List of towers in Somerset

List of towers in Somerset

The Somerset Towers, built in the 14th to 16th centuries, have been describe as among England's finest contributions to medieval art.cite book |last= Jenkins|first=Simon|title= England's Thousand Best Churches|year= 2000|publisher= Penguin Books|isbn= 0-14-029795-2|] The paragraphs and descriptions below describe feature some of these towers. The organization follows Poyntz-Wright's scheme for grouping the towers by what he understands to be roughly the date and group of mason-architects who built them.cite book |last= Poyntz Wright|first= Peter|title= The Parish Church Towers of Somerset, Their construction, craftsmanship and chronology 1350 - 1550|year= 1981|month= |publisher= Avebury Publishing Company|isbn= 0861275020|] Poyntz-Wright's scheme has been criticized recently,cite book |last = Harvey| first = John H.| title = Somerset Perpendicular -- The Church Towers and the Dating Evidence | publisher = The Ancient Monuments Society | location = London | date = 1984 | pages = 158-173 ] and so these groupings and dates should be taken with a grain of salt until a more thorough study is undertaken.

Churchill generation

These churches have smaller towers with a single window in each face of the top stage; a pierced top parapet without merlons and four square-set corner pinnacles above.

The church of St John the Baptist in Churchill was built around "1360". The tower has three stages with diagonal buttresses, moulded string courses, north-east polygonal higher corner stair turret with blind panelled embattled cap and pierced quatrefoil lozenge parapet with corner pinnacles and gargoyles. [cite web |url= |title=Church of St. John the Baptist, Churchill |accessdate=2008-03-03 |format= |work=Images of England ]

The Church of St Michael the Archangel, Compton Martin, was built around "1370" in a Norman style. It is dedicated to St Michael the Archangel. Norman vaulting can be seen in the chancel and Jacobean work in choir stalls and organ screen. The tower is approached from the nave via a lofty Tudor paneled arch which together with the tower itself dates from the early 16th century. It is some convert|70|ft|m|0|lk=on high and contains six 18th century bells, five of which were cast by the Bilbies of Chew Stoke. In the north wall is a recess containing the effigy of Thomas de Moreton which was discovered in 1858. One of the columns in the South side of the nave has an unusual spiral fluted decoration known as an apprentices column. [cite book |last=Reid |first= Robert Douglas |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Some buildings of Mendip |year=1979 |publisher=The Mendip Society |location= |isbn=0905459164 ] Above the ceiling of the Bickfield Chapel there is a void which contains a columbarium or dovecote. This housed 140 “squabs” or pigeons in 1606 for the rector’s table. [cite journal |last=McCann |first=John |authorlink= |coauthors=Mark McDermott and Frank Pexton |year=1999 |month= |title=A columbarium at Compton Martin church |journal=Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society Proceedings |volume=143 |issue= |pages= |id= |url= |accessdate= 2007-06-18 |quote= ] [cite web | title=Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Compton Martin | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-06-18] The Church of England parish church of St Andrew in Compton Bishop dates from the 12th century, being consecrated by Bishop Jocelin in 1236, with more recent restoration in 1370. It has a 15th century pulpit with tracery panels, carved friezes and cresting. Above the pulpit is a large pedimented wall monument to John Prowse who died in 1688, as well as several of his children. [cite book | title= Deliniations of the North Western Division of the County of Somerset and of The Mendip Caverns | last= Rutter | first= John | year= 1829 | pages= pp 165 | url= ] [cite web | title=Church of St Andrew, Compton Bishop | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-05-09]

The local parish church in Kewstoke is St Paul's, which dates from the 12th century, with the tower being built in "1395". The tower is in two stages, with rendered, diagonal buttresses with set-backs which rise through the parapet as corner pinnacles. A polygonal stair turret at the south east corner rises to a pyramidal cap. The first stage has two, 2-light perpendicular west windows under a plain drip mould, and a similar but smaller window with carved stops to the south. The second stage has one 2-light perpendicular window under a drip mould with carved stops on each side; all are louvres except the west which is blank. A quatrefoil pierced parapet has gargoyles at the corner. [cite web | title=Parish Church of St. Paul, Kewstoke | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-03]

Cheddar generation

These churches have three windows in each face of the top stage; diagnonal buttressing; some with squareset corner pinnacles; some with buttress pinnacles. These range from simple to elaborate designs: (Bleadon, shortly "before 1390"; Brent Knoll, about "1397"; Mark, about "1407"; Weare, about "1407"; Banwell, about "1417;" Cheddar, about "1423"; and Winscombe, around "1435".)

The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul dominates the village of Bleadon.cite book |last=Atthill |first=Robin |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Mendip: A new study |year=1976 |publisher=David & Charles |location=Newton Abbott |isbn= 0715372971 ] It was built in the 14th century (dedicated in 1317), being restored and the chancel shortened in the mid 19th century. [cite web | title=Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Bleadon | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-02-11] The tower contains five bells dating from 1711 and made by Edward Bilbie of the Bilbie family.cite book |last=Moore |first=James |authorlink= |coauthors=Roy Rice & Ernest Hucker |title=Bilbie and the Chew Valley clock makers |year=1995 |publisher=The authors |location= |isbn=0952670208 ]

The Church of St Michael at Brent Knoll dates back to the 11th century but has undergone several renovations since then. [cite web | title=Church of St Michael, Brent Knoll | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-10-05] The tower contains a bell dating from 1777 and made by William Bilbie of the Bilbie family.

