Victoria County History



R W Dunning, C R Elrington (Editors), A P Baggs, M C Siraut

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'Enmore: Church', A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6: Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and neighbouring parishes) (1992), pp. 43-44. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=18526 Date accessed: 26 November 2014.


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The earliest evidence for a church at Enmore is the late Norman south doorway. The benefice, a rectory, was united with Goathurst in 1956; the united benefice was further united with Spaxton and Charlinch in 1981. (fn. 41)

The advowson was held by Baldwin Malet, lord of Enmore manor, in 1329 (fn. 42) and descended with that manor until 1833, (fn. 43) although the Crown appointed by lapse in 1570 (fn. 44) and kinsmen of the previous rector presented a relative in 1678. (fn. 45) The patronage was not sold with the Castle estate in 1834 and may have been retained by the earl of Egmont. (fn. 46) Between 1861 and 1902 it was held by John Levien, rector 1860-75, and after his death by his trustees. (fn. 47) It was bought, probably c. 1904, by William Broadmead and descended with Enmore Castle until c. 1954. (fn. 48) In 1957 the archbishop of Canterbury presented by lapse (fn. 49) and between then and 1981 the bishop of Bath and Wells presented on alternate vacancies. The bishop in respect of Enmore presented jointly to the united benefice from 1981. (fn. 50)

The church was valued at £4 in 1329, (fn. 51) £8 in 1414, (fn. 52) and £8 14s. 8d. gross in 1535. (fn. 53) About 1668 the benefice was said to be worth c. £70 (fn. 54) and was augmented in 1819 with £100 given by Mrs. Pincombe's trustees and £100 given by the rector. (fn. 55) Average income 1829-31 was £242. (fn. 56) Tithes were commuted for £224 in 1837. (fn. 57)

The glebe was valued at £1 1s. 6d. in 1535. (fn. 58) In 1620 it consisted of a house, buildings, and 19 a. (fn. 59) The land, mainly south of the church but also east of the village in the later park, was exchanged in 1806 and 1828 for 24 a. at Lexworthy. (fn. 60) It had been sold by 1978. (fn. 61) A priest's house was mentioned in 1319. (fn. 62) In 1620 the house lay south-west of the church near the southern end of the lake. (fn. 63) It was described as ruinous and unfit in 1806 when it was exchanged for a house at Lexworthy built by the earl of Egmont for the rector c. 1803; the old house was demolished. (fn. 64) The house was sold c. 1956 and divided into two dwellings.

The deanery chapter met at Enmore in 1195 when Gocelin, chaplain of Enmore, was present. (fn. 65) John of Drayton, rector in 1327, was described as worn out and a coadjutor was appointed. (fn. 66) There was an anniversary chaplain in 1450. John Roche or Ryche, rector 1463-7, was a canon of Wells. (fn. 67) There were both a rector and a stipendiary priest c. 1535, and the parish supported a fraternity, known as Our Lady's service or the brotherhood. (fn. 68) Thomas Rawlins, rector in 1554, was incapable because 'distracted of his wits'. (fn. 69) His successor, Justinian Lancaster, rector 1558-70, was later archdeacon of Taunton. (fn. 70) The church was served by curates in the 1570s, including two men who were not even deacons and another who had no licence. (fn. 71) Henry Atwood, rector 1601-13, failed to preach and the church bible was said to be faulty. (fn. 72) His successor, Bartholomew Safford, was accused of preaching afternoon sermons which did not finish until 5 p.m. and of failing to wear a surplice. He also altered the form of services. (fn. 73) Late 17th-century rectors were resident but the parish was served by curates in the early 18th century. (fn. 74) There were only 20 or 30 communicants in the time of the pluralist Thomas Milward, rector 1778-9. (fn. 75) In 1789 the church band needed reeds and strings and in 1800 the principal inhabitants paid for a bassoon; an organ had been installed by 1826. (fn. 76) John Poole, rector 1796-1857, who lived at Over Stowey until the new rectory was available c. 1803, augmented the living, and established a school. Poole held two Sunday services in 1815 and was then resident although by 1835 he also held Swainswick rectory. (fn. 77) In 1840 communion was celebrated four times a year but John Levien had increased celebrations to six a year by 1870. (fn. 78)

A church house, recorded in 1546 (fn. 79) and in 1696, probably stood south of the church. (fn. 80) It may have been used as a poorhouse but it continued to be maintained by the churchwardens until 1811. (fn. 81) It may have been demolished shortly after. (fn. 82)

The church of ST. MICHAEL, so dedicated by 1348, (fn. 83) comprises a chancel, a nave with north aisle, including vestry and organ chamber, and south porch, and a west tower. Before 1872, when all but the tower was rebuilt, the church comprised a 14th-century chancel, a nave whose south wall included a 12th-century doorway, (fn. 84) and a tower, possibly built in 1455 when a crane was hired from Bridgwater, (fn. 85) apparently designed for a narrower nave. The north nave wall may have been rebuilt in the 15th or early 16th century at the same time as a new, panelled chancel arch, a narrow, transomed south window for the rood screen, and a rood stair on the north were inserted. After 1783 the rood stair was destroyed to make an entrance to a north vestry, and a south porch was added. (fn. 86) A singing loft was recorded in 1756, (fn. 87) lit in the 1780s by a high-level domestic-style window. (fn. 88) The rebuilding in 1872-3 was to the designs of Benjamin Ferrey. (fn. 89) The south doorway, the Jacobean pulpit, and the panelled chancel arch were retained but the screen was sent to Huish Episcopi (fn. 90) and the rood screen window blocked up. Battlements were added to the tower.

