This is a priory church, presented soon after 1100 to the Benedictine Abbey of Lonlay, near Falaise in Normandy, but then reclaimed by Henry V. It was later given to Eton College by Henry VI. The building’s Norman legacy includes the west door and the rounded arches at the crossing, with their lavishly carved pier capitals dating from the late 11th century. The nave was rebuilt around 1500 and a Victorian restoration was responsible for much of the decorative work, and for the tower’s delicate parapet. There are 14th- and 15th-century tombs of William and John de Verney. Among the 16th-century bench-ends, look for one with a spoonbill – a bird once common on the flooded Somerset Levels but no longer found in Britain.
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About The area
Somerset means ‘summer pastures’ – appropriate given that so much of this county remains rural and unspoiled. Ever popular areas to visit are the limestone and red sandstone Mendip Hills rising to over 1,000 feet, and by complete contrast, to the south and southwest, the flat landscape of the Somerset Levels. Descend to the Somerset Levels, an evocative lowland landscape that was the setting for the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685. In the depths of winter this is a desolate place and famously prone to extensive flooding. There is also a palpable sense of the distant past among these fields and scattered communities. It is claimed that Alfred the Great retreated here after his defeat by the Danes.
Away from the flat country are the Quantocks, once the haunt of poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The Quantocks are noted for their gentle slopes, heather-covered moorland expanses and red deer. From the summit, the Bristol Channel is visible where it meets the Severn Estuary. So much of this hilly landscape has a timeless quality about it and large areas have hardly changed since Coleridge and Wordsworth’s day.
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