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The Priest's House, Muchelney

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Priest's House
Thatched stone house surrounded by trees. In the foreground a road junction and sign.
Priest's House, Muchelney
The Priest's House, Muchelney is located in Somerset
The Priest's House, Muchelney
Location within Somerset
General information
Town or city Muchelney
Country England
Coordinates 51°01′16″N 2°48′55″W / 51.021075°N 2.815183°W / 51.021075; -2.815183
Construction started c. 1308
Client Muchelney Abbey

The Priest's House is a National Trust-owned property in Muchelney, in the English county of Somerset. It has been designated as a grade II listed building.[1] The house was built in the early 14th century by the nearby Muchelney Abbey to house the parish priest.

Over the centuries the house deteriorated and was adapted for use as a school. In the late 19th century it rented as storage by a farmer. In the early 20th century the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings campaigned for its restoration and it was then taken over by the National Trust. The thatched stone building is rented to a tenant and has limited public access.


The Priest's House was built by the nearby Muchelney Abbey around 1308 for the parish priest.[2][3][4] The viacarage was valued at £10 per annum in 1535.[4] The building was said to be "ruinous" in 1608.[1] It was used by the vicar or curate until around 1840, when the house was used as a cellar and later as a school.[5]

In the late 19th century it was rented by a farmer for storage. Because of its poor condition it was recommended for demolition in both 1896 and 1901. The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings organised a public appeal to raise money for repairs to which Jane Morris, Thomas Hardy and George Bernard Shaw contributed. As the funding for the restoration was no longer an issue the building was acquired, in 1911,[1] by the National Trust who employed Ernest Barnsley of the Barnsley brothers, the Arts and Crafts movement master builders, to design and the work. It was carried out by Norman Jewson and William Weir.[6] The work left in place and strengthened earlier structures where possible but added new aspects including a stone buttress and a kitchen range.[7]

In the 1990s and 2000s the building underwent further structural repairs, including the replacement of the timber structure supporting the roof and was rethatched with grant aid from English Heritage.[7][8][9] Today the National Trust rent it to a tenant who provides limited access to the public.[10][11]


The two-storey thatched hall house is made of local stone with hamstone dressings. Externally the house measures 51 feet (16 m) by 22 feet (6.7 m) wide.[4] It has four bays along the south front which incorporates original Gothic doorway and tracery windows.[12] Inside is a 15th-century fireplace.[1]

The original hall went from floor to roof, however in the 16th century a ceiling was added dividing it into two floors. This also involved changes to the original windows.[4] The hall has a cruck roof with a saddle apex typical of the 14th century.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Priest's house". National Heritage List for England. English Heritage. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Bettey, J. H. (2014). Wessex from Ad1000. Routledge. p. 93. ISBN 9781317871859. 
  3. ^ "Living in history: Priest's House, Muchelney". Somerset Life. 25 August 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d Pantin, William Abel (1957). "Medieval Priests' Houses in South-West England" (PDF). Medieval Archaeology. Society for Medieval Archaeology. 1: 118–146. 
  5. ^ R. W. Dunning (editor), A. P. Baggs, R. J. E. Bush, Margaret Tomlinson (1974). "Parishes: Muchelney". A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Norman Jewson, architect". Owlpen Manor Estate. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Stratton, Michael (1997). Structure and Style: Conserving Twentieth Century Buildings. Taylor & Francis. pp. 24–26. ISBN 9780419217404. 
  8. ^ "Muchelney Somerset Grass roots conservation" (PDF). Conservation Bulletin 42. English Heritage. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  9. ^ "The Priest's House" (PDF). Architecton. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Ross, David. "Muchelney Priest's House". Britain Express. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  11. ^ "Priest's House, Muchelney". National Trust. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  12. ^ Greeves, Lydia (2008). Houses of the National Trust. National Trust. pp. 388–389. ISBN 9781907892486. 
  13. ^ Penoyre, Jane (2005). Traditional Houses of Somerset. Somerset Books. p. 100. ISBN 978-0861834075. 

External links[edit]