A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1974.
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The parish of Long Sutton, on the north bank of the river Yeo, 3 miles south-east of Langport, is well over 4 miles long from east to west, and nearly 2½ miles at its widest point. It includes the hamlet of Knole and the deserted village of Bineham in the east, the scattered hamlet of Upton in the northwest, and traces of a medieval settlement and a 19th-century wharf at Little Load and Load Bridge in the south. Apart from the inclusion of part of Kingsmoor in the east the present boundaries are thought to be those established by 1300, (fn. 1) though intercommoning with Somerton, Huish, and Pitney cannot have produced definite boundaries at some points until inclosure, finally completed in 1814. (fn. 2) At least from the 17th century the parish had rights on King's Sedgemoor, and nearly 606 a. were allotted in respect of 69 shares in 1795. (fn. 3) The total acreage was 3,956 a. in 1844. (fn. 4) The detached area on Sedgemoor was exchanged for parts of Kingsmoor in 1885. (fn. 5) In 1901 the parish measured 3,859 a. (fn. 6)
The soil is divided between clay over lias on the land around and above the 50 ft. contour, largely arable, and alluvial deposits bordering the river. (fn. 7) To the north the parish covers the western scarp of South hill, rising to over 225 ft. The 'moors' of the south are all below 50 ft., and Ablake and Haymoor in the south-west are below 25 ft. In the east are harder rocks forming the isolated outcrops of Knole hill (over 150 ft.) and the lower ridge including Knole Knap, features which probably gave the name to the hamlet of Knole.
The settlement names are all Saxon in origin, though traces of Roman occupation have been found. (fn. 8) Sutton itself was presumably named in relation to Somerton. Knole became the centre of a manor in the mid 13th century but Upton remained a settlement of small tenant farmers. (fn. 9) Bineham and Little Load also occur in the 13th century. The former, known as Little Benham in 1249 and Esterebenham in 1280, (fn. 10) lay on the southern slope of Knole Knap. The site, now known as Bineham City, was still occupied in 1720, though it had probably been in decline from the 16th century. (fn. 11) Little Load, absorbed into Long Sutton manor in 1431, had become two inclosed farms by the 17th century. (fn. 12) The buildings of the smaller, known in 1970 as Little Load Farm, incorporated features of the 16th century. The other farm stood north-east of Load Bridge by the Knole millstream, and had been partially demolished by 1886. (fn. 13)
The parish lies at the junction of two ancient routes linking three towns of considerable importance in the early Middle Ages, Langport, Somerton, and Ilchester. The Somerton–Martock road probably follows the original route, entering the parish at Load Bridge. This road was turnpiked in 1760–1 by the Martock trust. (fn. 14) The IlchesterLangport route crossed Kingsmoor from Pill Bridge. It survives only as a footpath and a series of lanes, including Hammocks, Knole Hill, and Ilchester lanes, emerging in Knole Causeway near the Vicarage. From there it followed Cross Lane to the village green and proceeded along Shute Lane to the Langport road. The route across Kingsmoor was gradually abandoned, partly because of the decline of Ilchester and partly, at a later date, because the owner of Kingsmoor in the 18th century levied fines on traffic. (fn. 15)
