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Church wall

held a secret

of Archbishop’s


Black deeds were committed in plenty by men in armour in the early days of Kewstoke’s Church.

Woodspring Priory, viewed across the fields from St Paul’s, was founded by William de Courtenay, grandson of Richard fitzUrse, one of the four knight assassins of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.

And as a mark of penitence William chose St Thomas as one of the patron saints of the Priory.

The grisly murder took place in December 1170 following a furious


The village or parish of Kewstoke dates back to before the time of the Domesday Book in the 11th Century and although there have been suggestions that its church of St Paul may have roots in Saxon times, today’s building stems from the Norman period.

The oldest part of the church, a Grade 1 listed building, is at its entrance – the deep porch with the interior door surmounted by a Norman arch, dated between 1125 and 1150. The door displays a sanctuary knocker with five nail holes representing Christ’s five crucifixion wounds.

Through a Norman arch

to a place rich in history

The font immediately inside is of early English style (late 13th or early 14th Century) and the bowl could be earlier than the base it sits upon.

The nave also dates from the 13th Century but with many later additions, including two windows on the north wall and, higher up, six 15th Century clerestory windows which are unusual in such a small church of this period.

The pulpit is a beautiful example of 15th Century stonework and is said to be carved by a travelling band of masons from stone quarried in Caen, Normandy.

The chancel arch, from the same period, is fronted by the modern rood screen erected in 1938.

It is the work of Herbert Read of Exeter, who was also responsible for the smaller screen on the south-side chapel and the wonderful carved reredos in the sanctuary.

An earlier rood screen was thought to have been destroyed around 1547 at a time when it was fashionable to eliminate elaborate artefacts in favour of simplicity.

The oak lectern is a recent addition, made by the brother of the Reverend Bryan Strange, Vicar from 1980 to 1990.

The south-side chapel, originally a chantry chapel, was used by the Lord of the Manor as a manorial pew after the Reformation, and then restored as a memorial chapel for those parishioners who lost their lives in World War Two.

Visitors enter the church through the Norman arch.

The splendid 15th Century pulpit is carved from Caen stone.

The centuries-old remains of the Priory cup, now on display at Taunton museum.

tirade against the head of the church by Henry II – an outburst he later regretted.

But centuries later St Paul’s Church revealed a macabre relic of that distant, dark day in Canterbury Cathedral.

It was a wooden container shaped like a cup, displaying what is thought to be traces of the murdered Archbishop’s blood.

It was found in 1849 during building work, hidden in a hollow enclosed by a wooden door under the sill of the north-east window in the nave.

It is believed to be one of several relics from the Canterbury monks, this one hidden for 300 years at the Priory until fear of the Dissolution of the Monasteries forced its secret removal for safety to St Paul’s, where it again remained hidden for another 300 years.

Such relics of the saints had powerful significance for the faithful.

The cup is now on view at Taunton Museum.

The reredos in the sanctuary, depicting the Annunciation, Nativity, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension, was a gift to the church in 1923 by, and in memory of, the Stratton-Coles family.

The Rose window, high above, depicts the Crucifixion and the lancet windows below, the Annunciation. Near the altar, an ambry can be seen, a locked recess to hold communion vessels, and opposite, a piscina, a washbasin.

The imposing church tower is dated from the 15th Century and features a pierced parapet and higher stair-turret with spirelet.

The tower contains six bells bearing the inscriptions (1st) Anno Domini 1637, (2) Mr Joseph Sheppard Ch. Warden 1748, (3) V.A. CH. W/1734 T.B, (4) Anno Domini 1637, (5) Anno Domini 1637 Recast 1906 and (6) Modern 1906.

The memorial to the fallen of the First World War  (above) is erected on the north side of the nave. The Second World War memorial (right) is inside the south side chapel which was dedicated to those who died in that conflict.

The entrance to the South Side Chapel (left) as seen from the nave. The reredos (above) is  on the east wall of the sanctuary.

The 14th century font with its protective cover (right), the scene of countless baptisms over the centuries.

Praising the Lord: Kewstoke vicars down the ages

1322 John Manne

1326 Barthol. de Mora

1336 Joh. Price

1348 Mich. de Graynton

1430 Abraham Hoper

1463 Henr. Hoggys

1477 Will. Crosse

1479 Joh. Towker

1485 Olybns. Smyth

1486 Joh. Cherbury

1491 Ric.Sprying

1500 Christoph. Hamilton

1500 Joh. Chaplayn

1520 Ric. Carter

1542 Tho. Dawks

1554 Joh. David

1557 Joh. Baker

1570 Paul  Methwyn

1579 Paul Methwyn

1607 Tho. Methwin

1626 Joh. Methwin

1655 Tho. Ham

1667 Sam. Willian

1689 Hieronymous Alley

1703 Wm. Crofts

1709 Tho. Goddard

1746 Benj. Burroughs

1763 Tho. Bateson

1777 Ch. P. Layard

1799 Thos. H. Hume

1835 Robt. C Hathway

1883 Sidney George Gillum

1892 Alured. Bayfield de Moleyns

1895 George Deverous Davenport

1905 David Lloyd

1910 James Berkeley Bristsow

1912 J. H. H. Doorbar

1935 Richard Knight

1960 F. J. Costeloe

1976 C.L. Ward

1980 Bryan Strange

1990 Robin Vincent

1995 Penelope West

2000 Natasha Schemanoff

2007 - 2019 Geoff Eales

2021 Gail Thomas

If this short history has created a greater interest in our wonderful St Paul’s, the church doors are always open to visitors during the day and you are welcome to call in and experience the peace and tranquillity of its ancient and sacred surroundings.

What they say about St Paul’s

This place is magical. Such a wonderful feeling of peace and tranquillity, which today is a thing to behold – Visitor, Birmingham.

 In times of a troubled heart, this beautiful and peaceful sanctuary gave me strength to face another day – Visitor.

A little glimpse of paradise – Visitor.

Thank you for letting us ring your lovely bells and enjoy the view – Ringley Ringers, Devon.