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St Andrew, Old Cleeve, Somerset

(51°10′5″N, 3°22′22″W)
Old Cleeve
ST 041 419
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
medieval St Andrew
now St Andrew
  • Robin Downes
13 May 2004, 15 May 2004

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Feature Sets

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



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.