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Holy Trinity, Burrington, Somerset

(51°19′49″N, 2°44′57″W)
ST 479 593
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now North Somerset
  • Robin Downes
02 June 2009

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Burrington is a village in the Mendip Hills, 10 Miles SW of Bristol. The village lies just north of the N scarp of a limestone ridge of the Mendip Hills on the south side of the Yeo valley. Much of the settlement lies on Dolomitic Conglomerate but the church itself, on the north-west side of the village facing open country, lies on Head at an altitude above OD of about 70m. Below the village to the north there is Head and then Mercia Mudstone (Keuper Marl) before the Alluvium of the valley of the river Yeo (1.5km to the NE). Above the village, rising to the highest point on the Mendips, Black Down at 325m above OD, the geological sequence is Hotwells Limestone-Harptree Beds-Clifton Down Limestone-Burrington Oolite-Black Rock Limestone-Lower Limestone Shale-Portishead Beds (Old Red Sandstone). The nearest main road, 200m N of the church, is the A368 connecting Weston-super-Mare with Bath via Banwell. The A368 crosses the trunk A38 at Churchill 3km to the west. Thus Burrington is within close reach of good roads.

The church consists of an aisled nave with a S porch, chancel and W tower, and is constructed of coursed rubble, freestone and ashlar dressings. The W tower is 14thc and the remainder is substantially 15thc, restored in 1884, but a carved head above the tower W window and a relief panel within the sanctuary might be from an earlier church. They are described here since they have been described as possibly of Romanesque origin.


Burrington is not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey, but it may have been the land held either by Roger of Courseulles or Saewulf detailed under Wrington. The manor of Wrington was held by Glastonbury Abbey and was assessed at 20 hides. Roger of Courseulles held 1½ hides of this manor’s land from the Abbot in 1086, and a thane held them before 1066; he could not be separated from the church. Another 1½ hides of the abbey's land were held by Saewulf in 1086 and before 1066. If it is accepted, as Rippon suggests, that Burrington was Roger's tenancy, then a church was there in the 11thc.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features

Interior Decoration


The head is presumably re-used from an earlier church on the site, as at Rodney Stoke on the other side of the Mendips. It is not recorded by Pevsner, Marsden-Smedley or the EH listing. The relief slab is so eroded that almost any date is possible, although Christ's headgear was described as "typical of the early Plantagent period." (see Marsden-Smedley). When the panel was first discovered it was shown to the bishop of Bristol, who thought that it represented the founder of the church and his wife appearing before Christ at the sounding of the last trump. He was puzzled in 1908 as to the date and subject of the “ancient stone”, and Pevsner was similarly puzzled in the 1950s.


EH, English Heritage Listed Building 33913.

C. Marsden-Smedley, Burrington Church and Village, A Short History., 1991 (revised 2007).

S. Rippon, Landscape, Community and Colonisation: the North Somerset Levels during the 1st to 2nd millennia AD. , CBA Research Report 156, 2006.