A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1974.
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The irregularly shaped parish of East Lydford lies 5 miles east of Somerton, extending about 1½ mile from north to south, and from east to west. The course of the Foss Way forms the whole of its north-western boundary; its northern boundary is marked by the river Brue and a small stream, and the southern by the river Cary and an old road to Foddington, now overgrown and represented in part by Hook Lane. The western boundary with Wheathill and Lovington runs NNW. from the Cary in a straight line which becomes irregular north of the Somerton to Castle Cary road. The ancient parish contained 708 a. in 1838. (fn. 1) A detached part of the parish, known as Fourfoot and situated about 2 miles north-east, was transferred to West Lydford in 1884. (fn. 2) By 1901 the parish contained 644 a. (fn. 3) The civil parishes of East and West Lydford were amalgamated in 1933. (fn. 4)
The soil of the parish is clay over lias with estuarine alluvium along the banks of the Brue and Cary. (fn. 5) Most of the land lies below the 100 ft. contour, falling away slightly towards the river Brue on the north. The ground rises to 120 ft. in the area of Cross Keys, and to about 130 ft. on the boundary with Wheathill. Apart from the Brue and Cary the parish is watered only by a small stream running north from Cary Road, marking the eastern boundary of fields and orchards in Church Lane and entering the Brue near the old church in the north.
Until the 19th century the principal route through the parish was the Somerton-Langport road, adopted by the Langport, Somerton, and Castle Cary turnpike trust in 1753, (fn. 6) and known as Cary Road from the 19th century. (fn. 7) The Foss Way subsequently became of more importance and the hamlet of Cross Keys, now known also as Lydford- on-Foss, grew up around an inn at the junction. The older village lies along Church Lane, leading from Cary Road northwards to the site of the old parish church on the banks of the Brue. This may have been the area of early settlement in the parish, deserted because of persistent flooding. Church Farm, Manor Farm, and Home Farm are all in Church Lane, as are the Old Rectory and Old Schoolhouse. A number of cottages and modern houses lie in the area of its junction with West Lane, so called by 1544, (fn. 8) which runs west to the Foss Way. Lydford Lane, known as Cross Keys or West Field Drove in 1838, (fn. 9) runs south from Cross Keys to Babcary. A parallel road, known as Honeypot Lane by 1744, (fn. 10) also ran south into West field. Perry Road, known as Perry Mead Lane in 1725, (fn. 11) runs south-west from Cary Road near its junction with Church Lane. It cuts off part of East field, crosses the Cary at Perry bridge, mentioned in 1481, (fn. 12) and continues to Foddington in Babcary. From this road runs Rubbery Lane, serving Rubbery Farm, and a lane dividing East field from Perry mead, known as Wheathill Drove in 1838. (fn. 13) Large numbers of ox shoes found on the banks of the Cary south of Rubbery Farm suggest a watering place for oxen and a droveway north over lands belonging to the farm. (fn. 14)
The Cross Keys hotel lies on the south side of Cary Road just east of its intersection with the Foss Way. The inn was first mentioned by name in 1759. (fn. 15) It served both as tavern and small farm during the 19th century, (fn. 16) and a weighbridge was installed behind it c. 1899. (fn. 17) Eighteenth-and nineteenth-century buildings developed along Cary Road from the inn. Amongst these were two cottages built on the north side of the road in 1711, (fn. 18) and a rectory house was erected to the west of them soon after 1872. (fn. 19) Two inns in the parish whose sites have not been located were the Lamb or Royal Lamb, 1755–9, and the Buck in 1778. (fn. 20)
Lydford Hall on the north side of West Lane was owned and occupied in 1838 by the rector, James Hooper (d. 1849), (fn. 21) and J. J. Moss, a former rector, lived there in 1872. (fn. 22) Cecil Henry Paulet purchased it before the First World War (fn. 23) and it was held by a member of his family in 1970. Rubbery farm takes its name from Rowborough, a medieval common pasture field, and lies south of Cary Road. The first buildings on the site were erected shortly before 1688. (fn. 24)
The detached part of the parish at Fourfoot was originally demesne woodlands, known as Raynes wood in 1587 (fn. 25) and Reynolds wood in 1639, (fn. 26) presumably after the Reigny family, lords of East Lydford manor by the 13th century. (fn. 27) It is now known as Park wood. In 1669 a house had been recently erected there, (fn. 28) and it was probably this that by 1732 had become an inn called the Maiden Head. (fn. 29) It was subsequently known as the Three Horseshoes in 1759–60, (fn. 30) the White Swan in 1763–5, (fn. 31) and the Nut Tree in 1769–78. (fn. 32) The inn was known as the Blue Boy from 1783 until 1787, (fn. 33) and the Buffalo's Head between 1808 and 1832. (fn. 34) By 1838 it had been acquired by Edward Francis Colston, (fn. 35) lord of West Lydford manor, and by 1859 was known as the Colston's Arms after its owner. (fn. 36) Between 1872 and 1875 it became a farm-house, (fn. 37) and the property is now known as Fourfoot Farm. Cottages were built along the Foss Way, southwest from the farm.
