St Peter, South Barrow, Somerset

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Feature Sets (3)


South Barrow is a village in south central Somerset, 6 miles W of Wincanton and a mile N of the A303, the main road linking Exeter and Andover. It extends for half a mile along a minor road with the church in the centre of the village. St Peter’s has a simple plan of a two-bay chancel and a three-bay nave with a S porch and a W tower. The church is substantially 13th-14thc, but the present chancel dates from a restoration in 1850. The church is built of local lias cut and squared with Cary dressings.


South Barrow was held by Bretel from the Count of Mortain in 1086, and by Almaer before the Conquest. They were assessed at 5 hides with 8 acres of meadow, 20 acres of pasture and 40 acres of woodland. The overlordship remained with the Counts of Mortain until the 14thc, while the tenancy was held by Henry Lovell in 1166, and by other members of the same family until the end of the 13thc. A mesne tenancy was granted by Henry Lovell to Robert de Puntsoud and his descendants retained this subtenancy until the early 14thc. The church was given by Alfred de Puntsoud to Wells Cathedral in 1189 or thereabouts.


Exterior Features


S nave doorway

Segmental headed and of one order under a 13thc porch. The jambs are plain and square and the arch is plain and chamfered with a segmental chamfered label with a row of heavy nailhead on the chamfer.

Height of arch apex above springing 0.48m
Width of arch 1.45m




The font is sited at the NE angle of the SW part of the church, just W of the S door and S of the central aisle. It consists of a heavy octagonal bowl (better described as a cube with the angles chamfered off). The upper and lower rims are chamfered, the lower with a roll above the chamfer. A later inscription reads “1584/RM/SM.” The bowl is of greyish/ochre stone, possibly from a Castle Cary bed.

The unlined bowl stands on a pedestal, consisting of four slim columns engaged around a central fat one. This is very badly eroded and may be of Purbeck marble (or perhaps the local substitute from the Keinton Mandeville quarries). It stands on a small square lias step.

External dimensions of bowl 0.64m x 0.64m
Height of bowl 0.46m
Height of plinth 0.09m
Height of stem 0.26m
Internal diameter of bowl 0.48m
Overall height of font 0.85m
Top dimensions of plinth 0.49m x 0.49m


The doorway is not convincingly Romanesque but is included since it contains nailhead. The EH listing describes the font as 'a chamfered cuboid bowl, lettered, on possibly earlier shaft with attached corner shafts.’ Pevsner dates the stem to the 13thc but does not date the bowl. Its form may be compared with that at Crewkerne, some distance away on the other side of the river Parrett.


  • EH, English Heritage Listed Building 445801.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 291.

  • Somerset County Council, Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 52401.

  • VCH, Victoria County History: Somerset texts in progress (South Barrow) 9 November 2011, www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/counties/somerset/work-in-progress.

Exterior from SE


Site Location
South Barrow
National Grid Reference
ST 602 279 
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 Peter
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Robin Downes 
Visit Date
17 November 2005