The settlement pattern of Sutton village around its large, originally triangular, green was governed by the convergence of these routes. The village cross, near the junction of Knole causeway with the route from Ilchester, marked the entrance to the village from this direction until the 19th century, and its position implies subsequent shrinkage of population. (fn. 16) Development along Shute Lane and the Langport road, including the 14th-century Court House, (fn. 17) indicates the growth of settlement from the central green to the north-west, and could well have been the reason for the prefix 'Long', which was in use by the 15th century. (fn. 18) The closure of the route across Kingsmoor allowed the more northerly route from Langport eastwards towards Kingsdon and the Foss Way to become the principal thoroughfare of the parish, thus by-passing the centre of the village. (fn. 19)
The maintenance of bridges and causeways was of considerable importance in the low-lying terrain of the parish. Load Bridge is probably medieval in origin and was certainly in existence by 1543. (fn. 20) In 1676 it was 'greatly broken and decayed'. (fn. 21) Little bridge and 'Stonybrygge' occur in 1479–80 and 1543 respectively. (fn. 22) The former was in Knole manor and still existed by that name in 1733–4. (fn. 23) 'Chappel bridge', also in Knole manor, occurs in 1647, (fn. 24) and Drayway now Driveway bridge in 1720. (fn. 25) 'Harneys way' at 'Wiggemore' near Bineham was sinking because its ditches were blocked in 1443, and complaints reached the hundred court. (fn. 26) John Person in 1552 left money for mending the causeway between the church and his house. (fn. 27)
The Yeo was used for transport in the Middle Ages, (fn. 28) and the farmer of Sutton rectory from 1537 sent his tithes to Athelney by boat, either from the river bank at Rodmoor or, if there was insufficient water, from Langport. (fn. 29) A wharf was established at Load Bridge by the mid 18th century, where sand, culm, and coal were unloaded. (fn. 30) The wharf was virtually abandoned by 1886. (fn. 31)
Long Sutton and Pitney halt was established at Upton on the rail link between Langport and Castle Cary in 1906; it was closed to passengers in 1962 and to goods in 1964. (fn. 32)
By the early 17th century there were three open arable fields around Upton known as West, East, and Little fields. (fn. 33) By 1720 they were known as West or North-west, East or North-east, and Lower Little fields. (fn. 34) Little field was still in existence in 1756 but had virtually disappeared by 1814. (fn. 35) By that time East field was called North field. Long Sutton village had two fields, Harding field in the north-east, largely uninclosed until 1814, and the small Cod field, still held in common in 1720 but inclosed before 1814. (fn. 36) By the 17th century there were eight small open fields around Knole, including Knapfield which first occurs in 1521. (fn. 37) Only three, Knole Hill, Knole Middle, and Knole Hither fields were still in existence by 1760, and by 1814 only small areas of Knole Hill field survived and were then inclosed. (fn. 38)
Land along the bank of the Yeo was drained for pasture and meadow from early times. Games marsh in the west is named after Robert Gyen of Bristol (d. 1353) and occurs as Gyensmershe in 1541 and as Geanesmershe in 1602. (fn. 39) Littlemoor, by Load Bridge, occurs in 1253, (fn. 40) Rothemore, later Rowmoor, below Knole Knap, in 1280, (fn. 41) Ablake and Swanmore before 1300, (fn. 42) and Rodmoor in 1431. (fn. 43) Some of these 'moors' were inclosed c. 1620, (fn. 44) but Rowmoor remained subject to common rights until the early 18th century, and Ablake and other scattered areas of 'moor' were not inclosed until 1814. (fn. 45) Drainage of these areas depended on the regular scouring of ditches and the maintenance of the river bank: each tenant of Hammocks in 1631 was made responsible for the repair of 20 ft. of bank. (fn. 46) The large-scale drainage schemes of the 19th century and the attempt to improve the navigation of the Yeo to Ilchester were largely unsuccessful until the completion of the works at Langport and in the lower reaches of the Parrett. (fn. 47)
