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West Quantoxhead and the Church of St Etheldreda

West Quantoxhead and the Church of St Etheldreda

West Quantoxhead is also known as St Audries after St Audries House but the church is St Etheldreda's. In the 1850s the Acland Hoods who occupied St Audries House had the old, shabby, medieval church taken down and commissioned their architect to design a new medieval style church, more upright, more opulent and more in keeping with the grandeur of their estate.

West Quantoxhead - St Etheldreda's Church in the snow - 23rd January 2013

St Etheldreda's is the most modern church between Stowey and Porlock, and is well worth a visit. Despite its modest size the interior is lushly decorated with polished marble columns, beautifully carved stone bosses and brackets, carved and polished oak pews and roof timbers, some lovely victorian stained glass and floors of marble slabs and patterned encaustic tiles. Unlike their predecessors the Victorian craftsmen worked with great precision; everything is straight, plumb and true. It is like a vision of a perfect and imaginary medieval interior and must have been quite different to the real twelfth century church which it replaced. It is popular for weddings, being very photogenic.

The Acland Hoods  built several roadside wells or drinking fountains along the main road and one is close by the church. Edward Thomas described the scene in 1913

Edward Thomas'  WestQuantoxhead Well

The pale gorsey turf of the deer park fell away on the right to the great house and its protecting woods. Daffodils and primroses were thick on the left hand slopes. And there was a fountain of ever-running water at the roadside. I took the water inwardly and outwardly and no longer troubled about the difficulty of ascent and return.

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