About this church
A walk through the village to the church is one of the prettiest in Somerset, up a medieval street and historic buildings around the churchyard. From the churchyard you can glimpse the manor house, held by the Horner family (associated with the Rhyme Little Jack Horner).
It is said that, at the time of the dissolution, Richard Whiting, the last abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, sent his steward Jack Horner to London with a Christmas pie to appease Henry VIII. The pie had the deeds to 12 manors hidden under it's pastry crust. On the journey, Jack opened the pie and removed the deeds of Mells Manor.
Their descendent the Asquiths include Sir Herbert Asquith, Prime Minister.
In 1292 the church belonged to Glastonbury Abbey and was valued at 35 marks. Most of the current building is late 15th century, including the west tower which is beautifully decorated with Perpendicular carvings.
There is a faceless clock, first mentioned in 1685 when George Sweet was named for keeping the clock and bells. The present arrangement strikes the hour and chimes the four quarters. On the third hour it plays one of four tunes from the carillon. There are 8 bells, and a sanctus bell, hung in the roof of the chancel and dating from around 1325.
Outside the east end are the graves of the Horner and Asquith families, as well as Lady Violet Bonham Carter. Also look out for a memorial to poet Siegfried Sassoon.
The late 15th century porch has extravagant detail, including a fan vaulted ceiling. But inside, the tower vaulting is simply superb, a beautiful example of late 15th century perpendicular fan vaulting.
The interior includes a reredos made from white marble, and a marble altar in various colours with a Norman font. There are also several stained glass windows dating from around 1850 including one by William Nicholson.
The most striking feature of the church is a huge equestrian statue, showing Frances Horner, a Lieutenant, who was killed in action in France during WWI. The statue was sculpted by Sir Alfred Munnings, and the base was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. There are further memorials to the Horner family throughout church.
Under the tower is an appealing gesso memorial to Laura Lyttleton, designed by Edward Burne-Jones in 1886 and featuring a very large peacock. Opposite is a memorial to Raymond Asquith, the son of the Prime Minister Sir Herbert Asquith, who died in WWI. The inscription is carved over a laurel wreath designed by Lutyens.
The church also contains two returned battlefield crosses, from the graves of Horner and Asquith.