Almost all the houses in Long Sutton and Upton are built of local lias, the older ones and those with more pretensions having Ham stone windows and dressings. At Knole there are several groups of lias cottages with thatched roofs, including West Knole House and Knole Cottage, both 'yeomen's' houses apparently dating from the late 16th century. One double-fronted house in Long Sutton near the churchyard gate is faced with red brick and carries the date 1782. Long Sutton House is of the early 19th century, with a portico porch in the threebay front and deep eaves. On the north side of the green stands the unexpectedly imposing Devonshire Arms Hotel with a long five-bay front of lias with Ham stone dressings. Its windows match those of the school at the opposite end of the green, suggesting that, like the school, it was built c. 1870. (fn. 48)
The Devonshire Arms was known as the Blue Ball by 1756 and by 1787 until the 1860s it was called the Buck's Head. (fn. 49) The Hare and Hounds stood on the west side of the green by 1737 and remained until c. 1870. (fn. 50) The Green Dragon had a short life in the 1770s. (fn. 51) The Lime Kiln inn on the Kingsdon road at Rock was first licensed in 1814. (fn. 52)
The Long Sutton Friendly Society was founded in 1818, and refounded as the Long Sutton New Friendly Society in 1845. (fn. 53) The society, which formerly held its club day on Trinity Monday, transferred to Trinity Saturday before 1972. A women's club, founded in 1889–90, ceased well before 1914. (fn. 54)
During the Civil War Fairfax marched his troops across Kingsmoor from Ilchester in July 1645 in his attempt to reach Bridgwater. The Royalist troops under Goring, stationed at Load Bridge, withdrew towards Langport, occupying the high ground in High Ham each side of the Somerton road. Skirmishing took place in Upton West field, then lying fallow, as the Parliamentary troops made their way along Tengore Lane. Most of the fighting known as the battle of Langport took place in High Ham parish, but Cromwell described it as the 'Long Sutton mercy' and compared it in importance with Naseby. Long Sutton itself he found 'extremely wanting in provisions' largely owing to the interference of the Clubmen. (fn. 55) Perhaps at this time the army burnt a house at Knole. (fn. 56)
In 1327 Sutton tithing was second in wealth and size to Aller in the hundred, 22 taxpayers contributing a total of 52s. Knole had 17 payers. (fn. 57) In 1563 Knole had 17 households, Upton 23, and Long Sutton 52. (fn. 58) In 1801 the population numbered 735. This rose to 1,050 in 1851 but thereafter declined, reaching 716 in 1901. Recovery by 1911 was followed by fluctuations, but in 1961 the population was 712. (fn. 59)
George Palmer (d. 1897), biscuit manufacturer, was born in the parish in 1818 and established a factory at Reading in 1841. (fn. 60)
Manors and Other Estates.
In 871 or 886 King Alfred gave to Athelney abbey ten cassatae in 'Suthtun' free of all but the three customary dues. (fn. 61) Athelney's holding there gelded for ten hides T.R.E., but by 1086 for eight hides. (fn. 62) Known as the manor of ABBOT'S SUTTON or LONG SUTTON, it was held by Athelney abbey until the Dissolution in 1539.
At the Dissolution the manor, except the manorhouse, was leased to Robert Golde. (fn. 63) In 1547 the reversion was granted to Thomas Wriothesley, earl of Southampton (d. 1550) who was in possession in the following year. (fn. 64) Ownership passed to his son Henry (d. 1581); in 1600 the manor, described as Long Sutton or SUTTON VALENCE, was bought from Henry's son, also Henry, by Sir John Spencer of Canonbury, Lord Mayor of London. (fn. 65) Spencer's only daughter Elizabeth succeeded her father in 1610 and brought the manor to her husband William, Lord Compton (cr. earl of Northampton 1618). (fn. 66) On her death in 1632 the estate passed to her son Spencer, earl of Northampton (d. 1643), (fn. 67) and it descended successively in the Compton family to George Compton (d. 1758), who