12th to 20th October 2018

St George's Church, Dunster

St George’s Church, St George's Street, Dunster TA24 6RY

Parking:   Main car park on the Minehead side of town. Also parking at Dunster Castle.
Toilets:    There are toilets at the main car park and at the entrance to the Castle.
Food:       The Luttrell Arms (01643 821555) Lunch 12pm-3pm, Supper 7pm-9.30pm
               The Yarn Market Hotel (01643 821425) Supper from 5.30pm-8.30pm

The present building of St George's Church dates back to 1097 when William de Mohun endowed the foundation of a Benedictine Priory, a daughter cell of Bath Abbey. Although there must have been a Saxon church in Dunster, no trace of this remains as the monks set about building a completely new church with a cruciform, apsoidal design. The building had a squat tower at the intersection of the transepts, nave and chancel. The 12th/13th centuries saw the replacement of the apse with an angular chancel and the addition of a chapel to the east of the south transept. Further major changes occurred in the 15th century when the height of the tower was raised to its present level and north and south aisles were constructed. And so the structure of the building remained until the major re-ordering of the interior in the 1867.

Although founded as a Priory Church, as the town of Dunster grew in size and prosperity, as a result of the wool trade, so pressure increased for the townsfolk to have their own church. This led to a dispute between town and priory which was resolved after arbitration at Glastonbury in 1499. The tribunal ruled that the area to the east of the transepts should become the Priory Church with the remaining area to be the Parish Church. The old screen between the piers of the tower was removed to span the arch between the South Transept and the St Lawrence Chapel to the east. The parish then commissioned a new screen, which is still a notable feature of the church, so generating the Choir and Chancel areas that exist today.

Thus, St George’s Church is a stone palimpsest recording changes in attitudes and approaches to the Christian religion and its liturgy through the centuries. However, one thing has remained constant throughout, namely that the church and all those associated with it have been here to serve God and the community. The church, over the centuries, has provided an environment for communal prayer and worship, an oasis of peace for individual prayer and contemplation, a source of spiritual renewal for the world-weary as well as providing sanctuary for the oppressed. In addition, the homeless and destitute would have received food and shelter at the Priory. Today, St George’s remains, physically, at the centre of Dunster and it still ministers to the spiritual needs of all who live or visit the village (as it has now become). 

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