There were two arable open fields mentioned in 1396 and inclosed in 1838: (fn. 38) West field, formerly south of Cross Keys, and East field, south-west of Cary Road and east of Perry Road. (fn. 39) Apart from Lydford moor, there were three common pastures; Herbrooks, called Hurtebrok in 1396, (fn. 40) lay in the south-western corner of the parish. Rowborough, occasionally called South field in the late 14th century, (fn. 41) may represent the original third field of a three-field system. It lay between East field and West field and formed the present site of Rubbery farm. Broad mead, called Bordemed in 1396, (fn. 42) lay south-west of East field and may originally have included the lands later known as Perry mead.
The Great Western rail link between Castle Cary and Charlton Mackrell, running through the south of the parish, was opened in 1905. (fn. 43) Keinton Mandeville station, which lay in the south-western corner of East Lydford, was closed to both passengers and freight in 1962. (fn. 44)
In 1801 the population of the parish was 143. This figure increased to 194 in 1841. Thereafter it fell to 130 in 1901. A recovery to 156 in 1911 was followed by a further decline to 113 in 1931. (fn. 45) No individual population statistics are available for East Lydford after its union with West Lydford.
Manor and Lesser Estates.
The manor of EAST LYDFORD was held in 1066 by Alward, a thegn, under Glastonbury abbey, 'nor could he be separated from the church'. In 1086 it was held by Roger de Courcelles under the abbey, (fn. 46) but no further reference to the abbey's overlordship has been found, and by 1342 the manor had never rendered homage or service to Glastonbury within memory. (fn. 47) Thereafter the manor formed part of the honor of Curry Mallet. Roger de Courcelles was succeeded in the honor by Robert Malet (possibly before the death of Henry I), and before 1156 had been followed successively by William Malet (I) (d. 1169), Gilbert Malet (d. 1194), and William Malet (II) (d. c. 1216). (fn. 48) The last left three daughters and coheirs, Helewise, Mabel, and Bertha. Bertha died unmarried before 1221; Mabel's half share descended to William Forz, her son by her second husband Hugh de Vivonia. William died in 1259 and his four daughters received ⅓ of the barony each. (fn. 49) Helewise Malet married Hugh Pointz (I) (d. 1220), and the moiety of the overlordship descended to her son Nicholas Pointz (I) (d. 1273), who acquired the other moiety rated as a whole fee. (fn. 50) The overlordship passed through successive generations of the Pointz family until Sir Nicholas Pointz (III) sold it to Sir Matthew de Gournay in 1358. (fn. 51) On the latter's death it was granted by Gournay's assignees to John Tiptoft for life with remainder to the duchy of Cornwall, to which it passed on his death in 1443. (fn. 52) It was held by members of the royal family (fn. 53) until 1566 when it was granted to Sir Hugh Paulet (d. 1573). (fn. 54)
In 1600 the manor was stated to be held of the heir of Sir Hugh's grandson Anthony Paulet (d. 1600). (fn. 55) Thereafter the honor reverted to the duchy of Cornwall which leased Curry Mallet manor to Thomas Cary in 1627–8. (fn. 56) In 1631 a third of East Lydford manor was held of Thomas Cary as of his manor of Curry Mallet. (fn. 57)
It is not known when the manor was subinfeudated, but Thomas de Reigny was concerned in litigation with the incumbent over rights of pasture on Lydford moor in 1230. (fn. 58) In 1278 Richard de Reigny was trying to replevy his lands in East Lydford, confiscated by the Crown. (fn. 59) William de Reigny occurs in 1286 and 1312 as holding one fee in East Lydford, described as ¼ fee in 1303, and in 1316 was holding Lydford with William Martin, lord of West Lydford. (fn. 60) In 1329 William de Reigny, possibly son of William, and Elizabeth his wife, settled a messuage and lands in East Lydford on their son Walter, (fn. 61) and in 1332 the manor, with the exception of this property, was settled on John son of William de Reigny, probably their grandson, with remainder to their younger children, to be held by William and Elizabeth for their lives. (fn. 62) William de Reigny appears to have died by 1336 and to have been succeeded by Sir Ralph de Middleney, probably husband of the widowed Elizabeth de Reigny. (fn. 63) In 1346 Sir Ralph (d. 1363) held ¼ fee in East Lydford. (fn. 64) Elizabeth his widow still held a life interest in the manor, which she brought to her third husband Sir Robert de Ashton. (fn. 65) In 1368 Sir Robert and his wife settled the manor on Robert's daughter Eleanor and her husband, John son of Thomas de Berkeley. (fn. 66) On Ashton's death in 1384 Sir William of Windsor (d. 1384) entered the manor under a conveyance from Ashton to his wife Alice Perers, mistress of Edward III. (fn. 67) The manor was committed to John of Windsor in 1386, but the heirs of the Reigny family successfully proceeded against him for its recovery in 1388 and 1392–3. (fn. 68) The manor was thereafter divided between the descendants of three daughters of William and Elizabeth de Reigny: William Banastre (II), John Montfort, and Catherine wife of John Wykyng. (fn. 69)
