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St Andrew, Whitestaunton, Somerset

(50°53′22″N, 3°1′24″W)
ST 281 105
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
07 April 2005

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Feature Sets

The compact sequestered hamlet of Whitestaunton is in South Somerset District, three miles WNW of Chard. Although in hilly terrain (at c.160m above OD) and exuding a strong sense of remoteness, it has easy access to two main roads: the A30 London-Penzance c. 0.6 miles to the S and the A303 (the relatively recent alternative to the A30 which avoids towns) c.1.25 miles to the NW. Whitestaunton is in the chalky Blackdown Hills which form the boundary between Somerset and Devon, the western boundary of the parish adjoining that of Yarcombe in Devon at a distance of c.2kms from the hamlet. The settlement is on Chalk bedrock, surrounded by Upper Greensand or Chalk-with-Flints (on Chalk): a fact which accounts for its naming as ‘White Stone Town’. Longevity of settlement is suggested by the remains of the Roman villa which were discovered in 1845 just a few hundred metres NE of the manor house. Even today Whitestaunton village presents an appealingly unspoilt image. There is neither shop nor pub: everything spells ‘estate’ — although no doubt, as ever and elsewhere, changing ownership of the manor house could have consequences. The tiny hamlet in a dip in the hills is focused by the picturesque grouping of church with manor house.

St Andrew's consists of an aisled nave with a S porch, a chancel with N and S chapels, and a W tower. The church is 13thc. in origin with addtions of the 14thc. to 16thc. It was restored in the late-19thc. and early 20thc. Construction is of squared and coursed limestone with hamstone dressings. The only Romanesque sculpture is found on the font.


Whitestaunton was held by Alweard in 1066, and by Ansgar (I) Brito from the Count of Mortain in 1086. It was assessed at 3 hides, with 260 acres of woodland, a mill, and 50 acres of pasture rendering 4 blooms (ingots) of iron. Ansgar was dead by 1095, and the manor passed with the barony of Odcombe to successive Britos (Walter I, died after 1108; Ansgar II, fl. 1126; Roger, d. by 1157, Walter II, d.1179 and Walter III, d.1199. He died without issue and the barony was divided between his two nephews, Walter Croc and John de Longchamp. Both surrendered their shares to Richard Briwere in the early 1200s, and this family held the estate until the later 13thc. The church was first mentioned in 1291.





The EH listing describes the font as 12thc, and Pevsner calls it 'Circular, Norman, with fluting at the foot of the bowl.’


English Heritage listed building 433246

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Harmondsworth 1958, 344.

Victoria County History: Somerset, IV (1978), 231-38.