VCH Explore

Explore England's Past

Watchet alabaster

Alabaster is a very fine form of gypsum that has been valued as a material for carving from the Middle Ages to the present day. The earliest surviving alabaster work in England is at Tutbury, Staffordshire and dates from the late 12th century. Although it is a sedimentary rock it resembles marble and can be very finely carved.

Somerset possesses an outcrop of alabaster in a variety of colours in the headland between Watchet and Blue Anchor. Discovered or rediscovered in the early 17th century it was extensively quarried for monuments. Only small pieces survive today and are usually found in rock falls as the cliffs are dangerously unstable.

University of London