William Banastre (II) (d. 1395) was succeeded by his daughter Joan, wife of Robert de Affeton. (fn. 70) After Robert's death Joan married John Stourton of Preston Plucknett, who held with others ¼ fee in East Lydford in 1428. (fn. 71) Stourton died in 1439, leaving a daughter Cecily, wife first of John Hill of Spaxton (d. 1434), and secondly of Sir Thomas Keriell. (fn. 72) In 1472 this third of the manor passed to Genevieve, wife of Sir William Say and daughter of John Hill son of Cecily. (fn. 73) Sir William Say survived his wife and died without issue in 1529. (fn. 74) Genevieve's coheirs were the descendants of her father's sister Elizabeth, wife of John Cheney of Pinhoe (Devon). Elizabeth's son John Cheney had issue Joan, who by her two husbands, Thomas Say and Sir Richard Pudsey, left four daughters, whose children succeeded jointly to the Hill estate. (fn. 75)
One moiety and a third of another moiety of his portion of the manor were held by John Waldegrave, grandson of Thomas and Joan Say, at his death in 1543. (fn. 76) He was succeeded by his son Sir Edward Waldegrave (d. 1561), and the third of the manor evidently continued intact in the Waldegrave family until James, Earl Waldegrave (d. 1741), sold it to Edward Phelips of Montacute (d. 1734) between 1725 and 1730. (fn. 77) In time the lands in East Lydford which made up this third were considered to form part of Wheathill manor, as indeed was the third presentation to East Lydford rectory. (fn. 78) In 1761, in accordance with a wish contained in the will of his mother, (fn. 79) Edward Phelips (d. 1797) conveyed Wheathill manor to his brother the Revd. John Phelips of Yeovil, at which time its value was increasing and, 'from the age and condition of the tenants on life, likely every day to become more considerable'. (fn. 80) On his death in 1766 John Phelips left the manor to his wife Mary, (fn. 81) who in turn left it in 1803 to her niece Rhoda, daughter of Edward Phelips and wife of William Harbin of Newton Surmaville. (fn. 82) Rhoda Harbin survived her husband and died in 1846, leaving all her lands to her son George Harbin, who had sold Wheathill manor by 1849. (fn. 83) In 1838 lands held by Rhoda Harbin in East Lydford totalled only 30 a. (fn. 84)
A further third of the manor passed to John Montfort, described as a tenant in fee of a third of the manor in 1400, (fn. 85) and he was holding lands there in 1412. (fn. 86) He was succeeded by his daughter Eleanor, wife of Geoffrey Rokell of Wormingford (Essex), and she and her husband were granting leases there in 1431. (fn. 87) By the late 15th century, like other former properties of the Montforts of Nunney, it was held by Simon Wiseman of Essex, (fn. 88) who claimed to have descended in the fifth generation from John Wiseman and his wife Magdalen Rokell. (fn. 89) In 1494 Wiseman sold his third of the manor to Richard Mawdeley of Nunney (d. 1509), (fn. 90) from whom it descended successively to John (d. 1531), (fn. 91) Roger, Richard (d. 1600), (fn. 92) and Roger Mawdeley (d. 1630). (fn. 93) Under a settlement of 1630 the property passed to Roger's daughter Frances, wife of Robert Clarke, (fn. 94) who conveyed it to Thomas Coteel in 1637. (fn. 95) Coteel appears to have been succeeded by Susan, wife of Thomas Garrard of Lambourn (Berks.), and Jane, wife of Calvert Wright of Nuneham Courtnay (Oxon.), apparently daughters and coheirs of Sir John Blagrave of Southcote in Reading (Berks.) (d. 1655), husband of Coteel's sister Magdalen. (fn. 96) The two couples presented jointly to the rectory in 1660, (fn. 97) but by 1669 the lands had evidently descended to Robert Wright of Windsor (Hants), son of Calvert and Jane. (fn. 98) An interest in the share was also held by John Deane of Oxenwood in Shalbourne (Wilts.), whose wife Magdalen was daughter of Magdalen, wife of John Stroughill of Barkham (Berks.), another daughter and coheir of Sir John Blagrave. (fn. 99) By 1679 Deane held the whole third, which he described as the manor of East Lydford, (fn. 100) In 1681 he mortgaged an undivided third part of his share to George Duke of Sarson (Hants), who obtained the freehold from James Deane of Salisbury (Wilts.), son of John, in 1696. (fn. 101) George Duke (d. c. 1721) was succeeded by his son John (d. 1744), who mortgaged the share to John Allen Pusey of Pusey (Berks.) in 1742. (fn. 102) The share was sold by an Order in Chancery in 1771 to pay off the mortgage and other debts of John Duke's estate, and conveyed in the following year to John Blake of St. Clement Danes, London, and Ralph Etwall of Andover (Hants). (fn. 103)
The remaining two thirds of John Deane's share were mortgaged to Elizabeth Low of London in 1686, whose representatives assigned it in 1738 to John Allen Pusey as trustee for Thomas Deane, rector of Witchampton (Dors.), grandson of John and Magdalen Deane. (fn. 104) Thomas Deane secured the freehold from Edward Deane, great-grandson and heir of John and Magdalen Deane, in 1739, and the following year, with his father John, conveyed the share to John Allen Pusey. (fn. 105) Pusey died in 1753 and was succeeded by his two sisters Elizabeth (d. 1757) and Jane Allen. (fn. 106) Jane presented to the rectory in 1763, (fn. 107) but sold her share to Thomas Wyld of Speen (Berks.) in 1772. (fn. 108)
In 1775, by agreement between Thomas Wyld, John Blake, and Ralph Etwall, the Deane share was divided between them. Wyld, as owner of two thirds, secured 56 a. in East Lydford, 91 a. in Foddington and Charlton Adam, and a third of the advowson. (fn. 109) Blake and Etwall received 86 a. in Charlton Adam in respect of their third. (fn. 110) By will proved 1789 Wyld left his share to his son George Wyld, who evidently sold it to John Davis between 1789 and 1791. (fn. 111) Thereafter it appears to have formed part of the Davis estate sold in 1848. (fn. 112)
