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The parish of Selworthy in the county of Somerset, some notes on its history online

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and Bell, of London, and cost £170. In the east
window of the north aisle are some pieces of painted
glass, evidently of the fifteenth century. In the top
tracery are (1) a pelican, (2) a very beautiful half-
figure of our Lord blessing the cup, (3) a figure with
its head surrounded by a glory, holding in its right
hand a wafer surmounted by a cross, and with its left
hand uplifted in the act of blessing. Below are repre-
sented the arms of Nicholas Arundell, of Trerys, (as a
legend, wrongly placed, states,) and Elizabeth his wife,
daughter and heiress of Martin Pellor. This Nicholas
was the father of Sir John Arundell, of Trerice, whose
son, Nicholas, married Joan St. John, the heiress of
the manors of Luccombe and Selworthy.

There are a number of very quaint bosses on the
roof of the nave and the chancel.

On the centre rib of the nave looking eastward we
have — (1) a grotesque head, (2) a cross surrounded by
a carved border, (3) a bishop in the act of benediction,
with three Tudor roses on each side of him, (4) a Tudor
rose, (5) a foliage design, (6) the exhibition of the Host

Selwortky Church. 47

by the Father. (This curious emblem is to be seen
also on the tower of Minehead church.) (7) A head
with pointed beard, wearing a diadem ; (8) a Tudor
rose, (9) a foliage design.

On right hand rib: (1) foliage design, (2) St. John
the Evangelist with a scroll and a book, (3) a pilgrim
with staff and wallet, (4) foliage, (5) St. John the
Evangelist with eagle and book, on his right side a
label with the inscription, " I am the Lord God," which
is evidently a mistake of the German decorator's of
1875 for "Behold the Lamb of God"; (6) a winged
angel displaying an open book, (7) St. Peter with his
sword, (8 and 9) foliage.

On left hand rib: (1) foliage, (2) St. Christopher
bearing the Child Christ, (3) the Blessed Virgin,
crowned and seated, holding the Holy Child ; (4) St.
Catherine, crowned, with her wheel in her right hand
and a sword in her left ; (5) St. John the Baptist with
a lamb beside him and in his hand a book, (6) St.
Peter, with his keys in one hand and in the other a
book, on the open page of which is displayed Our
Lord's head crowned with thorns ; (7) St. John the
Baptist (or St. Agnes ?) with a lamb beside him, holding
an open book, on which is painted the crucifixion, with
a kneeling figure on each side of the cross ; (8) Tudor
rose, (9) foliage.

The carving on the roof of the south aisle is well
worthy of careful study. The large number of deli-
cately carved bosses are mostly of conventional foliage
or fruit design, but on the centre cross rib are five
bosses bearing the five emblems of the Passion.

Coming to the chancel, on the centre rib looking

48 History of Selwortky.

eastward we have — (i) a head, smooth-faced and
young-looking, probably that of St. John the Baptist ;
(2) Our Saviour's head surrounded by a wreath, (3) the
Holy Virgin crowned, (4) immediately over the altar
a head and shoulders clad in a helmet and coat of
mail. It is very probable that this figure may repre-
sent the founder of the church, or possibly it tells us
that Alicia St. John rebuilt the church in memory of
her husband. The helmet is of the type of the late
fourteenth or early fifteenth century, and so corresponds
with the date at which this lady was living as a widow
in the valley.

On the right hand rib looking eastward we have —
(1) A St. George's cross surrounded by roses, (2) St.
Catherine's wheel surrounded by leaves, (3) a lamb with
a cross and a label coming out of its mouth, (4) an eagle
with a label coming out of its mouth, on which at one
time there was an inscription ; (5) a Tudor rose. These
bosses are exactly reproduced on the corresponding rib
on the other side of the roof.

