Creech St. Michael: Church

Pages 27-28

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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The church of Creech formed part of the endowment of Montacute priory c. 1102. (fn. 1) The priory as patron of the rectory was licensed to appropriate the church by the king in 1336 and by the pope in 1344, but only when the church became vacant. A new rector was admitted in or shortly before 1354 on the presentation of the earl of Salisbury, evidently acting as the priory's patron in time of war with France, the priory being regarded as alien. The king also presented a rector in 1354, ten days before confirming the priory's appropriation of the church, but in 1359 he ratified the title of the earl's presentee. A vicarage was ordained in 1362. (fn. 2) The living remained a sole vicarage in 1984. (fn. 3)

The advowson of the vicarage belonged to Montacute priory until the Dissolution. The king presented a vicar in 1370, in time of war with France. (fn. 4) In 1546 Roger Bluet presented by grant of the former priory, (fn. 5) but from 1557 the advowson was held with the manor, (fn. 6) although it was let in 1632. (fn. 7) In 1666 the right of presentation was held by trustees, but afterwards descended with the rectory. (fn. 8) The bishop collated in 1738 (fn. 9) and thereafter the advowson was held by the incumbents or their appointees, possibly under a deed of Sir Francis Warre in 1710. (fn. 10) In 1928 the patronage was sold to Canford School Ltd., Wimborne (Dors.), which is closely linked with the Martyrs Memorial Trust. The trust held the advowson in 1984. (fn. 11)

In 1291 the church was valued at £19 13s. 4d. (fn. 12) and in 1362 it was claimed that the value was under £20. (fn. 13) The vicarage was worth £18 a year gross in 1535, (fn. 14) c. £100 c. 1668, (fn. 15) and £600 a year net at the end of the 18th century. (fn. 16) Average income fell to £500 in 1829-31. (fn. 17)

In 1362 the vicar was given tithes of hay, wool, milk, mills, and fisheries, other small tithes except those on the priory demesne, and one third of the corn tithe of the whole parish, but he had to bear all the burdens which previously fell on the rector including repair of the chancel. (fn. 18) In 1535 vicarial tithes amounted to £13, half of which came from personal tithes and oblations. (fn. 19) In 1596 the tithes were let. (fn. 20) In 1639 the vicar was entitled to tithe on pasture in North moor, which was commuted for 6s. in 1841. (fn. 21) From the 1780s to the 1830s vicars insisted on tithe in kind instead of moduses; the parishioners' legal actions to assert their rights to pay by modus were unsuccessful, but in the 1830s the vicar, Henry Cresswell, failed to insist on payment in kind, (fn. 22) and that may be why the living fell in value. In 1794 the vicar's tithes, including the value of apples paid in kind, were worth over £420. (fn. 23) In 1839 they were commuted for £380 a year, (fn. 24) after a lengthy dispute in which the vicar tried unsuccessfully to claim tithe from Court Barton and the overlands. (fn. 25)

In 1362 the glebe lands, except 7 a. of arable, were assigned to the vicarage, with grazing for 8 oxen on the manorial and common pastures. (fn. 26) The glebe was valued at £5 in 1535. (fn. 27) In 1571 there were 78 a., and 82½ a. in 1639. (fn. 28) In 1794 the vicar received £135 in rent from 72½ a. of glebe, (fn. 29) and 68½ a. were recorded in 1839. (fn. 30) The rectory house was assigned to the vicar in 1362. (fn. 31) In 1412 it had a hall and kitchen, with a new chamber by the hall door, which was given to a retired incumbent. (fn. 32) The vicarage house was described as fit in 1835 (fn. 33) but was demolished to make way for the railway c. 1841. (fn. 34) It was replaced by a cob and brick house closer to the church. That house was largely demolished and rebuilt, and extended in 1877. It was replaced by a new house in 1966. (fn. 35)

Gilbert of Shepton, rector 1327-53, was in the bishop's household in the 1330s. (fn. 36) Walter Gregory was vicar for 42 years and on his resignation in 1412 was given a pension and accommodation from the living. (fn. 37) George Sydenham, vicar from 1490 until his death in 1524, had several livings including the wardenship of de Vaux college, Salisbury, and was archdeacon of Salisbury. (fn. 38) David Marler, vicar 1565-1627, was regularly presented for preaching without a licence and for not catechizing. (fn. 39) Henry Masters was deprived in 1646 but was restored after the Restoration. (fn. 40) Edmund Archer, vicar 1702-4, was later archdeacon of Wells and was an antiquary. (fn. 41) Thomas Exon, vicar 1781-1806, was an absentee and was for some years a prisoner at Verdun. (fn. 42) Henry Cresswell, vicar 1813-51, was an eccentric who engaged in cudgel playing, wrote a play which was performed at Taunton, and was suspended for bankruptcy and violent behaviour in 1844. (fn. 43) During his incumbency services were held twice on Sundays and communion was celebrated three times a year. (fn. 44) In 1851 attendance on Census Sunday was 175 in the morning and 201 in the afternoon with 76 Sunday school children attending each service. (fn. 45) In the 1900s additional services were held at Adsborough reading room. (fn. 46)

In the 1530s there was a gilded high cross, (fn. 47) and before 1548 a lamp was maintained in the church. (fn. 48) In 1582 half the church house was let by Henry Shattock to Robert Cuffe with a proviso that the churchwardens might sell bread, beer, and victuals in the house and use it for the church ale. (fn. 49) It had become an inn, probably by 1620, and was later rebuilt. (fn. 50)

