The Parish Church for Misterton
The first Sunday of each month is a ten o’clock Common Worship joint service of Holy Communion for the three parishes of Haselbury Plucknett, North Perrott and Misterton and hosted by each church in turn. After-wards, tea and coffee and biscuits are generally served.
On the second Sunday in the month, we follow the Book of Common Prayer with a service at 11am in St Leonard’s. The service on the third Sunday is Common Worship held at 9:30am in St Leonard’s. Each of these services is about an hour long with hymns, readings and a sermon.
On the fourth Sunday in the month, there is a shorter service at 8am, which lasts about half-an-hour, without hymns but with readings and sometimes a sermon and sometimes not. This follows the order of the Book of Common Prayer. All three services celebrate the Holy Eucharist.
In those months which have a fifth Sunday, we now have a service in which all the parish churches join, held at one of the six churches in the parish.
We have a Bible Study Group which meets once a fortnight. Currently, this takes place at eleven o’clock on a Thursday morning, generally at the Thatched Farmhouse in Middle Street. At present, we are studying St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
History and Background
The name of ‘Misterton’ is first recorded in Somerset around 1199 and means “the fence or enclosure around the monastery or church” and giving the indication there has been a religious establishment here since at least the reign of King Richard the Lionheart. The buildings adjoining the church date from King John’s reign (1199-1216) and perhaps this was a monastic foundation around which the village grew.
In about 1520, the church was dedicated to one of the three St. Leonards canonised by the Church. This particular St. Leonard was a nobleman living in the sixth century in what is now France in the fifth century. It is said that he converted to Christianity in about 496. He is the patron saint of prisoners.
The present building was erected in 1842 (at a cost of £600) and incorporates some artifacts from the earlier church. These include memorials of 1797 to John Brice; of 1806 to Amy Daubney; and to Mary Cox who died in 1835, as well as a lozenge bearing the Royal coat of arms of King George III. The font is Norman but such fonts are common throughout Somerset and it is not known whether this is the original St. Leonard’s font or not. The current building is larger than the one it replaced, being designed to seat 230 rather than the 138 before.
Lying about a mile south-west of Crewkerne, St. Leonard’s Church is towards the end of the cul-de-sac which is Church Lane. Passing through the gate and up the path through the beech trees, you will emerge into the churchyard on your left. The church building is on the right and there are pleasant views across to the fields and hills to the south. A bench is provided for those who wish to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet that is a feature of the place.
For security, the church is locked during the winter months (although a key can be obtained from Misterton Garage in Middle Street) but it is open during the day from Easter to the end of September each year. Entering the church through the south-facing porch, the open nave is simple in its appearance having avoided later Victorian influences. Indeed, apart from an enlargement of the vestry in 1908, there has been no structural alteration since 1842. At the west end, there is an organ loft. Such lofts are unusual although the previous building also had one from at least 1772. There is a plaque on the front of the balcony commemorating the rebuilding of the church. Originally, the loft would have been occupied by a choir and probably musicians as well, the organ coming later in the nineteenth century. Nearly all of the windows contain stained glass, most if not all from the first half of the twentieth century. On the east wall are two late nineteenth-century pictures of angels painted on what is most likely tinplate. The pews probably date, at least mainly, to the rebuilding although there is reference to ‘new seating’ in 1904. Prior to the rebuilding, the church had box pews. The present pulpit was provided in 1948.
We are blessed with a very competent and keen group of flower arrangers who keep the church brilliantly decorated throughout the year – except, of course, in Lent. Over the last weekend in August in odd-numbered years, a Flower Festival is held at the church with a different theme each time. It is well worth coming to visit it. Refreshments are laid on at one or more neighboring houses.
We believe you will find us a welcoming church and pleased to see new faces, whether those who are just visiting or looking for somewhere to ‘roost’.
Photography of St Leonard's, Misterton © Jeffrey Hutson