The ancient parish of Greinton lies 9 km. WSW. of Glastonbury.
(fn. 9) It was roughly rectangular in shape but as a result of inclosure in 1798 was extended south-west and south into Sedgemoor and south-east to Nythe in Ashcott.
(fn. 10) Thereafter it measured roughly 3.25 km. from north to south and 2 km. from east to west at its widest point. Before inclosure the parish reached the Glastonbury - Bridgwater road along the Polden ridge in the north, the Old Greinton rhyne, formerly Sedgemoor ditch, on the south-east, the Cary stream, later Blacklake or Greinton rhyne, on the south, and the Glastonbury - Taunton road on the west. After 1798 the southern boundary was the straightened Old Greinton rhyne and the King's Sedgemoor Drain.
(fn. 11) The eastern boundary was also marked by trees, including Warthorne in the Middle Ages and the Procession tree in 1742.
(fn. 12) After inclosure the parish measured 846 a.
(fn. 13) Minor alterations to the boundaries with Ashcott in 1883 and 1885 involved the absorption of a detached part of Ashcott near the western boundary and the transfer of East Nythe to Ashcott.
(fn. 14) The modern civil parish measures 356 ha. (879 a.).
Greinton village lies just above the 15-m. (50-ft.) contour at the foot of the Polden ridge which rises to over 76 m. (250 ft.) on the north-western boundary. South of the village most of the ancient parish was above the 7.5-m. (25-ft.) contour, but after inclosure has included moorland which falls to 4.5 m. (15 ft.) at the King's Sedgemoor Drain.
(fn. 16) The village site and the land immediately to the south are on Keuper marl and the Polden slopes on clay with limestone.
(fn. 17) The stone was quarried in the 14th century
(fn. 18) and burnt in the early 18th.
(fn. 19) South of the village, bands of alluvium are succeeded largely by peat but there is a small ridge of marl to the west of Nythe farm,
(fn. 20) possibly the island of Thorni recorded in 1273
(fn. 21) and apparently inclosed by the early 16th century.
The village lies along each side of the Glastonbury - Taunton road, known as altera strata in the early 14th century
(fn. 23) presumably because it was an alternative to the Polden road. Its tortuous route seems to have originated as a division east of the village, one route running directly westwards towards Moorlinch, the other running south of the village towards Greylake. The Moorlinch road, and possibly a lane from it up to the Polden ridge, was known as the Greenway in 1515,
(fn. 24) and others up the slope included Dades Lane, stopped up in 1757,
(fn. 25) and the only survivor, Ridgeway Lane. The creation of a direct route running south of the village across the moors was considered in the late 18th century and again in 1814,
(fn. 1) but the route through the village was turnpiked by the Wells trust in 1779 and taken over by the Taunton trust in 1799.
(fn. 2) Greylake gate marked the road's entry into Moorlinch.
(fn. 3) Moor or Great Drove provided access to the moor in the south.
Greinton parish 1840
The population in 1801 was 128; it rose to 237 in 1821 before gradually declining to 90 in 1901. Numbers remained stable during the 20th century and there were 85 residents in 1991.
SETTLEMENT AND BUILDINGS
Evidence for Roman occupation, including a burial, has been found in Greinton village.
(fn. 6) The village appears to have grown up along the road between the Polden slopes and the low-lying ground. The isolated farm on Nythe is situated on a small island in the moor. Most of the houses in the village were rebuilt from the early 19th century in grey stone rubble under slate roofs. The cottages were replaced later by stone and slate semi-detached houses. A few houses have been built in the 20th century and several farm buildings converted into dwellings.
There may have been a victualler in the parish in 1612 or earlier. He was licensed in 1626 despite being accused of keeping ill order in 1623.
(fn. 1) Another victualler was recorded in 1660 and there may have been an alehouse in the parish in 1681.
(fn. 2) There is no later record of an alehouse.
MANOR AND OTHER ESTATES
Greinton may have been part of the Pouelt estate granted to Glastonbury abbey in 729.
(fn. 3) It was said c. 1260 to be held of Walton manor, probably because several Walton tenants lived in Greinton. Three virgaters and two half-virgaters held of Walton manor in 1316.