On the right hand wall-plate looking east we have —
(1) the cross of George, (2) a rose, (3 and 4) foliage
designs, (5) a coat of arms, gules, a chevron engrailed
arg., between three martlets arg., impaling az. three
gerbes arg. ; (6 and 7) foliage, (8) same coat as 5, (9
and 10) foliage, (1 1) same coat as 5, (12 and 13) foliage,
(14) St. George's cross.

On left hand plate looking eastward : (1) cross of
St. George, (2) same coat of arms as 5 on the right
hand wall-plate, (3) foliage, (4) cross of St. George,
(5) ar g- a bendlet or, on a chief gules three mullets or,
impaling az. three gerbes or. The dexter coat is that

Selworthy Church. 49

of St. John, of Selworthy and Luccombe, co. Somerset.
The impaled coat, repeated five times in the chancel,
is perhaps that of Comyn ; (6 and 7) foliage, (8) same
as 2, (9) St. George's cross, (10) foliage, (11) az., three
mullets or, parted by a bar engrailed and within a
border engrailed, impaling gules a chevron engrailed
between three lions' faces or. The dexter coat cannot
be assigned to any family : the sinister coat is that of
De Luccombe. The various coats may represent various
inter-marriages of the St. John family. But as they
were recoloured in 1875, without the slightest reference
to their original tinctures, it is hopeless to attempt to
give any accurate description of them. (12 and 13)
foliage, (14) St. George's cross. 1

There are several brasses in Selworthy Church.

In the sacrarium are the following :

1. — On the north wall.

Epitaphium Gulihelmus Fleete pastoris gregis
Domini apud Selworthienis qui obiit

Quinto die Januarii. Ano Domini 1617.

Mortuus hie jaceo in terra tumulatus et urna

Funerei versus conditor ipse mei,
Londini natus, Winton nutritus et Oxon

Naviter edoctus cum grege Wicamico
Inde Somerseti Selworthia villa tenebat

Et coelo atque solo nomine digna satis

1. The frequent allusions to St. John the Baptist and St. John
the Evangelist on the church roofs, seem further to connect the
church with the St. John family. And yet St. John the Baptist was
the patron saint of the Raleigh family of Nettlecombe, who for a
considerable period held the manor of Allerford ; and a rent charge
was paid out of this manor towards the endowment of the chantry
of St. John the Baptist in the parish church of Nettlecombe.

50 History of Selworthy.

Quadraginta octoque annos puerosque senesque

Edocui vere dogmata Sacra Dei
Hisce locis hujus transegi tempora vitae

Nil superest nisi quod spiritus astra petat
Mortali hac vita transacts certus ego sum

Quod mihi cum Christo vita perennis erit.

Here dead I lie in earth, entombed in the grave

My funeralls in swanlike sort myselfe indited have

London my birth, my bringeing up Winton and Oxford had,

Where taught I was w th - Wickham's flocke ye grave and sad.

Thence Selworthye in Somersett this place of worth and fame

Mee kept for wholesome aire and soil most worthy of that name

Where forty years and eight I taught God's flock both young

and old
And did to them as meete it was God's holy Word unfold.
And in these forenamed places all my time and life did spend
What now remaines but y l my soule above ye stars shall wend
For this my mortali life once o'er I know and I am sure
An everlasting life with Christ God will for me procure.

2. —

In Piam Memoriam

Andreas Georgii Gilmore A.M.

Hujus Parcechise per IX annos



LX annos natus
Obdormientes in Jesu Deus ducet cum Illo.

3. — On the south wall.

In this Chancel are deposited the remains of Hannah Brice
wife of the Rev. Nathaniel Blake Brice who was buried March
ye 20th 1767 aged 57 and four of their children viz :
SARAH was buried August 18th 1738 an infant
MARY was buried August 18th 1748 aged 5 years
NATHANIEL was buried March 20th 1770 aged 22
PENELOPE was buried Jan. 7th 1772 aged 38.

Sehuorthy Church. 51

Underneath this stone lie interred

the remains of the

Rev. D. Williams

22 years RECTOR of this PARISH

who departed this life

the 1st day of Sept. 1802 aged 72

Magnus Homo. Acer. Memorabile.


