A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1992.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The plan and part of the fabric of the church are of the later 11th century. A priest held land as part of Pignes manor in 1086. (fn. 1) By 1291 the benefice was called the church of Chilton and Idstock; (fn. 2) c. 1327 Chilton had dependent chapels at Idstock and Huntstile. (fn. 3) Chilton remained a sole rectory until 1749 when it was united with Bridgwater. (fn. 4) From 1976 it was also held with Durleigh, (fn. 5) and the united benefice of Bridgwater and Chilton Trinity and Durleigh was created in 1984. (fn. 6)
Sir William of Wigborough was patron in 1309. (fn. 7) About 1327 Richard of Wigborough gave the church with its dependent chapels to St. John's hospital, Bridgwater, (fn. 8) and in 1336 the hospital was licensed to appropriate. (fn. 9) No appropriation took place and the hospital continued to present rectors until the Dissolution in 1539, with the exception of two presentations in 1501 made by the prior of Witham and others under a grant of 1492. (fn. 10) The Crown has been patron since the Dissolution. (fn. 11)
Chilton and Idstock were valued at £5 6s. 8d. in 1291 (fn. 12) and the gross income of Chilton was £8 os. 2½d. in 1535. (fn. 13) It was said to be worth £60 in 1668, (fn. 14) and £42 15s. in 1748. (fn. 15) Tithes were worth £5 8s. 6½d. in 1535 (fn. 16) and in 1634 were claimed in Chilton, Huntstile, and Idstock, from the demesnes of Beere, and from the area called Horsey Limit, while a customary payment was made from land called Horsey Slime. (fn. 17) The rector was awarded £195 6s. as a rent charge in lieu of tithe in Chilton and Huntstile in 1839, and £17 7s. in Idstock and Beere in 1843. (fn. 18) Glebe in 1535 was valued at £3 11s. 8d. (fn. 19) In 1634 (fn. 20) there were over 5 a. in Chilton and c. 30 a. at Idstock, the Idstock land having been disputed with the owner of Idstock chapel in 1559, c. 1594, and c. 1600 when the rector accepted an annual rent of £15. (fn. 21) The rent was still paid c. 1715. (fn. 22) In 1839 there were nearly 6 a. of glebe in Chilton and the same amount remained in 1978. (fn. 23)
A chamber on the north side of the rectory house, with use of the hall, kitchen, and garden, was assigned to the retiring rector in 1420. (fn. 24) In 1634 the kitchen was separate from the house. (fn. 25) The walls of the house, of 'mud supported by props' under a thatched roof, were allowed to fall into ruin c. 1756. (fn. 26) There was no trace of a house by 1840. (fn. 27)
Richard St. Clare, rector from 1309 until 1327 or later, was given the living before taking holy orders. (fn. 28) Simon atte Thorne of Farway (Devon), appointed rector in 1341, was a lawyer. (fn. 29) The parish was served by a curate c. 1575. (fn. 30) Richard Jones, rector from 1610 until 1636 or later, (fn. 31) was several times presented for non-residence and in 1626 took his curate to court for extortion. In 1629 he was said to be chaplain to the bishop of Winchester. (fn. 32) In 1606 seven households were accused of attendance at church only three times a year, (fn. 33) and in 1623 the residents of Idstock and Beere were reported for not attending at all. (fn. 34) In 1749 only four families went to the Sunday afternoon services, formerly held monthly but by that time fortnightly, (fn. 35) and in 1788 there were insufficient communicants for a service to be held. (fn. 36) In 1815 one service a month was held in winter and two in summer, (fn. 37) but in 1827 there was an evening service each Sunday conducted by the curate. Services were held each Sunday in 1840 but communion was given at Bridgwater. By 1870 two Sunday services were normally held. (fn. 38)
The church of HOLY TRINITY, evidently so dedicated by 1329, (fn. 39) comprises chancel, nave, south porch, and west tower. The tall, roundheaded rear arch to the south doorway indicates a later 11th-century origin, confirmed by proportions of chancel and nave. The chancel was extended eastwards, the chancel arch evidently enlarged, and the windows replaced in the later 15th or the earlier 16th century, the windows having square heads with carved spandrels. The tower has a pierced parapet and decorated stair turret. The font is Perpendicular in style with a Jacobean lid, and part of a late-medieval screen survived in the 1840s. (fn. 40) The pulpit dates from the earlier 17th century. In the churchyard are the remains of a font.
Registers survive for the periods 1732-46 and 1845 to date, and there are transcripts for 1599- 1667. (fn. 41) Chilton entries are to be found in the registers of Bridgwater for the period 1746- 1845. (fn. 42) There are five bells including one by Thomas Jefferies of the earlier 16th century and one by Roger Semson, probably of the mid 16th century. (fn. 43) The plate includes a cup and cover made by J. Ions of Exeter and dated 1574. (fn. 44)
A church at Idstock was confirmed as one of the possessions of Stogursey priory in 1204, (fn. 45) but it was held with Chilton in 1291. (fn. 46) As a chapel of Chilton it was granted by Richard of Wigborough to St. John's hospital, Bridgwater, c. 1327. (fn. 47) In 1416 William Paulet founded a chantry in a newly built Lady Chapel on the north side of the chapel of ST. MARY, endowing it with over 100 a. in Stogursey, Cannington, and Idstock. (fn. 48) By 1535 the chantry and chapel had been united as a free chapel under one chaplain; the income was then £6 10s. 2d. for the maintenance of the chaplain and a boy. (fn. 49) In 1548, when the chapel passed to the Crown and its demolition was ordered, the value was £6 15s. 6d. (fn. 50)
The chapel was apparently still in use in 1563, (fn. 51) but its stone-vaulted roof, the timber from its tower and bell frame, and its quoins were removed, the vaulting later used at Goathurst as a brine tank. Stone was also used to build a chamber at Beere. (fn. 52) The ruins survived in the early 20th century, (fn. 53) but in 1987 the site was overgrown with trees.