(fn. 4) The abbey tenant in 1066 was Wulfmer and in 1086 Gerard the ditcher or trencher.
(fn. 5) Hugh of Greinton held half a knight's fee in the early 12th century and by 1189 the fee was held by another Hugh of Greinton, probably his grandson. Hugh, or a namesake, alive in 1201, was succeeded at Greinton by his daughter Alemandina (fl. 1254), whose son Roger le Cok gave the fee to Glastonbury abbey in 1276.
(fn. 6) One virgate, which may represent part of the half hide outside the demesne in 1086, was held by Osmond of Walton and descended to Michael, son of Michael le Gouvis, who gave it, with a second virgate said to have been formerly part of the demesne, to the abbey in 1291.
(fn. 7) Glastonbury held the lordship until the Dissolution.
In 1545 the manor was granted to (Sir) Thomas Dyer (d. 1565)
(fn. 9) who was followed by his son Sir Edward.
(fn. 10) The latter in or after 1600 mortgaged and forfeited the estate to the Crown. At his death in 1607 it was granted by the Crown to Sir Thomas Egerton, Baron Ellesmere (later Vct. Brackley), the Lord Chancellor. In 1608 the Crown sold it to Peter Vanlore, Ellesmere surrendering his interest in 1609.
(fn. 11) In 1610 Vanlore sold it to Philip Watts.
(fn. 12) Philip died in 1611 leaving Greinton in trust for his younger sons Edward and Philip when they came of age.
(fn. 13) However, the Court of Wards, which had charge of Philip's heir Thomas who was of age but an idiot, decreed that he must have one third of the manor.
(fn. 14) In 1615 Thomas's brother and heir John settled the third on his son Nicholas.
(fn. 15) In 1627 the estate was divided into three shares for Philip's window Elizabeth, Thomas's guardian Francis Courtenay, and the brothers Philip and Edward.
(fn. 16) Thomas may have been dead by 1632 when his nephew and heir Nicholas Watts mortgaged his third.
(fn. 17) Nicholas appears to have died in debt in the Fleet prison in 1634, having further mortgaged his third share and leaving two daughters Jane and Welthean under age.
In 1654 Elizabeth released her rights to dower to her sons Philip and Edward, and in 1655 their brother Roger, presumably born after the elder Philip's will was made, sold a share in the manor to his brother Philip.
(fn. 19) Edward appears to have died without issue and in 1655 Philip settled his share of the manor for his son Edward's marriage, retaining a life interest in half.
(fn. 20) However, Welthean, daughter of Nicholas Watts and heir to Thomas, claimed one third which she purported to convey to Philip in 1657.
(fn. 21) The mortgagees of Nicholas Watts claimed that estate by assignment from Welthean's mother Jane, and the claims were asserted and assigned until 1702 when the mortgage terms were conveyed to trustees for Philip Watts the younger (d. 1737). Edward, who held the rest of the manor under the 1655 settlement, seems to have died childless after 1667. His brother Philip died in 1672.
(fn. 22) Philip's son also Philip, who after acquiring the mortgage terms in 1702 was in undisputed possession of the whole manor, died in 1737 leaving an only surviving child Rachel, wife of James Moore.
(fn. 23) Rachel predeceased her husband without issue and James, by will dated 1776, left the manor in trust to provide for several relatives.
(fn. 24) In 1792 all those with interests in the manor combined to sell it to William Kekewich of Islington (Mdx.), who sold it to his son Samuel the same year.
Samuel (d. 1822) was succeeded in the direct male line by Samuel (d. 1873) and Trehawke, who sold the manor to the Ecclesiastical, later Church, Commissioners in 1874.
(fn. 1) The estate was divided and sold, mainly to tenants, in the 1950s.
A hall was recorded in 1315 and a court and barton in 1326.
(fn. 3) A capital messuage was recorded in 1515.
(fn. 4) It was probably on the site of West Town Farm where the manor house was recorded as adjoining the farmhouse in 1810; it had been demolished by 1840.
Four freeholds held by knight service in 1325 and 1344
(fn. 6) had apparently been reduced to two by the Dissolution.
(fn. 7) One was a half virgate held for 3s. and a pair of gloves by the Wydecombe family between the late 13th and the early 16th century.
