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St Michael, Blackford, Somerset

(51°1′59″N, 2°29′20″W)
ST 658 261
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
05 December 2005

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Somerset has three villages called Blackford; this one is some 4 miles SW of Wincanton and lies in a valley in the hilly region traversed by the river Cam and its tributaries. The church and its immediate environs occupy an outcrop of Midford Sands (Upper Lias) surrounded by Inferior Oolite limestone. Nearby Cadbury Castle testifies to the antiquity of settlement in this area. The A303 trunk road from Basingstoke to Exeter (to be precise, from near North Waltham in Hampshire to near Upottery in Devon) now runs past the northern edge of the village. Blackford itself is no more than the church and a few dwellings clustered around a crossroads, on the eastern edge of the slightly larger settlement of Compton Pauncefoot. The church consists of a 2-bay chancel, a 3-bay nave with a S porch and a W tower. The nave is 12thc in origin, with a Romanesque S doorway. The font is also Romanesque, but the church was remodelled in the 14thc and 15thc, and restored in the 19thc. Construction is of Cary stone cut and squared with Doulting ashlar dressings.


This is the only one of the three Somerset Blackfords mentioned in the Domesday Survey. It contained two holdings in 1086. One was held by Ailwacre from the abbot of Glastonbury (Alnoth held it from the abbot before the Conquest) and was assessed at 4 hides. It also included 115 acres of meadow, 43 acres of pasture and 47 acres of woodland. A smaller holding of 1 hide was held by Aelwaerd from Turstin fitzRolph in 1086. The same Aelfwaerd held it before the Conquest.

It continued to be held by the Abbot of Glastonbury as overlord until 1341 or later. The tenancy of both holdings had passed to Henry Newmarch by 1189, and passed to his sons William (d.1204) and then James. On James’s death in 1216 it passed to his daughter Hawise who married Nicholas de Moeles as her second husband, and he was in possession by 1234.


Exterior Features





The list description describes the font as 'a simple C11 bowl', and Pevsner fails to mention it. It is considered here to be 12thc rather than 11thc.


English Heritage Listed building number 263347

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Harmondsworth 1958, 90.

Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 52292.

Victoria County History: Somerset, VII (1999), 242-47.