The final third of the manor passed to the Knoyle family of Sandford Orcas (Dors.), possibly by marriage with the Wykyng family or their descendants. Thomas Knoyle, son of Robert (d. c. 1412) and Joan Knoyle, held lands in East Lydford in 1412 and died in 1416. (fn. 113) William Knoyle (d. 1502) held it by 1475, (fn. 114) and thereafter the property descended successively to Peter (d. 1508), (fn. 115) Leonard (d. 1532), (fn. 116) and Edward Knoyle. (fn. 117) John Parham of Poyntington (Dors.) married Edward's eldest daughter in 1571, (fn. 118) and Edward Knoyle and his son William conveyed the third to Parham in 1583. (fn. 119) John Parham and his son, Sir Edward, sold it to John Foyle (I) of Shaftesbury (Dors.) in 1620. (fn. 120) Foyle was succeeded in 1647–8 by his grandson John Foyle (III) of Chute (Wilts.), son of John Foyle (II) of Kympton (Hants). (fn. 121) The latter's son Edward (d. 1720), who was granting leases in East Lydford in 1692, left a son, Edward Foyle of Somerford Keynes (Wilts.). (fn. 122) Edward entered on his father's East Lydford property in 1730, (fn. 123) and 'Mr. Foyle' was stated to be one of the three lords of the manor c. 1736. (fn. 124) The descent after this date is confused, but this was evidently the third which John Ryall devised to his nephew the Revd. Narcissus Ryall in 1781, together with a third of the advowson. (fn. 125) It is not apparent when or from whom he acquired it. Narcissus Ryall died in 1829, (fn. 126) but the subsequent descent of this final third has not been traced.
The manor-house, probably still in existence when the manor was divided in the late 14th century, (fn. 127) has not been located. It may have stood near the field called Court Orchard in 1476 (fn. 128) and Court Close by 1587, (fn. 129) which was divided equally between the owners of each third of the manor. (fn. 130)
The freehold settled by William de Reigny on his son Walter in 1329, described then as a messuage, a carucate of arable, 10 a. of meadow, 60 a. of wood, 11s. rent, and pasture for 60 oxen on Lydford moor, may represent the demesne land. (fn. 131) This can be identified with a messuage, a carucate of arable, and 10 a. of meadow, held in fee by John Reigny in the late 14th century. (fn. 132) By 1587 this was held by the heirs of James Smyth, (fn. 133) and John Smyth occurs as a free tenant of the manor between 1588 and 1599. (fn. 134) In the early 17th century it was held by the Goodwin family of Bower Hinton in Martock. From Thomas Goodwin it passed to John Goodwin, who died before 1674. (fn. 135) He was succeeded by his widow Mary, and son William, who conveyed it in that year to Richard Duke of Otterton (Devon). (fn. 136) In 1679 Duke sold the property to Henry Scrase (I) of Blatchington (Suss.), who was succeeded by his son Henry (II) and grandson Henry (III). (fn. 137) The assignee of a mortgage on the property, Caleb Dickinson of Kingweston, proceeded against Scrase in Chancery for repayment, and in 1747 the property was conveyed to him. (fn. 138) During the 18th century the holding was known simply as 'the Farm' or as East Lydford farm, (fn. 139) the name Manor farm not being attached to it until the 19th century. (fn. 140) The Dickinsons still held the premises in 1931, but appear to have sold them by 1935. (fn. 141)
The estate which John Ryall of South Cadbury built up during the 18th century in East Lydford was devised by him in 1781 to his nephew John Davis, and to Davis's daughter Elizabeth. (fn. 142) Davis died in 1836, leaving his property to be divided equally between his five children, but giving his elder son, M. J. Davis, the option of taking the East Lydford estates with the exception of the cottages. (fn. 143) In 1838 the estate, then comprising 190 a., was held jointly by M. J. Davis and his mother. (fn. 144) The former died in 1846, (fn. 145) the latter in 1848, (fn. 146) but a suit in Chancery between the descendants of John Davis, begun during the lifetime of his elder son, led to the sale of the estate by auction in 1848 and to the subdivision of the property. (fn. 147)
The prior of St. John's hospital, Wells, occurs as holding land in East Lydford manor between 1396 (fn. 148) and 1476. (fn. 149) The tenement was probably held with the hospital's lands in the adjacent parishes of Keinton Mandeville and Babcary. (fn. 150)
Roger de Courcelles's estate, acquired after the Conquest, was rated for geld at 4 hides; 3 hides and ½ virgate were held in demesne, which 6 serfs worked with 2 ploughs. The remainder of the land, 3½ virgates, was tilled by 6 villeins and 3 bordars with 1½ plough, although there was land for 5 ploughs. Only 40 a. of meadow are mentioned, but the number of stock, one ridinghorse, 6 cows, 13 pigs, and 160 sheep, suggests a large amount of unrecorded pasture, probably in Lydford moor. (fn. 151)
In 1319 William de Reigny held 169 a. of arable, 12 a. of meadow, 40 a. of pasture, 60 a. of wood, and 10s. 4d. rent in East Lydford, Foddington, and Babcary, (fn. 152) and in 1329 a messuage, a carucate of arable, 10 a. of meadow, 60 a. of wood, 11s. rent, and pasture for 60 oxen. (fn. 153) By the late 14th century the manor had been reduced to about 248 a. of land. (fn. 154) The physical subdivision of the manor between the Reigny heirs took place c. 1394, (fn. 155) but as the pattern of the manor was evidently one of open fields and common pastures, scattered rather than consolidated holdings were thus created.