The Parish Church of St Mark (or Holy Cross) in the village of Mark dates from the 13th century, but is mainly 14th and 15th century, with further restoration in 1864. [cite web | title= Parish Church of St Mark, Mark | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-10-30]

The mainly 15th century parish church of St Andrew in Banwell, [cite web | url= | work= Images of England | title= Parish Church of St. Andrew, Banwell | accessdate= 2007-10-24] includes a nave with a clerestory, north and south aisles and, a rather short chancel considering the proportions of the rest of the church. The convert|100|ft|m|0 high tower that contains 10 bells dating from the 18th to 20th century and a clock dated 1884. Bells dating from 1734 and 1742 were made by Thomas Bilbie, of the Bilbie family.

The Church of England parish church of Cheddar is dedicated to St Andrew and dates from the 14th century. It was restored in 1873 by William Butterfield. It contains some 15th century stained glass and an altar table of 1631. The chest tomb in the chancel is believed to be to Sir Thomas Cheddar and dated 1442. [cite web | title=Church of St. Andrew, Cheddar | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-05-09] The tower, which rises to convert|100|ft|m|0|lk=on,cite book |title=Curiosities of Somerset |last=Leete-Hodge |first=Lornie |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1985 |publisher=Bossiney Books |location=Bodmin |isbn=0906456983 |pages=20 ] contains a bell dating from 1759 and made by Thomas Bilbie of the Bilbie family.

Mendip generation

Continues with the triple windows, but with a heavier groundplan featuring heavier buttresses braced diagonally back onto their walls and across the corner; pinnacles diagonal to the tower plan: ("Shepton Mallet, about 1423; Cranmore, about 1440; Mells, 1446; Bruton, about 1456; and Leigh-on-Mendip, about 1464")

The church of St Peter and St Paul in Shepton Mallet dates from the 12th century but the current building is largely from the 15th century, with further rebuilding in 1836. [cite web |url= |title=Church of St Peter & St Paul, Shepton Mallet |accessdate=2008-03-02 |format= |work=Images of England ] The timber roof includes 350 panels of different designs and 36 carved angels along the sides.cite book |title=Curiosities of Somerset |last=Leete-Hodge |first=Lornie |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1985 |publisher=Bossiney Books |location=Bodmin |isbn=0906456983 |pages=20 ]

The tower is the most notable feature of St Andrew's Church in the village of Mells. This is a grade I listed building predominantly from the late 15th century, but the tower, which reaches convert|104|ft|m|0|lk=on,cite book |title=Curiosities of Somerset |last=Leete-Hodge |first=Lornie |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1985 |publisher=Bossiney Books |location=Bodmin |isbn=0906456983 |pages=20 ] dates from the mid 16th century. [cite web | title=Church of St. Andrew, Mells | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-05-13] The centre of the chapel is dominated by an equestrian statue to Edward Horner who fell at the Battle of Cambrai in 1917 by Sir Alfred Munnings. There is also a memorial, designed by Edwin Lutyens, to Raymond Asquith, who died in France in 1916. The churchyard is the last resting place of the poet Siegfried Sassoon and the writer Ronald Knox, among other notables.

St Giles' church, in Leigh-on-Mendip dates from the 15th century and has an unusual faceless clock. [cite web | title=Church of St Giles, Leigh-on-Mendip | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-10-17]

The 12th century Church of St Mary is in Bruton. [cite web | title=Church of St Mary, Bruton | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-02-09]

Winford generation

These churches are contemporary with the Mendip Generation, but more akin to the Churchill group; conveying a sense of great height; single window per face in the top stage as well as lower stages; buttresses set back away from the corners and stepped at stage junctions and middles of stages; square-set pinnacles and most without merlons: ("Portishead, about 1420; Backwell, possibly 1428; Winford and Chew Magna, about 1437; Kilmersdon, about 1443; Dundry, 1448 or earlier; Batheaston, about 1458; Publow, about 1467; Wellow, about 1475; and Yeovil St. John the Baptist, around 1480" [cite web | title=Church of St John The Baptist, Yeovil | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-10-13] )

The church of St Mary and Peter in Winford dates from the 15th Century. The 4-stage west tower has set back buttresses, moulded string courses and the north-east corner has a polygonal stair turret. Trefoil-headed open panel parapet with corner crocketted pinnacles and fine gargoyles. Top 3 stages have 2-light openings with hoodmoulds and lozenge stops, those below bell stage blind, those to bell stage louvred. 1st stage of west facade has deeply moulded pointed-arched doorway with 2-leaf doors and applied Gothick mouldings; light with intersecting tracery above. Above this a 3-light Gothick window. [cite web | title=Church of St Mary and Peter, Winford | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-10-13]

St Andrew's Church in Chew Magna dates from the 12th century with a large 15th-century pinnacled sandstone tower, a Norman font and a rood screen that is the full width of the church. In the church are several memorials to the Stracheys of Sutton Court together with a wooden effigy of a Knight cross-legged and leaning on one elbow, in 15th century armour, thought to be of Sir John de Hauteville or a descendant, and possibly transferred from a church at Norton Hautville before it was demolished. [cite book | author = Mason, Edmund J. & Mason, Doreen | year 1982 | title = Avon Villages | publisher = Robert Hale Ltd | id=ISBN 0-7091-9585-0 ] Another effigy in the north chapel is of Sir John St Loe, who was over convert|7|ft|m|0|lk=on tall,cite book |title=Curiosities of Somerset |last=Leete-Hodge |first=Lornie |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1985 |publisher=Bossiney Books |location=Bodmin |isbn=0906456983 |pages=20 ] and his lady. The armoured figure is 7 feet 4 inches (2.24 long and his feet rest on a lion, while those of his lady rest on a dog. The church was restored in 1860 and has a register commencing in 1562. The tower is about one hundred feet tall and was probably built about 1440.cite book | author = Pevsner, Nikolaus | year = 1958 | title = The Buildings of England : North Somerset and Bristol | publisher = Penguin Books | id=ISBN 0-300-09640-2 ] There has been a clock on the tower since the early 1700s. There is a peal of eight bells in the tower. Tenor 28cwt in C. The original five bells were re-cast by the celebrated Thomas Bilbie of Chew Stoke in 1735 to make a peal of six, and in 1898 four of these were re-cast and two were repaired by Messrs. Mears and Stainbank of London to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Two additional bells, the gift of Brigadier Ommanney, were added in 1928 to complete the octave, which does still contain two of the Bilbie bells. The present clock, installed in 1903, plays a verse of a hymn every four hours, at 8 am, noon, 4 and 8 pm, with a different hymn tune for every day of the week. [cite web | title=The history of St Andrews Church Chew Magna | url= | accessdate=2006-05-12]

