St George's Church, Bicknoller
St George's Church, Bicknoller

Bicknoller is a pretty village on the western fringe of the Quantock Hills. In the centre of the village stands St George's Church, the oldest part which was built in the 12th century.

In the churchyard stands a 14th century cross on a stepped base. In the churchyard is a large, ornate tomb to John Norris of Thorncombe House, who died in 1860.

Also in the churchyard is a huge yew tree thought to be over 1000 years old, and nearby stand the parish stocks. The fact that the stocks are in the churchyard suggests that until the 19th century the church officers administered the parish and dispensed local justice.

During the reign of Henry III, the manor was owned by the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and the church served as a manorial chapel.

Most of the building we see today dates to the 14th and 15th centuries, with substantial Victorian restoration. The tower and nave are both 15th-century work. They are made of local stone dressed with Ham stone for the quoins. In the tower hang six bells, the oldest cast in 1420.

The church is entered through a 16th century south porch with a small chamber called a parvise above it. The parvise was used by the priest as an office, and sometimes as a residence.

The nave and chancel pillars have wonderfully carved capitals. One carving on the north side of the chancel shows a man pursued by an evil spirit which is trying to keep away with a club.

Late medieval wooden screen
Late medieval wooden screen

The original medieval stone altar is still in use. It was discovered in the churchyard in the 1950s where it must have been discarded at the time of the Reformation.

One of the most appealing features of Bicknoller church is the series of wonderfully carved 16th-century bench ends. These were carved by Simon Werman, a native of Bicknoller who also worked on several other churches in the area. The benches feature ornate arches and foliage carvings. Werman is also credited with carving the tomb of Robert of Normandy, son of William the Conqueror, at Gloucester Cathedral.

The font is 15th century, though it looks newer because it has been recut. Beside the altar is the oldest feature inside the church; a 12th-century pillar piscina. The wall it attaches to may also date to the 12th century. Also in the chancel are a pair of niches with lovely quatrefoil tracery.

The oldest memorial is a grave slab commemorating John Saffin (d. 1621) set into the chancel floor. In the vestry is a tablet commemorating Joseph Sweeting of Thorncombe, who died in 1707, and his daughter Mary, who died in 1712 at the age of 8.

Most of the glass is 19th-century work, but there is a fragment of medieval stained glass in the north window of the chancel.

The real treasure of St George's Church is a beautifully carved 16th-century screen. The screen was not made for Bicknoller's church but was brought here from Huish Champflower in 1726. The carving is exquisite, particularly the richly carved canopy facing the nave.

St George's is a wonderful church full of historical interest. It is usually open for visitors and was open when we visited.

Historical Highlights

  • 12th-century pillar piscina
  • Late medieval carved screen
  • Carved column capitals
  • 16th-century bench ends
  • 1000-year-old yew tree

More Photos

About Bicknoller, St George's Church
Address: Church Lane, Bicknoller, Quantocks, Somerset, England, TA4 4EL
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: On Church Lane, in the village centre. access off the A358, four miles south-east of Williton.
Website: Bicknoller, St George's Church
Location map
OS: ST110394
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

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