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St Michael, Angersleigh, Somerset

(50°57′43″N, 3°8′31″W)
ST 199 187
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
29 September 2004, 1 Feb 2023

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On the northern skirts of the Blackdown Hills at c.107m, between their wooded heights rising to c.260m and the fertile Vale of Taunton Dean, c.6.5kms/4mls SW of the county town of Taunton, on its own little well-drained plateau (on the Triassic Mercia Mudstone bedrock variety now known as Dunscombe Mudstone), lies the tiny settlement of Angersleigh scattered around its centre of parish church and court, the parish allegedly the smallest in the diocese. The border with the Devon parish of Clayhidon lies over the top of the scarp, on the southern downslope of the Blackdown Hills, as near as c.2kms/1.25mls.

The church consists of nave and chancel with a W tower, the floor of which serves as a baptistery — although the fieldworker is doubtful that the font has always been located as it is now. There is a small N transept which served for a time as the chapel for the gentry of adjacent Leigh Court but is now largely occupied by the organ. The S porch is now the vestry.


Queen Frethogyth, wife of King Ethelherd and ruler of this area of Wessex, granted the Taunton territory to the Bishop of Winchester. At the Conquest, the territory came under the jurisdiction of the Count of Mortain whose stronghold was c.8kms/5mls SE from Angersleigh at Castle Neroche whose remains are now in a heavily wooded area but must in 1066 have afforded the Count vigilance over the whole of his territory from the top of a scarp at an altitude of 270m. The fieldworker considers that Angersleigh church, with its Romanesque font and sculptured head, is one legacy among many of the Count of Mortain’s grip over his land.

In c.1115 William Gifford, bishop of Winchester endowed the Augustinian Taunton Priory with several churches including that at ‘Leigh’ — i.e., Angersleigh.

There has been a close relationship between the church the adjacent manor house of Leigh Court, the lord of the manor having held the living. In 1290 he was John Aungier: thence the current name of the locality previously known as ‘Leah’ (meaning ‘clearing’).




Loose Sculpture


The Historic England listing describes the font as: ‘Norman circular font with remains of cable moulding.’

  1. F. Arnold-Forster Studies in Church Dedications London 1899 III 32

A.J.S. Burton. A Somerset Parish — The Story of Angersleigh. Angersleigh, 1944.

Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 40990.

Historic England listing 1177574

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 77.

VCH, Victoria County History: Somerset, II, London 1911, 141-44 (on Taunton Priory).