The value of the manor at Domesday was £4, the same figure as before the Conquest. (fn. 156) The income from the whole manor was £14 5s. in 1396, most of which was derived from leasing pasture. (fn. 157) Between 1475 and 1494 the income from the third held by the Say family varied between £4 19s. 3d. in 1475, (fn. 158) and £13 1s. 5d. in 1476, (fn. 159) decreasing to £6 18s. 2d. in the years 1489–90 and 1493–4. (fn. 160) The third share held by the Knoyle family was stated to be worth £2 in 1502, (fn. 161) but had risen to £6 18s. 2d. in 1551. (fn. 162)
The principal income of the manor came from leasing summer and winter pasture. By 1397 for pasture in the 'moor' and East field the lord received 2d. a week for a horse, 1½d. a week for an ox, and 1d. a week for a calf. Nineteen acres of meadow in Broadmead were leased for 2s. 8d. an acre, and 18 a. of meadow in Herbrooks for 2s. 6d. an acre. Summer pasture in the Garden, West field, Herbrooks, and Rowborough was leased for composite sums. Other tenants took pasture for their animals by the season; 1s. 8d. for a horse, 1s. for an ox, and 8d. for a calf. The total income derived in 1397 from pasture was £15 0s. 5d. (fn. 163)
In 1394 there were twelve tenants, comprising one freeholder, three holding ½ virgate, five holding a fardel, one holding ½ fardel, one holding 30 a., and one holding a single close. Their properties included land in Babcary and Foddington. (fn. 164) A few years later there were three freeholders and 16 other tenants, including one nativus holding 13½ a., (fn. 165) whose daughter was sold for £1 in 1398. (fn. 166) Two other nativi were noted to have fled from the manor in the following year. (fn. 167)
There were at least two open fields, East and West, by 1396. (fn. 168) Arable was also held in closes by 1394, (fn. 169) and closes of pasture had been made in Herbrooks by 1466. (fn. 170) Lydford moor was described as 'lately enclosed' in 1732, evidently by mutual agreement among the proprietors. (fn. 171) Moves were made in 1803 to inclose East and West fields. They were opposed among others by the rector and the principal landowner, John Davis, who claimed that the arable lands could not be 'too open nor too much exposed to the sun and air'. (fn. 172) The East and West fields were inclosed in 1838 and involved the inclosure of 173 a. of arable, just under one quarter of the total area of the parish. (fn. 173) References to inclosed pasture near Reynyslese in 1394, (fn. 174) and to the leasing of pasture in the lord's wood in 1399, (fn. 175) suggest that clearance and inclosure were already taking place there. Twenty-five oak trees were carried away without the licence of the lord in 1604, (fn. 176) and a covenant in a lease of 1732 enforced the planting of twelve oak saplings for every acre of timber felled. (fn. 177)
By the late 14th century grants of manorial land appear to have been either for one life or three lives, (fn. 178) although a lease for two lives was granted in 1431. (fn. 179) In the late 16th century a conversion from copyhold to leases for 99 years or two or three lives becomes evident, (fn. 180) and this was standard practice during the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 181) Progressive enfranchisement appears to have taken place during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, particularly on the Foyle holdings. (fn. 182)
The largest 18th-century property in the parish, later known as Manor farm, was acquired by the Dickinsons of Kingweston in 1747, (fn. 183) when it comprised 166 a., of which 37 a. were leasehold. (fn. 184) Lands were purchased in Herbrooks c. 1762, (fn. 185) and between 1838 and 1889 the farm comprised nearly 177 a. (fn. 186) The Dickinsons sub-let the property at rents rising from £95 in 1748 (fn. 187) to £150 in 1794. (fn. 188) The net income derived from the farm rose from £92 in 1794 to £138 in 1804. (fn. 189) The lands acquired by John Ryall from 1744 onwards, (fn. 190) which largely passed to the Davis family in 1781, (fn. 191) totalled 190 a. in 1838, and included Church farm and Home farm. (fn. 192) In 1838 the Davis family were also leasing Manor farm from the Dickinsons, (fn. 193) and were therefore personally farming more than half the total acreage of the parish. On the sale of the Davis property in 1848 (fn. 194) the estate was divided, and by 1889 Church farm (86 a.) and Home farm (43 a.) were in separate