Church Architecture

With acknowledgment to the article by John Wilkinson in  Our Millennium Book,
All photos © Richard Bottle 2006

Quick links:

Exterior . . Layout . . Porch . . Door . . Roman Coffin . . Font . . Painting . . Organ . . Memorials . .Lectern . .  Piscina . . Priest's Door . . Windows . .Tower & Bells . . Clock . . Cockerel Wind-Vane

Church exterior
click here to enlarge
A nave at the west end, chancel and sanctuary at the east end, vestry on the north and porch on the south.  The tower is centrally placed, and the church is the shape of a cross, similar to Englishcombe church.  It has been suggested that it is based on the design of Bath Abbey.

Layout Church Interior
Click here for a photo of the interior of Priston church, taken prior to the  stone surround of the pulpit being replaced by ironwork, and showing the lettering still intact around the arches.


Church plaque Above the outside door a panel reads "Priston repent and believe the gospel.  Thomas Watts Preacher of the word of God Departed ye world the 20th November 1589."

Scratch dial To the left of the outside door can be found a scratch dial.  Although now in poor condition, the lines indicating the time can just be made out, together with the central hole (now filled in) which would have held the gnomon which would have cast the shadow across the dial.

Church door The doorway is of Norman construction, with a segmental arch.  The great wooden door is thought to be Norman.  It is equipped with fine scroll hinges and a wooden lock on the inside.  The iron studs on the inside were reputedly for holding hides to the door to exclude draughts.

Roman Coffin
Roman Coffin
click here to enlarge
It was Kelson and Edward Lippiatt who found the Roman coffin in 1917 in Great Croft Field on Hill Farm.
The coffin dates from around  100 AD and housed the body of a woman with bronze bracelets on each of her arms.
Some of the  hundreds of sightseers at the time apparently threw rocks at the coffin and broke it  - it is said they confused "Roman" for "Roman Catholic".

[adapted from text in "Our Millennium Book"]

Read the 1917 report of the original coffin find, (893kb)

Font An octagonal font in the style of the 15th century, but the panels bearing the arms of the Long family suggest the latter half of the 16th century.

A painting of the Holy Family  presented by the Rev. Francis Bell hangs to the right of the entrance.

The organ purchased for £200 in 1976, thought to have been built by Sweetlands of Bath, and  came from the redundant church at East Horrington.  It is a two manual instrument with tracker action with 9 stops, 4 swell, 4 great and a pedal.

The church has a number of memorials to the family of the Lord of the Manor, from the 18th century onwards.

The brass lectern is a gift in memory of 2nd Lieutenant John Ormond Butler of the Royal Flying Corps who died  in the Great War in 1918 aged 19.

Just to the east of the priest's door is a piscina, a bowl structure which was used for the cleaning of communion vessels.  It is in the Decorated style with an elegant fluted column and ogee-shaped canopy, and was found walled up in 1843.

Priest's Door
Priest's Door
The priest's door is on the south-side of the church just before the altar.

Church window
Made by Messrs. Heaton, Butler & Bayne in or after 1869. 
In the sanctuary, the East Window illustrates the story of Christ.  The side windows depict the four evangelists.
In the chancel the North window depicts Abraham and Moses, on the South side Isiah and Daniel.

Tower & Bells

The tower was rebuilt in 1754 and is in three stages.  It is 75 ft to the cockerel's head.  The thickness of the walls varies from 6 ft. at ground level to 2 ft. in the belfry.  There are 7 bells in the tower:
Fixed bell - c. 1450-1500 (6cwt.*)
Experts think this was the work of Robert Hendley of Gloucester. It bears the inscription "HELPOVS ANDREV WEBIDDITNYE EVREBY FORYE  TRINITE".
A possible translation is "Help us Andrew, we biddeth ye, ever/hereby for your Trinity".  The bell was hung for full circle ringing until 1980, when it was found to be unsafe to ring in that manner, so it is now hung "dead" ie fixed, amd struck by a chiming hammer on the outside.
See How old is that bell?.
6th (Tenor) - 1612 18¼ cwt - also recorderd as 13¼ cwt
Attributed to Robert Purdue of Bristol.
2nd - 1640 (4cwt.)
Originally cast by John Lott of Warminster, and recast in 1866.  The benefactor was H.W. Hammond, a relation of the Rector John Hammond (1820-1860).
4th - 1684 (8cwt.)
Cast by John Lott, presumed to be the son of the founder of the 2nd bell.
5th - 1755 (10cwt.)
Cast by Abel Rudhall of Gloucester.
1st (Treble) - 1811 (5cwt.)
Cast by Thomas Mears of London,, and recast in 1906 - originally presented to the church by William Vaughan, Lord of the Manor.
3rd - 1980 - (7cwt.)
Donated by an anonymous benefactor in 1980, and founded by John Taylor of Loughborough.

* cwt. = hundredweight = 112 pounds =1/20 of a ton

Clock face
Purchased in 1813 by the Lord of the Manor, William Vaughan, and manufactured by Thomas Mops of Ludgate in the City of London.  The clock is driven by two weights, one for the clock and the other for the chiming mechanism., wound weekly.  The accuracy is maintained by a 9 ft . pendulum.  The dial was last repainted in 1997 to celebrate the parish's 700th year of independence from the jurisdiction of the Priory of Bath, at a cost of £845.

Cockerel Wind Vane
click here to enlarge
The cockerel weathervane (6 ft long, 5 ft high) on top of Priston Church Tower, given to Priston Church by William Vaughan in 1813.