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.
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By the later 12th century Otterhampton had its own rector, (fn. 1) but the parish did not have full parochial status: the vicar of Stockland in 1377 successfully claimed to bury the dead of Otterhampton unless they had chosen to be buried elsewhere. (fn. 2) Otterhampton probably established its independence soon afterwards. Following the building of St. Peter's at Combwich c. 1868, those detached parts of Cannington parish in and around Combwich village were transferred to Otterhampton for ecclesiastical purposes only, and the new church became a chapel of ease to Otterhampton. (fn. 3) The rectory of Otterhampton with Combwich was united with Stockland in 1971 and from 1984 formed part of the united benefice of Cannington, Otterhampton, Combwich, and Stockland. (fn. 4) Otterhampton church was closed for regular services in 1985 and was declared redundant. (fn. 5)
The lords of Otterhampton and Otterhampton Rumsey manors presented to the rectory alternately. (fn. 6) By the late 15th century the lords of Otterhampton Rumsey manor had lost their right although they continued to claim the advowson until 1548 or later. (fn. 7) The advowson descended with the main manor until John Evered (d. 1848) left it to his son the Revd. Charles Evered (d. 1867) whose widow Emma sold it to her brother-in-law Robert Guy Evered (d. 1887). Robert's second son John in 1892 sold it to his elder brother Andrew (d. 1925) who left it in trust for his wife Louisa (d. 1928) and his daughter Edith (d. 1945), wife of the Revd. Frederick Rostron. The personal representatives of the trustees retained the right of patronage until the church was declared redundant. (fn. 8)
The church was valued at £5 in 1291 (fn. 9) and in 1535 at £13 18s. 6d. gross. (fn. 10) The rectory was said to be worth £70 6s. a year in 1634 (fn. 11) but only c. £60 in 1668. (fn. 12) In 1802 the living was valued at £175 a year, (fn. 13) rising to an average of £260 gross in 1829-31, (fn. 14) and to £300 in 1868. (fn. 15) In the later 12th century some tithes in the parish were found to belong to Nether Stowey, whose rector granted them to the chaplain of Otterhampton for life at rents of 2s. 6d. and a wax candle. (fn. 16) In 1839 the tithes were commuted for an annual rent charge of £239 14s. (fn. 17)
The glebe lands, valued at £1 2s. in 1535, (fn. 18) comprised in the early 17th century 22 a. of land, mainly arable. (fn. 19) The glebe measured 19½ a. in 1839. (fn. 20) By 1924 some glebe had been sold but 7½ a. remained in 1978. (fn. 21) In the early 17th century the parsonage house appears to have had a detached kitchen, barn, pigeon house, and stables. (fn. 22) It was burnt down c. 1623 and rebuilding remained unfinished in 1630; (fn. 23) it had probably been completed by 1634. (fn. 24) The rectory house, having been in decay for many years, was replaced in 1802 by a large L-shaped house with a symmetrical three-bayed front, paid for by the rector, John Jeffrey D.D. (fn. 25) By 1839 the house had been considerably extended. (fn. 26) The Old Rectory preserves its 1802 frontage with a central door under a triangular pediment. Following the union with Stockland the rector moved to Combwich and the rectory house was sold. (fn. 27)
Hugh Willings, rector, was in dispute with the vicar of Stockland in 1377 (fn. 28) and was accused of involvement in the concealment of customs in 1386. (fn. 29) William Warre was instituted to the living in 1519 as an acolyte, and in the same year was licensed to hold another benefice. (fn. 30) In the 1530s there was a fraternity of St. Peter and St. Paul in Otterhampton. (fn. 31) In 1554 the rector was reported for keeping his horses in the churchyard and for not preaching sermons. (fn. 32) Robert Reason, rector from 1618 and also vicar of Cannington, was chaplain to the earl of Rutland in 1629. His curate was accused of neglecting his duties and another man sometimes took services. (fn. 33) At least one 18th-century rector was a pluralist, the registers were not kept for 20 years before 1771, (fn. 34) and John Trevor, rector 1771-94, was thought to be abroad in 1785. (fn. 35) His successor Dr. John Jeffrey, rector 1794-1861, was said to be very rich. (fn. 36) He was resident, but also served Stockland and in 1815 only a morning service was held at Otterhampton. (fn. 37) In 1827 there were two Sunday services, but by 1840 only one. Communion was then celebrated at least three times a year; (fn. 38) by 1870 there were two Sunday services and communion 14 times a year. (fn. 39) Charles Anderson, rector 1872-98, was the first chairman of Bridgwater rural district council. (fn. 40) After the opening of Combwich church attendances at Otterhampton were reduced and in 1898 there were c. 10 communicants. (fn. 41) Only morning services were held there in the 1930s and communion was celebrated monthly. (fn. 42) Two Sunday services were occasionally held later but there were usually fewer than 10 communicants. (fn. 43)
A church house was recorded in 1755 and 1766 when it was held with the capital messuage, later Otterhampton Farm. (fn. 44) It was probably the house which the vestry agreed to demolish in 1841 but which still stood in front of the church in 1845. (fn. 45)
The church of St. Peter or St. Peter and St. Paul, so dedicated in the 1530s, (fn. 46) but later renamed ALL SAINTS, is built of rubble and comprises a chancel with north vestry, a nave with south porch, and a west tower. The nave is probably of 12th-century origin although no original features survive except perhaps the rear arch of the south doorway. The south doorway is 14th-century and the tower is early 15th-century. The chancel roof was in need of repair in 1629 and in 1630 was reported to be in such a bad state that it endangered those receiving communion. (fn. 47) In 1804 the roofs and north wall of the church were taken down and rebuilt and the tower was repaired. There was a singing gallery in 1816 and new seating was provided in 1827. (fn. 48) In 1840 the church was undergoing repair and the chancel was rebuilt using some of the older materials including the 15th-century east window. (fn. 49) By 1881 the church was said to be in a very bad state largely through damage from damp, the floor being below the level of the churchyard. (fn. 50) In 1894 a major restoration included the insertion of new windows in the north wall to match those in the south, new glass, pulpit, and seats, the raising of the chancel floor, and repairs to the screen. (fn. 51) The church contains a 12th-century font with an early 17th-century cover, 14th-century niches either side of the chancel arch, a much repaired late-medieval west door with fragments of tracery, a 16th-century screen, (fn. 52) 17th-century communion rails, and the arms of George VI.
There are four bells including one from the medieval Bristol foundry and two, dated 1617 and 1647, by members of the Purdue family. They were rehung in the 1920s. (fn. 53) The cup and cover date probably from the late 17th century. (fn. 54) The registers begin in 1656 but there are gaps, notably 1751-71. (fn. 55)
The chapel of ST. PETER at Combwich, from 1988 the parish church, (fn. 56) was built between 1868 and 1870 to a design by C. Knowles for Susan Jeffrey, widow of Dr. John Jeffrey, rector of Otterhampton. She also provided an endowment to pay a curate's stipend. (fn. 57) Services were held weekly and communion was celebrated monthly in 1898-9. During the 20th century there were weekly communions but usually fewer than 10 communicants. (fn. 58) The church comprises a chancel with polygonal apse and south vestry, a nave with north and south transepts, and a twostoreyed south porch surmounted by an octagonal belfry with spire. The interior includes later 19th-century stained glass and furnishings. There is a peal of five bells. The marriage registers date from 1944. (fn. 59)