Sunday, February 7, 2010

Meare, Somerset

House with a history

A few hundred yards form the Fish House described in the previous post is this house. It is set back from the road and it’s easy to admire its partly rendered stone walls and mullioned windows – an example of Somerset vernacular from the 16th century, perhaps?

Not entirely. Look more closely at the right-hand part of the wall and blocked openings can be seen between the buttresses. These openings are pointed, evidence of a row of 14th-century windows lighting a rather grand chamber inside. The upward-pointing curve of the porch roof looks 14th-century too, and the statue that acts as its finial clinches the medieval connection. This piece of carved stone is very worn now, but clearly portrays a mitred abbot. This was the country residence of the abbots of Glastonbury and the statue may portray Richard Whiting, the last abbot of Glastonbury, who was executed in 1539 (for reasons that are murky, although the charge was Treason) and is considered by the Roman Catholic Church to be a martyr.

After the dissolution, the building became a farmhouse, and there is an attached range of outbuildings, mostly 18th and 19th century, but apparently with a medieval core, beyond the main house. The building’s farming inhabitants no doubt found smaller openings (and perhaps an altered interior layout) more practical than the abbot’s grand windows, but the solid walls of the medieval builders are still doing good service, nearly 500 years after the monastic community closed.

There is more about the restoration of the building, and close-ups of the statue, here.


Thud said...

I'm only 6 months into a 3-4 year restoration...after that i hope you can find me something like this to work on!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Right, I'd better keep my eyes open! Meanwhile, all the best with your long project.

Peter Ashley said...

I love this house too. But can you now tell us something about that slurry tank on the lawn?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Ah, the tank, yes. I could easily have left it out of the photo, but thought certain readers would appreciate it if I left it in.

Ron Combo said...

Just like the one that comes to empty our septic tank, or pozzo nero (black well) as the Italians put it.