St Michael, Chaffcombe, Somerset

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Feature Sets (2)


Chaffcombe is a village in the district of South Somerset, 1.7 miles E of Chard and 3 miles N of the Dorset border. The village straggles along a minor road that runs N of the main road from Chard to Crewkerne, and the church is just off the village street at the end of a lane at its E end. The tower is partly 15thc and the remainder a rebuilding by J.M Allen of 1857-1860. Construction is of local lias and Hamstone ashlar and near-ashlar, except for the chancel and north aisle, in rubblework with ashlar dressings. The church has a 4-cell plan of 2-bay chancel, 3-bay nave and N aisle, with north-east organ chamber, south porch and west tower. The only Romanesque sculpture is the plain font.


The Bishop of Coutances held Chaffcombe in 1086, and Ralph held it from him. Before 1066 it had consisted of four estates; two pairs each held by two thegns as two manors. It was assessed before the Conquest at 3½ hides with woodland 8 furlongs by 8, but a further hide and 3 virgates were added. The bishop's tenant in 1086 was Ralph le Sor, and he was succeeded by his son Otes, then by Jordan le Sor before 1166 and by John (I) le Sor, said to be a son of Otes. It appears to have remained in this family until the end of the 13thc.





Located centrally under the tower, a tub font with a tulip-shaped bowl, i.e. it has a prominently everted rim. The internal sides of the bowl taper down to a flat bottom, and the bowl is lined with lead that reaches up to the rim but not over it. There are no mouldings or other decoration, nevertheless, its shaping & execution achieve some dignity. It is wholly in Hamstone or similar and in very good condition.

The bowl stands on a simple cylindrical stem, and this on a base consisting of a circular chamfered block with a vertical strip at the bottom and a horizontal one at the top. The plinth is a simple unchamfered rectangular block, almost square.

Circumference of base (max) 1.96m
Circumference of bowl 1.95m
Circumference of stem 1.24m
Depth of bowl 0.25m
External diameter of bowl 0.66m
Height of base 0.21m
Height of bowl 0.34m
Height of plinth 0.11m
Height of stem 0.36m
Internal diameter of bowl 0.47m
Overall height of font 1.1m


English Heritage describes the font as a tub font with tulip bowl, possibly from the earliest church, of which the first recorded rector was in 1175. It is not mentioned by Pevsner.


  • English Heritage Listed Building 262129.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 117.

  • Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 57202.

  • Victoria County History: Somerset, IV, London 1978, 127-28.

Exterior from SW


Site Location
National Grid Reference
ST 354 102 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Somerset
now: Somerset
now: Bath & Wells
medieval: Sherborne (to 909), Wells (to 1090), Bath (to 1245), Bath & Wells (from 1245)
medieval: not confirmed
now: St Michael and All Angels
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Robin Downes 
Visit Date
07 April 2005