MSO9435 - St George's Church, Dunster (Building)
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Type and Period (1)
St. George's Church is originally 12th century in date. At this time it was probably cruciform with a central tower. Rebuilding took place in the 13th century but mainly in the 15th and 16th centuries.  The priory church is the eastern portion of St. Georges's Church which is the private property of G.F. Luttrell Esq., Dunster Castle and is now disused. [1,3 + 12] The whole of the church, including the east portion is in normal use. [2 +13] Predominantly 15th century with evidence of 12th and 13th Century work, restored 1875-7 by GE Street. Possesses a monastic choir dating from the 13th Century when Reginald de Mohun established a Benedictine Priory connected with Bath Abbey. Late 15th Century carved oak rood screen with 14 unequal openings and elaborately carved canopy. Monuments include: a stone female effigy with canopy (said to be one of the Everard family); the recumbent figures of Sir Hugh Luttrell and wife (15th century) an incised slab with figures of Lady Elizabeth Luttrell (also 15th century) and an altar tomb with two pairs of recumbent figures, also Luttrells.  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. Some Norman evidence remains e.g. a small part of the west portal, including one column (now housed in part of the W doorway, which is 19th Century and in a neo-Norman style) and parts of the crossing piers. Some other details are 13th Century but the rest of the church is mainly Perpendicular, mid 15th to mid 16th Century. A contract dated 1443 calls for the rebuilding of the crossing and the erection of the tower to occur within three years. The church was restored in 1875-7 by GE Street. The church's furnishings include a Perpendicular font and a screen, "a splendid specimen, worthy of the best in Devon. All across nave and aisles, by the fifth arch from the W. There is a rood-loft door by the crossing as well. The surviving screen was erected as the outcome of a quarrel between monastery and town in 1498." There are also various tombs relating to the Luttrell family, who came into possession of Dunster Castle in 1376 and a 1740 chandelier. The priory buildings were arranged to the north of the church.  Was the priory church. The graveyard has been in use since medieval times.  Photograph showing south-east view of church.  A white marble tablet on a grey marble backboard commemorates William Norman who died in 1940. The badge of the Royal Engineers is depicted in the top left corner. A plaque commemorates D'arcy Blofeld who died in 1915. Another plaque commemorates Alan Bryant who died in 1917. A plaque commemorates 11 members of the parish who were killed in World War One. The plaque has a nowy-head containing a laurel wreath. An oak framed hand calligraphied roll of honur records the names of 11 of the parish who died in World War Two. A white marble tablet in an alabaster frame commemorates Henry Strong who died in 1917. There is a badge of the Royal Artillery above the inscription.  [SS 99044366] St. George's Church (Vicarage) and (NAT) Priory Church (NR).  The Church is situated within Dunster Conservation Area. The character appraisal (2002) states of the church, "Cruciform in plan, the monastic choir dates from the 13th century, with other parts of the church also of 12th and 13th century date. The bulk of the church, including the tower is 15th century, including the wagon roof with 50 finely carved bosses of roses, quatrefoils and heads. The south aisle roof is lighter oak, flat and heavily panelled with about 100 small bosses. Other important features are the 15th century oak rood screen with 14 openings and a finely carved canopy, and there is an important group of sculptures of the 13th to 16th century of the de Mohuns and Luttrells. There was a major restoration of 1875-7 by G.E. Street."  Binding states that the Norman church was just over 80 feet long and nearly 25 feet wide, with a fairly flat wooden roof and a large round-headed arch at the east end leading to the chancel. She also states there may have been a low tower. 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. This resulted in the construction of the carved rood screen which crosses the whole breadth of the church two bays west of the tower, creating the parochial chancel, together with the reconstruction of the nave, the south aisle enlarged and the nave roof replaced by the present waggon roof. The north aisle was rebuilt soon after 1504 and the west window and font installed about 1530. 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. By 1643, the chancel was used by the family as a burial place. The church was completely restored in 1875 by GE Street, assisted by GH Samson, and this included the replacement of the large Perpendicular window at the east end by three 13th Century lancet windows constructed from remains found in the vicinity of the church by Mr Samson.  The building was visited in April 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. It received a BAR score of 6.  During a watching brief undertaken in December 2017, excavation was carried through the southern nave wall and here the opportunity was taken to examine the foundations of the medieval structure. The complete profile was not achieved at this point but it was clear that three separate phases of activity were present. It commenced with a broad structure consisting of angular Hangmans Grit rubble bonded by soft dark red-brown sandy mortar which extended at least 1.10 metres south of the existing superstructure. This was immediately overlain by a dump of large angular Hangmans Grit rubble in a matrix of fragmented dark red-brown mortar mixed with soil many of the components of which were found to tip to the north. On the surface of this layer was built the latest foundation consisting of only two courses of Hangmans Grit rubble bonded by hard pale pink lime mortar and this structure formed the footing for the existing superstructure of the nave. It was discussed that evidence for two phases of structure were noted, indicating that the nave wall must have been completely rebuilt rather than simply modernised in the 15th Century. The foundation of this rebuild is rather precariously laid on a loose dump of demolition debris, presumably surplus to requirements following the robbing of the earlier structure of which intact courses of the much wider foundation survives . It remains unclear as to whether this lowest structure represents a component of the Norman church or an earlier structure predating the grant of the site to Bath Abbey. Indeed, the unconventional layout of the abbey buildings may be partly explained by the restrictions imposed by a desire to retain an existing consecrated building, albeit at an inconvenient location within the granted lands.  The church is depicted on 2018 MasterMap data and labelled "St George's Church and remains of Benedictine Priory". 
