Economic history


Victoria County History



R W Dunning, C R Elrington (Editors), A P Baggs, M C Siraut

Year published


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'Chedzoy: Economic history', A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6: Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and neighbouring parishes) (1992), pp. 247-248. URL: Date accessed: 26 November 2014.


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In the 1270s Chedzoy was remembered as having been a dairy (vaccaria) of the royal estate at North Petherton in the early 12th century. (fn. 14) By 1320 the grassland there comprised 160 a. of enclosed pasture. (fn. 15) There were also parcels of overland, probably under grass, which were let to customary tenants. Grassland on the moors was shared with other lordships. In 1235 William de Montagu and the abbot of Glastonbury had agreed to divide receipts for grazing on what was called Weston Marsh or Sowy Land, an agreement apparently still in force in the later 16th century. (fn. 16) In the early 14th century tenants of Dunwear and others were presented for grazing sheep and geese illegally on the commons. (fn. 17)

The arable land held by customary tenants in 1320 included 28 holdings of ½ virgate and 33 of a fardel. There were 16 cottagers (cottelli) and four other customary tenants. The tenants' cash rents amounted to over £79. There were also 2 freeholdings, one of a virgate, paying rents worth 10s. 8d. and a further tenant paying 12d. There was no demesne farm. (fn. 18)

The whole manor was worth £101 8s. 5d. net in 1320. (fn. 19) The rents remained constant between 1330 and 1378, although arrears in 1362-3 exceeded 40 per cent of the rental. (fn. 20) At least 16 tenants died in 1348 and although new tenants were admitted almost immediately further deaths led to several holdings remaining in hand. Some were later let out for short terms. (fn. 21) In 1360 there were 18 men and women who refused to do autumn work and withdrew their labour. (fn. 22) Incidental sources of income in the Middle Ages included chevage, paid in iron, wax, and cash. (fn. 23) Manumissions were granted in the later 14th century (fn. 24) but there were still at least three neifs in 1576. (fn. 25) By 1484-5 the rent income had only marginally increased. (fn. 26) In 1529-30 there was a small increase in income (fn. 27) and by 1588-9 the annual income was over £111. In 1624 arrears of nearly £127 had been accumulated and rents were static but court profits and fines reached £352. (fn. 28)

By 1576 a home farm of just over 100 a. had been established. The remainder of the estate was divided between c. 70 tenants with 76 holdings of which the largest was 42 a. and most were between 10 a. and 30 a.; the home farm and most of the tenants' lands lay in scattered strips. (fn. 29) Crops in the 17th century included peas, beans, barley, and wheat. (fn. 30) Dairy cows, pigs, and poultry were frequently recorded in probate inventories, but only two small flocks of sheep were mentioned. (fn. 31) One farmer left 40 cheeses and another 4 cwt. of cheese. (fn. 32) Movable shelters were made for summer use on the moors. (fn. 33)

Clover had been introduced by the mid 18th century (fn. 34) but cattle were still turned into the cornfields from harvest until sowing. Two men from Pawlett and Dunwear were fined in 1747 for stocking the common beyond the limit of five sheep an acre. (fn. 35) Despite constant tillage, the arable fields were worth 30s. an acre in 1795 and produced high quality wheat and barley. (fn. 36) By the end of the 18th century some of the holdings were rack rented but the largest was only 48 a. and although some tenants combined more than one tenancy only a few had more than 50 a. (fn. 37)

Seventy-seven families in 1821 were engaged in agriculture. (fn. 38) Some strips around the edges of the three great fields had been inclosed by the earlier 19th century, and by 1840 there were 14 farms measuring more than 50 a. (fn. 39) although much poverty resulted from the disappearance of subsistence holdings. (fn. 40) By then about one third of the land was arable and moduses were paid on calves, cows, colts, and ancient meadow. (fn. 41) In 1851 eleven farmers worked more than 100 a. and two had more than 200 a. (fn. 42) By the 1880s only the central core of the north and west fields remained uninclosed, although by that date strips had disappeared. East field was a much larger undivided area, and baulks and headlands were still used for common grazing. (fn. 43) The number of farm labourers increased from 58 in 1851 to 72 in 1861 but declined to 46 in 1881. (fn. 44) There were several market gardens in the later 19th century, (fn. 45) and in 1882 coarse potatoes, wheat, barley, and beans were grown and cheese was made. Oxford University was blamed for charging rents that ruined some tenants. (fn. 46) Farms continued to be amalgamated in the 20th century. (fn. 47)

Arable still accounted for about a third of the land in 1905. (fn. 48) In 1982 a return, including land outside the parish, recorded 185 ha. (457 a.) of arable producing wheat, barley, oats, maize, potatoes, fodder, and garden crops. Grassland supported 1,855 cattle with some pigs, poultry, and sheep. There were about 10 a. of non-commercial orchard. Most holdings were over 50 ha. (124 a.) and specialized in dairying and cattlerearing. (fn. 49)

A glover was recorded in 1394 and a weaver in 1638. (fn. 50) Men from Chedzoy, including a pumpmaker, imported timber through Bridgwater in the late 16th century. (fn. 51) In the early 19th century a local man supplied malt, hops, butter, cheese, beans, fowls, cider, and seed potatoes to people from a wide area between the Quantocks and the Poldens. (fn. 52) A Chedzoy farmer in 1847 owned a Bridgwater sloop which was broken up in 1851. (fn. 53) A smithy was still in business in 1988.