ownership and occupation. (fn. 195) Rubbery farm originated from 4 closes of leasehold land and pasture in 1688, (fn. 196) and had grown to 70 a. in 1838 (fn. 197) and to 108 a. by 1889. (fn. 198) Thus in 1889 414 a. were occupied by four farmers, and there were no other holdings in excess of 30 a. (fn. 199) By 1838 there were 276½ a. of arable and 365 a. of meadow. (fn. 200) During the 19th century conversion from arable to pasture on a large scale took place, and by 1905 85 per cent of the parish was permanent grass. (fn. 201) Notes made for tithe purposes in 1772 show that on seven holdings with 109½ a. of arable, wheat accounted for 51½ a., beans for 46 a., and barley (grown only on Rubbery farm) for 12 a. (fn. 202)
In 1821 there were only 16 out of 30 families employed in agriculture, (fn. 203) and the proximity of the parish to both the Foss Way and to the Somerton to Castle Cary road encouraged tradesmen. In 1859 there were a chemist and druggist, baker, shoemaker, coal merchant, grocer, and wheelwright, (fn. 204) a marine store dealer in 1875, (fn. 205) a road contractor in 1883, (fn. 206) a butcher and poultry dealer in 1897, (fn. 207) a threshing machine proprietor and a steam haulier in 1919, (fn. 208) and a motor engineer in 1931. (fn. 209) A dairy was established on the Foss Way near the railway station shortly before the First World War; (fn. 210) in 1970 it was a garage and scrapyard.
At the time of Domesday there was a mill paying 10s. (fn. 211) Nothing is known of its site or subsequent history.
Court rolls have been found only for that third of the manor held successively by the Banastre, Stourton, Hill, Say, and Waldegrave families. Court rolls survive for the years 1394–1400, 1457, 1466–7, and intermittently from 1588 to 1605. (fn. 212) During the late 14th and 15th centuries the manor court for this third, described as a curia legalis, was generally held twice a year and always once in the autumn. By the late 16th and early 17th centuries it met once a year in April or May. By 1433 it was held with that of Wheathill. (fn. 213) Leases of properties formerly held of East Lydford manor and later of Wheathill owed suit of court to Wheathill in the 18th century. (fn. 214) Leasehold tenements forming part of the third held by the Knoyle, Parham, and Foyle families owed suit of court to East Lydford at intervals between 1579 and 1688. (fn. 215) Apart from tenurial business and minor offences, the chief concern was the annual leasing of summer and winter pasture.
No appointments of manorial officials have been noted, probably because of the division of the manor. Two churchwardens were appointed by 1554, (fn. 216) but between 1724 and 1815 the vestry generally appointed only one, together with one overseer of the poor, (fn. 217) and from 1742 to 1803 one or two surveyors of the highways, (fn. 218) all of whom served for their estates in rotation and took parish apprentices in the same manner. In 1871–89 and 1905 both a rector's warden and parish warden were appointed. Two overseers were appointed between 1854 and 1891, and four between 1892 and 1894. The vestry also appointed a waywarden between 1854 and 1893, and a hayward to impound strays in 1862. (fn. 219)
There was a poorhouse by 1756. (fn. 220) A house for the poor was rented from Mary Phelips in 1775 and 1778, and from John Davis between 1783 and 1815. (fn. 221) The parish became part of the Shepton Mallet poor-law union in 1836. (fn. 222)
The church of East Lydford is first mentioned in 1230, although reference was made at that date to the then parson's predecessors. (fn. 223) By 1323 the advowson was held by the Reigny family, lords of the manor. (fn. 224) It continued in their hands until, like the manor, it passed to Sir Ralph de Middleney, who presented in 1343 and 1362. (fn. 225) The Crown presented in 1388 while the Reigny family was attempting to regain the manor from the Windsors. (fn. 226) Thereafter the advowson, like the manor, split into three parts and descended with them, the owner of each share presenting at every third vacancy. In 1415, after an inquisition to determine the right of patronage, three chaplains, probably as feoffees, presented for the Montforts. (fn. 227) Robert Erlegh presented in 1435, presumably for the Wykyng and Knoyle share, (fn. 228) and Robert More in 1504, probably during the minority of Peter Knoyle. (fn. 229) Frances, widow of Giles Paulet, and others presented in 1580 for the Waldegraves. (fn. 230) The Bishop collated by lapse in 1691, (fn. 231) and in 1730 mistakenly granted the presentation to Jeremy Cray. (fn. 232) Cray's incumbent resigned when Edward Foyle claimed the patronage, and Foyle presented his own candidate in the same year. (fn. 233)
