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St Andrew, Aller, Somerset

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Feature Sets (3)

Description

Aller is in central Somerset, 2 miles NW of Langport and 8 miles SE of Bridgwater, on the edge of the low drained moorland of the river Parrett floodplain. Behind the village to the E rises the wooded Aller Hill. The village clusters around the junction of the A378 with a minor road that runs into the moorland, and the church is at the end of this, some 0.4 mile E of the village centre. Alongside it is Aller Court farm. The church has a nave with a N aisle and N and S porches, the latter blocked, a chancel and a W tower. It is of local Lias, cut and squared, with Hamstone dressings, and there was a major restoration in 1861-62. The S doorway is 12thc, as is the font. For the rest the S porch is 14thc and the remainder largely 15thc.

History

A location with a long history (including the baptism of Guthrum the Dane by King Alfred in 878) but with little pre-Conquest material evidence.

The manor of Aller was held by Wulfweard before the Conquest, but by 1086 had passed to Ralph de Limesy who held it as tenant-in-chief. It paid geld for 2 hides, with 15 acres of meadow, 10 acres of woodland and 200 acres of pasture in addition. The overlordship evidently descended with the barony of Cavendish (Suffolk) to Ralph de Limesy (II), who died c.1129, and Ralph's son Alan (died by 1162). Alan was succeeded by Gerard (died by 1185), whose son John de Limesy died without issue in 1193. The overlordship then apparently passed to his sister Basile, wife of Hugh de Odingselles (d. 1239), for in 1284–6 and 1303 it was held by her grandson Hugh (II) (d. 1305), son of Gerard de Odingselles (d. 1267).

Features

Exterior Features

Doorways

S Nave doorway

Single order, round headed. The doorway is protected by a 14thc porch, no longer open to the exterior, so that access is only possible from the nave.

1st order. Square section jambs with angle shafts coursed with them, capitals integral to the jambs and bases of different profiles, standing on tall chamfered plinths. The W base is extremely bulbous, while the E has a bulbous lower part with a tall hollow above. Both have with thin roll neckings . The E capital is of double-scallop form with recessed shields and double-conical wedges between the cones of the bell. The W is a cushion, but with each shield occupied by a pair of recessed shields side-by side, and angle-tucks with inverted nested-vee wedges. Both capitals have plain roll neckings. Above the capitals are tall abaci and hollow-chamfered imposts with broad, low half-rolls on the face. The arch is slightly splayed, and on it are carved three rows of centrifugal face chevron, roll, hollow, roll with a narrow quirk between each row. The label is plain chamfered.

Construction is of orange Hamstone except for both capitals, the E impost block and three stones of the label, which are in a grey, fine-grained stone. The E impost block and the grey label stones may be replacements; the capitals appear original and may have been carved in a different stone for contrast or to achieve better definition.

Dimensions
Height of arch apex above imposts 0.82m
Max. width of chevron-band 0.29m
Width of reveal 1.09m

Furnishings

Fonts

Font

At W end of nave, just W of S door & S of central aisle; occupying the otherwise empty SW part of church. It consists of a low, tulip-shaped bowl with a heavy square-section upper rim with a chamfer. The bowl stands on a cylindrical stem with a plain chamfered circular base standing on a large, square plinth. The bowl shows the usual repairs & evidence of former lock-fittings, and the internal sides curve to a flattish bottom. A lead lining covers approximately one third of the rim. The bowl is of grey stone, the stem a paler grey stone. The base is a replacement. There are no major losses, although the bowl is generally worn owing to its spell outside (see VIII)

Dimensions
Circumference of base 1.68 m
Circumference of bowl (under rim) 2.21 m
Circumference of stem 1.41 m
Depth of bowl 0.25 m
Ext. diameter of bowl 0.73 m
h of base 0.13 m
h of bowl 0.33 m
h of plinth 0.15 m
h of stem 0.25 m
Int. diameter of bowl 0.56 m
Total height 0.89 m

Comments/Opinions

Pevsner (1958) describes the doorway as Late Norman, on the basis of the chevron, but the bulbous bases suggest that the story may be more complicated. These profiles are typical of late-11thc work, as at Bosham (Sussex) or, within the county, the single base at Combe St Nicholas

According to the Church Guide, the font was recovered from the vicarage garden in 1862.

Bibliography

  • Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 51754.

  • EH, English Heritage Listed Building 263068.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 76.

  • VCH, Victoria County History: Somerset, III , London 1974, 61-71.

Exterior from SE
Aller, St Andrew, groundplan by J. Norton, 1862. Image from Church Plans Online (Published by the NOF Digitise Architecture England Consortium)

Location

Site Location
Aller
National Grid Reference
ST 396 288 
Boundaries
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Somerset
now: Somerset
now: Somerset
Diocese
now: Bath & Wells
medieval: Sherborne (to 909), Wells (to 1090), Bath (to 1245), Bath & Wells (from 1245)
Dedication
medieval: not confirmed
now: St Andrew
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Robin Downes 
Visit Date
10 November 2005