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St George, Ruishton, Somerset

(51°1′13″N, 3°3′2″W)
ST 264 251
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
27 September 2004, 10 March 2005, 6 June 2011

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Feature Sets

The village of Ruishton is 2 miles E of the centre of Taunton, separated from its urban sprawl and protected from absorption by the M5. The village is also bounded on the N by the river Tone and on the S by the A358 Taunton to Ilminster road. The church stands to the N of the village, between the centre and the river. It is an imposing building consisting of a nave with a S doorway under a porch, a chancel with a S chapel and a W tower. The body of the church and the S chapel are of rubble with Hamstone dressings, and the tower is built of coursed blue lias, also with Hamstone dressings. The S doorway contains some 12thc work, incorporated into later rebuilding. The church is mainly dated to the 14thc and 15thc, although the tower was begun in the 1530s, and the upper stages added from 1549. It remains unfinished, lacking a parapet. Norman features described here are the S doorway and a reset relief figure in a mandorla set high on the exterior SW angle of the S chapel.


Ruishton is not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey, but as part of the hundred of Taunton and Taunton Dean it belonged to the Bishops of Winchester. In the 14thc a secular priest was supplied for the church by the prior of Taunton.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration


Pevsner makes no mention of the relief figure, although it is described by the English Heritage listing. The present author identifies the figure as St George, based on the dedication of the church, the shield held before the body and a the interpretation of the raised fillet running from the base of the mandorla on the left, and behind the raised right hand as a lance. The editor prefers to take account of the pose of benediction, the ends of the stole and the headgear – which he reads as a mitre – identifying the figure of a bishop. The shield is problematic in this reading: the inclusion of a shield of arms would be unusual at this early date. It seems more likely that the motif is a misinterpretation of a chasuble.

Both Pevsner and EH identify the remains of the doorway as Norman, Pevsner specifying late-Norman which would fit the trumpet scallop – unusual before 1170. There are some similarities with Enmore in the trumpet scallop capital and with Enmore and Stogursey in the form of the arch decoration.


EH, English Heritage Listed Building 270891.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 282.

Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 40808.

Victoria County History: Somerset, II, London 1911, 141-44 (on Taunton Priory).