© Mr John H. Sparkes
CHURCH OF ST CUTHBERT, ST CUTHBERT STREET (north side)
WELLS, MENDIP, SOMERSET
Mr John H. Sparkes
06 September 2004
12 November 1953
Date of last amendment:
12 November 1953
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ST5445 ST CUTHBERT STREET
662-1/7/251 (North side)
12/11/53 Church of St Cuthbert
Anglican parish church. C13, much modified especially
externally in C15, little obvious C19 restoration.
MATERIALS: Doulting ashlar stonework to most of south side,
with rendered south transept and dressed rubble clerestory,
north side mostly random rubble with ashlar dressings, chancel
all ashlar, sheet lead roofs of low pitch behind parapet.
PLAN: 3-bay aisled sanctuary with added sanctuary, 7-bay
aisled nave with former transepts and 2 bays of chapels each
side in addition, north and south porches, west tower.
EXTERIOR: elevations consistently C15 except for south and
north transepts and the north porch actually the Treasury).
Plinth, sill course, buttresses with two offsets to
full-height angled on corners, parapet string and panelled
parapet, mostly 5-light windows with relatively simple
Perpendicular tracery, but with 3-light window in side walls
of sanctuary, all with 2-centre arched heads and arched labels
which ran into the buttresses, similar windows to
clerestories, but these 4-centre arched, and divided by
pilasters and pinnacles.
Treasury has small cusped lancet windows and a 2-light
plate-tracery window. Doorways under window in second bay of
south chancel aisle, south porch and west wall of tower.
The tower, the third highest in Somerset, of 3 stages, of
which the top stage occupies half the total height, corner
buttresses with 4 offsets crowned with small attached
pinnacles against very tall square main pinnacles to each
corner, with stair turret on north-west corner.
The west doorway has a 6-light window over, and then three
niches-this lower stage plain on the sides, then two small
pointed arched windows to second stage, finally the long
3-light bell openings, visually extended downwards by blank
panelling to match, cathedral-style, with a transom band of
quatrefoils, the whole crowned by panelled battlementing.
INTERIOR: mixed C13 and C15 work. The chancel and its aisles
all C15, including the piers, which have four-wave mouldings.
The crossing piers (the crossing tower collapsed in 1561, and
was presumably C13) appear trimmed back, the main nave piers
all C13, heightened by matching C15 work by another 3m,
carrying a Somerset timber roof, low pitch with the beams for
every second principal, with bravery over, lavishly ornamented
with angels, rosettes and shields, all fully coloured after a
1963 restoration by Alan Rowe.
The treasury (in position of a north porch) of C13 character,
now the choir vestry; immediately eastwards the 2-bay Chapel
of the Holy Trinity, C15, and associated with the City
Corporation. The north transept (St Catherine's Chapel) has
the remains of its C13 reredos on the east wall, rediscovered
in 1848, likewise in the south transept (The Lady Chapel)
another stone reredos of 1470, based on the Stem of Jesse
The St Cuthbert's Chapel, 2 bays, west of the south transept,
has a panelled ceiling of c1470. Fine tall tower arch in west
wall of nave, with ornate lierne-vault with bosses to tower
space ceiling. Amongst the fittings of note are the main altar
reredos of 1867, by Forsyth; fine carved wood pulpit of 1636,
with elaborate stair; two carved coats of arms, of Charles I,
1631, and Charles II; font, octagonal on shaft, C15 style but
may be largely C19. Amongst the memorials are a medieval
incised inscription to Thomas Tanner (late C14), altar tomb of
Thomas Leigh (d.1551), and his wife, brass to Francis Hayes
(d.1623) in stone surround, a large stone monument with effigy
to one Luellin (d.1614, founder of nearby Llewellyn
Almshouses, qv), and a C18 monument to R Kingston signed by
Nathaniel Ireson of Wincanton.
Noted by Pevsner and others as one of the finest medieval
churches in Somerset, with a rich sequence of monuments.