There has been a church on the site of the present structure since about 940 A.D. The existing tower dates from the late 15th century.
The fortunes of the church were distinctly varied, and there were both good and notorious rectors. William Haskett, was ejected c.1646 as a Royalist and for “scandal”. Peter Bradford (d. 1656) followed, at the petition of the inhabitants. Charles Mitchell, rector 1715—66, conducted clandestine marriages for people from a wide area: the number is extraordinary – for example, in1749, there were 24 marriages, but only 3 of those married lived in Maperton. People came from as far as Gillingham and Sherborne to be married at Maperton.
FIRE swept through the church on 26th December 1849 destroying the roof. In 1850 the church was thatched and in 1851-2 it was re-roofed with tiles and slates from the quarry in the village, the walls, windows, and plastering were repaired, new pews were provided, and the church was redecorated. (In the present church there are copies of pictures showing it as it was, both thatched and tiled.)
In 1853 the parish purchased the present organ, made by the renowned London organ-builder Thomas Bevington: in use to this day, one of our organists who plays regularly at Sherborne Abbey describes it as "the ideal village instrument."
DEMOLITION AND RE-BUILDING: All this effort notwithstanding, by 1869 the church was said to be dilapidated and it was demolished save for the tower.
Barring the tower, all that survives from that church are the piscina (now in the sanctuary), three medieval heads used to decorate the new porch together with the Anglo-Saxon decorated fragment, the minute stone face, now in the interior of the base of the tower, and the organ.
THE NEW CHURCH, designed by Henry Hall in Early English style in 1869, cost £1,500 and was built of rubble with freestone dressings under a roof of Maperton tiles, later condemned as of poor quality. It is decorated with coloured glass windows by Powell of Bristol, encaustic tiles, a carved Bath stone reredos depicting fruit, and Minton tiles in the chancel, which incorporates the piscina found during demolition. The east window, one of 5 in the church designed by Henry Holiday, is one of the finest stained-glass windows in Somerset. Holiday was the uncle of the well-known equestrian artist Gilbert Holiday.
THE 1920’s & 1930’s: In 1919 the old font, ejected into the churchyard in 1870, was restored. In 1921 the choir stalls were scraped and stained and the hatchment bearing the Royal arms of King George II dated 1738 (found in a stable loft) was restored to the church. In 1926/7 the church was panelled with oak from late 17th-century pews removed from Sherborne Abbey, augmented by modern panels, and the present pulpit was added –again, from Sherborne Abbey. In 1931 the south transept was consecrated as a Lady Chapel and furnished with a copy of Correggio’s Madonna, a sixth, treble, bell was added to the peal in memory of the Kelly family, and the churchyard was levelled and extended.
THE FRAMED BANNER is in fact a panel of an altar frontal that adorned the earlier church, which can be dated by its distinctive Pugin-esque design to the 1850’s: on the back is a logo of the crossed keys of “St. P & P – MAPERTON.”
THE NICHOLSON MEMORIAL: Brigadier Claude Nicholson, late 16/5th The Queen’s Royal Lancers, was one of the brightest soldiering prospects of his generation and a keen horseman, immensely popular locally, who spent many happy days at Maperton House with his aunt, Mary Ridley, before he was despatched to command the garrison at Calais in May 1940: after an heroic battle against overwhelming odds, the port fell and Nicholson was captured. He died in a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany in 1943: the memorial to him in the church was erected before the award of a C.B., back-dated to before his death, had been gazetted.
THE CRICKETING CONNECTION: Opposite the memorial to Brigadier Nicholson is one to Colonel H.M. Ridley. Matthew Ridley was not simply a great benefactor of the village: he was a very capable and enthusiastic cricketer. He was President of Somerset County Cricket Club in 1926 and donated the money to enable the Ridley Stand to be built on the Club's ground at Taunton. His wife's father William Nicholson was Chairman of J. & W. Nicholson, distillers: in 1864 he loaned the money to the MCC that enabled the purchase of Lords cricket ground, and in 1889, the money to build the Lords Pavilion. One theory is that to signify its gratitude, the MCC adopted the company's colours of scarlet and gold ("eggs-and-bacon").
THE BELLS: The six bells were re-cast and re-hung in 2007. Thanks to the loving care of a number of very enthusiastic Captains of the Tower, in particular the late Lloyd McCreadie – Churchwarden for over 60 years - they are widely regarded as some of the best tuned and finely balanced bells for miles around, and attract ringers from all over the country.
THE HATCHMENT: This is a fine depiction of the Georgian Royal Arms. The quartering of the shield includes the arms of Hanover which consist of the two lions passant guardant of Brunswick, the lion rampant of Luneburg, and the white horse of Westphalia, with a small inescutcheon superimposed bearing the crown of Charlemagne. The royal arms quartered Hanover from the accession of Queen Anne in 1702 to the death of William IV in 1837, and the French quarter of the arms were retained until 1801. The hatchment was presumably presented by Michael Pitman in 1738 to mark the death of George II’s queen, Wilhelmina Caroline Dorothea of Brandenburg-Anspatch on 20th November 1737. It was restored in 2012 with the aid of a grant from St. Andrew’s Conservation Trust.
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Disabled Access: This is an old building: it is not designed for wheeled access and compromises have to be made. There is a two-inch step up into the porch and nave, but access beyond the nave is restricted.
Amenities: There are no publicly accessible lavatory or washing facilities at the church or in Maperton village.
Taxis: Destination Travel - 01963.34441 in Wincanton.
Banks, doctors and chemists: Wincanton (3 miles)
Railways: Castle Cary (Great Western) - 6 miles - or Templecombe (South-west Trains), 4 miles
St. Peter & St. Paul's Church,
The church is normally open during daylight hours in the winter and from 9.30 am until 6 pm in the summer. If it is shut, a key can be obtained from J. Scott at Yarn Barton (details on the notice-board in the porch) or ring 07966.171723
Copyright in all photographs on this website belongs to O.J. de C. Scott, L.R.P.S.