St James, Halse, Somerset

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Feature Sets (4)


Halse is a small, nucleated village in the Vale of Taunton Deane, some 6 miles NW of Taunton. The church consists of a nave with a S porch and a N aisle, a chancel with a N chapel, and a W tower. Construction is of red sandstone random rubble with hamstone dressings. The S doorway is 12thc, as is the font, but the church is largely 15thc apart from the N aisle which dates from 1546. The church was reseated and repaired by C. E. Ponting in 1900.



Halse was held by Roger Arundel in 1086, and by Aethelmaer before the Conquest. It was assessed at 4 hides, with 8 aces of meadow, 12 acres of woodland and 20 acres of pasture, as well as a mill. Roger was succeeded by Robert Arundel, who in 1152 gave the manor and the church to the Order of St John of Jerusalem, a gift later confirmed by Robert’s son Roger. It remained in the hands of the Hospitallers until 1540. The church was served by a chaplain c.1159, and a vicarage was ordained by 1188. The advowson was held by the priors of the order of St John.


Exterior Features


S nave doorway

The doorway is of heavy and crude construction in red sandstone, protected by a later porch. It has a single, continuous chamfered order with a segmental head. There are non-projecting impost blocks, and the arch head is made of a lintel or tympanum with segmentally curved lower edge, and a round-headed relieving arch flush with the wall above it. The lintel is not semicircular, and the space between the top of it and the relieving arch is filled with irregularly coursed rubble. Inside, the rere-arch is of a single, unmoulded round-headed order.

Max. height of arch (approx) 0.75m
Max. height of lintel 0.33m
Max. width of arch 1.71m
Max. width of lintel 1.28m




The font stands at the W end of the nave, forward of the tower arch, in the middle of the central aisle. It has a tub-shaped bowl decorated with tall, intersecting arcade of round arches carried on 28 fictive shafts, roughly moulded and without capitals or bases. The bowl stands on an attic base and that on a block-shaped socle with chamfered angles that stands on a massive cuboid plinth. The rim is worn, which has compromised the intersecting arches, as has the generous lead lining that covers the rim. Construction is wholly in hamstone or similar, in good condition except for the top of sides of the bowl.

Circumference at rim of bowl 2.20m
Circumference of base (measured un scotia) 2.00m
Exterior diameter of bowl at rim 0.715m
Height of font (excluding plinth) 0.52m
Interior diameter of bowl at rim 0.56m

Loose Sculpture

Fragment below E window

According to VCH, 'a fragment of carved stone beneath the east window' survives from the 12th-century church. This was not found on either visit.



  • Somerset County Council, Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 40171.

  • EH, English Heritage Listed Building 270361.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 187.

  • VCH, Victoria County History: Somerset, V, London 1985, 73-81.

Exterior from SE


Site Location
National Grid Reference
ST 140 278 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Somerset
now: Somerset
now: Bath & Wells
medieval: Sherborne (to 909), Wells (to 1090), Bath (to 1245), Bath & Wells (from 1245)
now: St James
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Robin Downes 
Visit Date
19 May 2004, 26 January 2005