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St Peter and St Paul, Bleadon, Somerset

(51°18′26″N, 2°56′48″W)
ST 341 569
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now North Somerset
  • Robin Downes
28 June 2008

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Bleadon Hill is the most westerly remnant of the Mendip Hills, except for coastal Brean Down and the island of Steepholm in the Bristol Channel: an attenuated fragment, at that. A moment’s thought about the place-name brings the realisation that it is tautological, the ‘don’ element meaning ‘hill’; the first element tells us that the hill was thus named for its varied colour, perhaps the effect of Black Rock Limestone protruding above the grass, according to Ekwall. The settlement, sheltered under the S slope of the hill after which it is named, probably owes its existence and importance to being at the point where the W-E route under the S scarp of the Mendips from Wells through Cheddar and Axbridge meets a major coastal S-N route (the former still a narrow twisting lane; the latter represented today by the main A370 connecting the vast conurbation of Weston-super-Mare 2 miles to the NNW with the main trunk A38 road, precursor to the M5, between the Midlands and the South-West, 2 miles to the SSE). Bleadon is also on the major river Axe, navigable at least up to this point. Bleadon just escapes that more tangible disturbance of the Somerset landscape, the M5, which runs 2 miles away to the west. Geologically, most of the village around the church (which is only 15 m above sea-level) lies on Keuper Marl above the alluvium of the Somerset Levels and below the Black Rock Limestone of Bleadon Hill; there are also outcrops nearby of dolomite and a little oolitic Limestone. The village is an extensive one, running a mile from E to W and a similar distance from N to S along the roads of a staggered crossroads, with the church standing in the centre.

The present building dates from the 14thc (dedicated in 1317), but is mainly 15thc. It was restored and its chancel shortened in the mid 19thc. It consists of a chancel with a N organ chamber, a nave with S porch and a W tower. Construction is of coursed rubble with freestone dressings. The font is 12thc as is one reused carved head, set in the exterior S chancel wall. An angel, now set on the internal nave wall, may be pre-Conquest in date.


The Domesday survey records a substantial settlement at Bleadon, held by the Bishop of Winchester before and after the Conquest to provide supplies for the monks. It was assessed before the Conquest at 15 hides of which 10 were in lordship, and also contained 50 acres of meadow, and pasture 1 league long and ½ league wide. It was inhabited by 8 slaves, 16 villans and 10 bordars. One of the demesne hides was held by Saewulf from the bishop, and with this were 16 acres of meadow and 1 acre of scrubland. It was occupied by 1 slave and 1 bordar.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


Interior Features

Interior Decoration





The font is an example of the simple and noble design in good stone which always delights. What, most unusually, enhances the appearance of this font is that repairs to the bowl have been most sympathetically executed ― even to the extent of reproducing the tooling which is so remarkably beautiful a feature of the bowl’s surface. Also in its favour is its location, conventionally at the NE angle of the SW part of the nave, with plenty of ambient space and light. Most unconventionally, however, and slightly disconcerting, is that the extension to the plinth for the celebrant is to the S rather than the W. The font is not mentioned in Pevsner.


English Heritage Listed Building 33613

E. Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, 4th ed.Oxford, 1960.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol. Harmondsworth 1958, 145.