Friday, 6 October 2017

St Mary's Church, Nettlecombe

There is no village of Nettlecombe today, just a cluster of buildings around Nettlecombe CourtThe parish church of St Mary the Virgin is situated adjacent to Nettlecombe Court and both lie in a beautiful tranquil valley in the Brendon Hills.  Nettlecombe Court will always have a special place in my heart, as it was where I fell in love with the county of Somerset when I stayed there for a week on a geography field trip in early spring 1984.

Nettlecombe Court was originally a medieval manor house.  It was enlarged and altered in Tudor, Elizabethan and Georgian times.   It was used by two schools from 1945 until 1965.   In 1967 it was leased to the Field Studies Council who converted to its present use as a field centre. 

Nettlecombe is mentioned in the Domesday Book.  In 1160 the estate was granted by the king to Hugh de Ralegh.  In 1440 Simon de Ralegh died childless and the estate passed to his nephew, Thomas Whalesborough.  It was then inherited by Thomas's daughter Elizabeth who was married to John Trevelyan.  

In the late 1700s the village of Nettlecombe, which had been located close to the court and church, was removed when the parkland was landscaped.  Some people moved to the nearby villages of Torre and Yarde and the hamlet of Woodford, half a mile to the north east of the court was built in the 19th century to house estate workers. 

Nettlecombe Court stayed in the Trevelyan family until 1931 when Sir Walter Trevelyan died and left Nettlecombe to his daughter Joan who was married to Garnet Wolsey, a noted artist.  Much of the estate was sold off after 1945 but Nettlecombe Court has never been bought or sold.

Nettlecombe Court

Nettlecombe Church dates back to the 13th century and in 1440 the church was dedicated to St Mary the Virgin.  It was restored c1820 and again in 1858 and 1870.

The interior of St Mary's Church contains some very interesting tombs, a fine pulpit and a beautifully carved rare seven sacrament font.

The Church of England observes two sacraments (baptism and communion) but the Catholic church recognises seven:
  • Baptism
  • Confirmation
  • Penance
  • Communion
  • Ordination
  • Matrimony
  • Extreme Unction (last rites)
There are 39 seven sacrament fonts in churches in England but the one in Nettlecombe and one at Farningham in Kent are the only ones located outside Norfolk and Suffolk.  The Nettlecombe font has been dated to 1465-70.  It is mounted on a much more recent base made of Ham Stone.

St Mary's Church, Nettlecombe
Ordination and Matrimony
Penance and Communion
Extreme Unction and Christ in Glory
Baptism and Confirmation
Carved Bench End
Effigy of Sir John Ralegh and his first wife Maud
Maud died  c1360 but Sir John remarried and died in 1372
Effigy of Sir Simon de Ralegh, who died c1284-1288
Wineglass Pulpit
This is made of oak and dates from the 18th century
Horse on Gatepost

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