The church of ST. MICHAEL, so dedicated by 1742, but All Saints in 1532, (fn. 51) is built of rubble with ashlar dressings and has a chancel with north chapel and a nave with north tower and aisle and south porch. The nave and chancel were probably undivided in the early 13th century. The south doorway and the piscina survive from that period. The tower and a one-bay chapel on its east side were added later in the century. That chapel was extended eastward by one bay and a two-bay aisle was built to the west of the tower in the 15th century. It was probably at the same time that new windows were put into the older parts of the church and that the south chapel was added and the tower raised by one stage. The chancel arch is a 15th-century insertion and it is possible that the earlier division, which is not marked structurally, was one bay further west. The roofs of the nave and chancel are late medieval. Fifteenth-century fittings include the base of the rood screen, the font, and richly carved bench ends now in the chancel. A reading desk was formed from older fragments in 1634 and the south chapel has a 17th-century moulded plaster ceiling. There are traces of 17th-century wall paintings.

The tomb of Robert Cuffe (d. 1593) is in the north chapel, known as the Cuffe or Court Barton aisle and in private ownership until 1901 or later. (fn. 52) The south transept was known as the Cely or Charlton aisle and was originally separated from the church by a stone screen. (fn. 53) The east window was inserted in 1825 (fn. 54) and the gallery was probably refronted in 1868. (fn. 55) The arms of Charles I of 1636 and Queen Anne c. 1710 hang in the church. (fn. 56) There are six bells, the earliest dated 1590, 1609, and 1614. (fn. 57) The plate includes a chalice of 1573 inscribed 'I.P.' and two salvers dated 1762 and 1791. (fn. 58) The registers begin in 1668 but were very badly kept before the 19th century and there are several gaps. (fn. 59)


  • 1. S.R.S. viii, p. 119; Reg. Regum Anglo-Norm. ii, p. 50.
  • 2. S.R.S. viii, pp. 201-4; Cal. Papal Pets. i. 42; Cal. Pat. 1358-61, 193.
  • 3. Dioc. Dir.
  • 4. Cal. Pat. 1367-70, 399.
  • 5. S.R.S. lv, p. 115.
  • 6. Ibid. pp. 143-4; Som. Incumbents, ed. Weaver, 340; above, manors.
  • 7. S.R.O., DD/GC 6.
  • 8. Som. Incumbents, ed. Weaver, 340; above, manors.
  • 9. S.R.O., D/D/Vc 88.
  • 10. Ibid. D/P/crch 3/1/1, 3/2/1; DD/GC 15; Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, pp. 134-5.
  • 11. Inf. from Martyrs Memorial Trust.
  • 12. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 198.
  • 13. S.R.S. viii, pp. 202-3.
  • 14. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 171.
  • 15. S.R.O., D/D/Vc 24.
  • 16. Ibid. D/P/crch 3/2/1.
  • 17. Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, pp. 134-5.
  • 18. S.R.S. viii, p. 203.
  • 19. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 171.
  • 20. B.L. Eg. MS. 223, f. 16.
  • 21. S.R.O., D/D/Rg 377; ibid. tithe award, N. Petherton.
  • 22. Ibid. DD/DP 114/16/2-5; DD/GC 15.
  • 23. S.R.O., D/P/crch 3/2/1.
  • 24. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 25. Ibid. DD/DP 114/16/4.
  • 26. S.R.S. viii, p. 203.
  • 27. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 171.
  • 28. S.R.O., D/D/Rg 377.
  • 29. Ibid. D/P/crch 3/2/1.
  • 30. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 31. S.R.S. viii, p. 203.
  • 32. Ibid. xxix, p. 117.
  • 33. Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, pp. 134-5.
  • 34. S.R.O., Q/RDd 40.
  • 35. Ibid. D/P/crch 3/4/1; D/D/Bbm 236; local inf.
  • 36. S.R.S. ix, pp. 81, 233.
  • 37. Ibid. xxix, p. 117.
  • 38. Ibid. lii, p. 162; Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf.
  • 39. S.D.N.Q. xv. 162; Som. Incumbents, ed. Weaver, 340; S.R.O., D/D/Ca 160, 175, 180.
  • 40. Walker Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 316.
  • 41. S.D.N.Q. ii. 241-2; xvii. 280-1; H.M.C. Wells, i, p. xii.
  • 42. S.R.O., DD/DP 114/16/2.
  • 43. Ibid. DD/AH 60/11; Som. Co. Herald, 6 Apr. 1929.
  • 44. S.R.O., D/D/Rb 1827; D/D/Va 1840, 1843.
  • 45. P.R.O., HO 129/315/2/9/14.
  • 46. S.R.O., DD/CH 78/3.
  • 47. Wells Wills, ed. Weaver, 63-4.
  • 48. S.R.S. ii. 36.
  • 49. S.R.O., DD/GC 6.
  • 50. Above, intro.
  • 51. S.D.N.Q. iii. 10; above, plate facing p. 24.
  • 52. S.R.O., D/P/crch 3/2/2, 4/1/2; DD/SAS (C/2401) 55.
  • 53. Collinson, Hist. Som. i. 76; F. B. Bond and B. Camm, Roodscreens and Roodlofts, i. 160.
  • 54. S.R.O., D/P/crch 3/2/2.
  • 55. Ibid. D/D/Cf 1868/8.
  • 56. Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. lxxxiv, suppl. 26-7.
  • 57. S.R.O., DD/SAS CH 16/1.
  • 58. Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. xlvi. 164-5.
  • 59. S.R.O., D/P/crch 2/1/1-8.