John Ryall appears to have acquired the Foyle share for his nephew, Narcissus Ryall, and on the former's death in 1781 it was left in trust to another nephew John Davis, and the latter's daughter Elizabeth, on condition that they presented Narcissus on his taking holy orders. (fn. 234) Between 1789 and 1791 Davis also appears to have acquired from Thomas Wyld the third formerly held by the Deane and Duke families. (fn. 235) William Harbin of Sherborne (Dors.) (d. 1823), appears to have purchased twothirds of the advowson, which he left to his wife Rhoda, who had inherited the remaining third. (fn. 236) She presented in 1829, 1833, and 1839, and on her death in 1846 the patronage was sold. (fn. 237) It appears to have been purchased by P. J. Newell, instituted in 1849, and succeeded in both patronage and rectory by the Revd. P. S. Newell in 1853. (fn. 238) It was purchased from the latter by J. J. Moss, who presented himself in 1864 and another in 1870. (fn. 239) Moss died in 1887, (fn. 240) the Bishop collating by lapse the following year, (fn. 241) and both patronage and rectory were acquired by G. S. Henning in 1895. (fn. 242) The National Church League Trustees, now the Church Society, have presented since 1916. (fn. 243) In 1905 the rectories of East Lydford and Wheathill were united, (fn. 244) and in 1965 were combined with West Lydford to form a united benefice called the Lydfords. (fn. 245) The rector in 1970 also held the united benefice of Alford and Hornblotton, and lived at West Lydford. (fn. 246)
The church was valued at £6 13s. 4d. in 1291. (fn. 247) In 1535 the net value was £7 16s. 7d. (fn. 248) By c. 1668 it was said to be worth £40 (fn. 249) and in 1742 £39 12s. 9d. (fn. 250) By 1831 the net income had risen to £135. (fn. 251) J. J. Moss (rector 1864–70) evidently bequeathed stock to augment the living, and this was transferred to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty in 1889. (fn. 252)
The tithes were valued at £6 5s. 3d. in 1535. (fn. 253) By 1672 the rector claimed tithes of corn and grain, and specified 2d. an acre for mown grass (6d. if let to an outsider), 2d. for an orchard, 1d. for a garden, 3d. for a cow's milk, 2d. for the milk of heifers under 4 years old; 2d. a month for every 20 sheep or tithe of wool if kept the whole year; 1d. for the fall of a colt, ½d. for the fall of each calf, lamb, or pig; one egg for each hen and 2 eggs for the master cock; 1d. in the shilling from all rents paid by outsiders for grazing land in the parish; the tenth faggot cut in Raynes wood, and a customary payment of 6s. 8d. in respect of 20 a. of meadow and pasture by Raynes wood. (fn. 254) In 1838 a rent-charge of £106 16s. 3d. was assigned to the rector. (fn. 255)
In 1230 the parson held a virgate of land formerly given to the church, in respect of which he claimed common grazing in Lydford moor for four oxen, two cows, and one draught beast. (fn. 256) In 1334 the glebe comprised 40 a. of arable and 3 a. of meadow which, with oblations, obventions, and small tithes, was valued at 53s. 10d. (fn. 257) In 1535 the glebe was valued at 31s. 4d., (fn. 258) and in 1606 the rector possessed 36 a. of which 27 a. were arable in the two open fields. (fn. 259) By 1838 the rector held a total of 32 a., (fn. 260) reduced by 1875 to 26 a. (fn. 261) and to 23 a. by 1894. (fn. 262) There were nearly 25 a. of glebe in 1972. (fn. 263)
Before the 19th century the site of the parsonage house was probably always in Church Lane. The property was described as unfit in 1831, (fn. 264) and was used as a farm-house in 1840, (fn. 265) although it had been occupied by the previous incumbent. (fn. 266) The building, known as the Old Rectory, was occupied as a private dwelling-house in 1970. It is a twostoreyed building of lias with three bays and a slate roof. In 1872 the rector exchanged parcels of glebe with Moss, the former rector, for 3 a. on the north side of Cary Road, on which a large rectory house was built. (fn. 267) This house was sold c. 1965 on the union of the benefices of East and West Lydford, (fn. 268) and in 1970 was known as the Rookery.
