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St Matthew, Wookey, Somerset

(51°12′33″N, 2°41′23″W)
ST 519 458
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
24 July 2007

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Feature Sets

The village of Wookey is in the Mendip district of Somerset. It lies on the river Axe not far from its source above the rather more famous village of Wookey Hole which itself occupies a cleft in the S scarp of the Mendip Hills. Wookey nestles among gentle hills to the W of Wells, within the angle formed by the roads to Cheddar and Wedmore 1.5kms W of their junction. The church is quite central and slightly crowded by vegetation and buildings to the N.

The church is of coursed and squared rubble with freestone dressings and consists of a nave with N and S aisles and a S porch, a chancel with a S chapel and a N vestry, and a W tower The chancel is of the late 13thc, and the remainder 14thc-early 15thc, except the 16thc chapel. It was restored in 1872. The only feature described here is the font.


Wookey was not recorded as a settlement in the Domesday Survey, but it was in the hundred of Wells Forum, and was presumably a possession of the bishop before and after the Conquest. Bishop Jocelin of Wells (1206-42) is recorded as building 'capellas cum cameris' at Wells and at Wookey, so it is reasonable to suggest that it was in the episcopal demesne at an early date (Holmes (1885, 22-70). The church is first noted in the time of Bishop Robert (1136-66) - see Holmes (1885, 71).





According to Hasler, 'the font is on a thirteenth century limestone plinth, possibly of Dundry stone, with some painting round the tooling. The re-used base may be from another font. The two other sections, which do not necessarily belong together, are of Doulting stone, cut with a claw chisel and therefore later than the plinth. The lining is of modern lead with four lead dowels to hold a break in the top section.’ He thus suggests a post-12thc date for the entire ensemble, a view shared by the EH list description and by the invaluable Holmes (Pevsner did not mention it at all). These authorities may well be correct, but it is included here as a possible (if unlikely) Romanesque feature.


English Heritage Listed Building 268176

J. Hasler, The Church of St Matthew Wookey (the church guide available in the church)

T. S. Holmes, The History of the Parish and Manor of Wookey, Bristol 1885

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol. Harmondsworth 1958, 344.

Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 22012