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Somerset Historic Environment Record


Site Name: Church of St Mary and churchyard, Cannington
Civil Parish: Cannington
Part of:
PRN 10300Cannington Priory and Court, Cannington
PRN 15704Church of St Mary (formerly listed under General), Church Street (East side), Cannington
PRN 15707Gate piers and gates, about 20 metres West of West end of Church of St Mary, Church Street (East side), Cannington
PRN 44711Watching brief (1998), Cannington church, Cannington
Grid Ref: ST 258 395 (ST 23 NE)
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Image: Image of HER 10307 - Photo by Somerset County Council (September 1981)
  HER 10307 - Photo by Somerset County Council (September 1981)

Public access:

As far as we are aware this site is open to the public at certain times. [Information last updated on 10 December 2002]


St Mary's, Cannington, is mainly C15. The tower is probably C14, and there is a C12 composite pier in the vestry. {1}

In normal use. {2}

Graveyard in use since at least medieval times. {3}

The present nave was built between 1375 and 1400. It has been suggested that the nave was built at its present angle so the rising sun would be visible through the east window during the Patronal festival. The pulpit was carved in the 15th century. Under the tower the 15th century font bowl stands on an earlier pedestal. On the south wall there is a stone altar frontal used by a community of Benedictine Nuns who came to the priory in 1800 as refugees from the French revolution. The Rood Screen is mostly 14th century, although with Victorian additions. To the left of the Altar is a long slit window which it is rumoured to have been built to allow people to view a Nun who lived the life of a hermit. In the trinity chapel members of the Pym family are buried. John Pym was a celebrated parliamentary leader of the Puritans in the lead up to the civil war in the 1630's. It has been suggested that he may have donated the altar in the chapel in 1633.

The church was subject to major restoration work in 1985. {4}

There are several war memorials within the church. These include a plaque to W C Martin who died in 1917 and a general plaque to parishioners lost in WWI. This is decorated with a Royal Shield and gold cross above the text and the Royal coat of arms below. Another plaque commemorates the parishioners who fell in WWII. A Nowy-headed board of five panels lists those from Cannington and the industrial school that served in WWI. {5}

Almost certainly a minster. {6}

The nave and chancel were rebuilt towards the end of C15, the earlier tower being retained. The church seems to have been enlarged and lengthened at this time and the axis was swung southwards to avoid the priory church, the position of which is indicated by the lack of windows in the north side of the chance. {7}


1 Mention - Pevsner, N. The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset.  (1958), 112-3. Copy held in HER collections.
2 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 23 NE 18 (1964) Location: HER files.
3 Verbal communication - Aston, M [Mick]. Somerset County Council (11/11/1976). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained
4 Guide book - Anon. The Parish and Priory Church of St Mary the Virgin, Cannington.  (not dated) Copy held in Somerset Studies at Somerset Heritage Centre.
5 Data transfer - National Inventory of War Memorials. Record ID: 46316, 46317, 46318, 46319
6 Map - Hase, PH. The church in the Wessex heartlands. In Aston, M and Lewis, C. The Medieval Landscape of Wessex.  (1994) 47-81 [specifically 53 (Fig 3.3)].
7 Description - Vivian-Neal, AW. Cannington Court. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History  104 (1959-60), 62-86 Copy available in Somerset Studies at Somerset Heritage Centre.
8 Link to external website - Church of England church heritage record: 601405. (Accessed 22/07/2015).

Record created in January 1983

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