The church of St Michael at Dundry is a prominent feature in its hilltop position with its tower visible for many miles around. The tower was erected by the Society of Merchant Venturers of Bristol as a landmark and is visible from many parts of Avon. [cite web | title=Church of St Michael, Dundry | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-10-13]

The parish church of Batheaston is St John the Baptist with St Catherine. It was built in the 12th century, and remodelled in the late 15th century. The west tower which has four stages with a pierced embattled parapet, setback buttresses, projecting octagonal stairs, and a turret at the south-east corner which terminates in spirelet, was rebuilt in 1834 by John Pinch the Younger of Bath. It has pointed perpendicular 2-light windows with cusped heads and the east side has a canopied niche containing a figure, probably St. John. [cite web | title=Parish Church of St. John the Baptist , Batheaston | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2008-03-05]

Publows Church of All Saints dates from the 14th century and has a 15th century tower with gargoyles. The pulpit is Jacobean. It is a grade I listed building. [cite web | title=All Saints' Church, Publow | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-11-24] The church consists of a west tower, nave, north aisle and porch, south aisle and porch, and chancel. The west tower has 4 stages with set back buttresses terminating in diagonally set pinnacles at the bell chamber stage. The nave has a clerestorey of four 2-light trefoil headed windows. The east end of the chancel has an early perpendicular (restored) 3-light window with reticulated tracery. The pulpit dates from the early 17th century, and is made of oak with carved, arcaded panels to the upper part and rosettes on the lower part.cite book | author = Pevsner, Nikolaus | year = 1958 | title = The Buildings of England : North Somerset and Bristol | publisher = Penguin Books | id=ISBN 0-14-071013-2 ]

The parish church at Wellow is dedicated to St. Julian and has origins before the 12th Century although the present building dates from 1372. The west tower has three stages, set back buttresses with off-sets which turn into diagonal pinnacles in upper stages. There is an embattled parapet with pinnacles. The square stair turret on the south-east corner terminates as an octagon. There is a 3-light window to the bell chamber with cusped heads and a similar but larger window with transom to west. [cite web | title=Parish Church of St. Julian, Wellow | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-10-08]

The Church of St John The Baptist in Yeovil dates from the late 14th century. The tower is convert|92|ft|m|0 high, in 4-stages with set back offset corner buttresses. It is capped by openwork balustrading matching the parapets which are from the 19th century. There are two-light late 14th century windows on all sides at bell-ringing and bell-chamber levels, the latter having fine pierced stonework grilles. There is a stair turret to the north-west corner, with a Weather vane termination. [ cite web | title = Church of St John The Baptist, Yeovil | work = Images of England | url = | accessdate = 2007-10-13 ] The tower contains two bells dating from 1728 and made by Thomas Bilbie. The "Great Bell" was recast from convert|4502|lb|kg st|lk=on to convert|4992|lb|kg st|abbr=on.

Kilmersdon Church (St Peter & St Paul) is located in the centre of the village. It dates back to the Norman Period, though much of the current structure was built during the Victorian era. The tower is in four stages, includes corner buttresses with shafts and pinnacles, and is connected across the angle. The summit has large corner shafts with pinnacles. There are traceried 3-light bell-chamber windows with a dense quatrefoil interlace and blank 2-light windows on the 2 lower stages. The flanked niches were for statuary, however this is now missing. [cite web | title=Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Kilmersdon | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-10-07] The church has a triangular lychgate designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Long panel generation

This group ("including Wrington, about 1449; Wells St. Cuthbert, about 1456; and Evercreech, about 1462") -- window or bell-opening panels rise through several stages, emphasizing the towers' verticality.

The church of All Saints in Wrington has 13th century foundations, and was remodelled with the addition of a west tower around 1450. It was restored in 1859 with further restoration to the tower in 1948. It includes stone busts to John Locke and Hannah More dating from the early 19th century on either side of the door. The chancel has gothic reredos by Charles Barry dating from 1832. The rood screen is from the 16th century. It has a tall 4-stage tower with set-back buttresses which develop into crocketted pinnacles at the top stage. The top displays moulded string courses and a trefoil pierced triangular parapet with gargoyles and corner pinnacles. [cite web | title=Church of All Saints | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-02-26] According to Freeman it is "one of the "highest achievements of architectural genius".cite article |last= Brereton| first= R. P. |title= Somerset Church Towers|year= 1904, |publisher= Somersetshire Archeological Society at Gillingham |journ= The Archeological Journal |Vol= lxii. 60 collotypes prepared for a planned monograph are in the British Museum, Add. MSS. 37260-3, were published by the Society.] Wickham it dates from the period 1420 to 1450.cite book |title=Churches of Somerset |last=Wickham |first=Archdale Kenneth |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1965 |publisher=David & Charles |location=London |isbn= |pages= ] The belfry stair is in the south east turret. The height of the tower is convert|113.5|ft|m|0 to the top of the pinnacles. [cite web |url= |title=Description of the church |accessdate=2008-03-05 |format= |work=All Saints Wrington ]

