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St Beuno's Church, Culbone
A small stone church surrounded by trees
51°13′17″N 3°39′32″W / 51.2213°N 3.6590°W / 51.2213; -3.6590Coordinates: 51°13′17″N 3°39′32″W / 51.2213°N 3.6590°W / 51.2213; -3.6590
OS grid reference SS842482
Country England
Denomination Church of England
History
Status Parish church
Dedication St Beuno
Architecture
Functional status Active
Specifications
Length 35 feet (11 m)
Administration
Parish Porlock
Diocese Bath & Wells
Saxon Window in Culbone Church - geograph.org.uk - 426087
Saxon window, chancel north wall

Culbone Church, located in the village of Culbone in Somerset, is said to be the smallest parish church in England. The church, dedicated to the Welsh saint Beuno, has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building and the churchyard cross is Grade II*.

The church is recorded in the Domesday Book.

The church seats about 30 people, the chancel is 13.5 × 10 feet (4.1 × 3.0 m), the nave 21.5 × 12.33 feet (6.6 × 3.8 m) and the building has a total length of 35 feet (10.7 m). Services are still held there, despite the lack of access by road. The church is probably pre-Norman in origin, with a 13th-century porch and a late-15th-century nave. It was refenestrated and re-roofed around 1810 and the spirelet added in 1888. It underwent further restoration in 1928.

Joan D'Arcy Cooper, psychologist, Yoga teacher, author of Guided Meditation and the Teaching of Jesus, and wife of the potter Waistel Cooper, was organist at the church and is buried in the graveyard. The graveyard also contains a war grave of a soldier of the Welsh Guards of World War II. Sir David Calcutt QC, a barrister and public servant, is buried in the churchyard too.

Interior and exterior features

The nave has retained its box pews, including a Jacobean squire's pew for the now ruined Ashley Combe House. The tall proportion of the nave and the primitive bowl font suggests Anglo-Saxon origins. The east end is restored. There is a small window, carved from a single block of sandstone, outside the north wall of the chancel, with a face on top of the pillar dividing the two window lights. This is probably also Saxon.

Access

The church is passed by the South West Coast Path, but drivers must turn off the A39 opposite the village pub, and park where possible on the narrow track. There is then a walk of 1.5 miles (2.4 km) "through steep woods of walnut and oak, glorious on a summer's day with the sea glinting through the trees, darkly mysterious and dripping with water in winter".

In media

In a television version of Lorna Doone, St Beuno's was used as the location for the marriage of John Ridd at Oare Church.

The church is featured in the 1988 video of Mike and The Mechanics hit song "The Living Years".

A 2016 BBC television series "Coastal Path" about the South West Coast Path includes a visit to the church.

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