In memory of

Rev. Theodor Muller

Rector of Selworthy from 1864

to 1873 who died at Minehead

January 2nd 1877 aged 77

a faithful preacher of the Gospel

a gentle loving Spirit

He patiently endured to the end

and has gone to his rest and reward.

6. South aisle under east window.

Heere lyeth y e Body of Phillip Steynings

Y e son of Charles Steynings of Holnicott Esq

who died ye 12th daye of Augusti ye yeare
Of Our Lord God 1634 and of His age ye 6th


This Graves A Cradle where an Infant lies
Rockt fast asleep wth. Deathes sad lullabyes.


An Epitaph made in memory of that worthy gentlewoman
Mrs. Margarett Steynings Widdow who died ye Xth day of
March in ye year of Our Lord 1631 and of her age ye 70th.

Verte oculos quicunque venis paulisper et audi
Ut repetant gemitus moesta sepulchra suos

Ah jacet hie jacet hie specioso stemmate nata
Stemmate Pollardi nee generosa parum

52 History of SelworlJiy.

Talis erat dum virgo fuit : Connubia nomen
Fecerunt Steynings. sic quoq dulce jugum

At Mors divisit tamen haud sine conjuge conjux
Quae nupta est Christo non viduata manet.

Gentle Spectator whatsoe'er thou bee
Stay heere awhile and see & sighe with mee
Ah here lies shee that lead a vertuous life
A Pollard's daughter and a Steyning's wife
And then a widow : now a wife again
Espoused to Christ her Saviour doth remaine
From Whom tho Death a tyme her body sever
Her soul with Him in blisse doth live for ever

Tymbe Stone keep well Thy dust tis of great Prize
But greater farre when from thee it shall rise.

An account of this lady is given in the notes in
this volume on the Steyning family. She was a mem-
ber of the Kilve branch of the great west-country
family of Pollard.


Here lyeth | the body of | Antony | Steynings | ye sonne of |
Charles Steynings of | Holneycote | Esq : who died | ye 15th
daye of | May in ye yeare | of Our Lord God | 1635 and of his |
age ye 4th yeare |


Here lyeth the body of Cicely Staynings sometyme the wyfe
of Charles Staynings of Holneycott Esquire by whom she had
seaven sonnes and sixe daughters ; She departed this lyfe in
the fayth of Christ the XXIth daye of June in the year of
Our Lord God 1647 and in the 47th yeare of her age.

Christ was to me both in lyfe and in deathe advantage.
Here lyes intoombed in dust together
A tender sonne and loving mother.

Selworthy Church. 53

10. —

Philip Stenynges Esquiere married unto Alice Ffrie daughter
of William Frie of Membrie Esquier by whome he had nyne
sonnes and five daughters departed this life the fiveteenthe daie
of January in ye yeare of Our Lord God a thousand five hun-
dred fourscore and nyne.

Egregias animi dotes vel munera mentis,
Si spectes, si qui sit donis preditus istis.
Nobilis est, (vere sunt nobilitatis origo.)
Tunc vere clarus fama et virtute Philippus
Stenninges, qui claris ab avis sua stemmata ducens
^Equavit semper nomen virtutibus amplum.
Discite ab hoc uno, generosi, agnoscere Christum.
Discite ab hoc recte vivere, rite mori.

If inwarde gifts of minde thou doe respecte
If he innobled be that soe is decte
For soe some saie true nobleness is got
Then well may Philip Steninges have that lot.
Who coming of most ancient line and race
Did ever equal it with virtues grace
O learne of him all gentils Christ on high
O learne of him to live and well to die.

Prosopopeia defuncti ad lectorem tetrasticon ejusdem.

Qualis tu nunc es jamdudum talis habebat
Qualis ego nunc sum, tu quoqtalis eris,
Ergo tuae semper memorare novissima vitae,
Non moriere, deo vivere certus eris.