In Wells the Church of St. Cuthbert is often mistaken for the cathedral. It has a fine Somerset stone tower and a superb carved roof. Originally an Early English building (13th century), it was much altered in the Perpendicular period (15th century). The tower, the third highest in Somerset, at convert|142|ft|m|0 high, is of 3 stages, with the top stage occupying half the total height. [cite web | title=Church of St Cuthbert | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-08-24] Until 1561 the church had a central tower which either collapsed or was removed, and has been replaced with the current tower over the west door. [cite web |url= |title=Our Church |accessdate=2008-03-05 |format= |work=St Cuthbert, Wells ] Bells were cast for the tower by Roger Purdy. [cite journal |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1857 |month= |title=Bells in St Cuthberts Tower, Wells, Somerset |journal=Notes & Queries |volume=s2-IV(93) |issue= |pages=284–285 |doi=10.1093/nq/s2-IV.93.284-b |url= |accessdate= 2008-03-05 |quote= ]

The Church of St Peter in Evercreech dates from the 14th century. The three-stage tower has set-back buttresses ascending to pinnacles, with a very tall transomed 2-light bell-chamber with windows on each face The embattled parapet has quatrefoil piercing, with big corner pinnacles and smaller intermediate pinnacles. The 4-light west window has extensively restored tracery. This tower is of the East Mendip type. [cite web | title=Church of St Peter | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-11-25] On the north wall of the tower is a roll of honour to the victims of World War I. It is within a rectangular wooden case with a glazed door crowned by a triangular pediment and plaque below. [cite web |url= |title=Church of St Peter and churchyard, Evercreech |accessdate=2008-03-05 |format= |work=Somerset Historic Environment Record ]

Langport generation

This group ("including Langport, about 1455; Long Sutton, about 1462; Westonzoyland, about 1470; Muchelney, possibly 1468")

The Church of All Saints in Langport has 12th or 13th century origins. The square tower (with an octagonal stair-turret), which is in three stages, dates from the 15th century, although the top section was rebuilt in 1833. It has a number of interesting gargoyles known locally as ‘hunky punks’. [cite web |url= |title=Church of All Saints, Langport |accessdate=2008-03-05 |format= |work=Images of England ] The church is no longer used for services and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust [cite web |url= |title=Church of All Saints, Langport |accessdate=2008-03-05 |format= |work=The Churches Conservation Trust ] who have carried out extensive rebuilding work. [cite web |url= |title=The Churches Conservation Trust |accessdate=2008-03-05 |format= |work=The Institute of Historic Building Conservation ]

Holy Trinity church in Long Sutton dates from 1493. An earlier church would have stood on this site from the 9th century or earlier. The current church was built of local lias stone cut and squared, with Ham stone dressings. It has stone slate roofs between stepped coped gabled with finials to the chancel and north porch. Internally, the chancel has a ceiled wagon-roof, with moulded ribs and plaster panels. The tower exhibits the tracery typical of Somerset churches. The under-tower space has a lierne vault, and a 15th century octagonal font with quatrefoil panels. [cite web | title=Church of the Holy Trinity | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-09-22] The tower has a ring of six bells, the tenor weighing convert|136|st|kg|0|lk=on. [cite web |url= |title=Long Sutton |accessdate=2008-03-06 |format= |work=Long Sutton ]

St Mary’s Parish Church, in Westonzoyland with its 15th century carved timber roof, served as a prison after the 1685 Battle of Sedgemoor. The 4 stage tower has an embattled parapet with quatrefoil arcading, and set-back buttresses which terminate in pinnacles on the bell-chamber stage. [cite web |url= |title=Church of St Mary the Virgin, Westonzoyland |accessdate=2008-03-05 |format= |work=Images of England ]

St. Peter and St. Paul parish church, adjacent to Muchelney Abbey, has a ceiling enlivened with Jacobean paintings of bare-breasted angels, their nudity thought to symbolize innocent purity. It has a 3-stage tower supported by pairs of full-height corner buttresses. The south east octagonal stair turret leads to an outer door. [cite web|title=Church of SS Peter and Paul, Muchelney| work=Images of England|url= | accessdate=2007-09-25]

hepton Beauchamp generation

On these churches, each face of the top stage bears a window panel extending down into the stage below: (i"ncluding Shepton Beauchamp, around 1477; Norton Sub Hamdon, around 1485; and Hinton St George, around 1492")

The church in Shepton Beauchamp, dedicated to St. Michael, is built of local Hamstone, and has 13th century origins, although it has been extensively changed since then, with major renovation in 1865 by George Edmund Street. It has a tall 3-stage tower with set-back buttresses ascending to the shafts of former pinnacles, set off with an embattled parapet and gargoyles. There are 2-light traceried bell-chamber windows with stone grilles, continuing as blank openings on the ringing chamber below. There are clocks with Roman numerals to the west and south faces and a higher polygonal stair-turret to the north corner. [cite web | title=Church of St. Michael, Shepton Beauchamp | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2008-01-26]

Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Norton Sub Hamdon has 13th century origins, but was largely rebuilt between 1500 and 1510. Further restoration was undertaken by Henry Wilson in 1894 and 1904. The 5-stage tower, which rises convert|98.5|ft|m|0 was damaged by lightning and fire on 29 July 1894, but restored within a year preserving the original design. [cite web |url= |title=Church Guide |accessdate=2008-03-06 |format= |work=Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Norton Sub Hamdon ] It has a double plinth, offset corner buttresses, dividing strings, battlemented parapet with pairs of corner pinnacles extended from buttresses, and central paired pinnacles with corbelled-off gargoyles. [cite web | title=Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Norton Sub Hamdon | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2008-03-06]

In Hinton St George is the Church of St George. It includes 13th century work by masons of Wells Cathedral. The vestry and north chapel of 1814 are said to be by James Wyatt, however it is more likely to be by Jeffry Wyatt, (later Sir Jeffry Wyattville). The 4-stage tower is dated to 1485-95. It is supported by full-height offset corner buttresses, and has battlemented parapets with quatrefoil panels below merlons on the corner and intermediate pinnacles. The weathervane was added in 1756 by Thomas Bagley of Bridgwater. There is a hexagonal south-east corner stair turret. Stage 2 has a small light on the north side and a statue niche on the south. All the faces on the two upper stages have 2-light, mullioned, transomed and traceried windows under pointed arched labels, with pierced stone baffles. The clockface is under the east window. [cite web | title=Church of St George, Hinton St George | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2008-03-06] During restoration work the parapet of the tower was examined and a stone was discovered with a carved date of 1731 which may suggest that the decorative parapet may have been added then. The tracery on the north side has been marked out but never cut. In general there is little sign of more than one phase of construction although repairs are evident. [cite web |url= |title=Church of St George and churchyard, Hinton St George |accessdate=2008-03-06 |format= |work=Somerset Historic Environment Record ]


Lyng and Middlezoy ("combining Langport, Cheddar and Mendip features with new features)" and Taunton St. James and Bishops Lydeard (which initiate a West Somerset ground plan)

The current church at East Lyng, which is dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, is thought to have been built by the monks who were displaced from Athelney Abbey when it was dissolved by King Henry VIII of England in 1539. [cite web |url= |title=Lyng - Church |accessdate=2008-03-08 |format= |work=British History Online ] The ornate three-stage tower is of lias with Ham stone dressings supported by set-back buttresses connected diagonally across the angles of the tower on the bottom 2 stages, these terminate as diagonal pinnacles on shafts at the third stage. The paired 2-light bell-chamber windows have Somerset tracery flanked by attached shafts and pinnacles, with quatrefoil grilles. There are similar single windows on the stage below. [cite web |url= |title=Church of St Bartholomew, Lyng |accessdate=2008-03-08 |format= |work=Images of England ]

The Church of the Holy Cross in Middlezoy has a 3-stage tower similar to that at Lyng. [cite web |url= |title=Church of the Holy Cross, Middlezoy |accessdate=2008-03-08 |format= |work=Images of England ]

The church of St Mary in Bishops Lydeard dates from the 14th and 15th century and in 1860-62 was extended by one bay and a vestry by Jeboult of Taunton. The tower has pierced tracery battlements, pinnacles, set back buttresses terminating in pinnacles at the bell-storey, and pinnacles on the buttresses at each stage. [cite web | title=Church of St Mary | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-02-09]

The Parish church of St. James is located near the centre of Taunton. The oldest parts of St. James Church are early 14th Century and there are fragments of 15th Century glass in the West end. The convert|111|ft|m|0 sandstone tower was rebuilt in the 19th century. [cite web | title=St James Church History | url= | accessdate=2008-01-22] [cite web |url= |title=Church of St. James, Taunton |accessdate=2008-03-08 |format= |work=Images of England ] . The church backs onto the Somerset County Ground and forms a familiar backdrop to the popular Cricket ground.

West Somerset generation

(Including Kingston St Mary, about 1507; Hatch Beauchamp, about 1509; Staple Fitzpaine, perhaps 1513; Isle Abbots, about 1517; Huish Episcopi, about about 1524)

The Church of St Peter in Staple Fitzpaine is Norman in origin, and has a Norman doorway reset in the south aisle. The chancel dates from the 14th century. The north aisle was added and the church refenestrated in the 15th century. The tower dates from about 1500, however the south porch and vestry are much more recent dating from 1841. The crenellated 3-stage tower, has merlons pierced with trefoil headed arches set on a quatrefoil pierced parapet. [cite web | title=Church of St Peter, Staple Fitzpaine | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-09-29] St. Peter's has six bells. The oldest dates from 1480. There are four more original bells. [cite web |url= |title=Tower and Bells |accessdate=2007-09-30 |format= |work=Staple Fitzpaine Ringers ] . In 1803 one of the bells was made by Thomas Castleman Bilbie of Cullompton, one of the Bilbie family of bell founders and clock makers. [cite book |last=Moore |first=James |authorlink= |coauthors=Roy Rice and Ernest Hucker |title=Bilbie and the Chew Valley clock makers |year=1995 |publisher=The authors |location= |isbn=0952670208 ]

Huish Episcopi is home to St. Mary's church, which has 12th century origins and also serves nearby Langport. Built in blue lias with golden hamstone decoration, the church is most noted for its classic convert|100|ft|m|0 Somerset tower, deemed to be an architectural companion piece to St. Martin's church in Kingsbury Episcopiref|Pevsner. St Mary's tower dates from around 1500 and was built in 4 stages. It is extensively embellished with pinnacles and quatrefoil panel bands. In the north east corner is an octagonal stair turret which reaches the full height of the tower. [cite web | title=St. Mary's church, Huish Episcopi | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2008-03-07] The Huish Episcopi tower is depicted on the 9p stamp issued in June 1972.cite web |url= |title=Hatch Beauchamp Church |accessdate=2008-03-07 |format= |work=Hatch Beauchamp ]