held the property by 1745 before succeeding his brother as earl in 1754. (fn. 68) George's widow, later wife of Claudius Amyand, held the manor until her death in 1800, when it passed to Lord George Cavendish, third son of William, duke of Devonshire (d. 1764), through his marriage with Elizabeth (d. 1835), heir of Charles, earl of Northampton (d. 1763). (fn. 69) George, created earl of Burlington in 1831, died in 1834. His grandson and successor William (d. 1891) became duke of Devonshire in 1858. Victor, duke of Devonshire, William's grandson, sold the property, amounting to over 2,000 a., in 1919, but no claims to manorial rights were involved. (fn. 70)
By the mid 17th century the demesne included three holdings, based on Manor farm-house, Higher house, next to the vicarage house on the green, and Lower house. In 1674 the Manor farm-house and adjoining land were let to John Stocker and the others to Mary Jeanes. (fn. 71) Robert Banbury became lessee of Manor farm in 1695 and in 1717 held 106 a. (fn. 72) The family remained lessees throughout the 18th century. (fn. 73) In 1919 the farm measured 303 a. (fn. 74)
In 1538 the manor-house comprised a hall, kitchen, buttery, and three chambers. (fn. 75) The present two-storeyed building, known as Manor Farm, stands immediately south of the churchyard. It appears to date largely from the 16th or 17th century but may incorporate part of an earlier house. The plan is E-shaped, having two projecting wings and a central porch on the north side. There are traces of timber-framing behind the stone facing in both wings and the west wing formerly had its own external doorway. Elsewhere the walls are of lias with Ham stone dressings. Several of the stonemullioned windows have arched heads to the lights which could belong to a major reconstruction of the mid 17th century. The porch, originally twostoreyed but now with a lean-to roof, has a roundheaded outer arch and is of this period. An eastward extension of the main range, containing the present kitchen, may have been added at the same time or somewhat earlier. Alterations, including the insertion of several sash windows with segmental heads, were carried out early in the 18th century. About 100 years later the older part of the south front was re-faced with lias and made into a symmetrical elevation with sash windows and a central doorway and porch. Inside the house is some stained glass thought to have come from the church. (fn. 76) It incorporates the initials 'I.M.', either for John Moss, vicar from 1521, or John Major, abbot of Athelney 1531–3. (fn. 77) In 1571 a barn, called a shippen, and a gatehouse, associated with the manor-house, were reported as ruinous. (fn. 78)
An estate of two hides was held of Athelney abbey before the Conquest by two thegns and in 1086 against the abbot's will by Roger de Courcelles. (fn. 79) Most of Roger's estates passed to the Malet family and, on the death of William Malet (II). c. 1216, were divided between two daughters. (fn. 80) Hugh Pointz (I) (d. 1220), husband of Helewise Malet, succeeded to two carucates at Sutton by 1219. (fn. 81) On the death of Helewise's second husband in 1253–4 the property passed to Nicholas Pointz (I) (d. 1273). His grandson Nicholas (II) (d. 1311) held 1/5 fee in Sutton at his death; (fn. 82) and his grandson Nicholas was overlord in 1354. (fn. 83) Further descent of the lordship has not been traced.
The other moiety of William Malet's estate, belonging to Mabel, wife successively of Nicholas Avenel and Hugh de Vivonia (d. 1249), descended to Hugh's son William (d. 1259). It passed to Cecily (d. 1320) wife of John de Beauchamp (I) by 1287. (fn. 84) After her death it was added to the Beauchamp estates and was retained by the family until the death of Margaret, widow of John de Beauchamp (III), in 1361. (fn. 85) No further trace of the Beauchamp interest has been found.