Such as thou art suche one some tyme was I
Such as I am shalte thou be truelye
Remember still therefore thy endinge daye
Thou shalt not die but live with God alwaie.

The tradition holds in the parish that the beautiful
south aisle of our church, in which the Steyning brasses
are placed, was built at the sole expense of this ancient

54 History of Selworthy.

family, who held the manor of Holnicote from time
immemorial, and who were also possessed of large
estates in Overstowey and other parishes. It is quite
clear that they built for themselves a vault under the
east end of the south aisle, and the relative position of
the piscina to the floor appears to indicate that they
raised the floor of the aisle in order to accomplish their
purpose more satisfactorily. The family is now ex-
tinct in the direct line, but are represented through
the female line by the Trevelyans of Nettlecombe
Court. Amongst the Trevelyan papers are many
letters from members of this family, and a pedigree
going back four generations from Philip Steynings.
It is not, however, quite a correct one.

ii. On the floor at the west end of the nave is a
small brass.
" Here lyeth the body of Judith Home deceased 26 June, 1632."

The name of Home is connected with Selworthy
parish from very early times.

12, 13, 14. On the east wall of the north aisle we
find the following brasses : —

Robert Siderfin Gent: who died Jan: 20th, 1714 aged 25.
Walter Siderfin Gent, who died March 21 1731 aged 40.

In memory of John Clarke of West Lynch in the parish of
Selworthy, who departed this life 26 Feb : 1796 aged 90 years.

In memory of Mary Clarke wife of John Clarke jun : of West
Lynch in the parish of Selworthy who departed this life 12th
Jan : 1795 aged 48.

These last two brasses were taken up from the floor
of the middle aisle, during the church restoration in

Selworthy Church. 55

Returning to the south aisle, we find under the east
window a stone with the following inscription, with a
skull cut beneath it :

Under here lyeth

Mr. Courtenay Oram

A.M. and Fellow of

Caius College in Cambridge

Who died the 14th day
of Aprill AN°' Dom : 1687.

On the south wall of this aisle we find the following
monuments, mostly of marble.

1. —


to the memory of Charles Staynings Esqre.

of Holnicote in this parish of y* ancient family

and of Susanna his wife Daughter to Sir Nicolas

MARTYN of Oxton in the County of DEVON

She departed this lyfe the 8th day of May 1685

He the 4th day of December 1700 aged 78 haveing

made and ordered the following verses to be written

on his monument

Here lyes Charles Staynings by his wife
Who loved him as she did her lyfe,
As hee did her their loves increased
Till that sad day his wife deceased.
To whom her husband now is gone

Both lived together thirty years and one.

This was erected by Willm. MARTYN, ESQre. his

Heir and sole Executor in TESTIMONY of his

profound respect and gratitude Anno 1701

Above the inscription are emblazoned the arms of
Steynings and Martyn.

Arg : a bat sable displayed.
Arg : two bars gules.

56 History of Sehvorthy.

2. This is a very stately monument which bears
the following inscription.

Near this place

is deposited the Body


late of Holnicote in this parish


and also ye Body of HENRIETTA

his wife

He was the eldest son and heir


of the same place Esqre :

By ELIZABETH the daughter of


of Pixton in the parish of Dulverton

in this county Esqre.

He died the 20th of March 1730

in the 37th year of his age.

She was one of the daughters

and coheirs of JOSEPH COLLET

late of Hertford Castle

in the county of Hertford Esqre :

and sometime President

of Fort St. George in East India.

She died the 13th day of September

1727 in the 23 3'ear of her age.


their only daughter and Heir

died the 6th day of December


in the seventh year
of her age.

Arms : gules a chevron argent between three etoiles
or ; on an escutcheon of pretence sable a chevron
argent between three horses argent passant, on chev-
ron three orles sable. Crest : a negro's head.

