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St Nicholas, Brockley, Somerset

(51°23′58″N, 2°46′8″W)
ST 466 670
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now North Somerset
  • Robin Downes
02 June 2009

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Brockley is a village on the N side of the A370 Bristol to Weston-super-Mare road, some 8 mls SW of Bristol. Brockley (‘wood or clearing by the brook’) church is an estate church. The adjacent manor house is now a home for adults with learning difficulties. The church is very difficult to appreciate externally because of surrounding walls and trees. It lies a short distance from the foot of the NW-facing scarp of the limestone ridge (a Mendip outlier) which runs from just W of Dundry Hill to the E as far as just N of Congresbury to the W. This would have been a very peaceful part of the Kenn valley before the GWR built its Bristol-Exeter main line 1.3km NW of the church; it still is quite sequestered, since the lane leading to Brockley Court from the main road leads nowhere else. That main A370 links Bristol with the M5 and Weston-super-Mare; less than 400m south of the church, it runs extremely busily along the foot of the aforementioned scarp. The church lies at an altitude of about 25m above OD on a rise of Mercia Mudstone (Keuper Marl) above the surrounding Head.

The church consists of a nave with S porch, N and S chapels, chancel with vestry and a W tower. It is essentially 12thc, altered 13thc to 15thc, and again altered c.1820-30 for the Smyth-Pigott family. Construction is of coursed rubble with freestone dressings. 12thc features recorded here are the S nave doorway, corbels reset inside the porch, and the font.


Exceptionally in an area mostly belonging to the Bishop of Coutances, Brockley was held by Humphrey [the Chamberlain] and certain others in 1086. The tenant was one Aldred, who unusually also held it himself before 1066; it paid tax for 4 hides. Land for 4 ploughs; as many there. 6 villagers and 7 smallholders. Meadow, 16 acres. 2 cattle; 2 pigs. Value 30s.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels




The unusual appearance of the doorway might be due to 19thc alterations, but there is no doubt that the carved features are original 12thc work. For Pevsner: ‘The S doorway . . . is Norman, but these extremely attenuated shafts and this thin roll-moulding with applied zigzag decoration in the arch make one suspicious.' For NMR, the ‘South doorway is early — mid 12thc but probably re-cut: thin columns with square scalloped capitals and zigzag moulded arch.’

The reset corbels are mentioned neither in Pevsner nor NMR. Pevsner and NMR both describe the font as 12thc, but have little further to offer.


J. Bettey, Church Guide (Brockley), 1990.

EH, English Heritage Listed Building 33451.

EH, English Heritage Listed Building 262830.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol, Harmondsworth 1958, 146.

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