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St Michael, Blackford, Somerset

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Feature Sets (3)

Description

Somerset has three villages called Blackford; this one is some 4 miles SW of Wincanton and lies in a valley in the hilly region traversed by the river Cam and its tributaries.  The church and its immediate environs occupy an outcrop of Midford Sands (Upper Lias) surrounded by Inferior Oolite limestone. Nearby Cadbury Castle testifies to the antiquity of settlement in this area.  The A303 trunk road from Basingstoke to Exeter (to be precise, from near North Waltham in Hampshire to near Upottery in Devon) now runs past the northern edge of the village.  Blackford itself is no more than the church and a few dwellings clustered around a crossroads, on the eastern edge of the slightly larger settlement of Compton Pauncefoot.  The church consists of a 2-bay chancel, a 3-bay nave with a S porch and a W tower.  The nave is 12thc in origin, with a Romanesque S doorway.  The font is also Romanesque, but the church was remodelled in the 14thc and 15thc, and restored in the 19thc.  Construction is of Cary stone cut and squared with Doulting ashlar dressings.

History

This is the only one of the three Somerset Blackfords mentioned in the Domesday Survey. It contained two holdings in 1086.  One was held by Ailwacre from the abbot of Glastonbury (Alnoth held it from the abbot before the Conquest) and was assessed at 4 hides.  It also included 115 acres of meadow, 43 acres of pasture and 47 acres of woodland.  A smaller holding of 1 hide was held by Aelwaerd from Turstin fitzRolph in 1086.  The same Aelfwaerd held it before the Conquest.

It continued to be held by the Abbot of Glastonbury as overlord until 1341 or later.  The tenancy of both holdings had passed to Henry Newmarch by 1189, and passed to his sons William (d.1204) and then James. On James’s death in 1216 it passed to his daughter Hawise who married Nicholas de Moeles as her second husband, and he was in possession by 1234.

Features

Exterior Features

Doorways

S nave doorway

2 orders, inner pointed with tympanum, outer round. The doorway is in Cary stone and in reasonable condition, although some of the top of the E outer shaft has been knocked off.

Dimensions
1
Height of opening 2.50m
Width of opening 1.10m
2
Approximate height of arch apex above imposts 1.00m
1st order

Plain chamfered jambs without capitals but with quirked chamfered imposts which carry a plain tympanum whose lower edge is now in the form of a low 4-centred arch with an angle roll.

2nd order

En-délit nook-shafts without bases or plinths. The W is carved with directional chevron, alternating thin and broad rolls, while the E has a spiral alternating fillets and broad rolls. The capitals are both plain triple scallops with roll neckings, and the imposts are as the inner order. Adjacent to the E capital is a scratch dial. The arch, of eighteen fairly even voussoirs, is carved with 4 rows of frontal chevron, alternately thick and thin rolls.

The label is chamfered with a row of raised lozenges on the chamfer.

Furnishings

Fonts

Font

The font is located under the tower arch and is of a greyish white stone.  It consists of a tub-shaped bowl with a moulded rim consisting of a lower quirk, then an angular projection and above this a more rounded one.  The top surface of the rim has a groove running around it, approximately one third of the width from the outer edge.  The bowl is otherwise plain, and stands on a slightly conical stem separated from the bowl by a toroid ring.  The stem stands on a chamfered drum base with no plinth.

The rim of the bowl is broken at the NW, and has metal fragments embedded at the NE and SW where lock fittings have been removed.  There is a large repair to the top at the SE.   There is no lead lining. The internal sides of the basin, gouged rather than tooled, drop fairly straight to a fine bottom which has a neat saucer around the drain-hole.

Dimensions
1
Depth of basin 0.26m
Height of base 0.14m
Height of bowl 0.33m
Height of stem 0.14m
Total height of font 0.73m
2
Circumference of base 2.06m
Circumference of bowl above torus 2.11m
Circumference of bowl at top 2.24m
Circumference of stem 1.86m
Exterior diameter of bowl 0.71m
Interior diameter of bowl 0.54m

Comments/Opinions

The list description describes the font as 'a simple C11 bowl', and Pevsner fails to mention it.  It is considered here to be 12thc rather than 11thc.

Bibliography

  • English Heritage Listed building number 263347

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Harmondsworth 1958, 90.

  • Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 52292.

  • Victoria County History: Somerset, VII (1999), 242-47.

Exterior from S

Location

Site Location
Blackford
National Grid Reference
ST 658 261 
Boundaries
now: Somerset
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): 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 Michael
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Robin Downes 
Visit Date
05 December 2005