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August Church Crawl - Fine churches of NE Somerset


William Newsom, trustee and organiser of the crawl welcomes Julian Orbach crawl leader at the church of St Mary Magdalene, Great Elm. Click on the heading for a full report of the day.

The crawl on Saturday 17th August 2019 was blessed with lovely sunny weather that enhanced our enjoyment of the day.
The crawl was to four churches, namely St Mary Magdalene, Great Elm, St Mary, Orchardleigh, All Saints, Lullington and St George, Beckington, all in the vicinity of Frome.

Notably, the crawl was led by Julian Orbach, the well-known expert on historic buildings who revised and updated Pevsner’s Buildings of England for Somerset South and West.

There was an excellent turnout of SCT members and guests who numbered 47 at the third church (Lullington). This number was swelled by another c15 at Beckington, comprising members of The Friends of St George’s who produced a superb tea – many thanks to them.

Great Elm is renowned for its box pews. At this church, Judy Duffus, Church Warden, played the read organ.
Orchardleigh, which has 13th C origins, occupies a secluded spot on an island in a lake. It has a Jacobean pulpit and Norman font – and no electricity.

For me, the highlight of the day was Julian Orbach reading a poem called ‘Fidele’s Grassy Tomb, by Sir Henry Newbolt, to whom there is a memorial in the church. The poem is set at Orchardliegh and is about the squire who on his deathbed requested that his faithful dog Fidele be buried at his feet. The request was honoured but after the Bishop learned of it and objected, the sexton given the task of exhuming the hound’s body had other ideas. There is a memorial outside to Fidele.


Lullington is regarded as one of the top churches in the county, notable in particular for its Norman north doorway and inside, its Norman tower arches.

 Lullington, the Norman doorway

At Beckington, while enjoying the tea, we were able to admire the lofty nave with clerestory, together with several notable military memorials, three stone effigies and much else.
The crawl raised over £400 which was shared between SCT and the participating churches. Many thanks to everyone that attended and to those who contributed.

 Tea and cakes at Beckington

William Newsom
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