The Church of St Mary in Kingston St Mary on the Quantock Hills dates from the 13th century but the tower is from the early 16th century and was reroofed in 1952, with further restoration 1976-8. It is a 3-stage crenellated tower, with crocketed pinnacles with bracketed pinnacles set at angles, decorative pierced merlons, and set back buttresses crowned with pinnacles. [cite web | title=St. Mary's church, Kingston St Mary | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2008-03-07] The decorative "hunky-punks" are perched high on the corners. There may be so named because the carvings are squatting on their Hunkers- as in one hunkers i.e. squatting and punch meaning short and thick. They actually serve no function unlike gargoyles which carry off water. [cite web |url= |title=Kingston St Mary |accessdate=2008-03-07 |format= |work=Quantock Online ]

In Hatch Beauchamp the Church of St John the Baptist has a crenellated 3-stage tower from about 1500. It displays crocketed pinnacles, a pierced parapet with quatrefoils and arcades in the merlons and gargoyles. [cite web | title=Church of St John the Baptist, Hatch Beauchamp | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2008-03-07] This particular church has diagonal buttresses to support the tower whereas in other churches within this group angle buttresses are the norm.The buttresses, which finish in the belfry stage, support small detached shafts which rise upwards to form the outside subsidiary pinnacles of each corner cluster.

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Isle Abbots has a tower of 4 stages. The embattled parapet is pierced by quatrefoils, the merlons pierced with lancet openings. The very large corner pinnacles have attached secondary pinnacles, and intermediate pinnacles to each side. The crocketted niches to each face of the tower have surviving medieval figures, to West the Risen Christ stepping from His sarcophagus, the Blessed Virgin with Bambino, St Peter and St Paul; to south St George, St Catherine, St Margaret; to east St John Baptist, St Clement; to north St Michael. [cite web | title=Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Isle Abbots | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2008-03-07] The wealth of architectural detail and sculpture has required specific approaches to the methodology of repair and protection using lime based materials. [cite web |url= |title=St Mary The Virgin, Isle Abbots, Somerset |accessdate=2008-03-07 |format= |work=Strachey Conservation ]

West Somerset specials

("Taunton St. Mary, about 1503, but rebuilt in 1862 as an accurate copy; North Petherton, about 1508; Wellington about 1510; and Kingsbury Episcopi, about 1515")

Kingsbury Episcopi's church of St. Martin boasts an ornate Somerset Tower, convert|99|ft|m|0|lk=on tall, made of stone from nearby Ham Hill. Pevsner describes the chancel and chapels of the church as "gloriously lit" and advises visiting on a fine morning. He writes that the nave is older than the rest of the church, "no doubt of before 1400, and not yet infected with the later exuberance" of the Late Perpendicular style of the tower and other parts of St. Martin's. Poyntz Wright suggests the west tower was built in 1515. [cite web | title=Church of St. Martin, Kingsbury Episcopi | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2008-01-24]

The 15th century Church of St John the Baptist, in Wellington, [cite web | title=Church of St John the Baptist, Wellington | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-10-15] which includes a monument to John Popham.cite book |title=Curiosities of Somerset |last=Leete-Hodge |first=Lornie |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1985 |publisher=Bossiney Books |location=Bodmin |isbn=0906456983 |pages=67 ]

The town of North Petherton has the minster church of St Mary the Virgin, with a highly decorated tower convert|120|ft|m|0|lk=on high. The building is mainly dated from the 15th century, with a minstrel gallery from 1623, a peal of six bells, and a clock built in Bridgwater in 1807. [cite web | title=Church of St. Mary, North Petherton | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-11-19]

The Parish church of St. Mary Magdalene, in Taunton built of sandstone more in the South Somerset style, preserves an attractive painted interior, but its most notable aspect is its 15th and 16th century tower (rebuilt in the mid-19th century), which is one of the best examples in the country and a convert|163|ft|m|0 tall landmark (see first photograph in this article).cite book |title=Curiosities of Somerset |last=Leete-Hodge |first=Lornie |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1985 |publisher=Bossiney Books |location=Bodmin |isbn=0906456983 |pages=70 ] [cite web | title=Church of Mary Magdalene, Taunton | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2008-01-19] It was described by Simon Jenkins, an acknowledged authority on English churches, as “the finest in England. It makes its peace with the sky not just with a coronet but with the entire crown jewels cast in red-brown stone.” [cite web |url= |title=Our History: 700 year hertage |accessdate=2008-03-05 |format= |work=St Mary Magdelene, Taubnton ] The tower itself has 12 bells and a clock mechanism. Two of the hammers on the clock mechanism are not striking.

outh Somerset specials

These are some of the less elaborate towers of South Somerset: "Queen Camel, around 1491; Mudford, about 1498; Kingsdon, about 1505; Martock, about 1511; Chard 1520, but possibly earlier; and Charlton Horethorne, about 1523".