Selworthy Church. cj

The elder William Blackford was a Master in Chan-
cery, who settled at Dunster, and bought the Holnicote
estate of Charles Staynings's heir, William Martyn.
On the death of the poor little girl-heiress, who, bereft
of both her parents and left alone in the world, was
but badly looked after, we expect, the estate passed
to the Dyke family of Pixton, from whom it came
through an heiress into the Acland family.

3. A marble monument carved by Chantrey, on
which are sculptured two heads, and beneath them a
sextant across a copy of Heber's hymns, bears the
following inscription : —

Third son of Sir Thomas and Lady Acland, was born Novem-
ber 1st, 1812, entered the Naval Service in the fourteenth year
of his age on Board of H.M.S. Helicon, under the command
of his uncle, Captain Charles Acland. Like him, in the cause
of humanity, fearlessly exposed his life to the deadly influence
of African Fever : and so died, full of faith and hope and de-
vout affection, May 10th, 1837, off the Bight of Benin, and was
buried in the island of Ascension. This affliction was made
known to his parents on the 17th day of July following, and on
the 31st of the same month it pleased God to remove from the
bosom of their family, in the tenth year of his age, their
youngest child.

a good little boy early ripened for heaven, by the mercy of
Him who would have little children suffered to come unto Him
" and He took them " and " Blessed them."

" The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away, Blessed be the
name of the Lord."

4. A companion monument by Chantrey repre-
senting a curtain drawn back, and showing, beneath,

58 History of Selworthy.

the head of the officer to whose memory it was erected,
has the following inscription : —

Charles Richard Dyke Acland

third son of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, Bart.

died at the Cape of Good Hope April 23, 1828,

Commander of H.M.S. Helicon
in the thirty-fifth year of his age

The battle's rage o'erwhelmed thee not nor ocean's stormy

Though kindred tears may not bedew thy distant early grave
In Delagoa's fatal bay the fever's burning zone
To save the captive's life from bonds, thou freely gavest thine

Oh nurtured in this quiet vale in justice, mercy, truth,
How well thine after years redeemed the promise of thy youth !
With rectitude of purpose blest, faith simple and sincere,
The kindness of a manly heart, the strength of godly fear.
Son, brother, husband, best beloved, we mourn thee not un-

blest ;
Dear is the hope that thou hast gained the haven of thy rest ;
Their steadfast love who walk in faith nor death nor time

And they who sow to God in tears, shall surely reap in joy.

In the north aisle is a monument to three gener-
ations of the Stoate family.

There are no tombstones of great antiquity or of
much interest in the churchyard. The yew tree on
the eastern side of the church was planted by the late
Sir T. D. Acland, on March 26th, i860, being the
ninetieth birthday of the rector, and the yew tree on
the western side was also planted by the late baronet
on March 29th of that same year, which was his own
seventy-third birthday.

The Commissioners of second year king Edward VI,

Selworthy Church. 59

report in their survey, " The lights and obits founded
within the parish church of Selworthy, are yearly
worth in lands, tenements, and other hereditaments in
the tenure of sundry persons (as may appear particularly
more at large by the rentall of the same), xiiijj - ." 1

These lands and possessions were as follows : —

" Land and possessions given as well to the use and
maintenance of divers lamps and lights burning in the
parish church there, as for the observance of an annual
obit there.

" Annual rent from the revenues of certain land there,
parcel of the possessions of the late dissolved house of
St. John of Buckland, in the county of Somerset, as
the price of vij lbs. of wax at the rate of vd. per lb.
per ann., — \}s. x]d.

" Money annually paid from the same land per ann.
— iiijaf.

" . . . Brattons gent, renders annually from his land
and tenements lying in Estlinche for a lb. of wax,
per ann., — \d.

" John Arundell, Kt., renders annually from the
revenues of his land and tenements in Honycote, for
half a lb. of wax, — \]^d.

" Hensley, gent., renders annually from the

revenues of his land and tenement in Honycote, for
half a lb. of wax, — \)^d.

" . . . . Whyttyns, gent, renders annually from the
revenues of his land and tenement called Atwill for
wax, per ann., — v]d.

