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St Mary, Batcombe, Somerset

(51°8′57″N, 2°26′40″W)
ST 690 390
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Robin Downes
  • Robin Downes
09 June 2008

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Batcombe, Somerset is 5 miles SE of Shepton Mallet and 26 miles S of Bristol. The small village is named after one Bata. Although small today, it was historically affluent and is mentioned in DB. (Note: there is also a Batcombe in Dorset). It lies to the W down below the A359 N of Bruton, hidden away among the intricate and narrow valleys of this region of Lias and occupies a narrow fairly level shelf of Midford Sands above the clay river-bottom and below the Inferior Oolite limestone of the surrounding hills. The narrow lanes of the area render the village comfortably sequestered. The church of St Mary is at an altitude of about 110m OD and is described in the list description as ‘Mainly 15thc, 16thc, restored 19thc', built of rubble and ashlar, with freestone dressings. It has Nave, chancel, N and S aisles, S porch, N vestry, W tower. Inside is preserved a 14thc carved crucifix, originally on the exterior of the building. Romanesque eatures described for this report include a piece of reused masonry in the exterior S aisle wall and two loose capitals.


Batcombe belonged to Glastonbury Abbey in 1066 and 1086. It was assessed at 20 hides before the Conquest, of which 9 hides and 3 virgates of land werein lordship. The manor also included 20 acres of meadow, 6 acres of pasture and 40 acres of woodland, along with a mill. 24 inhabitants were recorded, implying a total in excess of 100. Roger of Courseulles held 2 hides of this manor’s land in 1086 which were held by Wulfwy before 1066.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


Loose Sculpture


The smaller capital is reputed to originate from nearby Spargrove Priory. It is of a type which might have been paired either side of a doorway, and probably dates from the late 12thc.

The externally-reset block is presumably now vertically-disposed. Curiosly, the decoration only occupies a small part of its total area, and its original structural purpose remains a mystery.

  1. F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications (London, 1899), III, 44.

Historic England listing 1234822

  1. N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol (Harmondsworth, 1958), 88.

Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 22060. Online at http://webapp1.somerset.gov.uk/her/text.asp