our Youtube channel is called FromeStJohnBaptist

See the historian and broadcaster, Michael Wood, talking about our Saxon roots at

bottom of page