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cost was about £l a foot. It was a well -ascertained fact
that the coal measures on the Mendips, which were enor-
mously valuable, were cut off by that range of hills, and
appeared to die away as they approached the hills, because



38 TWENTY-FOURTH ANNUAL MEETING.

the sea had washed the edges of the coal away. There
was no geological doubt, however, that the coal-field
actually extended to the south of the Mendips.

After this digression on coal, the party descended to the
main quarry, where the stone was found to be of a much
more decided granite character.

The President said it frequently occurred that there
was an appearance of stratification which was deceptive,
and there was an example of it here. The lines abutted
very sharply, but the joints were not carried through.
The explanation of this was found in the paper which had
been read by Mr. King.

Mr. J. H. Parker, C.B., said the only fragments of
the old building visible were the buttresses of the hall, of
the time of Henry VII.

The President said there was another buttress on the
other side of the house, and there were also one or two
Elizabethan windows. He produced a double-handed
sword, which is said to have been taken from King John
of France, at the battle of Poitiers, by John la Warre.
That a sword was so taken was undoubted, and this one
had been in the possession of the family for a great number
of years, and always bore its present history.

Mr. F. H. Dickinson thought that the inscription must
be contemporaneous with the making of the weapon. The
characters were Roman.

Mr. John Batten said it was perfectly clear that John,
King of France, surrendered after much contention to
John la Warre and Sir John Pelham. He could have
been no direct ancestor of the Warres, however, or the
peerage would have descended to the family.



FIRST EXCURSION KINGSTON CHURCH. 39

'J he sword has inscribed on one side a cross, with the
monogram I.H.S., and on the other

EN GLADIUM JOHANNIS GALLI^E R.

The Rev. T. Hugo, M.A., here read a paper on " Hes-
tercombe,^' which is printed in Part II., page 136.

Mr. Batten exhibited an okl deed relating to Hester-
combe, of the date of Edward III.

lUn^fitou djlutiiclr""

was the next resort, and here the vicar (Rev. I. S. Gale)
met the visitors, who were further welcomed by merry
peals from the bells. The churchyard contains a grand
old yew of great dimensions.

Mr. J. H. Parker, C.B., said that this church differed
from most others in the neighbourhood. A considerable
portion remained of the Early English style of the begin-
ning of the 13th century. The chancel had been almost
entirely rebuilt. There was no mark of any chancel arch,
but it was impossible to say what the original termination
was ; it was exceedingly probable that there was an apse
at the end. The columns indicated that there was no
chancel arch at that .point. The present ceiling also be-
longed to a late period. The tower was one of the finest
of Somersetshire towers of the time of Henry VII., and
the fan tracery vault at the porch was a remarkable feature.
The greater part had been carefully restored, and great
credit was due for the faithful manner in which this had
been done. There was a fine tomb in the Decorated style,
of the date of Richard II., and supposed to contain the
remains of one of the Warre family. The painted glass

* An account of this Churcli, by the late Eev. Eccles J. Carter,
together with engravings of the tower and tomb of the Warre family,
will be found in the volume of the Society's Proceedings for 1853, p. 33.



40 TWENTY-FOURTH ANNUAL MEETING.

in the window came from the chapel at Hestercombe, but
was not ancient.* The pewing was quite unique. Somer-
setshire benches he considered the best church furniture
to be seen anywhere in the vv^orld. All over the Continent
they had the greatish rubbish of chairs piled up in the
churches, and anything like these benches was seldom seen
except in the east and west of England. Those in this
church were every one different and beautifully carved.
One was dated 1522, and they were in the fashion of the
period of the beginning of the 16th century. The pew
system began in Scotland, and spread through the centre
of England into France. That fashion prevailed for two or
three centuries, and destroyed these beautiful benches which
all antiquarians agreed were the finest church furniture.
Passing into the churchyard Mr. Parker called attention
to the fine outline of the tower, which was a very rich
example in decoration altogether, little pinnacles attaching
to the buttresses all the way up. The parapet was open,
and the windows of the tower pierced to keep out the
birds — a feature of a peculiarly Somersetshire character.
Notice having been drawn to the rough-casting, he said
that the cai-rying out of the work in that manner had no
doubt an economical solution. The niches, instead of
standing upon corbels, rested upon little shafts; the images
were gone ; and the feature was an unusual one.

The following extracts from Heale's excellent work on
the " History of Church Seats or Pews " will show that
Somerset was famous for its bench-ends : —

The early pews were, beyond all question, simply a row
of benches with backs, and those which are now commonly
termed " open seats " are examples of early pews, or copies or

* The armorial bearings shown are those of families connected with
the Warres.




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Online LibrarySomersetshire Archaeological and Natural History SProceedings (Volume 18) → online text (page 4 of 24)