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 fabric shows that the church existed in the 12th century. By 1245 the benefice was a rectory and it remained a sole rectory until 1957, when it was united with Spaxton. (fn. 1) The church closed in 1981, when the united benefice was further united with that of Enmore and Goathurst. (fn. 2)
The advowson evidently belonged to the lords of Currypool manor in the 13th and 14th centuries, being held or exercised by Joel Vautort in 1245, (fn. 3) Hugh Vautort in 1310, (fn. 4) Richard Champernowne in 1318, (fn. 5) the Crown in 1320, (fn. 6) and Simon of Bradney in 1324. (fn. 7) A dispute over the advowson was resolved by 1322 in favour of Robert Brent, and Robert Brent the younger presented in 1324. (fn. 8) Thereafter for more than a century the advowson descended with Currypool manor. On the partition of the estate between Richard Lyf's daughters Avice Malet and Joan Tilley, the advowson was to be shared, each presenting alternately. (fn. 9) Avice Malet presented in 1427 (fn. 10) and Thomas Blanchard, Joan's son by her first husband, at the next vacancy. Thomas Malet, Avice's grandson, presented in 1472, (fn. 11) on the death of Blanchard's presentee. About 1490 there was a dispute between John Blanchard, Thomas's son, and Thomas Tilley, probably son of Thomas's half brother Leonard Tilley, Thomas Tilley having appointed to the living. Tilley seems to have conceded to Blanchard in 1494 (fn. 12) although his presentee remained rector until 1526, when Hugh Malet appointed his successor. (fn. 13) The Tilleys, perhaps through failure of Blanchard's heirs, retained the right to alternate patronage. In 1562 George Speke presented after two rival presentations the previous year by George Tilley's guardian Humphrey Walrond and by Erasmus Pym, (fn. 14) and in 1581 John Malet presented by grant of a turn by George Tilley. (fn. 15) In 1604 Sir John Malet acquired the share of Tilley's two daughters, and the whole was acquired by 1634. (fn. 16) The advowson thereafter descended with Currypool manor until 1681 when Edward Clare and John Haviland presented. In 1689 the patrons were Henry Baynton and his wife Anne, (fn. 17) granddaughter and coheir of John Malet (d. 1656). (fn. 18) Henry had died by 1709 leaving a son John under age. (fn. 19) John (d. 1717) was succeeded by his nephew Edward Rolt who added the name Baynton. Edward, later Sir Edward Baynton Rolt, Bt., was succeeded in 1800 by his nephew Sir Andrew Baynton Rolt and on Andrew's death in 1816 by the latter's daughter Mary Barbara, wife of the rector John Starkey. (fn. 20) Starkey held the advowson in 1835 (fn. 21) but it was later acquired by Henry Labouchere and descended with the Quantock estate. (fn. 22) Since 1920 it has been vested in the Martyrs Memorial Trust, which exercises alternate patronage of the united benefice. (fn. 23)
The church was valued at £10 in 1291, (fn. 24) at £11 6s. 8d. gross in 1535, (fn. 25) and at £120 c. 1668. (fn. 26) In 1827 the benefice was said to be worth no more than £300 a year (fn. 27) but the average income in 1829-31 was £400. (fn. 28) The tithes were valued at £45 a year in 1626, (fn. 29) and were commuted in 1837 for a rent charge of £283 3s. 8d. (fn. 30) In 1626 the house and 86 a. of glebe were said to be worth £56 a year. (fn. 31) In 1837 the glebe measured 82 a. which remained church land in 1976. (fn. 32) The former Rectory, sold and divided since 1951 (fn. 33) and known as Charlinch House and Tudor House, dates probably from the later 14th or the earlier 15th century. Tudor House, the eastern part of the building, had a three-bayed open hall with an arch-braced cruck roof. Its east end was altered and a smoke bay was built in the earlier 16th century. The south front, with stone mullioned windows, was an addition of the later 17th century, when the house comprised a hall, parlour, and entry, all with chambers over, and study, closet, and larder. (fn. 34) The house was enlarged on the west in the later 18th or earlier 19th century, possibly c. 1807 when the rector was living at Padnoller. (fn. 35)