(fn. 8) In 1600 it measured 33 a. and was held by Edward Rogers.
(fn. 9) It passed through several hands and amounted to 30 a. in 1840.
(fn. 10) The other was described as a ferdel held by the Dodington family of Dodington from the 15th to the 17th century.
(fn. 11) It measured 15 a. in 1600
(fn. 12) but 20 a. in 1840 when it belonged to the Popple family, owners throughout the 19th century.
In 1086 there were 2½ ploughlands and 2 teams. The 2-hide demesne had 1 team and 2 serfs. Two bordars and 2 coliberts had the other team. There were 20 a. of meadow and 3 a. of woodland. The demesne livestock comprised 4 beasts and 6 pigs. The estate was worth 50s., as in 1066.
In the 1280s rents of 38s. represented under half of the income of the manor and sale of grain not required by Glastonbury abbey just under a third. Wheat was grown on 76 a. and oats on 15 a. A hind and two cowherds employed on the home farm suggest a significant number of cattle.
(fn. 15) By 1300-1 assized rents, including larder and vineyard rents, had risen to over £5 7s., and the acquisition of the Gouvis estate in 1291, a house, and commuted works brought the total to £6 15s. 4d. The acreage under wheat and oats had increased to 128 a.; livestock included 34 cattle and 195 squabs, but only one small cheese was produced. The total income in that year was £19 0s. 5d.
(fn. 16) There were no squabs in 1303 because the dovecot was broken.
(fn. 17) By 1314-15 assized rents including hertpeny as well as larder and vineyard rents had risen to nearly £7 18s. and income in that year included nearly £5 11s. for tolcester, an item which did not recur.
In 1326 the demesne farm comprised just over 133 a. of arable in the east and west fields, over 34 a. of meadow, a small osier bed, cut every third year, and common in Sedgemoor. There were three freeholders having between them a virgate and two ferdels, and customary tenants comprising three virgaters, two halfvirgaters, 11 ferdellers, and 11 cottars, of whom 7 held for rent only.
Over the next fifty years assized rents increased considerably, reaching £13 5s. 6d. by 1393-4, although arrears in the year totalled over £13.
(fn. 20) The number of males owing chevage payments rose from 20 in 1307 to 34 in 1345 but then fell to 21 in 1350 and 9 in 1352. Thereafter numbers fluctuated between 4 and 12.
(fn. 21) Demesne arable increased to 168 a. in 1334-5 of which a third was fallow, but a new barn was recorded in 1335.
(fn. 22) By the 1370s, however, the amount sown fell by a half,
(fn. 23) and in 1394-5 one third was sown, one third was fallow for one year, one third fallow for two.
(fn. 24) By 1402-3 the total demesne arable had increased to 218 a.
(fn. 25) although the actual acreage sown was constant, but by 1413-14 87 a. was sown, mostly with wheat and oats, out of a total of 246 a.
(fn. 26) Later, parcels of the demesne began to be let;
(fn. 27) by 1430 no grain appears to have been sown
(fn. 28) and by 1491-2 even what remained of the grange was let.
In 1334-5 the demesne grassland supported over 30 cattle for part of the year and a few geese, and two drovers were employed. Osiers were cut for the fishery at Meare.
(fn. 30) In the following year most were used to make hurdles for the sheepfold, probably for summer use.
(fn. 31) The cowhouse was recorded in 1345
(fn. 32) and wool was sold in 1356.
(fn. 33) A flock of 165 ewes gave birth to 74 lambs during the year 1377-8 but by Michaelmas all had been dispersed to Shapwick, Ashcott, Butleigh, or Glastonbury.
There were no sheep in 1393-4 but in the following year 208 fleeces were sheared when hoggets and lambs were brought for summer grazing from Ashcott, West Pennard, and Butleigh.
(fn. 2) By 1411-12 livestock had been reduced to 2 mares, 1 colt, 1 bull, 19 cattle, 1 cow, 1 calf, 1 ewe, 1 lamb, and some poultry.
(fn. 3) A shepherd was still employed, presumably for summer grazing, in 1417- 18.
(fn. 4) By 1430-1 demesne livestock were mostly colts.