In 1568 the parson was reported for not preaching the quarterly sermons and was adjudged 'not a man able to serve for the parish'. (fn. 269) In 1623 there was no catechizing and only irregular services, and James Smith, the assistant curate, was presented as 'a man of dissolute life and conversation, an ale house haunter', and unfit for the ministry. (fn. 270) In 1827 and 1840 morning and evening services were held alternately, (fn. 271) but by 1870, although there was no resident rector nor curate, there were two services every Sunday and Holy Communion once a month. (fn. 272) By 1893 the Sunday services had been increased to three and there were 23 communicants on the roll. (fn. 273) By 1920 there was a return to two Sunday services, although communion was administered weekly. (fn. 274)
Edward Wareham (rector from 1613) held West Lydford in plurality (fn. 275) and employed assistant curates to serve East Lydford. (fn. 276) It is not known if he retained East Lydford during the Interregnum. Thomas Horsey (rector c. 1657–90) had been accused of being 'a drunkard, quarreler, a railer, a malignant for contemning of authority and vilifying of Acts of Parliament, a constant gamester, a prophaner of the Lord's day, a breaker down of fences, an encourager of idle loose livers and swearers, a false swearer, an abusive man in language, with much more wickedness'. (fn. 277) His personal influence among the Justices apparently prevented a trial and also obtained for him the living of East Lydford between 1656 and 1658. (fn. 278) He secured the imprisonment of many East Lydford Quakers for non-payment of tithes, interrupting services, and non-attendance at church. (fn. 279) In 1661 he forcibly prevented the removal of a Quaker's coffin which was being carried from Alford to Limington via East Lydford and secured its burial in the churchyard. (fn. 280)
A number of subsequent incumbents held in plurality, including Phipps Weston (rector 1763–84) who, while incumbent here, was fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, rector of Rushall (Wilts.), and vicar of Shabbington (Bucks.). (fn. 281) Curates were employed regularly at least from Weston's time, (fn. 282) and both Edward Harbin (rector 1829–33) and James Hooper (rector 1839–49) held the living of Kingweston in plurality. (fn. 283)
The medieval church of St. Peter lay isolated at the northern end of the village on the banks of the Brue. The site is marked by the remains of the churchyard wall, a heap of rubble around the remains of the porch, and a few scattered gravestones. It was a small stone building comprising chancel and nave with a large south porch and small square bellcot, possibly of wood, on the west gable end. There were two square-headed mullioned windows of two lights each in the south wall of the chancel and nave, and also a Decorated window in the south chancel wall. Inside the porch was a heavy carved door, surmounted by a canopied niche with corbel under, and to the right of the door a Decorated stoup. (fn. 284) Reference is made to a tower in 1756 and 1761. (fn. 285) The proximity of the church to the river evidently led to periodic flooding; in 1786 a wall was swept away by the 'late great flood', (fn. 286) and in 1799 the church was cleaned after an 'inundation'. (fn. 287) In 1864 the parishioners decided to rebuild the church on a new site, the old building being dilapidated, damp, and inconvenient. (fn. 288)
The present church of the BLESSED VIRGIN MARY was erected nearer the centre of the village, the site and cost of the building being provided by J. J. Moss (rector 1864–70) in memory of his deceased wife. (fn. 289) It was designed by Benjamin Ferrey and consecrated in 1866. (fn. 290) It is generally in 14th-century style and consists of a chancel and nave, with an octagonal north tower and spire. The walls are of Keinton stone with Doulting stone dressings. The Jacobean oak pulpit and a plain font, possibly 13th century, were taken from the old church. In the west wall are set two inscriptions brought by Moss from catacombs in Rome, and between them a 15th-century alabaster relief of St. George, acquired by him in the north of England. (fn. 291) The east window by C. E. Kempe was installed in 1879. (fn. 292)
The plate includes a paten of 1725 and chalices of 1776 and 1796, only the second of which belonged to the old church. (fn. 293) There is one bell dated 1865. (fn. 294) The registers begin in 1730, but the marriages are incomplete. (fn. 295)
The Quaker, John Clothier, was one of the 'first receivers of those that first published the Gospel' in Somerset, c. 1656, and many meetings were held at his house. (fn. 296) Persecution of the Quakers by the post-Restoration rector seems to have led to a gradual diminution in their numbers, (fn. 297) although Clothier's house was licensed for meetings in 1689 (fn. 298) and a bequest to poor Quakers was made in the will of Henry Scrase of Manor Farm, dated 1694. (fn. 299)
The house of William Paige, Independent minister, was licensed for meetings in 1846, but he moved to Castle Cary in the following year. (fn. 300)
A schoolmaster was mentioned in 1813, (fn. 301) and in 1818 there were weekly schools for small children. (fn. 302) A free Sunday school for 8 boys and 14 girls is recorded in 1835, (fn. 303) which by 1846 was supported by subscriptions. (fn. 304) A schoolmaster, mentioned in 1852 and 1856, (fn. 305) probably taught in the day- and Sunday school supported by the rector, which survived until at least 1861. (fn. 306)
A school, erected by subscription on the west side of Church Lane in 1875, was endowed with £400 by J. J. Moss, the rector, owner of the site. (fn. 307) Thirty children were admitted in 1876. (fn. 308) The school comprised a small teacher's house, single schoolroom, and porch. (fn. 309) The first mistress was certificated and a stipendiary monitress was appointed in 1880. (fn. 310) The children of the 'labouring classes' were charged 2d. a week for the first child from each family, 1d. a week for each subsequent child, and 2d. a week if over 9 years of age. All other children paid 3d. a week. (fn. 311) The school was administered by managers but was subject to governmental and diocesan inspection. (fn. 312) In 1903 there were 31 pupils on the books and it was stated to be 'a neatly kept and carefully taught little school'. (fn. 313) The attendance having dwindled to two by 1949, the school was closed and the remaining pupils transferred to West Lydford school. (fn. 314) The buildings are now (1970) occupied as a dwellinghouse called the Old Schoolhouse.