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St Margaret, Queen Charlton, St Margaret, Somerset

(51°24′3″N, 2°31′39″W)
Queen Charlton, St Margaret
ST 634 670
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
medieval Wells
now Bath & Wells
  • Robin Downes
  • Robin Downes
15 Dec 2009, 27 Jan 2010

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The compact hamlet of Queen Charlton, hardly more than a cluster around the village green of manor house, manor farm, church and a few handsome dwellings, lies at the head of a narrow valley leading down to the Avon at Keynsham, Somerset, 2 miles to the NE. The valley was doubtless the route of the historical communication between Queen Charlton and the wider world (specifically, Keynsham Abbey). Geologically, Queen Charlton rests on the limestone of the Lower Lias (Blue and White Lias). The regal distinction of this village commemorates the gift of the property by King Henry VIII to Catherine Parr (Ekwall, 1960, 96). The church has late 12thc. origins and was altered in the 13thc and 15thc with a 19thc restoration. It consists of nave and N porch, central tower, N transept, chancel and remains of a S chapel. The central tower has Romanesque openings with Romanesque sculptural elements in the crossing. The font is also Romanesque. (Note: a Romanesque doorway is in the wall of the lane to the W of the church (see separate entry: St Margaret, Queen Charlton, resited doorway, Somerset - CRSBI).


There is no DB entry. Presumably, like nearby Whitchurch, Queen Charlton church was, until the Dissolution, a satellite of Keynsham Abbey (1.5 miles to the NE).


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches




Firstly, it is important simply to note that this church is cruciform in structure, which may have implications for its original importance (cf. the nearby church of St Nicholas at Whitchurch, about 1 mile away WNW – q.v.). At the same time, it will readily be observed that the Crossing capitals, although finely designed and executed, are very plain, notably lacking in unnecessary moulding. This could suggest that resources available were relatively modest. The combination of traditional Romanesque scalloped capitals with pointed arches here suggests a construction date late in the period, perhaps around 1200.

According to the official listing text, the central tower is 12thc, but altered in the 15thc and restored in the 19thc. The two belfry openings and super-arches on each side are all segmental in form rather than semi-circular as one would expect, and there are no label stops to the hoodmould. This implies that while this feature is doubtless inspired by 12thc work, it probably owes the greater part of its appearance to modern restoration.

As the date of the author’s visit was near Christmas, he was not able fully to record details of the font bowl as the latter was occupied by an impressive floral display. Like that at Langridge, on the other side of the Avon N of Bath, the font takes the form seen so frequently in this part of Somerset, resembling a large Romanesque capital. In the fieldworker's opinion the font is rather unassuming and of the most minimal and mechanical design and execution, almost chilling in effect. It has no decoration and thus matches the other details of this rather austere church.

  1. F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications (London, 1899), III, 231.

E. Ekwall,The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names (4th edition) (Oxford, 1960).

Historic England listing 1115380

  1. N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol (Harmondsworth, 1958), 248.