By 1515 the demesne farm buildings and 46 a. were let. The number of free tenants had declined to 3 and customary tenants to 2 virgaters, 1 half-virgater, 9 ferdellers, 7 cottars, and the occupier of the capital messuage. Two tenants were neifs. There were six tofts, probably the sites of former cottages, and a house and land, probably at Nythe, had been assigned to Abbot Bere's almshouse at Glastonbury. Only five people from outside the parish held land in the manor.
Horses, cattle, and sheep were recorded in 16thcentury wills, some said to be on the moors,
(fn. 7) and sheep and geese grazed on the moors in the 17th century.
(fn. 8) In 1600 there were two freehold tenements, 27 other tenements, and three tenants holding small amounts of land only. One cottage was newly erected, several were landless, and two tofts were held with one tenement which owed three heriots. Five tenants still owed church scot hens, and the manor claimed six bond tenants living off the manor, although one man was with the lord and a woman was manumitted. Only two holdings were over 50 a. and a further fourteen were between 25 a. and 50 a. Apart from the farm at Nythe (41 a.), which appears to have been in closes, there were about 609 a. of arable, probably mostly open, and 149 a. of meadow.
In the early 18th century inclosure of the arable fields was planned.
(fn. 10) Strips were exchanged from 1773 or earlier, and by 1788 the number of holdings had been reduced to three large farms and seven smallholdings. There was said to be 300 a. of moor in the parish and there were 17 landless cottages.
(fn. 11) In the later 1780s wheat, beans, and peas were grown, pasture was said to be good, and there were unlimited common rights for cattle on the moor. In 1796 the moor was inclosed and allotted.
By 1810 Manor, formerly Greinton, West Town, and Coates farms, each with over 200 a., accounted for most of the land in the parish and several cottages had fallen down or were in very bad repair.
(fn. 13) Between 1783 and 1811 the number of houses in the parish fell from 44 to 29, but thereafter there was considerable rebuilding.
(fn. 14) In 1840 there were 278 a. of arable, 526 a. of pasture, and 6 a. of woodland, and moduses were due on milk cattle. The parish was still dominated by the three large farms, a pattern that continued into the 20th century.
(fn. 15) The number of labourers employed rose from 26 in 1851 to 33 in 1881.
(fn. 16) By 1905 there had been a reduction of arable to 209 a. and an increase in grassland to 635a., but 6 a. of woodland remained.
(fn. 17) In 1914 one farmer grew fruit, and a cheese dairy was built at West Town farm c. 1924.
(fn. 18) There was a short-lived poultry farm in the later 20th century.
(fn. 19) In 1980 four farmers employed 14 people of whom only 5 lived in Greinton.
A windmill was recorded between 1600 and 1675.
(fn. 21) It had gone by 1742 but a plot of land was called Mill Piece. There is no record of a watermill but Mill Ditch was mentioned south of the village in 1742.
TRADE AND INDUSTRY
A clock repairer was at work c. 1715,
(fn. 23) and there were two shops and a baker in 1841, a bookseller in 1851, and a basketmaker in 1861.
(fn. 24) Only one shopkeeper was recorded in 1871 and the grocer and baker was no longer in business.
(fn. 25) The shop appears to have closed in the 1890s.
(fn. 26) There were wheelwrights in business between 1861 and 1931,
(fn. 27) and one grocer closed in 1910 and another in 1947. There were no shops in the village in 1980 but a petrol station at Greylake sold sheepskins and had a restaurant.
Halimote and manor court rolls for Greinton survive for various dates between 1300 and 1388; and for 1404, 1408,
(fn. 29) and 1545.
(fn. 30) Four halimote courts were held each year in the 1340s.
(fn. 31) From the 1340s the courts, mainly halimotes, were held at Shapwick.
(fn. 1) Chevage of boys was collected at Easter.
(fn. 2) The pound was recorded in 1315;
(fn. 3) in 1742 it stood at the east end of the village.
The churchwardens were recorded in 1515.
(fn. 5) A vestry had been established by 1745.
(fn. 6) It met in the church belfry in 1840.
(fn. 7) The overseers of the poor provided relief in cash and kind in the 18th century under supervision by the vestry: in 1789 a spinning wheel was bought and in 1792 labourers received turf. The overseers paid the costs of the 1831 census. The parish was rated for drainage costs known as rhyne work.
