Millenium History of St Michael's Church

The Millennium History by John Page

This page lists the chapters of the Millennium History of St Michael’s.  Under the chapter headings there is a summary of the contents of the chapter.  Click on the chapter headings to open each chapter. 

The whole book was extensively researched for the Millennium and has been revised during 2022.  It provides significant architectural detail about the church, and, where appropriate, there are descriptions of the people involved in the building.  For those who wish to study our church’s heritage in depth this is the “gold standard”, and worthy of reading at leisure at home.  However, another way of looking at it would be to open a chapter as you go round the different parts of the church.


1.Cover and Introduction – provides the background sources of the historical information that have accumulated over many hundreds of years.  This is helpful to read as the sources are frequently mentioned in the history itself. 

2.Early History – this chapter explores some of the legends surrounding the land around Brent Knoll and the origins of the ownership of the land.  In particular, how did the land pass into the hands of the Bishop of Bath and Wells rather than the Abbot of Glastonbury.  In the process we learn about a medieval forgery. 

3.The Nave – a substantial chapter that covers a wide range of subject matter that includes the intricacies of construction of the nave over the centuries, reference to the corbels supporting the roof and notes on the carved bosses on the roof.  In describing the monuments a famous, or infamous, dispute between two local vicars in the 19thC is mentioned   

4.The Chancel - to many the chancel is one of the more pedestrian aspects of St Michael’s.  It may be a poor example of Victorian restoration but there are aspects of the chancel such as the stained glass windows and the tiles that are worth looking at inside.  Outside the mix of stone used in the 19th century rebuilding is worth studying.

5.The Vestry – the historical detective work uncovering the past use of the vestry as a chantry chapel  is a fascinating example of how study of architecture can reveal facts that are not readily apparent. 

6.The South Porch and Doorway – the history demonstrates another example of how architectural detective work can uncover detail not apparent to the casual observer.  Learn the meaning of the term parvise and how the porch was probably used to house an early schoolroom.  This chapter also covers the origin of the Norman arch entrance to the church, the church door and the recesses for the wooden sanctuary bar to be seen in the doorway. 

7.The Tower -   constructed in the early 15th C the tower has interesting grotesques at a high level. Damage in late 19th C was costly to repair.  The chapter also covers the organ and the contents of the organ loft, the bells and bellringing activities and the old clock the mechanism of which remains in the tower  

8.The North Aisle – the external stone work of Somerset freestone is described along with detail about the grotesques and gargoyles.  Internally the font and the new Baptistry window are mentioned along with some older memorial stonework in the Lady Chapel.   

9.Benchends – this chapter concentrates on the medieval bench ends in the nave and north aisle that are not part of the Fox and Goose trilogy.  In themselves they are worthy of serious study.  

10.The Fox and Geese benchends – the story of the Fox and Geese is explored in depth.  This includes an analysis of past descriptions that leads into the likely history of the dispute that was almost certainly the origin of the carvings. The medieval folklore on which the story is based is revealed together with an analysis of the imagery that he carvings represent.   

11.Somerset Monument – this notable monument on the south nave wall is described in detail together outlining what is known of the family history of John Somerset.  There is a full description of the events of 1645 during the Civil War when John Somerset and Thomas Gilling tried to quell a riot by Royalist troops who were billeted in South Brent and were arrested for their valiant efforts. 

12.The Grotesques – this chapter provides a classification of grotesques in medieval architecture and describes the grotesques of the tower and north aisle in detail.  Learn the difference between a grotesque and a gargoyle. 

13.The Panelled Ceiling – in the north aisle is analysed and described in detail.   

14.Associated features – covers a history of the Vicarage, aspects of the history of the churchyard, some historical details of buildings that no longer exist such as the Church and Poor Houses, a reference to the Old School building in the grounds of the old Vicarage and some old books found in the church.   

15.Vicars of St. Michael’s – a list of incumbents since 1310   

16.Bibliographyreferences to original sources of information 

Page last updated: Tuesday 6th December 2022 4:16 PM
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