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Parish Church of St Mary

A Grade I Listed Building in Bridgwater, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1279 / 51°7'40"N

Longitude: -3.0049 / 3°0'17"W

OS Eastings: 329772

OS Northings: 136988

OS Grid: ST297369

Mapcode National: GBR M5.98JM

Mapcode Global: VH7DH.VXR8

Plus Code: 9C3R4XHW+42

Entry Name: Parish Church of St Mary

Listing Date: 24 March 1950

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1197414

English Heritage Legacy ID: 373991

Location: Bridgwater, Sedgemoor, Somerset, TA6

County: Somerset

District: Sedgemoor

Civil Parish: Bridgwater

Built-Up Area: Bridgwater

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Tagged with: Church building

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736-1/11/184 (North side)
24/03/50 Parish Church of St Mary


Parish Church. Early C13, substantially rebuilt in C14 and
nave reconstructed c1420-30; restored 1848-57 and 1878,
principally in 1849 under W H Brakspear when nave and aisle
roofs replaced ; tower and spire repointed and restored and
buttresses added 1887-8. Chancel and tower of red Wembdon
sandstone rubble, blue lias limestone, Ham Hill stone with
double-Roman tile roof.
PLAN: complex cruciform plan: sanctuary of 2 and a half bays,
choir of 2 bays with north ans south chapels, aisled and
clerestoreyed nave of 5 bays with transepts linked to porches
and a low west tower topped with a tall spire. Pointed-arched
windows with stopped hoodmoulds. The 2-bay gabled chancel is
of red sandstone and some limestone, moulded coping and
kneelers; the transomed 5-light east window has panel tracery;
the returns, with parapets of pierced quatrefoils, have
3-light windows with perpendicular tracery.
To the north of the chancel is a red sandstone vestry dated
1902. The rest of the north walls are of lias limestone. The
gabled north transept, with parapet of pierced trefoils, is of
2 bays with C13 set-off clasping buttresses and two C13
blocked pointed-arched openings to bottom of east wall; the
large late C19 Decorated-style north window is of 5 lights
with tracery of 4 quatrefoils enclosed in circle to the top;
below are steps down to small door to crypt set in
single-chamfered pointed architrave; flanking it are 2
recesses, each with 7 cusps, over eroded horizontal figures,
possibly c1300 (Pevsner).
The north and south facades are complicated by transepts with
east chapels and by chancel chapels. The north wall has a
similar parapet to chancel slightly gabled over early C13 door
to right which if in situ shows that the church was aisled at
this time; this has traceried tympanum and bishop's head
capitals to the colonnettes; an oculus above with 6-point star
to tracery is flanked by niches with crocketed gables
supported by colonnettes. The 5-light window to left has
elaborate reticulated tracery.
The castellated chapel to north-west has 3-light windows with
perpendicular tracery. Angles to this and west tower have
substantial diagonal set-off buttresses.
The C14 tower by Nicholas Waleys (J Harvey and Pevsner) is of
red sandstone with string course below Ham Hill stone ashlar
castellated parapet; the 2 stages are marked by a simple
string course, the left return (north) has 2 small pointed
windows, the west end has label mould with foliate stops and
spandrels to a pointed-arched studded door with full-width
integral strap hinges. Above it a pointed arch of alternate
red and stone has a hoodmould with head stops to a 2-light
window with a trefoil head to each light and a quatrefoil
between. The bell-openings are 2-light with Somerset tracery.
A stone plaque reads "IMI R 1697".
To the south side a castellated square stair turret to the
right rises above parapet of the tower; it has 6 slit windows
with Ham Hill stone dressings and a downpipe hopper head dated
1887. The tall slender unadorned octagonal tower is of Ham
Hill stone ashlar.
The reticulated tracery of the window in the south aisle is
C19 (Pevsner). The west end of the south aisle has a parapet
of pierced trefoils, those to C19 clerestory of nave, south
transept and eastern end are pierced with quatrefoils. The
south-west chapel is 2-bay with 5-lights and reticulated
tracery to the windows. The bay containing the south door,
stepped slightly forward, has set-off angle buttresses below
an oculus with double-cusped tracery; to right is a 4-light
window with reticulated tracery.
The shallow-gabled south transept is a single bay with panel
tracery to all 3 windows, 5-light to the south and 4-light to
the returns. The south aisle and the chancel are each 2 bays
with similar 3-light windows, all below a pierced quatrefoil
The string course below the parapets has bosses at approx 1m
intervals and gargoyles above to buttresses. The building is
encircled by a plinth, double to south-west corner, with Ham
Hill stone capping.
INTERIOR: Fine C19 polychromatic tiled floor to porches,
aisles, choir and nave. The 3-bay chancel has C15 panelled
slightly pointed barrel-vaulted ceiling with moulded braces,
every fourth brace is richly pierced and cusped and rests on
an angel with outstretched wings, the faceted corbel of which
has a foliate pendant. Carved bosses to the panelling,
1385-1416 (VCH). 3-light windows to each side, a piscina with
C20 added wooden doors is flanked on left by remains of
original stalls now used as a sedilia and below central window
is a stilted Tudor arch with foliate stops to a pointed-arched
C17 communion table and moulded altar rail with barley-sugar
twist balusters, C19 marble steps to the choir which has the
town crest and medieval motifs incorporated in the floor
tiles. C13 massive polygonal arches to east of the crossing.
The 6-bay nave separated from aisles by an arcade supported by
columns of 4-hollow-section with small circular capitals to
the shafts. The roof is C19. The upper storeys of the porches
which do not project on the outside, form balconies facing the
interior. That to north has wide semicircular arches with a
central mullion flanked by cinquefoil-headed arches and a
pierced trefoil between, one facing the nave, 2 facing the
north transept. The balcony to south has one cusped ogee arch
facing the nave and one facing the south transept. Both
balconies have pierced stone balustrades.
The ceilings of the aisles are panelled, C17 to north aisle
and C19 to south. In aisle walls are tomb recesses, those to
north have cusped arches similar to those over south porch
which have large spherical bosses, those to south are C19.
Notable furnishings include C15 screens in north and south
chapels with one-light sections; in south transept a C17
former rood screen has dado with rusticated columns and 2
tiers of arches between, 16 one-light divisions with thin
ornamented columns and strapwork and obelisks on the top. C17
stalls, built for members of the Corporation, moved to present
position in early 1850s. C18 sounding board over early C16
octagonal oak pulpit with pointed and ogee-arched panels
articulated by panelled pilasters with crocketed finials, the
stone base is corbelled out to support it.
On east wall of chancel is a painting of "The Descent from the
Cross", attributed to Murillo and given to the church in C18
by Mr Pawlet of Hinton St George.
Monuments include a large marble monument to Francis Kingsmill
d.1621, he is represented semi-reclining on his elbow with his
2 sons in recesses kneeling behind him, both facing east,
d.1621 & 1640. Monument by Reeves of Bath, to John Dunning
d.1821. 1640 tomb to left to Sir Francis Kingsmill; 1769
window to right of chancel to Joseph --- and Bonjohn; 1880
window to left to Pawlet The family of Dampiet House (qv).
Above west door are richly carved and gilded arms dated 1712
with the motto SEMPER EADEM to the lower scroll. High in north
porch a fine marble plaque of an egg on a plinth is dated
(Buildings of England: Pevsner N: South and West Somerset:
London: 1958-: 94-6; Kelly's Directory: London: 1910-: 137-8;
VCH: Somerset: London: 1992-: 233-5).

Listing NGR: ST2977036996

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