The village of Corfe stands in wooded landscape at the foot of the Blackdown Hills, some 3 miles S of Taunton in west Somerset. It straddles the important route between Taunton and Honiton, over the Blackdowns. The church is at the N end of the village. St Nicholas’ is an 1842 rebuilding of a Norman church by B. Ferrey. The S aisle was added and the tower rebuilt in 1858 by C. E. Giles, and the chancel was restored in 1969. Construction is of squared & coursed blue lias. It consists of a 4-bay nave and S aisle, chancel and W tower. The nave arcade is neo-Romanesque, as is the chancel arch; both said to be based on the original. Original 12thc features are two corbels reset in the N nave wall inside and the font.
Corfe was not mentioned under that name in the Domesday Survey. It was part of the hundred of Taunton and Taunton Deane, which belonged to the Bishops of Winchester.
The corbel above the E pier presents a head well wrapped in a wimple-type garment. A rather flabby but strongly characterised chin droops over the wimple, under a weak but sensuous mouth. The nose is long and straight, the eyes suggesting simplicity although that may just be the effect of simple moulding. The forehead is mostly hidden behind an innermost part of the headgear. Very prominently featured are two wing-like projections of hair escaping from the headgear: rather a vain touch perhaps, in contrast with the solemn incognito imposed by the dress. Overall, then, the sculptor has depicted a defined personality asserting itself despite (even because of) ecclesiastical uniform.
The corbel above the central pier presents a head unconstrained by heavy headgear. The unrestrained luxuriant hair cascades outwards from a central parting, down the sides of the head (covering ears), to flow on to the shoulders. The beard is represented by cabling (as in the chancel arch label-stops), with very effective emphasis under the open vigorous mouth. A remarkable feature is the moustache, although the left side (along with almost all the nose) is damaged.
|Depth of basin||0.32m|
|Ext. diameter of bowl at rim||0.69m|
|Height of bowl||0.46m|
|Int. diameter of bowl at rim||0.53m|
Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 40913.
EH, English Heritage Listed Building 270966.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 133.
VCH, Victoria County History: Somerset, VII, London 1999, 223.