Two members of the Vautort family held the living between 1292 and 1318: Joel was a pluralist and William took at least four years' study leave before seeking ordination as a deacon. (fn. 36) Two other early 14th-century rectors had only minor orders. (fn. 37) There were two stipendiary priests before 1534 besides the rector and a curate, (fn. 38) and one of the stipendiaries became rector in 1534. (fn. 39) There was an All Souls light in the church in 1536. (fn. 40) John Moore held two other benefices in 1562 (fn. 41) and was non-resident in the 1570s, when he employed a curate. (fn. 42) His successor, John Parsons, was said to be the brother of Robert Parsons the Jesuit martyr (fn. 43) and was resident though a pluralist. (fn. 44) Francis Crosse was ejected in 1662. (fn. 45) John Baynton, rector 1769- 1806, was the son of the patron: he lived in the parish for a time but towards the end of his incumbency Charlinch was served by a resident curate. (fn. 46) There were 20 communicants in 1776. (fn. 47) Baynton's successor John Starkey, rector 1806- 34, was also patron but was often absent because of his poor health. The parish was served by a resident curate who held two Sunday services. (fn. 48) John's son Samuel, rector 1834-46, was at first non-resident, and his curate Henry Prince became notorious for his unorthodox teaching and behaviour and had his licence revoked in 1842. (fn. 49) In 1843 there were two Sunday services and communion was celebrated four times a year. (fn. 50) Samuel Starkey joined Prince's community at Spaxton in 1846. (fn. 51) During the early 20th century two services continued to be held but the number of Easter communicants declined from 51 in 1927 to 11 in 1941. (fn. 52) The last public service was held in the church in 1981 (fn. 53) and the building was then declared redundant. It was sold for conversion to a house. (fn. 54)
The former church of ST. MARY, so dedicated by 1533, (fn. 55) is of local rubble and at its closure comprised a chancel with north vestry and organ chamber, a nave with south aisle or transept and south porch, and a west tower. The unbuttressed tower, taken down and rebuilt in 1863, (fn. 56) may, like the nave and chancel, be of 12th-century origin. There were transepts to north and south, the former demolished, possibly in the 17th century, the latter perhaps rebuilt as an aisle in the 15th or early 16th century. The chancel was rebuilt in the 14th century. A gallery recorded in 1833 (fn. 57) may have been removed when the tower was rebuilt. (fn. 58) Restoration in 1886 included rebuilding the chancel arch and walls, adding an organ chamber and boiler room to the north, replacing flooring and seats, and rearranging fittings. The rood stair was uncovered and the porch was restored as a memorial to the 1887 jubilee. (fn. 59) Further restoration took place in 1955. (fn. 60)
Church fittings formerly included a 12th-century font and a cover made in 1622. (fn. 61) The altar railings were provided in 1634 following Archbishop Laud's visitation; (fn. 62) the communion table had been replaced in 1629. (fn. 63) The reredos was erected in 1893 in memory of Lady Taunton and contained a copy of a 15th-century Italian painting presented in 1887. (fn. 64) There are traces of 15th-century glass in the south aisle.
The church plate included a chalice of 1630 and a flagon of 1766, now at Spaxton church. (fn. 65) There were five bells; one dating from the late 14th century is now in a new church in Reykjavik, Iceland, and another was an early 16th-century Bristol bell. (fn. 66) In 1538 five bells were brought from Bridgwater to Charlinch. (fn. 67) One was recast at Charlinch by Robert Austen in 1627, (fn. 68) there was another bell by Thomas Bayley of 1743, and a fifth bell was added in 1919. (fn. 69) The bells were removed after 1981. The registers date from 1744 but there are large gaps in the marriages. (fn. 70)