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.
A church was recorded in 1266. (fn. 1) The benefice was a sole rectory until 1956 when it was united with Enmore. Since 1981 it has also been united with Spaxton and Charlinch. (fn. 2)
The advowson was held with Goathurst manor from 1321 or earlier. (fn. 3) Following the division of the manor in the early 17th century the advowson was held jointly, the husbands and sons of the co-heirs presenting together in 1660 and 1662. (fn. 4) From c. 1664 the holders of each quarter of the manor were entitled to present in turn. (fn. 5) The Tyntes acquired all four shares, that of Paulet Payne in 1678 by lease, that of the Braggs in 1730, and those of the Buncombes in 1753, both by purchase. In 1845 Charles Kemeys Kemeys-Tynte bought the reversionary interest of the Paynes to acquire the sole right of presentation. (fn. 6) The advowson descended with Halswell and remained vested in trustees for Hoare's Bank until 1981, when they apparently ceded their right on the creation of the united benefice, whose joint patrons in 1991 were the bishop, the Martyrs Memorial Trust, and the Church Trust Fund. (fn. 7)
The church was valued at £10 3s. 7d. gross in 1535 (fn. 8) and was said to be worth about £80 c. 1668. (fn. 9) In 1810 the rectory was valued at over £316 gross and average annual income 1829-31 was £412. (fn. 10) In the 18th century some tithes were paid in cash and in 1789 it was said that the previous rector had agreed on a composition in cash. After a dispute cash payments were resumed in the 1790s. (fn. 11) In 1846 moduses were payable for some small tithes until all the tithes were commuted for £235. (fn. 12)
The glebe lands were valued at £3 4s. in 1535. (fn. 13) In 1606 the glebe consisted of a house with a new barn, orchards, gardens, a hopyard, and 81 a., half together near the house and the rest scattered across the parish. (fn. 14) In 1755 and 1811 substantial exchanges were made with the Halswell estate and in 1846 there were 62½ a. of glebe mainly at Andersfield and north of the church. (fn. 15) It remained church land in 1978. (fn. 16)
In 1603 the rector was said to be building a new parsonage house but probably completed only a barn and outbuildings. The house in 1606 comprised a hall with open roof, parlour, buttery, and milkhouse, with study and chambers over them and a separate kitchen. (fn. 17) By 1612 the hall had been ceiled to provide another chamber. (fn. 18) Major work was carried out in the 1740s including new doors, windows, floors, and ceilings. (fn. 19) By 1809, however, the house was said to be both in ruins and dismantled. In 1811 it was exchanged for Goathurst manor house. (fn. 20) The former parsonage house was later divided into three cottages now known as nos. 1-3 Old Rectory. About 1957 a new house, east of the former manor house, was provided. It was sold after the benefice was united with Spaxton in 1981.
A chantry in the patronage of John Popham of Huntworth was recorded in 1352 (fn. 21) but no further reference to it has been found. There was also an anniversary, possibly founded by William Paulet of Beere, of which the endowment was sold to Nicholas Halswell in 1550 (fn. 22) but was later claimed to have been concealed. (fn. 23) A fraternity had been formed by 1530. (fn. 24) The churchwardens had an income from church ales, lands, and gifts. (fn. 25)
Richard Martin, rector 1603-13, a pluralist, was frequently accused of neglecting his duties. (fn. 26) John Bragg was resident rector from 1613 until his death in 1651; his successor Thomas Blanchflower was confirmed in the living in 1660. (fn. 27) In the time of James Minifie, who succeeded his father as rector in 1768, there were generally more than 40 communicants. (fn. 28) He was followed by Henry Parsons, 1789-1845, resident in the parish, curate of Durleigh, and later also rector of Wembdon, who held two Sunday services at Goathurst. (fn. 29) He was succeeded by his son Francis Crane Parsons, rector 1845-71. (fn. 30)
A church house was rented by the wardens from Goathurst manor before 1550. It may later have been used as a poorhouse. (fn. 31)
The church of ST. EDWARD, so dedicated by 1559, (fn. 32) is built of rubble with ashlar dressings and comprises a chancel with north aisle, a nave with south transept and porch, and a west tower. The proportions of the nave suggest a date earlier than the oldest feature, a 14th-century piscina in the chancel; the doorways and windows are all of the 15th and 16th centuries. The transept was probably added in the late 15th or early 16th century and the north aisle in 1559 when, following a dispute between the lords of Halswell and Goathurst manors, it was agreed that the south transept belonged to Goathurst and that Nicholas Halswell should build an aisle north of the chancel. (fn. 33) The aisle contains Halswell and Tynte family monuments from the 17th to the 19th century. In 1424 William Paulet of Beere bequeathed money for the tower, which dates from this period, and three bells. (fn. 34) The western doorway was put into the tower in the 16th century. The church was damaged in the great storm of 1703. There was a gallery by 1707. (fn. 35) In 1758 a pew was built for Sir Charles Kemeys-Tynte in the south transept following his purchase of half the manor and advowson of Goathurst. (fn. 36) The ceiling of the transept was decorated c. 1830 in Gothick style. In 1884 the church was restored by J. Houghton Spencer. The gallery and a wall between the Halswell aisle and the chancel were removed, and the chancel arch was renewed with Decorated mouldings. Carved bosses were fitted to the roof and the tower was given a parapet. (fn. 37)
The 15th-century font and rood stair survive. There is an early 17th-century pulpit with an early 18th-century tester. Painted panels under the tower may have come from the former gallery and there are also several hatchments for the Tyntes. There are monuments to members of the Halswell and Tynte families by J. M. Rysbrack, Joseph Nollekens, and Raffaele Monti.
Five of the bells were cast at Gloucester in 1705 or 1706, possibly after storm damage to the belfry. The sixth was recast in 1783. (fn. 38) The 18th-century church plate given by the Tyntes includes two communion cups of 1729 by James Wilkes. (fn. 39) The registers date from 1539 and are complete. (fn. 40)
A socket stone for a medieval cross survives in the churchyard. The site of a chapel was mentioned in 1494 and 1502 but has not been located. (fn. 41)