5 historic North Somerset churches
- Credit: Archant
The ancient churches of North Somerset are more than architecture, they offer fascinating insight into the rich history of the area, revealing more about local people and culture than many guidebooks. From Clapton-in-Gordano to Puxton, Clevedon to Brockley, Uphill and Puxton - we pick 4 of the finest historic churches in North Somerset
St. Nicholas Old Church, Uphill
Uphill Way, Uphill BS23 4TH
Sitting on a rise looking out to sea over the Somerset Marshes, St. Nicholas Old Church just outside Uphill would be worth a visit for the view alone. Originally founded in the 11th century, this is one of North Somerset’s most ancient churches. The nave doesn’t have a roof, so the interior is no longer preserved, but there are some fine Medieval features including gargoyles. Look carefully at the south wall, to see the original scratch sun dials on the stonework.
St. Nicholas Church, Brockley
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Backwell, Brockley BS48 3AX
Built in the 12th century, St. Nicholas Church close to the village of Brockley, is a microcosm of local architectural and cultural history. The original church has a 13th century addition and the West Tower dates back to the 15th century. But restoration work carried out by the Piggot family in 1820 is probably the most intriguing. Local landowners, the Piggot family, not only commissioned a private entrance to St. Nicholas and their own ‘enclosure’, they had a fireplace installed to help them endure those long, chilly Georgian sermons.
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St. Michael’s Church, Clapton-in-Gordano
Clevedon Lane, Clapton-in-Gordano BS20 7RH
Set in its higgledy-piggledy graveyard surrounded by imposing mature trees, this delightful Medieval church is a true North Somerset rural treasure. The ancient doorway arch dates back to the 12th century and there’s also a well preserved 13th century screen and the church’s font is 14th century. But the most dramatic feature of St. Michael’s is the 1672 Edmund Wynter monument. The painted figures are delicately lovely, making it all the more startling when you notice the Christ Child’s hand is resting on a carved human skull.
Church of the Holy Saviour, Puxton
Puxton Road, Huish, Puxton BS24 6TF
Out of all North Somerset’s historic churches, this is possibly the best preserved both inside and out. It even has a leaning tower – caused by settlement, not miscalculation. The interior is mainly medieval and remains almost unchanged right down to the font and carved flagstones. But what’s most remarkable about this church and something every visitor notices, is how light and airy it looks and feels inside. The walls are whitewashed, but we’re sure it’s more than just paintwork that’s responsible for the soothing atmosphere.
St Mary’s Church, Portbury
Church Lane, Portbury, Somerset, BS20 7TR
Thought to be a Norman construction, St Marys Church has seen improvements through the Medieval, Reformation and Victorian periods. The carved Norman arch in the South Porch and Norman font still remain. A spiral stone staircase leads up to a small 14th century priest’s room above the porch. Wander among the yew trees in the churchyard to discover some of the oldest gravestones in the country, dating back to the 1600s. However, the oldest tombstone can be found inside the church – the large slab of stone is that of William Godwin, yeoman, who died in 1584, aged 95.
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