A house was built for a pauper in 1615
(fn. 9) and a poorhouse known as Coopers was recorded c. 1720. The overseers paid £2 rent for a poorhouse in 1785 and maintained it until 1804 or later.
(fn. 10) It stood east of the Quaker meeting house and by 1840 was leased from the lord, to whom the parish officers and the guardians of Bridgwater union conveyed their interest in 1849.
(fn. 11) It had been demolished by 1885.
Greinton formed part of the Bridgwater poor-law union from 1836 and from 1894 was part of Bridgwater rural district, which was absorbed into Sedgemoor district in 1974.
ORIGINS, PATRONAGE AND ENDOWMENT
The south doorway indicates that a church had been established by the 12th century, and its elevated position perhaps points to a pre-Christian site. The living is a rectory, held in plurality since 1968 by a nonresident rector. Between 1981 and 1993 it was held with Street and Walton but since then it has remained vacant.
The advowson belonged to Glastonbury abbey until the Dissolution and thereafter to the lords of the manor, their assigns or trustees, although the Crown presented in 1624
(fn. 15) and it was unclear which owner of the divided manor should present.
(fn. 16) The advowson was excluded from the sale of the manor in 1874 and by 1883 had been sold to Henry Strangways.
(fn. 17) It was held by the Strangways family until 1933 when it was assigned to Helen Vialls Strangways, who in 1945 transferred it to the bishop.
In 1291 the church was valued at £4 13s. 4d.
(fn. 19) and in 1535 at £13 0s. 10d. net.
(fn. 20) Shortly afterwards it was said to be worth £18 a year.
(fn. 21) Its reputed value c. 1670 was £80
(fn. 22) but only £42 14s. 7d. gross in 1707.
(fn. 23) The average gross income c. 1830 was £173.
(fn. 24) The tithes were valued at £9 16s. 2d. in 1535
(fn. 25) and £30 in 1707.
(fn. 26) They were commuted for £174 17s. 6d. in 1840.
(fn. 27) The glebe was worth £3 6s. 8d. in 1535.
(fn. 28) It measured 5½ a. in 1606
(fn. 29) and 9 a. in 1840.
(fn. 30) A house was recorded in 1606
(fn. 31) and was used until the early 19th century. In 1835 the rector claimed that it was unfit
(fn. 32) but in 1840 the curate was 'satisfied with it'.
(fn. 33) It stood north-east of the church. A new house in the grounds was designed by David Mackintosh of Exeter in 1852 in Tudor style using Greinton stone.
(fn. 34) The house was sold in 1960 and named Greinton House.
Boniface de Foliano, rector in 1259, was a pluralist
(fn. 36) and most early 14th-century rectors were not priests and received licences for absence to study.
(fn. 37) In 1353 the rector was in service with the provost of Wells.
(fn. 38) In 1397 the rector was accused of attacking the vicar of Pawlett during mass and extorting money and livestock from him.
(fn. 39) Robert Bysse, former Warden of All Souls, Oxford, was rector for three months in 1524.
(fn. 40) There was an assistant priest c. 1530.
(fn. 41) John Hyne, rector 1584-1624, was in prison in 1590, leaving the church unserved. The curate of Shapwick provided a Sunday service either very early or very late. In the 1600s Hyne was presented for minor infringements such as allowing a girl of 12 to be a godmother. He also refused a couple communion and accused the wardens of buying watered wine.
John Brice, rector 1785-1832, was also rector of Aisholt, where he lived, but there was a resident curate at Greinton in 1815. There were 10 communicants in the 1780s.
(fn. 2) Services were held alternately on Sunday morning and afternoon in 1827 and the curate also served Catcott. There were complaints of irregularity.
(fn. 3) By 1840 there were two Sunday services with sermons and communion was celebrated four times a year.
(fn. 4) By 1873 there was a resident rector and monthly communion services were held. A pipe organ replaced a barrel organ in 1877.
(fn. 5) In 1925 Sunday services were increased to three but were reduced to two in 1954 and to one in 1959.
