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St Nicholas, Withycombe, Somerset

(51°9′44″N, 3°24′36″W)
ST 015 413
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
13 May 2004

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Feature Sets

Withycombe is a village just below the N edge of the Brendon Hills, nestling close to a break in the hills leading into the coastal strip. It is four miles SE of Minehead, one mile SSE of the important medieval hundredal settlement of Carhampton and 1½ miles from the West Somerset coast. The village extends over a few minor roads at the base of Withycombe Hill, with the church in the centre. It consists of a tall nave and chancel with a very plain battlemented tower that is also the entrance porch on the S side of the nave towards the W end. The chancel has a N vestry. Construction is of rubble with Hamstone dressings and the church has been rendered in roughcast. Nave and chancel are 12thc-13thc, while the tower is 14thc and some nave windows are 15thc. There was no major 19thc restoration, but the church was restored and reroofed in 1912-13. The only Romanesque feature here is the font.


Withycombe was held by Geoffrey, Bishop of Countances in 1086, and from him by Edmer. The overlordship passed to the Mohun family after Geoffrey's heir Robert Mowbray forfeited his lands for rebelling against William II. The tenancy, meanwhile, may have passed to William, son of Durand de Mohun in 1166. His son, Ralph FitzWilliam died c.1212, leaving 3 female coheirs of whom the eldest, Lucy, married to William Malet, inherited Withycombe. For later history of the manor, see VCH. The advowson of the church was with the Bishop of Bath in 1194, when he exchanged it with the lord of the manor in exchange for rents. It remained with the manor until the 18thc when the manor was dismembered.





Pevsner describes the church as, 'the rare case in Somerset of a church without Perp enlargements.’ Both he and the EH list entry agree that the font is Norman but have nothing more of interest to write about it.


EH, English Heritage Listed Building 265396.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 349.

Somerset County Council, Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 31100.

Victoria County History: Somerset texts in progress (Withycombe) 13 January 2012.