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St Aldhelm, Doulting, Somerset

(51°11′9″N, 2°30′28″W)
ST 646 431
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
08 August 2007

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Feature Sets

Doulting (named after the British name for the Sheppey river, which rises at St Aldhelm’s well, NW of the church, just beyond the former vicarage) is famous for its quarries of fine oolitic limestone 700m NE of the church, and because St Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne, died here in 709. The village bestrides the main trunk A361 road at the top of the hill (c. 200m OD) which climbs up from Shepton Mallet to the W. NE of the village stretches a fairly level part of the Mendip Hills still considerably quarried for its stone. About 1km S, runs the short ‘East Somerset Railway’, now a tourist attraction but representing the former line which ran from Witham (on the main GWR Frome to Weymouth/Taunton line), through Shepton Mallet, Wells and Cheddar to Yatton on the other side of the Mendips, where it connected with the other GWR main line between Bristol and Taunton (for Exeter and beyond).

The church is cruciform, consisting of a nave with N and S porches, chancel, crossing with tower and N and S transepts. All was rebuilt ‘stone by stone’ by George Gilbert Scott in 1869, replicating a building that was originally of the 12thc to 15thc. Some of the old work was incorporated, including the 12thc N nave doorway, described below.


Doulting belonged to the abbey of St Mary of Glastonbury in 1066 and 1086. Before 1066 it paid tax for 20 hides and also included 30 acres of meadow, 60 acres of pasture and 60 acres of woodland. The recorded Domesday population of 5 slaves, 10 villagers, 6 smallholders and 4 cottagers implies a total population of more than 100 at that time.


Exterior Features



Pevsner described it as, ‘a happy sight with its octagonal crossing tower and spire and its highly ornate S porch. Much rebuilt, alas. . . The original date must be late C12, see the N doorway with an order of colonnettes with waterleaf capitals and the arch, segmental on vertical springers.'


English Heritage listed building 268328

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol. Harmondsworth 1958, 180.

Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 22169.