St Andrew, Old Cleeve, Somerset

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Feature Sets (2)


Old Cleeve is a village between Minehead and Watchet in the West Somerset district of the county, a mile from the coast. The village is at the junction of minor roads 1km NW of Washford and the A39 trunk road. The church is at the E end of the village. St Andrew’s consists of a chancel, a 4-bay nave with a S aisle and porch and a S chapel at the E end of the aisle, and a W tower. The nave is basically 12thc though much altered; the herringbone masonry and a building break in the N wall suggest a smaller nave in 12thc.

The chancel was rebuilt and the S chapel added in the 13thc. The rest and was build or modified in the 15thc and later. The church was restored in the 19thc. Construction is of red sandstone and blue lias random rubble except for the tower, which is of squared and coursed red sandstone. There is some herringbone masonry in the N nave wall. There are label stops that might be re-used Romanesque work on the 15thc S nave and chancel windows.


Before the Conquest Old Cleeve was held by Earl Harold Godwin, and in 1086 by the king. It was assessed at 4 hides and 1 virgate, with 24 acres of meadow and woodland one league by half a league. It contained 2 mills and rendered £25 of blanch silver. The manor had been granted to Robert FitzGerold by 1102. Robert’s heir was his nephew William de Roumare who died by 1161 and was succeeded by his grandson of the same name. Between 1186 and 1191 this William gave all his land in Cleeve for the establishment of a Cistercian house, colonized by monks from Revesby in 1198. The manor remained in the monks’ possession until 1536.

The church, however, was given to the monks of Bec-Hellouin by Robert FitzGerold in the early 12thc. William de Roumare (II) apparently ignored this and granted it to Wells in the late 12thc; a potentially awkward situation that was resolved in favour of Bec, with the proviso that the rectory would be a prebend of the cathedral, held by the abbot of Bec (who immediately leased it to the abbey of Cleeve, which subsequently retained the advowson). The first notice of the dedication to St Andrew occurs in 1346.


Exterior Features


Chancel S wall window

As nave S wall W window, with possibly 12thc label stops

Dimensions of E label stop 0.14m x 0.11m x 0.09m
Dimensions of W label stop 0.13m x 0.09m x 0.10m
E label stop

An extremely stylised oval head with broad eyebrows over recessed bulbous eyes. The triangular nose is broken at the tip and drilled for nostrils. The mouth is straight and closed, and the nasolabial folds are marked. The brow is marked with two incised parallel grooves.

W label stop

An oval head with bulging eyes in sockets with brows that rise to the centre. The nose is triangular and the mouth straight and closed with a defined lower lip. The nasolabial folds are marked and the chin juts forward at the tip.

Nave S wall W window

The window is a square-headed 15thc three-light window whose label stops might be 12thc

Dimensions of E label stop 0.18m x 0.08m x 0.06m
Dimensions of W label stop 0.13m x 0.09m x 0.08m
E label stop

An almost cylindrical male head with deeply set bulbous almond-shaped eyes, a triangular nose with loss to the tip and an open, oval mouth. A ridge marks the high hairline, or the brim of a hat, and below this on the brow are three parallel grooves. A repaired break to the jaw on his R gives the head a lopsided appearance.

W label stop

An almost cylindrical male head with bulbous almond-shaped eyes, triangular nose and straight, closed mouth. He has marked nasolabial folds and drilled nostrils. A ridge marks the high hairline.


The editor is not convinced of the 12thc dating of the label stop heads (not mentioned by EH or Somerset HER), preferring a 13thc or later date for the stylised features and especially the nasolabial folds. It is not impossible that they are contemporary with the window tracery.


  • EH, English Heritage Listed Building 264851.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 266.

  • Somerset County Council, Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 30792.

  • Victoria County History: Somerset, V, London 1985, 39-54.

Exterior from S
Exterior from WSW
Nave, N wall, herringbone masonry


Site Location
Old Cleeve
National Grid Reference
ST 041 419 
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)
now: St Andrew
medieval: St Andrew
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Robin Downes 
Visit Date
13 May 2004, 15 May 2004