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Holy Trinity, Long Sutton, Somerset

(51°1′28″N, 2°45′25″W)
Long Sutton
ST 470 253
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
medieval Wells
now Bath & Wells
  • Robin Downes
  • Robin Downes
18 Mar 2008, 22 May 2008, 13 April 2022

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The village of Long Sutton, Somerset (not be be confused with the village of the same name in Lincolnshire, also on CRSBI) lies at about 20m OD very close to the SW edge of a well-populated plateau of Lower Lias (clay with some limestone) between the rivers Yeo (0.5 mi to the SW) and Cary (3 mi to the NE). The village is mainly to the S of the main road unning W-E between Langport and Ilchester, on each side of the secondary road running S to Martock (hence its name). The church of the Holy Trinity enjoys an elevated position on the SE edge of the village, with fields to the E and S. Although rebuilt in the later half of the 15thc and consecrated in 1493, surviving Romanesque elements include some loose and reset sculpture.


In 871 or 886 King Alfred gave to Athelney abbey ten cassatae in Long Sutton. In DB 8 of the 10 hides in the manor were held by the abbey, the other 2 hides being held by Roger de Courcelles. De Courcelles' tenants in 1086 were Dodman and Warmund, both possibly Englishmen and successors to the two thegns who held the hides in 1066. Around 1200 Athelney abbey gave the church to Bishop Savaric (bishop 1192–1205) to form a prebend in Wells Cathedral, to be held by successive abbots (VCH).


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration



Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae

Loose Sculpture


General comments

The assemblage of material suggests the former existence of a reasonably large Romanesque church on the site. Some of the large chevron voussoirs might have related to a chancel or tower arch, or possibly to a very large portal. There was a 'drastic' restoration in 1868 during which the fragments may have come to light. B. & M. Gittos writing in 1982 also mention a colonette in the interior wall near the south door which was not noted by the fieldworker in 2008 - doubtless an accidental oversight, unless it has since been obscured.

S Porch niche

  1. According to the fieldworker, 'Details are difficult to see at a distance but the ‘shafts’ supporting the arch appear to be slightly incised to indicate capitals and bases'. However, closer examination of the feature with the benefit of CRSBI's zoom feature suggests the evidence probably does not support any more detail than a continuous moulding around the edge of the arch and jambs. Such niches usually held statues of the patron saint. It could (in the fieldworker's opinion) have been inserted from an earlier build as one unit, but could equally be entirely later medieval in date, although the change in material in either case would be somewhat puzzling. Alternatively, the monolithic arch could have been salvaged from an early window and the jambs and recess created later to form the niche.


Although not really analogous, the decorated fragments in Kilmersdon church have some similar elements to those of the piscina. The red (dis-) coloration on the top surface could be evidence of exposure to high heat in a fire. For another rectangular Romanesque piscina re-sited inside a later medieval parish church, see CRSBI entry for Edworth, Bedfordshire. Again, one wonders if the re-use was merely practical and functional or symbolic of a long-standing role to say Mass.


Thanks are due to Brian and Moira Gittos for drawing the fieldworker's attention to the exterior sculptures and the piscina, and to Jerry Sampson (before retirement) of Caroë & Partners (architects based in Wells) for help finding the fragments of stone sculpture.

  1. F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications (London, 1899), III, 273.

A. P. Baggs, R. J. E. Bush and M. Tomlinson, 'Parishes: Long Sutton', in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3, ed. R W Dunning (London, 1974), pp. 154-166. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/som/vol3/pp154-166 [accessed 25 November 2022].

B. and M. Gittos, 'Holy Trinity Church, Long Sutton', Yeovil Local History and Archaeology Society Chronicle (Oct 1982), 40-42, online at www.yalhs.org.uk/1982-oct-pg40_holy-trinity-church-long-sutton/

Historic England listing 1236060

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset (Harmondsworth, 1958), 220.

J. Sampson, Loose Stone Catalogue (unpublished professional report)

Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 51819. Online at http://webapp1.somerset.gov.uk/her/text.asp