MEM24465 - St George's Churchyard, Dunster (Building)


The churchyard has been in use since medieval times. The southern extent of the site may originally have been bounded by a ditch when it was part of Dunster Priory, later being replaced by a wall. The southeastern area is occupied by the 19th Century Luttrell family cemetery. A section north of the church is now a Garden of Rememberence.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

The church is built of red sandstone and was the priory church for the Benedictine priory of Dunster, which was a cell of Bath. It was conveyed to Bath by William de Mohun at the end of the 11th Century. [1] Was the priory church. The graveyard has been in use since medieval times. [2] Photograph showing southeast view of church. [3] [SS 9904 4366] St. George's Church (Vicarage) and (NAT) Priory Church (NR). [4] In 1498, an agreement was arbitrated in Glastonbury where the church was effectively divided into two parts; the east was for the monks and the vicar and parish had the west end, with a new and separate choir. The dual use of the church ended with the Dissolution and the lands then passed into the use of the Luttrells, though at one stage the rectory, tithe receipts and responsibility for appointing a vicar was conveyed to Hugh Stewkley. [5] The churchyard was included in a plan of Dunster Priory dated from c.1770. The space to the southeast was occupied by abutting buildings at this time. The southern of these was labelled "H Thomas's House" and the northern "Poor Houses belonging to H J Luttrell Esq". The southeastern end of this building range is now occupued by 18, Church Street (MSO12068). [6] A watching brief was undertaken to the south and southeast of the Church in December 2017. The southern area is known to have served as a cemetery for both the medieval priory and wider community, probably since the foundation of the monastery in the later 11th Century. The southeastern corner is not thought to have been employed for burial until the Luttrell family vault beneath the chancel became full in the later 19th Century. The area excavated did not contain any evidence for the medieval monastery, which accorded with what is known about the site. An east to west aligned linear feature (MEM24460) was noted; while its full extent was not visible, it was interpreted as the possible original southern boundary ditch of the medieval priory. Throughout the northern and central areas where the trench passed through the raised area of churchyard retained by masonry wall the majority of the exposed profile appeared to include the fills of numerous intercutting graves. As well as quantities of stone rubble and mortar the deposit contained pottery of post-medieval date and disarticulated human bone, the occurrence of which appeared to increase towards the north. This evidence of intensive overburial throughout much of the area clearly extended into at least the 18th Century. In the centre of the area a broad depression infilled with crushed lime mortar and soil was identified. To the south of the church a brick-lined grave structure of coffin-shaped plan was recorded. Internally two tiers of iron supports were visible which once supported coffins; these had decayed and their remains and contents, consisting of the disordered bones of at least two individuals, were found to be deposited on the base of the structure. Quantities of medieval and post-medieval pottery and tiles, post-medieval clay pipe and glass bottles, animal bones and a Morte Slate roof tile were recovered. [7]

Sources/Archives (9)

  • --- Photograph: Hesketh-Roberts, M.. 1999. Job: St Georges Church. Colour. Negative.
  • --- Report: Brigers, J. L.. 2022. 2022: WB - St George's Church. Prospect Archaeology.
  • <1> Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1958. The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Penguin Books. 154-6.
  • <2> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. M. Aston, Somerset County Council, 29 November 1978.
  • <3> Article in serial: Anon. The Builder. P. 169 and plates.
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey. Various. Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date) . OS 25" 1929.
  • <5> Monograph: Binding, H.. Discovering Dunster. The Exmoor Press. p38-53.
  • <6> Map: Unknown. c.1770. Plan of the Priory, Dunster. Pen and Ink.
  • <7> Report: Brigers, J.L.. 2018. The Parish Church of St George, Dunster, Somerset: A watching brief in the churchyard.

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • Church Heritage Record ID: 601463
  • Exmoor National Park Authority HER number: MSO9435
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11232
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12069
  • Local Heritage List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE84
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36948
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33569
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34928



Grid reference Centred SS 299e 1437 (121m by 72m)
Map sheet SS21SE

Finds (12)

Related Monuments/Buildings (8)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Apr 8 2024 7:18AM


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