MSO8544 - St Mary Magdalene's Church, Winsford (Building)


The church is also known as St Peter's. It contains a Norman font but most of the fabric dates from the 14th and 15th Centuries and was restored in 1890-1891. A 1609 panel with the Royal Coat of Arms of James I is said to be one of four extant.

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[SS 9047 3498] St Mary Magdalene's Church (NR) [1] The church of St Peter (the dedication of which is sometimes given as St Mary Magdalene, but the evidence of wills proves it to be St. Peter) consists of chancel, wide and lofty nave with narrow aisles, south porch and west tower. The Norman font-basin indicates a church here at least as early as the 12th Century. The fabric consists of 13th - 16th Century work with restorations in 1890-1. [2] The Vicar confirmed that the church is known as St Mary Magdalene's. It is in normal use. [3] 16/1 Church of St Mary Magdalene (or, as sometimes given, St Peter the Apostle). Listed Grade B. Mainly C.14/C.15. Perpendicular but retains C.13 single lancet each side of chancel S. doorway. Consists of wide and lofty nave with narrow aisles, chancel S. porch, W. tower. Nave and aisles under oneroof externally but with separate wagon roofs internally. Three-stageembattled tower, octagonal stair turret, setback angle buttresses, single Perpendicular bell-camber windows. Norman font bowl, Jacobean pulpit and alter rails, painted Royal Arms of James I dated 1609. Church restored by J. D. Sedding in 1890-91. [4] The graveyard has been in use at least since medieval times. [5] Additional references. [6, 7] SS93SW WINSFORD CP THE STEEP (West side) WINSFORD VILLAGE 19/148 6.4.59 Church of St Mary Magdalene I Parish church. Some Norman work, C13 chancel, Perpendicular nave,aisles added and tower c1450, restored 1850, restored 1858 when west end gallery removed and 1813 screen destroyed, restored 1890-1, church reseated and nave and aisles roofs renewed by J D Sedding. Roughcast nave, tower coursed lias rubble, slate roofs, nave and aisles beneath one roof, coped verges. West tower, 4-bay nave and north and south aisles, south aisles, south porch. Crenellated 3-stage tower, set back buttresses, string courses, crenellated northeast stair turret, 2-light louvred bell openings, 2 x 4 light west window, moulded surround to C19 west door; 2 and 3-light right of single storey gabled porch, unbuttressed, moulded arched opening, round arched inner doorway (possibly reset Norman work), Perpendicular statue niche above, open wagon roof with bosses, C13 iron work to early medieval door; 3-light east window to aisle, two 2-light trefoilheaded mullioned windows forming clearstorey in chancel arch wall, lancet and 2-light window flanking priest's door, 2 x 3 light east window, 3-light cinquefoil headed mullioned window and lancet, rood stair projection in angle with north aisle, 3-light east window, one 3-light and two 2-light windows with grotesque terminals to hoodmoulds, stepped buttress to right of blocked, moulded 4-centred arch doorway, west end 2-light window and external chimney stack. Interior: rendered. Four bay standard Perpendicular arcade, moulded tower arch with partially dressed corbels. Renewed open wagon roofs,chancel roof restored with original bosses and wallplate. Doorway torood stair with loft opening above in north east corner of chancel arch wall. Norman font with arcade of twisted columns and frieze of saltire crosses above. Jacobean pulpit. Pointed panel of the Royal Coat of Arms of James I dated 1609, said to be one of only 4 extant. C 18 turned baluster altar rails. Piece of C14 stained glass depicting the Virgin in East window. Chest tomb without effigy let into north wall of chancel. Some C18 slate wall tablets. It is very rare in the West Country to find the nave wall lit this way at the chancel end. Formerly known as the Church of St Peter the Apostle. (Photograph in NMR). [8] There are several war memorials within the church. A plaque commemorates Owen Vincent who was killed in 1915 during an air fight in France in World War One. Below the inscription are depicted the badges of the Royal Flying Corps, Queens Regiment and Pilot's Wings. A large plaque commemorates 11 men from Winsford who died in World War One. The plaque was made by the Birmingham Guild. A smaller plaque beneath also commemorates 3 members of the parish who died in World War Two. [9] A watching brief was undertaken in the churchyard in July and August 2012 during the excavation of a drainage trench to the north, west and south of the church. This suggested the church is built on terracing cut into the bedrock of the slope, probably later extended to the north. Backfilling of the eastern portion of the terrace, thought to date from the initial construction phase of the site, contained building materials and a 12th or 13th Century tile fragment. A possible early boundary feature was noted, containing a quantity of rounded quartz. [10] The building was visited in March 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. It received a BAR score of 6. [11] The substantial Parish Church with its tall late 15th Century tower indicates that Winsford has been an important community since at least medieval times. The Parish Church font has some fine Norman carving, the chancel is 13th century and there is a remnant of 14th Century stained glass in the east window. The tower is built of coursed lias rubble, more usually found further east in Somerset. The Parish Church, recorded in the listing details as formerly dedicated to St. Peter the Apostle, has been dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene since the late 19th Century. There is some Norman work, for example the carved font. The chancel is 13th Century, as is a rare survival of iron work to the early medieval door. The nave aisles and tower are in typical Perpendicular style of c. 1450. The crenellated three-stage tower with set back buttresses and crenellated northeast stair turret is unusually tall by Exmoor standards, and the listing details state “it is very rare in the west Country to find the nave wall the chancel end.” Other distinctive features are the Jacobean pulpit, a piece of 14th Century stained glass in the East window, and open wagon roofs, restored in the 19th Century, but with original bosses and wall plate. The listing details also note that a “painted panel of the Royal Coat of Arms of James I dated 1609, (is) said to be one of only 4 extant.” [12] Norman parts of the church include the font and possibly the rounded arch stone doorway. Above the latter is an interesting niche with floral carvings and a possible broken wheel, suggesting it contained a statue of St Catherine. The door has ironwork older than its timber and is said to have come from Barlynch Priory, possibly having a 13th Century date. The chancel is also 13th Century and the east window contains possibly 14th Century stained glass depicting the Madonna and Child. Much of the fabric of the nave, aisles and tower is Perpendicular in date, including the Chancel arch, which has two pairs of windows above it unique in West Somerset (though common in the Cotswolds). Two doorways provide confirmation of the presence of a rood screen. The nave and aisles, although ceiled separately, share a single large roof. The tower is built in three stages and stands 90 feet high. A large painted panel of the Royal Coat of Arms dating to 1609 (James I) is on the wall of the north aisle. The pulpit and communion rails are also Jacobean. The four heaviest bells in the tower date to 1765 and were cast in Cullompton, with two others added in 1842 and 1897. The organ was installed in 1861, placed by Sir Thomas Acland and the Reverend WP Anderson. It had been donated by the Reverend Mr Twopeny, Vicar of Stocksbury in Kent and made by Joseph Walker in 1847. The church was restored by JD Sedding in 1890-1, when the box pews (of no great age) were removed and the current seating installed, the roof renewed and the floor relaid. The bells were recast and rehung in 1765 and a new bell added in 1842. To mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897 and other new bell was added with the inscription "Pro DEO et Regina"( "For God and the Queen"). [13] An historic photograph of the church and churchyard is held by the Winsford Archive. [14] The Priory at Barlynch was given a ferling of land in North Wynesforde manor by William de Regny and before 1268, the Prior and Canons of Barlynch purchased a rent of 100 shillings a year and half a virgate of land in Winsford, together with the advowson of the church. A dispute arose of ownership of land and the church at Winsford between Barlynch and Wells, which was settled when Hugo de Romenall supplied Barlynch's Prior the means to compensate the authorities at Wells for the loss of the church, and all rights were transferred to the Priory. The Prior of Barlynch in 1483 was John Chester, and he became Vicar of Winsford Church in 1483 concurrently. The church was dedicated to St Peter until the Reformation, when it changed to St Mary Magdalene. The church may have been rebuilt around the mid 15th Century, when the vicarage was endowed with the glebe lands by the Priory. The building underwent continuous repairs during the 18th and early 19th Centuries, including the roof being ceiled and plastered in 1804-6, and a new screen erected in 1813. The latter was removed in 1858, when the south porch was rebuilt. The church was restored in 1890-1 by Mr Sedding and a local contractor at a cost of £1200. [16]

