Inside the Church
You enter the church by the south porch. The inner arch over the main door is Norman in design, dating from about 1150AD – the earliest stonework in the church. Over the outer arch to the south porch is an early English sundial (c1220). Above the porch is a small priest’s room, entered by a narrow stairway inside the church.
Over the nave there is a timber roof. The stone corbels show heads and head dresses of well-known people living 500 years ago. The king over the south door may be Henry VIII.
The font is octagonal, probably fifteenth century. It has a stone book rest, supported by a demi-figure of an angel, to hold the service book during baptisms.
The pulpit (1851) and lectern (1891) – both made from oak – are gifts from William Gibbs of Tyntesfield and former rector the Rev. Henry Vaughan respectively.
The chancel is entered by the fine screen of oak erected in 1893/94 during the restoration of this part of the church. An east window, altar and reredos were also created, with a new roof and choir stalls. The reredos is made of Bath stone and is unique among the churches of old Somerset in that it depicts the Transfiguration of Christ. Peter, James and John kneel at the feet of Christ, with the heads of Moses and Elijah on either side.
In the recess to the north of the altar is the Gorges Tomb with sculptured figures of Sir Edmund Gorges and his first wife Lady Anne Howard. She was the great aunt of two Queens of England – Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard – both wives of Henry VIII. The Gorges were for a long time Lords of the Manor at Birdcombe Court.
On the north wall is a large oval plaque to the memory of Rev. James Vaughan, rector for over half a century (1801-57) with plaques to his son and grandson. All three were consecutively rectors here in the nineteenth century, for a total of 120 years.
The Charlton Chapel (previously known as the
South Chapel) is entered past the two war memorials. The chapel has a
carved and gilded Reredos of the Annunciation designed by C. E. Kempe
Outside the Church
The West Tower, pinnacled with parapet, is 85 feet high, with a clock face dating from 1730.
The Belfry has eight bells, three of them dated 1705. The bells have recently been rehung on ball bearings.
There is a Sanctus bell on the roof of the church, situated at the junction of the nave and the chancel.
The Library (originally the village school) stands north of the tower. It was built in 1809 by Richard Vaughan of Wraxall Lodge for the education of the children of the parish. A few years later, a cottage for the schoolmaster was built, now called Church Lodge.
Outside the porch is a large fifteenth century preaching cross, with an ancient yew tree nearby. In the lower churchyard is a stone war memorial cross (1914-18).
Don’t leave the church without observing the superb views from the churchyard to the south across the valley. A visit to the church is worthwhile for this alone.