Stringston: Church

Pages 176-177

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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A rector of Stringston was recorded in the time of Richard I. (fn. 1) The living was a sole rectory until after 1334 (fn. 2) but by 1358 it had become a chapelry linked with the college or chantry at Kilve. (fn. 3) It remained dependent on Kilve after the college had ceased to function, (fn. 4) the living being known as the rectory of Kilve with Stringston. That rectory was held with East Quantoxhead from 1946 and in 1947 was united with Kilton and Lilstock. In 1978 it became part of the benefice of Quantoxhead. (fn. 5)

Before 1334 the advowson belonged to the lords of Stringston manor and in that year was exercised by the minister and fellows of Kilve. (fn. 6) Curates from the 16th century were probably appointed by the rectors of Kilve. No separate valuation of Stringston rectory or chapel has been found, and by the 17th century all tithes in Stringston were paid to the rector of Kilve. (fn. 7) The tithe rent charge awarded in 1839 was £188 10s. (fn. 8) The glebe lands of the chapelry in the 17th century amounted to 40 a. in Stringston and 2 a. in Kilton. (fn. 9) In 1839 there were just over 43 a. in Stringston, and 46 a. in 1948. (fn. 10) The curate c. 1532 was paid £5, in the 1570s £8 or £10, and in 1827 £50 and fees. (fn. 11) The rectory house was reported as in need of repair c. 1594 (fn. 12) and there were two houses on the glebe in the 17th century. (fn. 13) There was no house in 1839. (fn. 14)

The parish chaplain in 1468 was a regular canon or friar. (fn. 15) In 1547 there had been no sermons for three years. (fn. 16) Curates were apparently resident in the 16th and 17th centuries including Simon Batt, curate by 1598 and until his death in 1649. (fn. 17) The church house, let to the parishioners c. 1620, was in private occupation by 1667, and was still standing in 1731. (fn. 18) Curates served the parish in the 18th century but John Matthew, rector 1797-1837, served Stringston in person until 1827 and then employed his son as curate. (fn. 19) There were 13 communicants in the 1770s. (fn. 20) Services were held alternately at Stringston and Kilve in the earlier 19th century, but by 1840 they were held each Sunday at Stringston, either in the morning or the afternoon; sometimes there were no communicants. (fn. 21) In 1851 the usual attendance was 70 in the morning, including the Sunday school, and 50 in the afternoon. (fn. 22) The Sunday school continued until 1924; monthly celebrations of communion were established by 1910 when other services were held once each Sunday, usually in the afternoon. (fn. 23)

The small church, in 1851 and since c. 1980 named after ST. MARY THE VIRGIN but of unknown ancient dedication, (fn. 24) comprises a chancel with north vestry, a two-bayed nave with south transept and south porch, and a western tower with a broach spire. The tower, which contains an early medieval window on its south side, was rebuilt in 1765 in blue lias with Bath stone window surrounds and battlements. (fn. 25) Remains of a late medieval building survive in the chancel arch, part of the chancel wall plate, the outer arch of the porch, a carved head in the vestry, and the font. The transept, containing memorials of the St. Albyn family, was built or rebuilt in the 18th century, and the chancel was rebuilt and refenestrated between 1840 (fn. 26) and 1845. (fn. 27) There was extensive rebuilding in 1879 at the cost of the rector, Sir Alexander AclandHood, Mrs. Langley St. Albyn, and the parish, when the spire was added. (fn. 28) Further restoration was undertaken in 1912 by Sir Prior Goldney, Bt., descendant of the Prior family. (fn. 29)

The plain pew ends, one dated 1602, are carved with the initials of occupiers and the names of tenements. A gallery was mentioned in 1768. (fn. 30) The pulpit dates from the 18th century. The 15th-century churchyard cross, bearing the figures of the Crucifixion, was the object of veneration in the 1840s. (fn. 31)

The oldest of the three bells is probably by Henry Jefferies of Bristol and dates from the 15th century. (fn. 32) There is a cup and cover of 1574 made by 'I.P.' (fn. 33) The registers begin in 1557 and are complete. (fn. 34)


  • 1. S.R.S. lxi, p. 46.
  • 2. Ibid. ix, p. 165.
  • 3. P.R.O., C 260/70, no. 17; cf. V.C.H. Som. v. 101.
  • 4. S.R.S. lv, p. 162; S.R.O., D/D/Vc 20.
  • 5. V.C.H. Som. v. 101; S.R.O., D/P/stn 22/3/1.
  • 6. S.R.S. i. 101; ix, p. 165; xii. 133; Pole MS. 2537, 2836.
  • 7. S.R.O., D/D/Rg 283.
  • 8. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 9. Ibid. D/D/Rg 274 (Kilve), 283 (Stringston).
  • 10. Ibid. tithe award; ibid. D/P/kve 3/1/6.
  • 11. Ibid. D/D/Vc 20; D/D/Rb 1827; S.D.N.Q. xiii. 271.
  • 12. S.R.O., D/D/Ca 98.
  • 13. Ibid. D/D/Rg 283.
  • 14. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 15. S.R.S. lii, p. 27.
  • 16. S.R.O., D/D/Ca 17.
  • 17. Ibid. D/P/stn 2/1/1-2; D/D/Bs 39.
  • 18. Dors. R.O., D 1. MW/M4, f. 51; D 1. MW/M5; D 279/E4.
  • 19. S.R.O., D/P/stn 2/1/4, 2/1/6.
  • 20. Ibid. D/D/Vc 88.
  • 21. Ibid. D/D/Rb 1815, 1827; D/D/Va 1840.
  • 22. P.R.O., HO 129/313/4/7/9.
  • 23. S.R.O., D/P/stn 2/5/1.
  • 24. P.R.O., HO 129/313/4/7/9; Dioc. Dir.; embroidery in ch.
  • 25. S.R.O., D/P/stn 2/5/1.
  • 26. Taunton Castle, Pigott colln., wash drawing by J. Buckler (1840) showing Venetian window on S.
  • 27. Ibid. Pigott colln., wash drawing by J. Buckler (1840); ibid. Braikenridge colln., watercolour by W. W. Wheatley (1845); Local Hist. Libr. photograph by R. Gillo.
  • 28. W. Som. Free Press, 20 Sept. 1879.
  • 29. Inscr. in ch.; Kelly's Dir. Som. (1919); S.R.O., D/P/stn 4/1/2.
  • 30. S.R.O., D/P/stn 4/1/2.
  • 31. Som. Co. Herald, 15 Dec. 1928.
  • 32. S.R.O., DD/SAS CH 16/2.
  • 33. Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. xlvii. 170.
  • 34. S.R.O., D/P/stn 2/1/1-6.