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St Michael, East Coker, Somerset

(50°54′26″N, 2°39′25″W)
East Coker
ST 539 122
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
21 November 2005

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East Coker is a village in the South Somerset district of the county, 2 miles SW of Yeovil. The village is dispersed around a network of minor roads and lanes W of the A37 Yeovil to Dorchester road, which follows the line of the Roman road from Ilchester to Dorchester. The 12thc church was originally cruciform and nave aisles and a N porch were added in the 15thc. In 1790,the unsafe crossing tower was taken down and replaced by one on the N side of the chancel. The nave and aisles are of three bays, the chancel of two and the transepts are single-bay. Construction is of hamstone squared rubble with ashlar. The S arcade piers have late-Norman features but are probably 13thc. The font is Romanesque.


Coker (East, North and West) was held by the king in 1086, and by Gytha (the mother of Earl Harold) in 1066. It was assessed at 15 hides although it paid geld for only 7. Of this, 5½ hides were in demesne. The holding was populous, with a total of 87 listed people, suggesting a total population of 400-500. There was a mill, 100 acres of meadow, pasture measuring 1 league by half a league, and woodland measuring 8 furlongs by 6. The manor was granted to the Abbey of Saint-Étienne at Caen by William II, and the tenancy was in the hands of the Mandevilles by c.1205. It passed to Hugh de Courteney, Earl of Devon, c.1325, and it remained in this line until the 16thc.


Interior Features






A well-presented church, but the focus is on associations with T S Eliot. Local historians Brian & Moira Gittos have published the ‘Saxon’ masonry (long-and-short work) visible externally in the W wall, but although the quoins of the W end are large blocks, they cannot be described as long-and short work in the normal sense. The arcade arches are certainly 13thc, while the supports probably date from early in that century. It is included here as the responds and bases include Romanesque features. The font is described in the list description as ‘C13 circular font with cable mould on modern base.’ Pevsner prefers, ‘Circular,Norman, with one cable moulding.’


J. Collinson, The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset, Bath 1791, II, 340-44.

English Heritage Listed Building 263649

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Harmondsworth 1958,161

Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 50441