Roger de Courcelles' tenants in 1086 were Dodman and Warmund, both possibly Englishmen and successors to the two thegns of the Confessor's time. (fn. 86) Dodman was probably the occupier of the Pointz moiety. By 1311 the tenant was William Bossard, perhaps descendant of Richard Boschard who held ¼ fee in Sutton in 1208. (fn. 87) John Bossard, William's successor, died by 1354 and was followed by a minor. (fn. 88) This holding has not been traced further, but it may have been divided to form the several freeholds of the main manor in 1538–9. (fn. 89)
Warmund, tenant of the Beauchamp moiety, was succeeded by 1249 by Ralph Huse or Hose, from whom the property became known as the manor of SUTTON HOSEY. (fn. 90) Ralph Huse held part of a fee in 1287 and 1303, and was succeeded by his son Reynold after 1312. (fn. 91) Reynold Huse did homage for a 'great' knight's fee in Long Sutton and Butleigh in 1337 and still held it in 1361. (fn. 92) Under settlements of 1341 and 1343 the reversion was granted in fee to Nicholas and Isabel Montacute. (fn. 93) Robert and Alice Montacute were in possession by 1366, when the estate was described as a messuage, two carucates of arable, and 18 a. of meadow. (fn. 94) The Montacutes or Montagues remained in possession until the death of William Montague the younger. (fn. 95) In 1482 the property was settled on Catherine, William's widow, and on her second husband John Bevyn of Lufton. (fn. 96) Subsequently it was divided between another John Bevyn, John Moleyns, and James Duporte, husband of William Montague's youngest daughter Emme. (fn. 97)
The third share of John Bevyn (d. 1554), described as Mountaguyscourt in 1538–9, (fn. 98) descended to his daughter Ursula (d. 1608), wife of John Sydenham of Leigh in Old Cleeve, and from her to her nephew Henry Keymer of Pendomer. (fn. 99) Keymer sold it to James Arnewood in 1612. (fn. 100) John Moleyns had by 1554 been succeeded by Henry Moleyns of Sandhill in Fordingbridge (Hants); (fn. 101) he sold his share to James Arnewood in 1611. (fn. 102) The third share, held by James Duporte in 1524–6, (fn. 103) passed to Thomas Duporte and in 1583 to his son Henry, of Shepshed (Leics.). (fn. 104) This share was sold to James Arnewood before 1613, when the united property was conveyed to John Tucker. (fn. 105)
Tucker already possessed a holding known as Dudleys, held in 1568 by Thomas and in 1572 by John Dudley. (fn. 106) It seems earlier to have been held by the St. Lo family: Edmund St. Lo (d. 1541) held property in Long Sutton by 1505 and this estate certainly by 1538–9; (fn. 107) he was succeeded by Thomas St. Lo (d. by 1546). (fn. 108) Sir John St. Lo succeeded Richard St. Lo by 1550. (fn. 109) John Tucker was still in possession of both estates in 1639. (fn. 110) By 1665 he was succeeded by Reginald Tucker who, in respect of Sutton Hosey, was responsible for the repair of an aisle in the parish church. (fn. 111) He was imprisoned for supporting Monmouth and apparently lost his lands to Sir Theophilus Oglethorpe who, in 1688, transferred the holding to William Hall. (fn. 112) In 1695 Tucker brought a successful action against Oglethorpe and Hall for recovery of the manor and the capital messuage and farm of Sutton Hosey or Mitchell's farm. (fn. 113)
William Steele of St. Martin's in the Fields, London, purchased the property from Tucker in 1704. (fn. 114) Part of it, including Mitchell's farm and the aisle in the parish church, was sold to Robert Banbury, lessee of Manor farm, in 1707. (fn. 115) The Banbury family remained in possession of Mitchell's or Tucker's farm, otherwise called the manorhouse of Sutton Hosey, until the early 19th century. (fn. 116) In 1842 it was owned by Anne Chard and came to be known as Chard's farm. (fn. 117) It was called Manor House farm in 1969.
