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All Saints, Isle Brewers, Somerset

(50°59′9″N, 2°53′56″W)
Isle Brewers
ST 370 211
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
13 April 2005

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Feature Sets

Isle Brewers is a small (population c.150) village in South Somerset district 1.5kms E across the river Isle from Isle Abbots. The Isle is a tributary of the principal Somerset river, the Parrett, their confluence being c.6kms NE, c.2kms upstream from the former Benedictine Muchelney Abbey. In the Domesday Survey the parish is listed as ‘I(s)le’ but after its possession in 1212 by Richard Brewer it was named after him. The original village core and much of the rest, including the church, rests on a slightly elevated drift deposit of clay with flint gravel overlying the valley Alluvium — the church being on ground at 15m above the OD.

The scenery of the shallow Isle valley is as gentle as its topography: generally pastoral fields defined by willows and hedges. The village is only sub-nuclear, its buildings well separated by fields and orchards. In historical times its inhabitants were engaged principally in dairy-farming and livestock husbandry (cattle and sheep) as well as in activities pertaining to a self-sufficient community — although there is evidence of a significant number being employed in South Somerset’s cottage-industry of gloving (as shown, for example, in the 1861 census returns). Given the current upsurge in cider-production, there are no doubt new orchards appropriately stocked and managed by such local concerns as the Burrow Hill company. A flour mill by the river Isle adjoined the original church.

This is an area of unclassified lanes subject to winter flooding not too far from several major roads: (in order of importance) the A303, linking London with the South-West Peninsula, at Ilminster (i.e., Isle Minster) 6kms S (measured to the original alignment rather than to the present bypass); the A358, connecting the A303 with Taunton and the M5 motorway, 7kms W; the A378, connecting Langport and Taunton, at Fivehead 3kms N; and the B3168, linking Ilminster with Curry Rivel (enabling onward access thence to Langport via the A378), 2kms SE.

Parallel to the B3168 and terminating at Westport, where the lane from Isle Brewers meets it, are the remains of the Westport Canal which connected with the river Isle 1.5kms upstream from its confluence with the Parrett. Built in the late 1830s but disused from 1870, it was intended to facilitate water transport to Langport and thence to Bridgwater and the Bristol Channel — a reminder of how important in history water-navigation was in much of central Somerset.

Major towns include the county town Taunton 12kms WNW, Langport 9kms NE, Somerton a further 7kms ENE of Langport and Ilminster 8kms S.

Formerly, the church was situated hard by the river, on its left bank, by a road-crossing. The first edition 6- and 25-inch OS maps (drawn after an 1886 survey) depict a nucleus of church-pub-mill at this location, suggesting the original site of the village: not a very sensible site considering its susceptibility to flooding. A new church was built in 1861 by C E Giles 850m E of that river crossing but the original Norman font was re-used.


The main manor in Isle Brewers was held by Ansgar from the Count of Mortain in 1086, and by Wulfnoth in 1066. It was assessed at 6 hides and also included a mill, 17 acres of meadow, and woodland 3½ furlongs by 2. There was also a manor of 2 hides, held by Alwig before the Conquest and by Richard from Alvred of Marlborough in 1086. This also had a mill, with 10 acres of meadow, 10 acres of pasture and 30 acres of woodland.





The list description records a Norman tub font with cable banding. It is not mentioned in Pevsner (1958), but Orbach (2014) describes it as ‘C12 bowl, retooled, the base with cable moulding’.


Historic England Listed Building 431822

J. Orbach and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. New Haven and London 2014, 384.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Harmondsworth 1958, 207 (under ‘Ile Brewers’)