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St Mary's Church
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Bridgwater St Mary's Church Roof Bosses and Corbels

Miscellaneous Notes

The number of bosses

If you refer to the 1834 church interior at
http://www.friarn.co.uk/StMary/1834interior/1834.jpg
you will see that apparently there were only 5 ornamented ribs, which end beyond the Kingsmill memorial but before the arch to the chantry chapel containing the organ. That's 35 bosses (2 x 15 per side + 5 medial or ridge).

Brakspear's Architect's fee account[1] make it clear that work was to be carried out in the chancel.
William Shewbrooks of Taunton was the contractor for the chancel roof[2] In 1846, it was noted that there was "a major roof leak in the chancel"[3].

Architect's Account

To furnishing a detail drawing and estimate of repairs of roof over chancel and chapel, amount of estimate £282 £7 14s 0d

Surveyor's Account

To taking out quantities of work in the new chancel roof for the use of contactor's estimate, being £188 6s 8d £3 15s 4d

I think it safe to assume that the pendants are Victorian, as they are integral to the heavily ornamented ribs. The angels are certainly Victorian[4]. Most current ornaments bear traces of a red colour, but this has been removed except in the crevices on the carvings, probably during the simplification of ca 1876. Brakspear may have coloured all of the bosses & angels red, but that endeavour may have been seen as ostentatious.


If you deduct the pendants, 25 in number, that leaves 45 ornamental bosses, 10 more than may have been present in 1834. If you then look closely at the photographic record of the bosses


(a) some look fresher than others

(b) some show repetitions of symbols (note especially the Star of David).

I think it is possible to identify 10 or so bosses which might be Victorian (Brakspear) copies of the original set of ca. 1420.

For instance, are all of 2N3, 2N4, 2N9, 2S4, 2S13 originals, or are some copies? Are some of the knot patterns the same? There may be others!


[1]  1855 9 June The Builder No 644, 269 Cited in Cattermole, Cox, Woolrich The Parish Church of St Mary, Bridgwater : A study of the nave seating and its context, 2007, p59
[2]  SHC D\P\bw.m8/4/1
[3]  Bridgwater Times 6 August 1846
[4]  Jarman, S G A Handbook of St Mary's Church Bridgwater , Bridgwater Gazette, 1885, p13 "In the chancel roof are ten figures of angels, carved in wood, which were placed there by the late Mr John Browne"

3 February 2013 P. Cattermole. All Content © Bridgwater Heritage Group, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, do not reproduce material without permission.

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