Ancient Monuments

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The Chapel, Shearston

A Scheduled Monument in North Petherton, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.0701 / 51°4'12"N

Longitude: -3.0264 / 3°1'34"W

OS Eastings: 328182.2564

OS Northings: 130582.928604

OS Grid: ST281305

Mapcode National: GBR M4.DWMX

Mapcode Global: FRA 46K9.6S7

Entry Name: The Chapel, Shearston

Scheduled Date: 26 October 1970

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006166

English Heritage Legacy ID: SO 385

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: North Petherton

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


Moated medieval chapel 115m south west of Chapel Hill Farm.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 20 August 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument includes a moated medieval chapel situated on the summit of Chapel Hill. The moat survives as an elongated D-shaped enclosure measuring approximately 90m long by 60m wide and defined by a shallow ditch up to 15m wide with a very slight bank visible on the interior of the island and best preserved in the eastern angle. The moat was drained in 1829 and notes taken in 1883 describe a double line of stout oak posts on the northern side that indicated the position of a bridge. On the island are a number of shallow depressions most particularly a pit in the south east corner. Two ditched boundaries extend to the north possibly indicative of a track-way leading to the bridge. From the place-name evidence of ‘Chapel Hill’ it is believed this is the site of a documented chantry chapel of Buckland Priory which was gifted in around 1167 by William de Erleigh the founder of the priory. It became a free chapel of Shearston by at least 1342 when it was owned by Sir John de Reigny. It passed into lay hands shortly after 1548 when it was surveyed by the Commissioners for Dissolution.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains. A medieval chapel is a building, usually rectangular, containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate for Christian worship in the pre- Reformation period. Chapels were designed for congregational worship and were generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provided accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which was the main domain of the priest and contained the principal altar. Around 4000 parochial chapels were built between the 12th and 17th centuries as subsidiary places of worship built for the convenience of parishioners who lived at a distance from the main parish church. Other chapels were built as private places of worship by manorial lords and lie near or within manor houses, castles or other high-status residences. Chantry chapels were built and maintained by endowment and were established for the singing of masses for the soul of the founder. Unlike parish churches, the majority of which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their communities and supporting finances declined or disappeared. Many chantry chapels disappeared after the dissolution of their supporting communities in the 1540s. Despite reduction in the height of the earthworks through cultivation the moated medieval chapel 115m south west of Chapel Hill Farm survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function, longevity, possible adaptive re-use as a dwelling, social, political and religious significance, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England


PastScape Monument No:-191092

Source: Historic England

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