Sources/Archives (16)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <2> Monograph: Eeles F.C.. 1928. Somerset Churches Near Dulverton. p23-27.
  • <3> Unpublished document: PITCHER, GHP. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 11 August 1963.
  • <4> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . DOE (HHR) Dulverton RD Somer (September 1955) 22.
  • <5> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. M Aston, 13 December 1976.
  • <6> Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1958. The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Penguin Books. p348-9.
  • <7> Monograph: Allen, N.V.. 1974. Churches and Chapels of Exmoor. Exmoor Press. 88.
  • <8> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . HHR: West Somer Dist (Exford et al) (2 January 1986) 79.
  • <9> Website: Imperial War Museum. United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials. References: 24746 (WW1), 24747 (WW2), 24748 (Le Bas).
  • <10> Unpublished document: Brigers, J.L.. 2012. Report on the results of an archaeological watching brief in the churchyard adjacent to the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Winsford.
  • <11> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
  • <12> Report: Fisher, J.. 2005. Winsford: Village Character Appraisal. 4,6,7,8,11,12, 13,17.
  • <13> Leaflet: Various. 2004. A Winsford Anthology. 5-9, 53.
  • <14> Archive: Winsford History Society. Various. Winsford Archive.
  • <15> Leaflet: Fox, P.D.. Unknown. Winsford Parish Church Guide. N/A.
  • <16> Article in serial: Dicker, W.. 1900. Notes on the History of Winsford. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 46. pp 188-195.



Grid reference Centred SS 9045 3497 (104m by 54m)
Map sheet SS93SW

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Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 1076/19/148
  • Church Heritage Record ID: 601485
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10780
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11652
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 93 SW1
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 36697
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34210
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 31280

Record last edited

Dec 15 2020 4:17PM


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