" . . . . Sydenham, gent., renders annually from his
lands at Brosington (Bossington) for wax per ann., — iijd.

1. Somerset Chantries, p. 40.

60 History of Selworthy.

"Richard Home holds an acre of arable land in
Allerford, and renders per ann., — xx(/.

" Rent of a house and a virgate of land, with a little
garden, per ann., — iiijj. \)d.

" . . . . Stevinges, gent., renders annually from the
revenues of the manor of Honycote in ready money,
per ann., — \\s.

"The churchwardens of the parish church of Sel-
worthie hold a house there commonly called the
Churchhouse, and render per ann., — xvjV.
" Total — xiiijj.

" Deduct in Rent resolute to John Arundell, Kt.,
for free rent of the house called the Churchhouse, per
ann., — }d.

" Rent resolute to ... . Steyninge for free rent of
the house containing a virgate of land with a little
garden, per ann., — ]d.

" Total— \]d.
" And remain over per annum, — xiiu. xd." 1

The church house, which stood on the south side of
the church, on the other side of the present road, had
been purchased by the parish authorities in the reign
of Edw. VI, together with a cottage and about half an
acre of land at Allerford, from Edward Crosse of
Nettlecombe. From the date of its purchase it was
probably used as a refuge for the aged poor of the
parish. It existed to within the memory of living
people. " 'Twas a fine girt house, sure enough, nigh
as long as the church, and 'twas a mighty pity 'twas
pulled down," is the description of it by an ancient
inhabitant. It was divided at the time of its re-

i. Somerset Chantries, pp. 217, 218.

Selworthy Church. 61

moval into four tenements, and we find that the
average number of occupants was not generally more
than four, although sometimes, no doubt, a whole
family (and overcrowding of this kind was the blot on
a system which was not only economical, but had
many other advantages over our workhouse system)
was at times crowded into one of these tenements.

The poor house and its occupants were under the
management of the overseers. They put an officer in
charge of the house who was responsible to them, and
whose accounts were very carefully kept. The ex-
penses of the house was met by a yearly rate. In 1740,
William Slade was the "master" of the house, at a
salary of £4 4s. per year. His bill for the cost of the
house, i.e. maintaining its occupants, etc., for that year,
was £35 lgs. $d. This outlay, however, does not
appear to have included clothing. Besides the ex-
penditure on the poor house, the overseers gave relief
also to poor people not in the house, in occasional and
also in fixed sums. Twenty people in 1740 received
occasional relief; and a little later we find several
people receiving a regular quarterly dole of five
shillings. Besides the poor rate, the poor of the
parish were entitled to a sum of fourteen shillings per
year, the interest of a sum of money which has long
since disappeared, and which was divided amongst
them in such manner as the overseers thought fit.

Descending from the church to the rectory, we pass
the fifteenth-century tithe barn, a somewhat handsome
building. Against the road is a small window, now
blocked up, having a label carried partly round it.
The label at the point of the arch supports a sheaf of

62 History of Selworthy.

corn, and rests, on one side on a lamb, and on the
other on a pig. These three carvings are said to be
emblematical of the three principal forms of tithes.
The late Lady Acland told the writer that she had
seen the tithe corn put in through this window before
the Tithe Commutation Act was passed. In the west
gable end of this building there is a pretty window of
local red stone of the same date as the building, and
beneath it is a moulded oak one with heavy iron bars,
of apparently about the same date. The rectory house
is a picturesque building built in two sides of a square.
Some parts of it are said to be of great antiquity, but
it has been much altered. During recent repairs the
remains of a narrow stone staircase were found in the
wall of the south wing, which is nearly four feet thick.
Mr. D. Williams tells us that when he succeeded to
the benefice of Selworthy in 1780, he found the build-
ings belonging to it in a very ruinous condition, and,

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Online LibraryFrederick HancockThe parish of Selworthy in the county of Somerset, some notes on its history → online text (page 4 of 21)