Via Crucis - The Way of the Cross
The Via Crucis, or 'Way of the Cross', is a unique feature at St John's. This processional entrance route to the church was formed during the mid-c19 restoration of the church by Revd W J E Bennett. A number of small properties had occupied this corner of the churchyard - their leases were bought out and the church took possession of the land and demolished them to make space for an impressive entrance route with statuary carved by Forsyth depicting the journey of Jesus to the Cross.
"If you enter by this way, i.e., at the west side of the church-yard, you will pass a fountain, which has long been the property of the church, now set forth by somewhat more architectural beauty than it used to be. It is for the use of the parishioners to draw water. The text which is written there is taken from the benedicite, or song of the three children, verse 55,- "O all ye Fountains, Bless ye the Lord."
From the fountain you ascend by steps up the hill, towards the north porch. but in doing so, according to ancient usage, when churches were built upon the slope of a hill, you are to imagine yourself on the way with our Blessed lord to Calvary. This way is called sometimes the 'Via Dolorosa' (sorrowful way), and sometimes 'Via Crucis' (way of the Cross). You go up with the Lord, and trace His path by the sculptures of the left hand side.
The first sculpture is - Our Lord condemned by Pilate.
The second - Our Lord going forth bearing His Cross.
The third - Our Lord falling under His Cross, and supported by Simon of Cyrene.
The fourth - Our Lord meets the daughters of Jerusalem and His Blessed Mother.
The fifth - Our Lord is stripped of His raiment.
The sixth - Our Lord is nailed to His Cross.
Description of the 'Via Crucis' at Frome by Revd William J E Bennett in his publication entitled 'History of The Old Church of S John of Froome (commonly called Froome-Selwood) Diocese of Bath and Wells' (1866)