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St Bartholomew, Crewkerne, Somerset

(50°53′5″N, 2°47′55″W)
ST 439 098
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
18 April 2005

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Feature Sets

Crewkerne is a small town in the district of South Somerset, a mile from the southern border with Dorset. St Bartholomew’s is its parish church, centrally situated. It is an impressive cruciform building with a crossing tower, and is substantially of the 15thc and 16thc but with earlier features. It consists of an aisled nave, the N aisle extended E alongside the chancel as a chapel; N and S transepts; a S porch and a crossing tower. All walls have battlemented parapets, and the central element of the W front is flanked by a pair of octagonal battlemented stair turrets. A similar turret is attached to the SE angle of the crossing tower. Construction is of dressed limestone and Hamstone, and it was restored from 1889. Superficially it is entirely 15thc -16thc, but there are 13thc remains in the crossing and the E wall of the S transept. The only Romanesque work here is the Purbeck font.


Crewkerne was a royal manor in 1086, and was held by Eadgifu before the Conquest. Its size was not recorded in the Domesday Survey, but its large size is indicated by the fact that there was land for 40 ploughs, 5 of them in demesne. The population was also notably high, consisting of 12 slaves, 26 coliberts (freedmen), 42 villeins and 45 bordars; a total of 125 heads of household and possibly as many as 600 inhabitants altogether. There were also 4 mills, a market, 60 acres of meadow, pasture half a league long and 4 furlongs broad, and woodland 4 furlongs by two. The Abbey of St Étienne at Caen held the church of Crewkerne in 1086, and this also included a substantial estate of 10 hides, 2 of which were in demesne, with 10 acres of meadow and pasture half a league in each direction. A knight held 3 of the 10 hides from the Abbot of Caen, along with the meadow and pasture described above. The church had apparently been a minster before the Conquest.

The market recorded in 1086 was held in 1274 by John de Courtenay and John de Lisle, and by Hugh de Curtenay and Isabel de Fortibus, Countess of Aumale, in 1280. A fair on St Bartholomew’s day was also recorded in 1280, held by the same people.





Pevsner compared the nave with its tall clerestory and its W front flanked by two polygonal turrets, to the front of Bath Abbey or the Tudor Royal Chapels. The font is comparable in its form and material with other W Somerset examples (Brushford, Cutcombe,West Buckland). The most noticeable difference is that there is no handsome central column here at Crewkerne; instead, just an unmoulded cylinder. There is a similar pedestal under a similarly shaped but otherwise simpler bowl in Dorset, at Powerstock.


English Heritage listed building 390324

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Harmondsworth 1958, 137-39.

Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Records 53791, 55076

Victoria County History: Somerset, IV (1978), 20, 22-23, 32-33.