Description: Church of St Mary Major
Date Listed: 19 April 1961
English Heritage Building ID: 263426
OS Grid Reference: ST5225522613
OS Grid Coordinates: 352255, 122613
Latitude/Longitude: 51.0009, -2.6818
There is also a scheduled monument, Ilchester Roman town, at the same location as this building or very close to it. This may be related in some way or possibly a different name for the same structure.
Explore more of the area around Ilchester, Somerset at Explore Britain.
Church of Mary Major, Church Street.
Church of Mary Major, Church Street.
ST5222 ILCHESTER CP CHURCH STREET (East street)
10/44 Church of St. Mary Major
(formerly listed as Church of St
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).
Listing NGR: ST5225522613
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.