ntil early in the 16th century all village community events were held in the nave of the Church. The nave itself was a large open area, separated from the chancel - where the services themselves were held - by the rood screen.
However party-going within the church became seen as “inappropriate”. The solution was to build a ‘Church House’ for the secular celebrations and fund raising events (the “ales”) of the village.
It was now possible to instal the pews, together with their celebrated and magnificent pew ends (1534).
A century or so later Puritan influences led to more sober and worthy uses of Church House. Downstairs was converted into the village’s Poor House, providing a roof for the destitute. Upstairs became a charity school endowed by the local Carew family.
Two more centuries pass. Sir George Gilbert Scott is commissioned to design and build a Workhouse in Williton (1840), and Crowcombe school itself is opened (1872). Church House has become redundant.
Structurally it began to fall apart, until the Rector of the day, the Rev Henry Young, took it upon himself to obtain charitable status for the building (1907) and to launch a successful appeal for funds to repair the fabric.
The cottages adjacent to Church House were demolished in 1963 as part of a road widening scheme.
In the 1980s/90s the building is again rescued. The roof is retiled, and an internal staircase installed.
A major refurbishment of the premises has taken place in 2007. The combination of £20,000 generated by enthusiastic local fund-raising and individual donations, together with £50,000 of much appreciated grants*, has enabled the installation of:
~ An oil-fired central heating system
~ Entirely new lighting, including track lighting in the Gallery for the artist communities
~ Two WCs, including one with direct wheelchair access
~ Re-equipment of the Servery
* The Trustees of Church House acknowledge with gratitude the generosity of the Foyle Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Foundation for Sport & the Arts, Viridor Credits, Crowcombe Community Shop, Quantock Hills AONB, Somerset County Council, Somerset Rural Renaissance Partnership, West Somerset Council.