The churchwardens rented a cottage and ½ a. in 1515, probably for a church house, and another cottage, which had been demolished, had formerly been held by service of carrying the holy loaf.
(fn. 7) The church house was held by the wardens in 1600 under a copy of court roll granted in 1545 for 60 years.
(fn. 8) Before 1548 there were sepulchre lights and an altar or statue to Our Lady.
The church of St. Michael and All Angels comprises a chancel, a nave with north and south porches, and a west tower. The fabric is mainly of the 13th century but the south doorway may be 12th century. Most of the windows were renewed in the 14th and 15th centuries and the roofs in the 15th or 16th. The tower dates from the 15th century. There is a projection in the north wall possibly for a rood stair. Before 1840 the chancel screen was removed and an ancient carved stone pulpit was replaced.
(fn. 10) Major repairs were carried out in the 1840s
(fn. 11) and by 1854 a Perpendicular-style stone reredos, encaustic tiles, and stained glass had been installed in the chancel, a north porch added, and the south porch made into a vestry.
(fn. 12) Further works were carried out in 1899, including rebuilding the south wall and stair turret.
(fn. 13) Most furnishings date from the 19th century but the communion table and a bench end are dated 1621. There are remains of other early bench ends and a south door of the 15th century or the 16th. The matrix of a brass of a priest of c. 1400 survives, and a chest of 1730.
There are six bells: a medieval Bristol bell, one dated 1586, two dated 1707 and 1788, and two added in 1899.
(fn. 15) The church plate includes a chalice and paten of 1573 and another set of 1850 given by Samuel Kekewich.
(fn. 16) The registers date from 1655 but are complete only from 1777.
Quakers were meeting in the parish from 1669.
(fn. 18) During the 1670s up to 40 people from Greinton and neighbouring parishes were said to meet at the house of John Clark which was licensed in 1689.
(fn. 19) Houses were licensed in 1695 and 1701; the latter appears to have been a Quaker meeting house, probably built on land given by Philip Watts at a peppercorn rent in 1696.
(fn. 20) Monthly meetings were held in the 1690s. Several Greinton Quakers were prosecuted for non-payment of tithes and imprisoned in the late 17th and early 18th century, including Philip Watts, lord of the manor.
(fn. 21) Only four Quakers were recorded c. 1780.
(fn. 22) A house was licensed for worship in 1815 which may have been for Quakers, and there was a Quaker meeting house north of the main street in 1840 on the site given in 1696.
(fn. 23) The grounds were used for burials until 1829.
(fn. 24) By 1853 the meeting house had been demolished and was replaced by a school, although the burial ground was retained until 1870 or later.
In 1816 the first Methodist meetings were held in the parish and 9 members were recorded in 1817. By 1825 the society was linked with Moorlinch where services may have been held.
In 1819 a Sunday school was supported by Quakers, although the Church of England catechism was taught. There was also a dame school for c. 25 children paid for by subscription.
(fn. 1) The Sunday school may have closed before 1825
(fn. 2) and reopened in 1828 supported chiefly by the lord of the manor. In 1833 25 children were taught by the parish clerk. Two day schools taught c. 30 children at their parents' expense.
(fn. 3) In 1847 14 children attended the Sunday school supported by the rector and the lord of the manor and two dame schools taught 20 pupils.
(fn. 4) A school was built in 1853 on the site of the former Quaker meeting house and took children from Greinton and Pedwell. There were 33 on the books in 1903.
(fn. 5) Cheesemaking classes were attended by children over 13 in 1920. Average attendance at the day school had fallen to 20 in 1921, and in the following year the school closed.
(fn. 6) Children attended Moorlinch school
(fn. 7) but in the 1930s the Greinton school re-opened privately with c. 8 pupils and taught evacuees during the Second World War. It finally closed in 1953.
(fn. 8) The building became the village hall.
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR
Profits from a light in the church were distributed to the poor on Good Friday before 1548.
(fn. 10) William Tyler by will of unknown date and Elizabeth Clack
(fn. 11) and William Coot by wills dated 1716 and 1748 respectively left a total of £13 for distribution to the poor.
(fn. 12) The capital was lent out and lost after 1786 but the charity was made good out of the poor rates until 1814 when the last distribution was made.