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St John the Baptist, Pawlett, Somerset

(51°10′42″N, 3°0′4″W)
ST 301 426
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
medieval Wells
now Bath & Wells
  • Robin Downes
  • Robin Downes
7 Nov 2005

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The parish of Pawlett lies 4 miles N of Bridgwater in a bend of the river Parrett near its mouth. The village stands at the SE end of Pawlett Hill and consisted until the 19thc of a few stone farmhouses and irregular closes in a triangle of roads with the church in the SE angle. The church of St John the Baptist was a dependent chapelry of North Petherton minster but achieved virtual independence in the 12thc. Robert FitzHarding (d. 1171) gave the church to St. Augustine's abbey, Bristol, probably at its foundation c. 1140. The building consists of a 12thc nave with N and S transepts added in the 13thc. and a S porch, a chancel with N vestry and a W tower. The S nave doorway and font are Romanesque.


Pawlett was held by Saemer in 1066 and by Rademer of Walter of Douai in 1086. Walter died c. 1107 and his heir, Robert, who rebelled in 1136, seems to have lost the main part of his estate which passed to Robert, son of Robert FitzRoy, earl of Gloucester. Before 1147 Robert gave it to Robert FitzHarding. The estate then passed to FitzHarding's younger son, also Robert (d. 1194), who was succeeded by his son Maurice (d. 1230). (VCH)


Exterior Features





The Historic England listing suggests that the third order of the S doorway might be reused from a chancel arch. However, it has to be said that this is highly improbable. The whole feature works well and the motif of animal heads biting a roll is normal for exterior doorways.

The base of the font might be an inverted column capital. The fact that different stone types are present could suggest that the feature is a composite one.


A. P. Baggs and M. C. Siraut, 'Pawlett', in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes), ed. R W Dunning and C R Elrington (London, 1992), pp. 267-277. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/som/vol6/pp267-277 [accessed 28 February 2023].

Historic England listing 1173441

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset (Harmondsworth,1958), p.270.