MSO7735 - St Beuno's Church, Culbone (Building)


A parish church thought to be pre-Norman in origin. It is claimed to be the smallest Parish Church in England. There is evidence of an Anchorite's cell on the north side. It was known as St Culbone's Church at the end of the 19th Century.

Please read the .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

(SS 8422 4822) St Culbone's Church (NR). [1] St Culbone's, a very small church, only 35 feet in overall length, comprising chancel and nave with south porch and a small spirelet over the west end of the nave. The rubble walls are probably late 12th century or even earlier, and the proportions of the building, lofty nave etc., suggest that parts of it may be Saxon. There is also some 13th, 14th and 15th century work. (See Illustrations Card). [2] In normal use. [3] Probably Norman origin. Claims to be the smallest complete parish church in England. Windows mainly Perpendicular except one in chancel which has 2 round-headed openings out in single stone with carved mask in low relief between arches. 15th or 16th Century oak benches, 15 Century oak chancel screen, Norman tub font. Ceiled barrel roof to nave. [4] St Culbone's Church contains remains of ? Norman masonry in the chancel. There is fragmentary evidence of an Anchorite's cell on the north side. [5] An 'example of the use of wood for stone in a window in the north side; and the screen with a carving of a Devonshire..type..'. [8] Parish church, dedication unknown. Probably pre-Norman in origin with a 13th Century porch, The spirelet was added circa 1810 and in 1888 chancel reroofed and east wall rebuilt, the nave roof was repaired 1928. One of the 2 bells is said to date from the 14th century. The church seats about 40 people and has a good claim to be considered the smallest complete church in England. (Photograph in NMR) [12] The rood screen probably dates to 1400. [13] A Church guide for St Beuno's notes that the Assize Rolls of 1280 record Thomas, chaplain of Cattenor (Culbone) was indicted for killing Albert of Esshe. It suggests the walls are 12th Century but that parts of the building may be of Saxon origins. The large box pew was used by the Lovelace family from Ashley Combe House and the reredos was designed by CF Annesley Voisey, made by Mr Huish of Porlock and installed in 1928. St Beuno was a famous Welsh saint, born in the late 6th Century and who died in AD642. He rescued St Winifred from King Caradog. [14] The building was visited in June 2013 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. It received a BAR score of 6. [16] The building is labelled "St Beuno's Church" on 2020 MasterMap data. [17] The building is labelled "St Culbone's Church" on the 25 inch 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map. [18]

Sources/Archives (18)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1904. 6 inch: 1904. 1:10560.
  • <2> Monograph: Eeles F.C. 1928. Oare and Culbone. P. 11-16.
  • <3> Unpublished document: PALMER, JP. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 13 July 1965.
  • <4> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . Williton RD Devon March 1962. P. 52.
  • <5> Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1958. The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Penguin Books. P. 144-5.
  • <6> Monograph: Allen, N.V.. 1974. Churches and Chapels of Exmoor. Exmoor Press. P. 47-8.
  • <7> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . DOE (HHR) West Somerset District (Exford et al) Somer 02/01/1986 16.
  • <8> Article in serial: 1889. Forty-first Annual Meeting Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 15i. P. 25.
  • <9> Serial: 1888-. Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset. (F W W) Vol1.15, 1916 P. 59.
  • <10> Monograph: Baring-Gould, S. & Fisher, J.. 1908. The Lives of the British Saints: The Saints of Wales, Cornwall and Irish Saints: Volume 2. P. 166.
  • <11> Monograph: Dobson, D.P.. 1931. The Archaeology of Somerset. P. 237.
  • <12> Index: 2/1/1986. Thirty-fifth List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, District of West Somerset (Somerset)/Exmoor National Park.
  • <13> Monograph: Layley, C.G.. 1985. St. Beuno's Culbone: The Smallest Complete Parish Church in England. Culbone Parochial Church Council. P. 6.
  • <14> Leaflet: St Beuno's Church, Culbone.
  • <15> Survey: EDJ. 1999. Culbone Church Window/ Ink Survey. 1:5. Pen and Ink.
  • <16> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
  • <17> Map: Ordnance Survey. 2020. MasterMap data. 1:2,500.
  • <18> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.



Grid reference Centred SS 8421 4822 (13m by 12m) (MasterMap)
Map sheet SS84NW

Finds (1)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Related Articles (2)

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 1076/2/28
  • Church Heritage Record ID: 601460
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10661
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12039
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 NW2
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 35881
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33845
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 31152
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34885

Record last edited

Mar 10 2021 5:11PM


Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.