St Martin's Church

North Perrott, Somerset

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The History of St Martin's Church

The thickness of the walls of the crossing suggests that this part of the church is of the Norman period. The arches are decorated with narrow trefoiled panels, and the caps of the piers are delicately carved with foliage, and in one case, a grotesque face believed by some to be so positioned as to keep an eye on the behaviour of the choirboys.

 

The north and south transepts each have memorial stained glass windows installed in 1896.

 

In the north transept are marble, stone and brass tablets in memory of various members of the Hoskyns family, Lords of the Manor since 1790, many of whom are buried in the churchyard.  A new organ was installed in the south transept in 1992; a piscina is located in the wall below the window here.  Each transept has a hagioscope or ‘squint’ to enable members of the congregation to see the priest at the altar.

 

 

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The manor of North Perrott is recorded in the Domesday Book as ‘Peret’, and the site of St Martin’s Church has been a place of worship since Norman times. The church, which is a Grade I listed building, was rebuilt in the sixteenth century by the then  Lord of the Manor, Henry Daubeney, Earl of Bridgwater, incorporating in its cruciform plan features from the earlier Norman church. It is strikingly similar to St Mary’s Church, South Perrott, two miles away, which was also built by him; both have porches at the west end rather than the more usual south side of the church. It seems likely that the same band of master stonemasons was responsible for both churches. To the south of the porch is a doorway, now filled in, which once led to a western gallery which is no longer there.

 

The nave has beams resting on a series of well-carved corbel heads, which may represent some of the craftsmen engaged in the building of the church. In the south-west corner of the nave is the hexagonal font of ham stone. The pews, choir stalls and pulpit are believed to be Victorian, and the kneelers depicting various aspects of life in the village were worked in needlepoint by villagers between 1986 and 1995; their names are recorded in a framed notice on the wall behind the font.  

Font

Choir Stalls

Pulpit

The chancel has a wagon type roof divided into squares by plaster ribs painted to represent wood. The stained glass window nearest the altar is a memorial to Admiral Sir Anthony Hoskyns and his wife Dorothea. The reredos is a painted marble relief after the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci by Richard Westmacott the younger. The two carved panels on the west-facing wall of the nave represent the Annunciation and the three Marys at the tomb of Christ.

 

The roofs of the porch and the chancel are covered in ham stone tiles; those of the nave and chancel were covered in lead until recently. The church has a fine acoustic, and a number of concerts are held here each year to raise money for repairs and improvements to it; the current project is to raise money to replace the lead roof.

 

The tower, which is not open to the public, is of twelfth century origin and contains a notable peal of six bells, and rises in two stages above the level of the roof. In each face of the upper stage, the bell chamber, are sound openings in the form of two-light windows filled with traceried louvres of Ham stone.  On the wall of the bell-ringing chamber are old articles of bell ringing, discovered in 1791.

 

The churchyard, which contains six listed chest tombs, has fine views south over the Parrett valley and into Dorset; villagers have been buried here since time immemorial and continue to be so.

Piscina

Organ

Several alterations have been made to the church:

The church plate (which is not kept at the Church), is an interesting and curious collection.  It consists of:

There are 6 listed Chest Tombs

-  At some time in the Victorian period a reredos was constructed above the altar, to include the relief of the Last

   Supper by Westmacott and the two panels depicting the Annunciation and the three Marys at the sepulchre.      

 

-  In 1910 a western gallery was removed from the church, and other refurbishments were carried out.

 

-  In the 1960s the reredos was removed, as it blocked the lower part of the East window, and the Westmacott

   sculpture was set into the wall above the altar. The two small carved panels were then placed in the nave.

 

-  In 1992 a new organ was bought and placed in the south transept.

 

-  In 2009 the church bells were taken down and restored, and the bell frame was repaired and the bells rehung.

-  An Elizabethan cup and cover of an earlier date than is usual in the diocese, dated 1511.

 

-  A small paten of peculiar design, an octagonal piece of thin silver with a circle cut out in the middle and a shallow  

   dish fitted in the opening, inscribed John Myntern and William Bragge, Wardens 1694.

 

-  A plain cup in parcel gilt, inscribed North Perrott 1819, dated 1817.

 

-  A pair of salvers with gadroomed edges on three feet, dated 1752, and inscribed as per the cup.

 

-  A flagon of tankard type, dated 1768 and inscribed 'Given to the Parish of North Perrott by William Hoskins,

   Churchwarden 1845.

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