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© Mr Michael Perry

IoE Number: 263426
Location: CHURCH OF ST MARY, CHURCH STREET (east side)
Photographer: Mr Michael Perry
Date Photographed: 04 January 2006
Date listed: 19 April 1961
Date of last amendment: 28 April 1987
Grade II*

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Church of Mary Major, Church Street. 10/44 8/44 ------------------------------------ Church of Mary Major, Church Street. 10/44 8/44 ------------------------------------ ST5222 ILCHESTER CP CHURCH STREET (East street) 10/44 Church of St. Mary Major (formerly listed as Church of St Mary) 19.4.61 GV II* Anglican Parish Church; C13 and later, south aisle added 1879-80. Local lias stone cut and squared, Ham stone ashlar and dressings; Welsh slate roofs between coped gables, ornamental clay tile ridges to nave and side aisle, plain clay tiles over stone slate base courses to chancel; flat roof to north chapel. Four-cell plan of 2-bay chancel, 3-bay nave and south aisle, and single-bay north chapel, with west tower. Chancel C13, possibly earlier; plain, rendered on south side, east window plate tracery of 3 semi-circular arched lights with quatrefoils over in chamfered semi-circular arched recess with label; south side has a C19 buttress, a 3-light flat arched hollow recessed window, and to right a simple doorway dated 1672, which may be date of all side chancel windows; to north 2 similar windows, one of 3-lights, the other 5-light with a 4-centred sub arch with quatrefoil tracery and foliage carved spandrils. North chapel has angled corner buttresses, and one to north wall, which has simple C17 and C18 doorway and a 5-light window in shallower recess with uncarved spandrils; in east wall a 3-light window in a 4-centred arched hollowed recess, which may be C15, and could represent the re-use of a nave window, as 2 similar windows exist in north wall of nave, divided by a buttress. The south aisle 1879-80; plinth, eaves course, angled corner and bay buttresses; south wall windows copies of the north wall nave windows; the east and west windows more elaborate 4-light Geometric style tracery in pointed arches with labels. Tower of 3 stages, possibly C13 throughout: corner buttresses to low first stage, which is broached at head, forming octagonal tower to upper stages; string courses, plain shallow parapet with moulded coping; west door 2 orders chamfered pointed arched, label shaved off; second stage has clockface and slim lancet on west face only; 3rd stage has slim lancets to all principal faces, fitted with wood baffles, and also a small rectangular window in north face. Inside, the porch in the under-tower space has moulded rib and panel ceiling, possibly C15, and stairs in north-east angle; inner arch also of 2 chamfered orders, with inner order on corbelled bell capitals; traces of colour decoration on outer arch; in south wall are set two C13/C14 fragments of memorial crosses. Chancel has fine rere-arch with headstop label and stiff-leaf capped sideshafts to east window, and chamfered reveals to side windows, C19 arch-braced truss roof; chancel arch probably C13, with squint on north side. Nave has C19 roof, unplastered walls, and a C13-style colonnade based relic in churchyard (q.v), and C15 panelled arch into the side chapel; pointed arched niche, and also former doorway into belfry on west wall. North chapel rendered, with C20 boarded roof but with springers for what may have been 2-bay fan vault; canopies in north-east and south-east corners, the latter with a statue recess in the south wall. Fitting include fragments of C17 dado panelling and a C17 chair in chancel; a fine octagonal timber pulpit which could be very late C16 rather than Jacobean, although the panel arches are treated in perspective; remaining work mostly C19. Fragments of medieval stained glass in chapel. Memorials include alabaster and lias stone tablet to Mary Raymond, died 1639; a lias stone plaque, nicely incised, to Eleanor Clement, died 1748, these both in chancel; and tablet to William Raymond, died 1625, by the pulpit. Traces of C13 wall painting on nave north wall now gone. The major of 2 surviving churches in the town, which had at least 8 in medieval times, it was in the patronage of Muchelney Abbey until 1239, apparently the first record. (VCH, Vol III, 1974); Pevsner, N, Buildings of England, South and West Somerset, 1958).

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