In the church are a medieval chest and two early 17th-century helms and a chair from Enmore Castle. The font, possibly of the 13th century, replaced a Victorian font in 1937. (fn. 91) The statue of St. Michael was placed in the tower niche in 1979. (fn. 92)

There are six bells: one by William Purdue dated 1647 was recast in 1739 by Thomas Bayley who recast two others in 1752. Two were recast in 1796 by George and Thomas Davis, and the tenor was installed in 1897. (fn. 93) The plate includes a cup and cover of 1618, a saucer of 1727, and a tankard given by James Jeanes of Barford in 1751 and engraved with the arms of himself and his wife. (fn. 94) The registers date from 1653 and are complete. (fn. 95)

The churchyard cross dates probably from the 15th century and consists of a headless shaft in a square socket carved with blank shields standing on three octagonal steps.


37 Ibid. DD/S/WH 189.
38 Ibid. D/P/enm 4/1/1, 13/2/1, 13/2/3.
39 Ibid. tithe award; ibid. D/P/enm 13/2/3.
40 Youngs, Local Admin Units, i. 671, 673, 676.
41 S.R.O., D/P/car 23/8; Dioc. Dir.
42 S.R.S. ix, p. 142.
43 Above, manors.
44 Cal. Pat. 1569-72, p. 61.
45 Som. Wills, ed. Brown, ii. 11, 30; Som. Incumbents, ed. Weaver, 366.
46 Co. Gaz. Dir. Som. (1840).
47 P.O. Dir. Som. (1861, 1866); Kelly's Dir. Som. (1883, 1910).
48 Kelly's Dir. Som. (1906); Crockford.
49 S.R.O., D/P/car 23/8.
50 Dioc. Dir.
51 S.R.S. ix, p. 42.
52 S.R.O., D/D/B misc. 1.
53 Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 214.
54 S.R.O., D/D/Vc 24.
55 C. Hodgson, Queen Anne's Bounty (1864), p. cxcvi.
56 Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, pp. 136-7.
57 S.R.O., tithe award.
58 Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.) i. 214.
59 S.R.O., D/D/Rg 269.
60 Ibid. D/D/Bg 11, 40; ibid. tithe award.
61 Inf. Dioc. Office.
62 S.D.N.Q. xxxi. 464.
63 S.R.O., D/D/Rg 269; DD/HWD 19.
64 Ibid. D/D/Bg 11; DD/HWD 19; Paupers and Pigkillers, ed. J. Ayres, 78.
65 S.R.S. xxv, p. 90.
66 Ibid. i. 282; ix, p. 42.
67 Ibid. xlix, pp. 139, 405.
68 Ibid. liv, p. 27; Wells Wills, ed. Weaver, 82; S.R.O., DD/X/SR 5; D/D/Vc 20.
69 S.R.O., D/D/Ca 22.
70 S.R.S. lv, p. 151; Le Neve, Fasti, 1541-1847, Bath and Wells, 16.
71 S.D.N.Q. xiii. 270; S.R.O., D/D/Ca 57.
72 S.R.O., D/D/Ca 134, 151, 160.
73 T. H. Peake, 'Som. Clergy and Church Cts. in Dioc. of Bath and Wells 1625-42' (Bristol Univ. M. Litt. thesis, 1978), 284-5; V.C.H. Som. v. 17-18; Alum. Oxon. 1500- 1714..
74 S.R.O., D/P/enm 2/1/1.
75 Ibid. D/D/Vc 88.
76 Ibid. D/P/enm 4/1/1, 13/2/1.
77 Ibid. D/D/Rb 1815; Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, pp. 136-7; below, educ.
78 S.R.O., D/D/Va 1840, 1870.
79 S.R.S. xxvii. 259.
80 S.R.O., DD/DP 24/5.
81 S.R.O., D/P/enm 4/1/1.
82 Ibid. DD/HWD 19.
83 P.R.O., E 210/6893.
84 One of the columns was replaced in 1726: S.R.O., D/P/enm 4/1/1.
85 S.R.S. lx, p. 88.
86 S.R.O., D/D/Cf 1872/3; Taunton Castle, Pigott colln., J. Buckler, drawing 1838; above, p. 38.
87 S.R.O., D/P/enm 4/1/1.
88 Above, p. 38.
89 S.R.O., D/D/Cf 1872/3; D/P/enm 4/1/2, 6/1/1.
90 V.C.H. Som. iii. 11.
91 Plaque on font.
92 Plaque in ch. porch.
93 S.R.O., D/P/enm 4/1/1; DD/SAS CH 16/1.
94 Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. xlvii. 158.
95 S.R.O., D/P/enm 2/1/1-6.