Sunday, 19 October 2008

Ancestor worship

Last Tuesday, on my way to Taunton, and before I put up a post from the Sedgemoor Services on the M5, I called in at the village of Weston-in-Gordano to visit the church and pay my respects to my ancestors.

The church possesses a large and colourful west window donated by the Perceval family in the early years of the 20th century, showing the three main founders of the building, starting with Ascelin Gouel de Perceval, the Norman knight from Yvery (now Ivry-la-Bataille) west of Paris. He was granted the lands of Weston in 1077, but the pious image showing him holding a model of the church bears little resemblance to the truth of the man’s brutal nature. Nicknamed “The Wolf” he not only imprisoned his father-in-law in courtyard of his Breherval Castle in the depths of winter clad only in his nightshirt, but also raped a maiden from the neighbouring village of Pacy-sur-Eure, and thus instigated the Normandy Wars.

The southern light shows Sir Richard de Perceval, Ascelin’s grandson and Crusader knight who has a colourful memorial in the church’s interior, along the north wall.

His tomb also stands in the churchyard, and since I was named after this ancestor, to show my homage I stretched out on his stone table. Briefly. It was chilly.

He came back from the Holy Land minus his left leg, though the glass does not depict this loss. He married the daughter of William de Mohun IV, Lord of Dunster Castle in Somerset, and died in 1202.

In the northern light stands Sir James Perceval, the “Rebuilder” (1530-1594), the great-great-great grandson of the Crusader.

It was good to find the church open.

(Jane Maria Perceval was the grand-daughter of the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated - The Rt.Hon. Spencer Perceval, who was shot in the lobby of the House of Commons on 11th May 1812. Our common ancestor lies some 3 generations before.)


  1. I remember visiting these places in 1986. You and I drove north from Taunton to Bristol to visit an electronic warehouse offering the Tascam unit at an affordable price. We pulled off the M5 where you gave us (I think Wibbly" was with us) a brief historical tour. Wonderful to see the photos - my memory is now refreshed!

  2. Nice photo of the Weston church stained glass ancestors. I too am descended from Ascelin "The None Too Chivalrous", so I will share this photo with my siblings to show the pious wolf! Best regards, Nathaniel Lovell, Boston USA.

  3. Thank you for this wonderful page. I would love to see all these in person, but when that will be.....and since you say Richard is your ancestor as is Ascelin....we must be related also though very distantly. does the grave still bear the inscription "ornate pro anima RYCARDI PRECEVAL en melitavit en Terra sANCTUM CUM REGE RICARDI. anno dominni 1190" please excuse the typeos. MARY R

    1. Mary - Not too sure what the wording on the stone tomb is as it's now 3 years since I last visited. I have a comprehensive and vast Family Tree, so if you'd like to see if we can trace the line ... mail me.