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Friends of Over Stowey Church

Over Stowey & its Church

Before the Norman Conquest Over Stowey formed part of a royal hunting park, which belonged to a succession of Anglo-Saxon kings, from Alfred the Great to Harold. The Domesday book records that William the Conqueror gave the estate of Stowey to Alfred d'Epaignes, who probably built the castle, of which remains can still be seen in the field a short distance north of the church.

The first record of a church in Over Stowey is in 1144, but the present building is of a later date. The oldest surviving part is the tower, which dates from about 1400. The nave was extensively rebuilt and the chapel and vestry added in 1840 by the architect Richard Carver. Later in the nineteenth century our greatest treasures, the Burne-Jones windows, were presented as family memorials by the Labouchères and Stanleys of Quantock Lodge, squires of Over Stowey from 1833 to 1920.

Other features of the church are the Rich monument, with its trophy of a plough and other implements of the field: the great brass chandelier presented by Thomas Rich: the carved Tudor bench-ends, of typical Somerset workmanship: the organ of 1847, and the ancient bells, rung to celebrate many national occasions, including the thanksgiving for the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Not least is the churchyard, with the wild daffodils which fill it with their blooms every spring. A measure of the importance of the church is that it was selected to feature in the series of postage stamps Spirit and Faith issued in the autumn of 2000.

Two vicars of Over Stowey have literary connections-the Rev. William Bottome, 1887-1892, whose daughter Phyllis wrote of her childhood in the village in Search for a Soul, and the Rev William Holland, 1789-1819, whose diary, Paupers and Pigkillers, has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and draws many visitors to the area.

The Friends of Over Stowey Church

Although a scattered rural parish, Over Stowey has a flourishing congregation. From this has been formed the Friends of Over Stowey Church, a registered charity of which the objects are to:

  • Keep the church open by providing a permanent fund to restore and maintain its fabric and fittings.
  • Bring together and co-ordinate the interests of people, far and near, who would wish to see St. Peter and St. Paul's church, Over Stowey, preserved.
  • Assist and support the Parochial Church Council in the maintenance and improvement of the church and its setting.

Please visit the Over Stowey Church Appeal

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