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St Peter, Churchstanton, Somerset

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Feature Sets (2)

Description

Churchstanton is in the Taunton Deane district of Somerset, 6.4 miles S of Taunton, and less than 2 miles from the Devon border. In fact it was in Devon until 1896. The church stands on a minor road in the Blackdown Hills, with a few houses more or less nearby. According to the EH list description, the church is of the early-mid 14thc, and was restored c.1719 & from 1830. Construction is of squared and coursed chert, except for the west end and the tower, which are of chert with roughcast rendering and Hamstone dressings and quoins. The tower has a south-east stair turret, and there is a 4-bay nave and south aisle with a chapel, a blocked south porch, and a chancel set at an angle with the nave. The only Romanesque material is the font, said by Pevsner to be an unfinished example of the Bodmin type.

History

Churchstanton was held by Geron from Turstin fitzRolf in 1086, and before the Conquest by Aelfgifu. It was assessed at 3 hides with 7 acres of meadow, pasture 1½ leagues long by 1 league broad, and woodland 5 furlongs by 4 furlongs. No church or priest was recorded at that time. A market to be held at the manor was granted by Henry III to Roger de Rennes in 1223.

Features

Furnishings

Fonts

Font

Located at W end of nave, to S of central aisle.

Pevsner describes it as 'Norman, square, and roughly hewn at the angles for heads to be carved. The intended design is of the Cornwall type of Bodmin.' The bowl is of soft golden stone (Hamstone or similar), apparently in two blocks. It is directly supported on columns of Purbeck marble. The bottom of the bowl has simply chamfered corners, above and below the projections for heads. The octagonal table shows breaks which are presumably evidence of former lock fittings. The lead lining is in good condition.

The columns stand on a pedestal consisting of a roughly-hewn shallow base block, above which a moulding integrates the bases of the columns. That moulding is of two plain rings, the lower much the shallower. This pedestal stands on a massive base in Hamstone or similar, with a bottom shallow block (corresponding in size with that immediately beneath the pedestal columns), then similar blocks laid vertically (one for each face). They give the font an unusually high elevation, necessitating a comparably high step for the priest on the W side. I do not know what fills the space between those blocks. There is a chamfered plinth, apparently in four blocks, projecting from the base.

Dimensions
Depth of basin 0.255m
Diameter of base 0.57m to 0.53m
Dimensions of bowl at top 0.665m x 0.695m
Height of base 0.36m
Height of bottom block +pedestal moulding 0.08m
Height of bowl 0.40m
Height of plinth 0.13m
Height of shafts 0.26m
Overall height of font 1.29m

Comments/Opinions

The Purbeck column supports of the font may be compared with those at Brushford and Cutcombe. The overall impression of the font is of great weight. Suggestions of nobility in the massive base and relatively delicate pedestal are not matched in the coarse bowl, although of course this was not finished.

Bibliography

  • English Heritage Listed Building 271193.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 125.

  • Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 41177.

Exterior from SW

Location

Site Location
Churchstanton
National Grid Reference
ST 195 145 
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: not confirmed
now: St Peter and St Paul
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Robin Downes 
Visit Date
29 September 2004