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St John the Baptist, Churchill, Somerset

(51°20′20″N, 2°48′34″W)
ST 437 603
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now North Somerset
  • Robin Downes
02 June 2009

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Feature Sets

The parish of Churchill (‘church hill’, of course) covers quite a large area and has no obvious sense of focus unless that is the cross-roads of the A38 Bristol―Bridgwater trunk road and the A368 Bath―Weston-super-Mare: an extremely busy junction with traffic lights 1km ESE of the church. To the south the parish is bounded by the northern limestone ridge of the Mendip Hills (with its quarries); to the west, along the A368, there is some ribbon development towards the next villlage of Sandford; to the north-east, mostly developed along past and present alignments of the A38, the parish incorporates the large village of Langford. The older houses of Churchill seem to be along the lane which leaves the A368 500m west of the A38 to proceed WNW towards Churchill Green. A turning N off this lane takes one along a lane towards Congresbury (3.5km distant). 500m along this lane one will find the church, totally alone except for the adjacent manor house. There is virtually open pastoral countryside to the N; to the NW lie the Yeo valley and the North Somerset Levels (the Yeo running through Congresbury). Thus, the church is just about at the north-west extremity of the settled part of the parish. (A narrow and sharp salient of the parish extends NW from the church across the moors towards Puxton.) Its situation gives a sense of peace which is a treasure in this part of Somerset hectic with dense, noisy and fast-moving road traffic.

Its altitude of about 30m above OD gives the church some eminence over the land to the north. This is because it was built on the expanse of Mercia Mudstone (Keuper Marl) which rises above the Alluvium of the Levels.

The church consists of an aisled nave with a S porch, chancel and W tower. It is 12thc origin, with 14thc and 15thc rebuilding and a 1879 restoration. Construction is of coursed rubble throughout except the W façade of the tower, which is of squared and coursed dressed stone. Approximately two courses above the water-table on the west face of the turret at the SE corner of the tower, there is an inverted block with an incised scratch-dial, not recorded in detail but photographed. The only Romanesque sculpture is the font.


Churchill is not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey. Following Collinson, Churchill was part of the manor of Banwell, held by the Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1086 and by Earl Harold before 1066. By the reign of Edward III, the manor of Churchill was held by the Cogan family, and it passed from them by marriage to the Fitzwarrens of Huntspill.





The font is not mentioned by Pevsner (1958), but a 13thc date is suggested in the list desciption, which is probably correct.


J. Collinson, The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset, Bath 1791, III, 579-82.

Historic England listed building 33940.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol. Harmondsworth 1958, 164.

S. Rippon, Landscape, Community and Colonisation: the North Somerset Levels during the 1st to 2nd millennia AD. CBA 2006. Research Report 156.