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St Martin, Fiddington, Somerset

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Feature Sets (2)

Description

Fiddington is a village in W Somerset, 5½ miles W of Bridgwater and 3½ miles from the coast, sited in the valley of a brook in low rolling country. The church is at the NW end of the village.

The church is built of coursed & squared red sandstone rubble, with some coarse and uneven herringbone masonry in the S wall of the nave, and freestone dressings. It consists of a nave with a N aisle and a S porch, chancel and W tower. The herringbone may be 11thc; the church is otherwise of the 14thc and 15thc., restored in 1860. A sheela-na-gig set at the SE corner of the nave is the only feature described here.

History

In 1086 Fiddington was held by Hugh from Roger Arundel, and Aethelweard held it before the Conquest. It was valued at 4 hides with 21 acres of meadow, 80 acres of pasture 43 acres of moor and 42 acres of woodland.

The manor may have been held later by a family taking their name from the village. Henry, son of Ralph of Fiddington was described as its lord towards the end of the 13thc. It had passed to the Furneaux by 1303, and by the mid-15thc was held by Eleanor and Ralph Bush (through descent down the female line).

The church was first recorded in 1272, when there was a dispute over the advowson. Presumably it was held by the lords of the manor before this date. The dedication to St Martin existed by the 14thc.

Features

Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration

Miscellaneous

Sheela-na-gig

Set at SE corner of nave, and dated to C11 or C12. It is approximately 0.3 m high, in red sandstone. It is crude in execution but exuberant in its design and overall effect. The rotatory effect achieved by the lowered right arm and raised left suggests a lively dance. The face has been rendered to enhance the expression of vivacity. All in all, a convincingly powerful rendition of the female life force.

Comments/Opinions

Similar coarse herringbone masonry may be seen at nearby Spraxton as well as at Stawley,in the far SW of the county. There is another sheela-na-gig at Donyatt, but the Fiddington example is more lively and vivacious.

Bibliography

  • EH, English Heritage Listed Building 268886.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 170.

  • Somerset County Council, Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 16018.

  • VCH, Victoria County History: Somerset, VI, London 1992, 98-103.

Exterior from SE

Location

Site Location
Fiddington
National Grid Reference
ST 216 406 
Boundaries
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Somerset
now: Somerset
Diocese
now: Bath & Wells
medieval: Sherborne (to 909), Wells (to 1090), Bath (to 1245), Bath & Wells (from 1245)
Dedication
medieval: St Martin
now: St Martin
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Robin Downes 
Visit Date
25 June 2004