The parish lies in the district of South Somerset, two miles south-east of Wincanton and five miles north-west of Gillingham. Close to the Dorset border, the parish is centred around two small villages: Stoke Trister and Bayford.
The parish is part of the Norton Ferris Hundred, one of 40 hundreds in the county of Somerset which date back to Saxon times.
Records show that in 1066 the parish was occupied by two thegns (officials of a nobleman), who held Stoke in ‘parage’, meaning they were related and held the land in a joint tenure.
In 1086 Robert, Count of Mortain, who was also a half-brother of William the Conqueror, was given 797 manors, including what is now Stoke Trister and Bayford, as a reward for his efforts at the battle Hastings. At the time, the Count owned virtually all of Cornwall and much of the south-west, being based in Launceston, Cornwall, and Montacute in Somerset.
The parish came under control of Bretel de St Clair who administered the land for the Count. After taking part in the rebellion against King William II, the Count’s estate appears to have passed to his tenant.
The Stoke part of the name means place or dairy farm, with the Trister part being a corruption of the name of Richard del Estre who was lord of the manor in the 12th century. Stoke Trister passed with the nearby village of Cucklington to the Phelips family in 1765 and was then held with Montacute.
The manor house, built in the 16th century, is now Stoke Farm House. It was acquired around 1547 by the Earl of Pembroke and sold in 1602.
There was a church at Stoke by 1225, which was later described as a chapel in 1317. There also appears to have been a separate chapel at Bayford.
The ancient parish church, dedicated to St Andrew, stood to the north of the manor house and had a chancel, nave with south porch and west tower. In the 1830s the west tower leaned eastwards and in 1841 the church was demolished due to its poor condition, small size and inconvenient location.
The current Church of St Andrew in Stoke Trister dates from 1841 and has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building.