St Catherine's Church, Swell
St Catherine's Church, Swell

The isolated 12th-century church of St Catherine stands between the old manor house and farm buildings in Swell, a hamlet just west of Curry Rivel and north of the River Isel. The church has no electricity, meaning that for services an extension cable has to be run from the neighbouring farm.

The church interior
The church interior

The Church

The very simple church consists of a three-bay nave, chancel, south porch and west bellcote holding a ring of two bells. The building is constructed of rubble stone with a slate roof. The two-bay chancel is lit by a four-light east window. The nave is supported by two large, thick buttresses on the south side and four further buttresses to the north.

The porch protects an original 12th-century doorway with Arabesque carved decoration on the inner moulding head. The nave features a vaulted wagon roof with simply carved bosses. The nave holds several 16th-century pews and an octagonal Norman font.

The 12th-century south doorway
The 12th-century south doorway

Interior Features

The pulpit dates to 1634, with typical strapwork carvings. In the south wall of the chancel is a simply carved piscina with a cusped head opening.

Other historical features include a 17th-century alms box and a Jacobean parish chest. There are several surviving fragments of medieval glass. There are very few memorials inside the church, but two small 16th-century brasses are set into the floor.

The record of rectors goes back to 1319 when the incumbent was described as 'Gilbert dict. Regge de Bruyton'.

The 1634 wooden pulpit
The 1634 wooden pulpit

Getting There

Take the A378 west from Curry Rivel and turn off onto Swell Lane after 2 miles. The lane runs directly past Swell Court Farm where you will see St Catherine's Church to your left, amidst a cluster of farm buildings. The church is usually open daylight hours and was open when we visited.

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About Swell, St Catherine's Church
Address: Swell Lane, Swell, Somerset, England, TA3 6PZ
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: At Swell Court Farm, west of Curry Rivel
Website: Swell, St Catherine's Church
Location map
OS: ST369235
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


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