Or rather Ilminster to give it its modern name.
|St Mary's church, Ilminster|
On our way back from Edinburgh to the Portsmouth ferry we stayed overnight just north of Bristol. The weather during the drive down wasn't good; frequent rain showers and loooming grey clouds, but thankfully not as horrendous as on the way up.
|looking towards the 19th C [medieval revival] reredos at the east end|
Nevertheless, our plan to spend the next day pottering round the Somerset - Dorset - Devon area before boarding the overnight ferry at 10pm looked like being scuppered. The thought of sight-seeing in the rain did not hold much appeal. There had been a ream of flood alerts for the area and we watched the news and weather in the hotel with little hope. The BBC weather forecaster brightly told us that although the day would start with heavy rain it would clear by about noon. We went to bed with fingers crossed. Our hotel room looked out over the village cricket ground. Next morning it was heavily waterlogged with large puddles in the outfield. The sky was grey and it was bucketing down. We didn't rush to get on the road.
|Wadham Chantry Chapel & Jacobean wood screen|
By the time we got to Taunton it had cleared up to an amazing degree and it looked as if the weather gods were going to smile on us. We headed off to Ilminster having decided to explore this small market town in Somerset while the going was good.
|wall mounted helmet, Wadham Chantry Chapel|
Named as Yslemynstre in the Doomsday Book of 1086, [Anglo-Saxon for the Minster on the river Isle] it gets its first mention in documents dating from 725AD. By the time of the Doomsday Book it held a charter allowing it to hold a weekly market which is still held today. It is a lovely small town with narrow winding streets and an impressive range of independent shops. The butcher and attached delicatessen, opposite the church, had a mouth watering display of meats and other goodies.
|table-top, or altar tomb with niches for 'weepers'|
Originally a minster, from the Latin monasterium
, was a church where the clergy followed a communal life and were given a charter which required them to maintain a daily office of prayer. The place name Ilmister harks back to the time when the church there was of this type. Wikipedia's entry
helpful in explaining the "how and what" of minster churches.
What we found was the lovely 15th century parish church of St Mary's built in the Perpendicular style. We had an excellent time looking round and found not only an interesting Lady Chapel [south transept] but also the chantry chapel of the Wadham family [north transept]. One of whom, Nicholas, together with his wife, Dorothy founded and endowed Wadham College Oxford in the early 17th century.
|mother & son on top of the Wadham tomb|
An earlier Wadham, Sir William, comissioned a table-top or altar tomb with brasses for himself and, unusually, his mother in 1440. He died in 1452. Much of the ornamental brasswork on the purbeck marble top remains. However, we had to move the carpet covering the top to see the brasses. The bats flitting about at night have caused damage to them by splattering drops of urine.
|Sir William portrayed in very expensive armour|
The brasses show a knight, William, in 'state of the art' armour [probably from Milan and very expensive] with, to his right, his mother in a widow's wimple; both under a lovely triple canopy. It is thought that he comissioned the building of both the north transept as the chantry chapel and the church tower.
|Sir William & his mother flanking Christ in majesty|
The Lady Chapel, or south transept has another tomb, of the Walrond family, dated 1553. Up in the corners of the Lady Chapel we spotted some 15th century redundant corbels [or possibly head-stops] carved with interesting faces.
|grinning 15thC face|
Sadly none of the original stained glass remained. The windows are mid to late 19th century re-productions, in keeping with the building. The church was completely refurbished by William Burgess in 1825 and restored in 1883, 1887-89 and again in 1902.
|East window, 19thC|
When we left Ilminster the sun was shining so it looked as if the rest of our afternoon explorations would be bright.
As always you can click on any of the photos to enlarge them.