The Church of St Barnabas in Queen Camel has a tall tower, built in 5 stages. [cite web |url= |title=Church of St Barnabas, Queen Camel |accessdate=2008-03-08 |format= |work=Images of England ]

The All Saints Church in Kingsdon has a four-stage tower which was built in the 15th century replacing a previous one over the north transept. [cite web |url= |title=All Saints Church, Kingsdon |accessdate=2008-03-08 |format= |work=Images of England ]

The Church of Saint Mary in Mudford has a three-stage tower divided by string courses with clasping corner buttresses, a battlemented parapet with small corner and intermediate pinnacles, and corner gargoyles. There is a stair turret on the north-east corner with a weathervane finial, and a clock face on the east side. It contains five bells dated 1582, 1621, 1623, 1664 and 1666, all by Purdue family of nearby Closworth. [cite web |url= |title=Church of Saint Mary , Mudford |accessdate=2008-03-08 |format= |work=Images of England ]

The Church of All Saints in Martock dates from the 13th century and was restored by Benjamin Ferrey who was Diocesan Architect to the Diocese of Bath and Wells from 1841 until his death, carrying out much of the restoration work on Wells Cathedral from 1860 onwards, and also in 1883/4 by Ewan Christian. The tower was built in four stages, to replace the previous one over the central crossing. It has offset corner buttresses to the full height of the tower. [cite web |url= |title=Church of All Saints , Martock |accessdate=2008-03-08 |format= |work=Images of England ]

The Church of St Mary the Virgin in Chard dates from the late 11th century and was rebuilt in the 15th century. The tower contains two bells dating from the 1790s and made by Thomas Bilbie in Cullompton. The three-stage tower has moulded string courses and an angle stair turret in the north west corner. [cite web | title=Church of St Mary the Virgin, Chard | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-10-05]

In Charlton Horethorne the 12th century Church of St Peter and St Paul acquired its two-stage tower in the late 15th century. It has offset corner buttresses almost to the full height of the tower with small crowning pinnacles. [cite web | title=Church of St Peter and St Paul, Charlton Horethorne | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-10-05]

omerset crossing towers

Perpendicular style, but built on the four arches at the intersection of the nave and chancel: "Axbridge, about 1400; Wedmore base around 1400 and parapet about 1540; Yatton, around 1400; Dunster, 1442; Crewkerne, about 1480; Ilminster 1500 to 1525".

The thirteenth century parish church of St John in Axbridge was built in the early 1400s, and grew from an earlier building dating back to about 1230. The church is built of limestone and decorated with Doulting stone, while the steps are an interesting example of Dolomitic Conglomerate (pudding stone).cite book |last=Reid |first= Robert Douglas |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Some buildings of Mendip |year=1979 |publisher=The Mendip Society |location= |isbn=0905459164 ] The elaborate crossing tower is over convert|100|ft|m|0 high, with set-back buttresses rising to pinnacles, and a parapet around the top stage pierced with quatrefoils. There are 2-light bell-chamber windows with a repeating blank window each side. On the east and west sides there are figures of St John and Henry VIII. [cite web | title=Church of St John The Baptist, Axbridge | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-05-09] It holds six bells, one of which dating from 1723 was made by Edward Bilbie. The statue on the east side is that of St John the Baptist. On the west side is a king - perhaps Henry VII, which would place it after 1485. The North aisle ceiling retains some mediaeval painted panels, and amongst the carved bosses is the head of a Green Man, with leaves sprouting around his face. [cite web | title=Church of St John The Baptist | url= | accessdate=2006-08-25] The nave roof is Jacobean and dates from 1636.

St Mary's Church, located in central Yatton, is often called the 'Cathedral of the Moors' due to its size and grandeur in relation to the village. While the current church was constructed in the 14th century, it is likely that a previous Christian church was located on the same site. The tower has three stages with diagonal weathered buttresses with crocketed pinnacles. There is a south east hexagonal stair turret rising above the parapet with panelled sides to the top, and an open cusped parapet. [cite web | title=Church of St. Mary, Yatton | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-11-19]

Ilminster takes its name from the River Isle and its large church of St Mary, which is known as "The Minster". The Hamstone building dates from the 15th century, but was refurbished in 1825 by William Burgess and the chancel restored 1883. The tower rises two storeys above the nave. It has three bays, with a stair turret to the north-west corner. The bays are articulated by slender buttresses with crocketed finials above the castellated parapet. Each bay on both stages contains a tall 2-light mullioned-and-transomed window with tracery. The lights to the top are filled with pierced stone-work, those to the base are solid. The stair turret has string courses coinciding with those on the tower, and a spirelet with a weathervane. [cite web | title=Parish Church of St Mary, Ilminster | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-10-06] The tower contains a bell dating from 1732 and made by Thomas Bilbie and another from 1790 made by William Biblie of the Bilbie family.

The Church of St Mary in Wedmore is predominantly from the 15th century, although some 12th and 13th century work survives. The tower with its set back buttresses, includes triple 2-light bell chamber windows, those to centre are louvred, those to each side blank. [cite web |url= |title=Church of St Mary, Wedmore |accessdate=2008-03-06 |format= |work=Images of England ]

The Priory Church of St George in Dunster is predominantly 15th century with evidence of 12th and 13th century work. It was restored in 1875-7 by George Edmund Street. The church has a cruciform plan with a central 4-stage tower, built in 1443 with diagonal buttresses, a stair turret and single bell-chamber windows. [cite web |url= |title=Priory Church of St George, Dunster |accessdate=2008-03-06 |format= |work=Images of England ]

Crewkerne's Church of St Bartholomew was built in the 15th and early 16th century with earlier origins. The tower is in 3 stages with string-courses between. To the south-east corner, there is a hexagonal stair turret, which is slightly taller than the tower. In 1902, the clock, commemorating the coronation of Edward VII was installed replacing one made in 1802. [cite web |url= |title=Church of St Bartholomew, Crewkerne |accessdate=2008-03-06 |format= |work=Images of England ]

Other Somerset towers

Poyntz Wright also uses his systematics to date some small towers: Nempnett Thrubwell at around "1468"; Chew Stoke about "1475"; West Pennard at about "1482"; Charlton Musgrove at perhaps around "1490"; Pylle at about "1497"; Cloford after "1500". He also pegs three of the smaller towers in the western part of Somerset: Combe Florey about "1499"; Fivehead, around "1505"; and Langford Budville, "1509". The end of the Perpendicular period in architecture coincides with construction of Ruishton, "1533"; Chedzoy, "1539"; and Batcombe and Chewton Mendip, around "1540".

