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St Mary, Charlton Mackrell, Somerset

(51°3′7″N, 2°40′29″W)
Charlton Mackrell
ST 528 283
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
14 November 2005

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Feature Sets

Charlton Mackrell is one of a pair of villages (the other being Charlton Adam) lying some 3 miles E of Somerton on the N bank of the river Cary in south central Somerset. The Fosse Way, linking Bath with Axminster and Exeter, runs approximately a mile to the E of the village. The church stands on the southern edge of the village and is a cruciform building of local lias cut and squared, with Hamstone ashlar dressings. It consists of a crossing tower, N and S transepts, nave with S porch and chancel. The oldest parts of the fabric appear to be 13thc, but there is a late-12thc font, described below. The church was restored in 1792-94 and 1847.


Before the Conquest Charlton Mackrell was held by Aethelfrith, and in 1086 by Roger Arundel himself. It was rated at 3 hides, with 30 acres of meadow and 2 acres of woodland. The ownership of the manor is not recorded again until 1220, when it is part of the Arundel barony. At the death of Roger Arundel II in 1165 the manor passed to his sister Maud, married to Gerbert de Percy (d.1179). On Maud’s death the manor and church were divided between her daughters Sybil and Alice. Sybil’s moiety passed through her marriage to the de Poles, and then the FitzPayns, who held it until the 14thc. Alice’s moiety passed through her marriage to the Newburghs (her daughter Maud married Roger de Newburgh). Roger’s son Robert de Newburgh granted the mesne lordship of his moiety to his sister, Margery Belet, to be held from him, and she further subinfeudated the property by granting it to William de Horsey (to be held from her). William later eased the confusion to some extent by buying the mesne lordship from Margery’s grandson, William Belet. The overlordship appears to have passed for a time to Queen Eleanor of Castile after 1276, but to have returned to Newburghs thereafter. The advowson of the church descended initially with the FitzPayn family, but in 1224 the right of alternate presentation was conveyed by Roger FitzPayn to Margery Belet, then owner of the second moiety of the manor, and passed with that moiety to the Horsey family. The benefices of Charlton Adam and Charlton Mackrell were united in 1921.





The plain font is similar to those at Charlton Adam and nearby Kingweston, and one suspects a single workshop provided these fonts for contiguous parishes. Apparently, the medieval Kingweston estate, more extensive than now, incorporated the Charltons. VCH dates it to c.1200, and this date is accepted here. NMR describes it as a tulip bowl font on a turned base, probably 13thc; Pevsner makes no mention of it. The font was discovered in pieces in the churchyard at some time in the second half of the 20thc, and assembled by the builder who found them.


Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 51514.

EH, English Heritage Listed Building 262849.

C. Hamilton, Some Account of the Parishes of Charlton Adam and Charlton Mackrell, 1961, passim.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 121.

VCH, Victoria County History: Somerset, III , London 1974, 95-110.