- <1> SMO5332 Serial: Royal Archaeological Institute. 1844 onwards. The Archaeological Journal. FC Ecles, Volume 107 (1950), p117.
- <2> SSO1752 Map: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1965. SS94SE. 11.
- <3> SSO1234 Monograph: Hancock, F. 1905. Dunster Church and Priory. P. 126-7.
- <4> SMO5109 Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . DOE (HHR) West Somerset District (Dunster Ph) Somerset 04/08/1983 10 11 12.
- <5> SSO727 Monograph: Allen, N.V.. 1974. Churches and Chapels of Exmoor. Exmoor Press. P. 51-54.
- <6> SMO5711 Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1958. The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Penguin Books. P. 154-6.
- <7> SSO783 Unassigned: Aston, M. 29.11.78. Somerset County Council.
- <8> SSO734 Article in serial: Anon. The Builder. P. 169 and plates.
- <9> SSO693 Website: Imperial War Museum. United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials. UKNIWM references 24549-54.
- <10> SSO2119 Unassigned: Wyvern Architects. 24/04/1994.
- <11> SMO5112 Map: Ordnance Survey. Various. Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date) . OS 25" 1929.
- <12> SEM7708 Unassigned: Hancock, F.. 1902. REV Object Name Book.
- <13> SMO7319 Unpublished document: PITCHER, GHP. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 26 May 1965.
- <14> SEM7709 Unassigned: Ecles, F. C.. 1940. The Church of St. George.
- <15> SEM7711 Article in serial: Freeman, E. A.. 1855. Dunster Priory Church. Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society. 6. P. 1-16.
- <16> SEM7710 Article in serial: Batten, J.. 1890. Barony of Beauchamp of Somerset. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 36. P. 39-42.
- <17> SSO1233 Article in serial: Hancock, F. 1906. Dunster Church. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 52. P. 56-63.
- <18> SEM7713 Article in serial: Lyte, H. M.. 1927. Unknown. Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries. 19. P. 17.
- <19> SEM7712 Article in serial: Freeman, E. A.. 1880. Unknown. P.258.
- <20> SMO7160 Article in serial: 1928. Devonshire Association reports and transactions. 60. P. 36-40.
- <21> SEM7229 Monograph: Collinson, J.. 1791 (2006). The History and Antiquities of Somerset. Archive CD Books Ltd. P. 18-19.
- <22> SEM7910 Unpublished document: Fisher, J.. 2002. Dunster Conservation Area Character Appraisal. p19.
- <23> SEM7516 Monograph: Binding, H.. Discovering Dunster. The Exmoor Press. p38-53.
- <24> SEM8060 Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
- <25> SEM8365 Leaflet: Alderson, C.D.. 1971. The Church of Saint George, Dunster. N/A.
- <26> SEM8581 Report: Brigers, J.L.. 2018. The Parish Church of St George, Dunster, Somerset: A watching brief in the churchyard. 9, 17.
- <27>XY SEM8545 Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap. [Mapped feature: #44971 ]
|Grid reference||Centred SS 9903 4366 (53m by 27m)|
|Civil Parish||DUNSTER, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET|
Related Monuments/Buildings (2)
Related Events/Activities (3)
Related Articles (1)
External Links (8)
- http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=36948 (Pastscape entry: 36948)
- http://www.ukniwm.org.uk/server/show/conMemorial.24549 (UKNIWM entry: 24549 (HJP Strong, WW1))
- http://www.ukniwm.org.uk/server/show/conMemorial.24550 (UKNIWM entry: 24550 (WW1 memorial))
- http://www.ukniwm.org.uk/server/show/conMemorial.24551 (UKNIWM entry: 24551 (WW2 memorial))
- http://www.ukniwm.org.uk/server/show/conMemorial.24552 (UKNIWM entry: 24552 (DF Blofeld WW1))
- http://www.ukniwm.org.uk/server/show/conMemorial.24553 (UKNIWM entry: 24553 (A Bryant DSO WW1))
- http://www.ukniwm.org.uk/server/show/conMemorial.24554 (UKNIWM entry: 24554 (WJ Norman MC WW1))
- https://facultyonline.churchofengland.org/CHR/ChurchDetails.aspx?id=544 (CHER ID: 601463)
- 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 26/4/28
- Church Heritage Record ID: 601463
- Exmoor National Park Authority HER number: MEM24465
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11232
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12069
- National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE84
- National Park: Exmoor National Park
- Pastscape / NRHE HOB UID: 36948
- Somerset SMR PRN: 33569
- Somerset SMR PRN: 34928
Record last edited
Apr 6 2021 1:45PM
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