St Andrews Church, Chew Stoke was constructed in the 15th century and underwent extensive renovation in 1862. [cite web | title=Church of St. Andrew, Chew Stoke | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-05-09] cite book | author = Pevsner, Nikolaus | year = 1958 | title = The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol | publisher = Penguin Books | id=ISBN 0-300-09640-2 ] The inside of the church is decorated with 156 angels in wood and stone,cite book | author = Hucker, Ernest| year = 1997 | title = Chew Stoke Recalled in Old Photographs | publisher = Ernest Hucker | isbn =0953170004 ] and the church includes a tower with an unusual spirelet on the staircase turret. In the tower hang bells cast by the Bilbie family who lived and worked in the village. The Church of St Nicholas in West Pennard dates from the 15th century. [cite web | title= Church of St Nicholas, West Pennard | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-11-25] The church of St Mary in Chedzoy dates from the 13th century. [cite web | title=Church of St Mary, Chedzoy | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-12-06] It still bears marks form the forces of The Duke of Monmouth during the Monmouth Rebellion who sharpened their swords before battle.cite book |title=Curiosities of Somerset |last=Leete-Hodge |first=Lornie |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1985 |publisher=Bossiney Books |location=Bodmin |isbn=0906456983 |pages=81 ] The Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Batcombe dates from the 15th and 16th centuries and was restored in the 19th. The tower contains five bells dating from 1760 and made by Thomas Bilbie in Cullompton. [cite web | title=Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Batcombe | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-10-05] The church in Chewton Mendip, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, is made of Lias Stone, with a tower convert|126|ft|m|0|lk=oncite book |title=Curiosities of Somerset |last=Leete-Hodge |first=Lornie |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1985 |publisher=Bossiney Books |location=Bodmin |isbn=0906456983 |pages=20 ] of Doulting Stone which was "unfinished" in 1541. The tower contains a bell dating from 1753 and made by Thomas Bilbie. In addition, there is a peal of eight bells by Taylor's of Loughborough. The church, which was started in 1441 by Carthusian monks, incorporates several Norman features including the north doorway. The register commences in the year 560. Near the altar is a stone seat, known as a 'frid' for those, especially criminals, who took sanctuary in the church. The church includes monuments to Sir Henry Fitzroger and his wife who died in 1388 and Frances Lady Waldegrave 1879. The Waldegrave family have owned Chewton from 1553, but did not live in the village until the 1860s. [cite web | title=Church of St Mary Magdalene, Chewton Mendip | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-10-05] Wade and Wade in their 1929 book "Somerset" described the church as a "singularly interesting church, which possesses one of the most stately towers in the county".gutenberg|no=12287|name=Somerset by Wade, G.W. & Wade, J.H.] Their description continued

The arrangement of double belfry windows in the two upper stages is unusual, and the conventional lines of the elaborately pierced parapet above are relieved by the projecting stair turret and spirelet. The general effect is rich and impressive. The figure of our Lord, surrounded by four pairs of adoring angels, over the W. doorway should also be observed (cp. Batcombe). In the body of the church note should be taken of the good Norm. doorway forming the N. entrance. The interior is remarkable for an ugly bit of mediaeval vandalism. To render the altar observable from all parts of the church, a Norm. triplet, which once formed the chancel arch, has been mutilated; a pointed arch has been inserted, and the corner of the S. wall pared away. The chancel contains the only extant specimen in Somerset of a frid stool, a rough seat let into the sill of the N. window of the sacrarium for the accommodation of any one claiming sanctuary. Note (1) piscinas of different dates in chancel; (2) change of design in arcading of nave, showing subsequent lengthening of church—the earlier columns stand on Norm. bases; (3) rood-loft doorway and ancient pulpit stairs near modern pulpit; (4) Jacobean lectern and Bible of 1611. The "Bonville" chantry, S. of chancel, contains a 15th-cent. altar-tomb with recumbent effigies of Sir H. Fitzroger and wife, and a modern mural tablet with medallion to Viscountess Waldegrave. In the churchyard is a weather-worn but fine cross, with a canopied crucifix. The Communion plate is pre-Reformation, dating from 1511.
The parish church, St Mary's on Knap Hill in Nempnett Thrubwell, has a tower containing five bells. The tower has set back buttresses and two arch bell openings with tracery. The tower is crowned by a parapet with blank arcading, and square pinnacles, it also has a slightly higher stair turret. The late Victorian chancel of 1897 is in the decorated style. Inside the church is a screen attributed to Pugin, although Pevsner is of the opinion the architect is probably Pugin the younger.cite book | author = Pevsner, Nikolaus | year = 1958 | title = The Buildings of England : North Somerset and Bristol|publisher = Penguin Books|id=ISBN 0-14-071013-2 ] It is a Grade II* listed building. [cite web | title=Church of St. Mary, Nempnett Thrubwell | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-05-09] The church of St Peter in Langford Budville dates from the 15th century. [cite web | title=Church of St. Peter, Langford Budville | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-12-06] The Norman church in Cloford is dedicated to St. Mary. It dates from the 15th century and was rebuilt in 1856. [cite web | title=Church of St Mary, Cloford | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2008-02-01] The Church of St Thomas à Becket in Pylle was rebuilt in 1868 for the Portman family, but a 15th century tower from the earlier church remains. [cite web | title=Church of St Thomas a Beckett, Pylle | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-11-25]


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