The history of St Andrew's Church
Although outwardly you can see signs of a thriving village from the medieval period (1066-1485), there were much earlier residents in this wooded valley. Long before the arrival of the Romans in Britain in 43 AD, there is evidence of an early Celtic tribe’s pagan temple where St Andrew’s now stands.
Originally founded in the 13th century, the church building has grown and evolved over the centuries. The nave was added in the 14th century and the tower completed in the 16th century. As a result of the church falling into serious disrepair, a substantial amount of rebuilding of the church had to take place in 1850-51. An annex to the north side of the church housing some modern amenities was completed in 2018.
Following the Norman invasion of England in 1066, lands of the defeated Saxon aristocracy were bestowed by King William I (the Conqueror) on his Knights. The Manor (estate) of “Cumbe”, as Castle Combe was then known, was bestowed on a nobleman, Humphrey de L’Isle. His daughter married Reginald de Dunstanville, who became the first Baron/Lord of Castle Combe. For over 850 years, Castle Combe was a barony and evidence of the Lords of the Manor and their families through this period can be found in the church and churchyard.
On the north side of the church is a superb carved stone monument of a Norman Knight, Sir Walter de Dunstanville, Baron of Castle Combe, who died in 1270. Above the tomb, a stained glass window displays the coats of arms of the Scrope family (pronounced “Scroop”), who were Lords of the Manor for almost 500 years before selling the estate at auction to a member of the Lancastrian Gorst family in 1867.
The tower was started in 1434 with monies from local wealthy wool merchants and from the estate of Sir John Fastolf. The tower’s beautiful fan vault ceiling is reminiscent of Bath Abbey.
The base of the tower houses one of the oldest working faceless medieval clocks in the country.