In 1320 the manor had a windmill and, possibly at Slape, a watermill (fn. 54) which was probably replaced by a windmill before 1348. (fn. 55) By 1330 there were three windmills. One, at Slape, described as new, (fn. 56) was known as the west mill in 1363-4. (fn. 57) It was probably one of the two mills which survived in 1529 (fn. 58) but had gone by 1576. (fn. 59) The second windmill in 1330 was called the south mill and was still in use in 1342-3. (fn. 60) It probably stood near Fowler's Plot. (fn. 61) The third windmill mentioned in 1330 was later called Clos mill. It was blown down in 1379 but had evidently been rebuilt by 1381 and was in use in 1384. (fn. 62) A fourth windmill, mentioned in 1349- 50 and described as the east mill, (fn. 63) may have been replaced by one bought at Barrington and re-erected in 1356-7. (fn. 64) It was sited in the east field on Mill Batch. (fn. 65) It was evidently of the smock post type and was blown down and destroyed in 1827. (fn. 66)

Two horse mills, used for grinding malt, (fn. 67) were held with the south mill and Clos mill. One of them was replaced in 1356-7 by one bought at Glastonbury and rebuilt. (fn. 68) One of them may have gone out of use by 1373. (fn. 69) The horsemill at Clos mill had burnt down by 1485. (fn. 70)

Market and fair.

In 1314 Simon de Montagu obtained a grant of a Tuesday market and a three-day fair at the feast of St. Mary Magdalene (22 July). (fn. 71) No trace of either has been found.


14 Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 40.
15 P.R.O., C 134/65, no. 3.
16 S.R.S. vi. 80-1; lix. 214-15; Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, ii. 466; Hants R.O. 44M69 XVII/43.
17 B.L. Add. Ch. 15906, 15942.
18 P.R.O., C 134/65, no. 3; B.L. Add. Ch. 16134.
19 P.R.O., C 134/65, no. 3.
20 B.L. Add. Ch. 16117, 16138, 16144.
21 Ibid. 15961-3, 15965, 15981.
22 Ibid. 16009.
23 Ibid. 16117, 16134.
24 Ibid. 16139.
25 Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, ii. 445, 451, 464.
26 P.R.O., SC 6/974/6; SC 6/Hen. VII/1329-33, 1850, 3039-43.
27 Dors. R.O., D 124, box 10.
28 B.L. Add. Ch. 16147.
29 Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, ii. 442 sqq.
30 S.R.S. xliii. 96; S.R.O., DD/S/ST 19/2.
31 S.R.O., DD/SP inventories, 1635, 1637, 1670, 1681, 1723, 1749.
32 Ibid. 1645, 1749.
33 Ibid. 1641, 1645.
34 Ibid. 1749.
35 S.R.O., DD/S/ST 19/3.
36 J. Billingsley, Agric. of Som. 198-9.
37 S.R.O., DD/MY 35.
38 Census (1821).
39 S.R.O., tithe award.
40 Ibid. D/D/Rb 1827; D/P/chedz 13/1/7.
41 Ibid. tithe award.
42 P.R.O., HO 107/1925.
43 O.S. Map 6", Som. L. SE. (1887 edn.); LI. SW. (1886 edn.); Rep. Com. on Dep. Cond. of the Agric. Interests [C. 3309], p. 43, H.C. (1882), xv.
44 P.R.O., HO 107/1925; ibid. RG 9/1625; RG 11/2376.
45 P.O. Dir. Som. (1861); Kelly's Dir. Som. (1883).
46 Rep. Com. on Dep. Cond. of the Agric. Interests, 43.
47 Local inf.
48 Statistics supplied by the then Bd. of Agric. 1905.
49 Min. of Agric., Fisheries, and Food, agric. returns, 1982.
50 B.L. Add. Ch. 26868; Taunton Archdeaconry Wills, ed. T. Phipps, 10.
51 S.R.O., D/B/bw 1481, 1493, 1497, 1503.
52 Ibid. DD/UK 8.
53 Ibid. DD/FA 11/1.
54 P.R.O., C 134/65, no. 3.
55 B.L. Add. Ch. 15906, 15963, 15965.
56 Ibid. 15906.
57 Ibid. 16138.
58 Dors. R.O., D 124, box 10.
59 P.R.O., SC 2/198/20; Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, ii. 466.
60 B.L. Add. Ch. 15906, 15942.
61 Ibid. 16059-60.
62 Ibid. 15906, 26868; P.R.O., SC 2/198/19.
63 B.L. Add. Ch. 16129.
64 Ibid. 16136.
65 S.R.O., DD/MY 35; ibid. tithe award.
66 A. J. Coulthard and M. Watts, Windmills of Som. 45-6; S.D.N.Q. xxviii. 31.
67 B.L. Add. Ch. 16000.
68 Ibid. 16136.
69 Ibid. 16059-60.
70 P.R.O., SC 6/974/6.
71 Cal. Chart. R. 1300-26, 241.