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Historical figures
with links to St Michael's Church

The Eliot Family

In the north-west corner of the church are indications of the church and village links with the Eliot family, one of the earliest names in the parish registers. Andrew Eliot, who emigrated to America in 1660 from East Coker, was baptised in St Michael's Church in 1627. 

 

In his will, Walter Graeme Eliot of New York, bequeathed the sum of $1000 for the installation of a stained-glass window commemorating Andrew Eliot and his descendants. The window was designed by Leonard Walker and completed in 1936. It shows the arms of Andrew's parents, Joan Sigdon of Sigdon in Devon, and her husband John Elyot. 

There is a stone memorial plaque  that indicates the resting place of the ashes of poet T. S. Eliot, buried on Easter Sunday 1965. Eliot's poem 'East Coker' was written following Eliot's visit to the village in August 1937 in search of his ancestral roots. The first and last lines of this peom are inscribed on the memorial.

"In my beginning is my end

In my end is my beginning"

T.S. Eliot Booklet

A new booklet has been produced with a wealth of information about T.S. Eliot and East Coker. 

These can be purchased direct from the church using cash, card or contactless, or online here...

https://st-michael-and-all-angels-church.sumupstore.com/products

William Dampier

There is memorial brass on the wall of the south aisle dedicated to Captain William Dampier, the first Englishman to land in Australia on 5th January 1688, on what is now called 'Dampier Land' in Western Australia. 

Dampier was born in Hymerford House in East Coker, which is still a residence to this day. His baptism is recorded in the Church register of baptisms and is now held in the County Record Office in Taunton. 

He is reputed to have sailed around the world four times, with some voyages financed by Colonel Helyar of Coker Court. William Dampier surveyed the coast of Australia, where Dampier Straight and Dampier Island are named after him. There was a special service and other celebrations within the parish in 1951 to mark the 300th anniversary of Dampier's birth and a descendant, Mrs Cockburn of Hillfield was in attendance. In 1988 further celebrations were held to celebrate Australia's Bicentennial and the brass plaque was unveiled by Agent General of Western Australia to honor the Tricentennial of Dampier's achievement.

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