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The Parish Church of St. Andrew, Aller
Architecture and History of the Church Building
Text on this web page is taken from a brochure available from St. Andrews. Please visit to obtain your copy or mail your request with self-addressed business (A5) envelope, return postage, and £1 to:
Mrs. Gill Sims, Spindles, Aller, Somerset, TA10 0QN , UK. Proceeds from the sale of this leaflet go towards church upkeep. Requests from abroad should be e-mailed to: DaveAndCelia@mac.com.
The chancel was probably added in the late 13th or early 14th century, as the east and north windows, the doorway in the south wall and the angled corner buttresses are all typical of this period. There is a simple aumbry to the east of the doorway. The windows on the south side are late 15th century and the doorway leading to the vestry on the north side is 19th century. Against the north wall in an elaborately cusped niche, lies the effigy of a knight, probably Sir John of Clevedon, who died in 1372. There are a number of well-reserved tombstones in the floor.
In the late 14th century, the esstate of Aller (then known as King's Auler) was acquired by Sir Peter Courtney by marrage, and he made some additions to the church. He built the south porch and erected the tower, which has features of considerable interest. The supporting arches suggest that he may have intended the tower to be builg on a crossing with transepts to the north and south, and an extension of the nave to the west. However, before his vision could be realized, he was killed in a tournament and buried in Exeter Cathedral in 1405. The embryo transepts which are both about 4 feet (1.2 m) long and have carved stone vaulting running north-south and the west extension of the nave is non-existent. The west window is late 15th century and is probablyl a replacement for an earlier window. There is internal evidence, but no external evidence) of a large window in the south wall of the south transept. Over all the lowest stage of the tower gives the impression of having been finished off using material intended for a grander scheme. It is probable that three bells were installed in the tower when it was built. In 1999 the bells were restored and augmented to provide a ring of six to mark the millennium.
The North Aisle
In 1861, a faculty authorised the church wardens to "Take down and remove the north wall of the nave; the gallery at the west end f the church and approaces thereto. To build, rerect and set up and make an aisle, north porch and vestry room (with entrance through the cancel wall) repair and restore the tower and turret." The graves disturbed by this construction were re-sited nearby, and the north wall of the nave was replaced by columns. Although the architect's plans of the church before and after the extension still exist, there are no associated elevations. However, it would appear from the discovery, when the bells were restored in 1999, of a filled-in window on the east side of the tower at the same level as the small window on the west side of the tower, that the pitch of the nave and chancel roofs was increased at the same time. This view is supported by the fact that the roof timbers of the nave and chancel are almost certainly Victorian. A board commemorating the extension (not on display) states that the church was able to seat at least 250 and that "The sittings are all free and subject to annual allotment by the Church Wardens suitable provision being made for the poor inhabitants." The total of 250 was only achieved by filling the church with pews, including in the base of the tower, and seating people very close to each other. Subsequently the pews at the base of the tower and two pews at the east end of the north aisle were removed. The church now seats about 175.
The effigy of the cross-legged knight in the northwest corner of the church is probably Sir John of Aller, who died in 1272. He was given permission in 1263 to found a chantry, which was built to the west of the church. His effigy was probably ejected from the chapel at the time of its dissolution in 1548. After the ejection, the effigy was placed in the churchyard, where it remained until at least 1925, accounting for its weathered appearance. When it was moved into the church is not known.
The Stained Glass Windows
All the stained glass, with the exception of the memorial window in the center light of the nave south window, is Victorian. Of particular interest is the window in the north wall of the chancel, which depicts Alfred the Great and commemorates the reign of Queen Victoria. The wording compares the two manarchs and indicated the high regard that the Victorians had for their Queen and their history. A companion leaflet available at the chuch covers King Alfred in Aller.
The Norman font was removed turing the Commonwealth when churches were laid bare. After the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, churches slowly recovered and a new octagonal font was installed in 1663. In 1862, the original font was recovered from a pond in the old rectory garden, and resored to its original place in the church. It is this font that has since been used for baptisms. The 17th century replacement was retired to the east end of the north aisle, where it can still be seen. A local legend states that the original font is the very one in which Guthrum was baptised, but this font is Norman, not Saxon, and probably dates from the time the Norman church was built.
The Jacobean carved wood pulpit, dated 1610, survived the upsets of the Commonwealth. The Jacobean altar table also survived -- only to be stolen in 1978, together with a Bible box and the chairs from inside the altar rail. None of the stolen items were recoverd, and the present altar and chairs are Victorian.
The following records are deposited in the County Record office in Taunton:
The registers of baptisms, marriages, and burials after these dates are held in the church.
Companion Publications Available at St. Andrews