Manor House farm, standing north of the Langport road, is mostly faced with lias and consists of a front range and a rear service wing. The front range may be of 16th-century origin. There are indications of former timber-framing at both ends and the remains of moulded ceiling beams in the hall. At the west end is a large Ham stone fire-place with a stone-mullioned window beside it, both recently uncovered; there is evidence that the massive chimney at the gable-end originally projected externally. It may have been this house, therefore, which was damaged by the king's troops in 1685. (fn. 118) In the early 19th century the range was re-roofed and the eaves were raised. At the same time it was given a symmetrical plastered front with sash windows and a classical porch. The back wing probably dates from the 18th century, as do the gate-piers with ball finials at the entrance to the forecourt. The farm buildings include a medieval rectangular dovecot, originally with about 650 nest holes, but increased by about 130 by the insertion of a dividing wall. (fn. 119)
The remainder of the Sutton Hosey estate was devised by William Steele on his death in 1715 in trust for the support of poor Somerset Quakers. (fn. 120) Known as Charity farm, Upton, it remained part of the endowment of the Friends' Somerset Charities until 1921, when most of it was sold to the tenant. (fn. 121)
Before 1254 Sabina Lorty, daughter of Richard Revel and heir of the St. Clare properties, was holding an estate in Long Sutton, part of which may have descended from the Domesday tenant of Athelney abbey, Roger Brito. (fn. 122) Some of Sabina's estate, in 'Little Benham' and 'Lade', was held of Ralph Huse and part, at Knole, of Huse and the abbot of Athelney. (fn. 123) Sabina died in 1254 and her heir was her grandson Henry Lorty, then a minor. (fn. 124) The estate, called a vill in 1254, was described three years later as the manor of KNOLE. (fn. 125) From 1280 onwards it was held of the lord of Long Sutton for 1/5 knight's fee. (fn. 126)
The manor then followed the descent of the manor of Pitney Lorty until the death of Sir Robert de Ashton in 1384. (fn. 127) It then passed to Sir William Windsor and after his death a few months later to his son John. (fn. 128) In 1392 Maud Langrich and Elizabeth Gunter recovered the property as heirs of Sibyl Lorty. (fn. 129) Maud, who later married William Horslegh, died without issue, and when Elizabeth died in 1422 she left the whole manor to her son Roger Gunter (d. 1436). (fn. 130) The manor passed to his son John (d. 1474) and then to John's brother William, and continued like the manor of Pitney Lorty to the Mortons. (fn. 131)
In 1578 George Morton conveyed the manor to John Chafin. (fn. 132) Two years later it was in the hands of Thomas Chafin of Folke (Dors.), and by 1601 he was succeeded by his son Bampfield, of Chettle (Dors.) (d. 1644). (fn. 133) Bampfield's son Thomas died before 1657 and his son, also Thomas, in 1691. (fn. 134) George Chafin, Thomas's third son, succeeded him and died in 1766. His sons George and William sold the manor in 1768 to Stephen Fox-Strangways, earl of Ilchester (d. 1776). (fn. 135) Knole thereafter formed part of the Ilchester estates until 1913, when it was sold as separate farms. (fn. 136)
In 1326 Richard de St. Clare granted to Henry Power an estate of 184 a. in Long Sutton and Martock. (fn. 137) This holding was settled in 1344 on Joan, Henry's daughter, and on her husband William Shareshull the younger. (fn. 138) Power died in 1361 leaving an estate of 45 a. held of the earl of Salisbury, lord of Martock. (fn. 139) It is possible that this holding was the origin of the reputed manor of SUTTON ST. CLEERS or BOURNE'S MANOR, a freehold estate settled by John Bourne in 1528 on his son William, on William's marriage with Mary Poure. (fn. 140) William Bourne (d. 1552) was succeeded in turn by his son Francis, of Bath (d. 1601), and by his grandson John (d. 1625). (fn. 141) John's estate comprised 100 a. of arable, 20 a. of meadow, and 20 a. of pasture in Long Sutton, Somerton, and Martock, held of the lord of Long Sutton. (fn. 142) The property was tenanted for her life by his mother Bennett, wife of the lawyer and wit John Hoskins. (fn. 143) John Bourne, son or grandson of John, survived until c. 1706. (fn. 144)
The property was then divided into three parts, one third passing to Dorothy, his daughter, and to her husband Walter Nourse. (fn. 145) The other two thirds were held in 1710 by Mary Clarke, possibly Bourne's other daughter Mary, and by John Smith. (fn. 146) Dorothy, Walter, Mary, and John held courts at least until 1714. (fn. 147) From 1720 until 1729 Walter and Dorothy Nourse shared the lordship with John Holder and Elizabeth his wife, and by 1738 with Elizabeth Holder only. (fn. 148) Elizabeth Nourse, spinster, and Elizabeth Holder, widow, held the manor jointly in 1756. (fn. 149) Ten years later the property was held by John Lewis. (fn. 150) Richard Lewis was owner between 1780 and 1806, followed for two years by Richard Welsh. (fn. 151) By 1809 one Thomson held the property, which was usually known as Thomson's farm until 1832. (fn. 152) By 1838 the owner was C. E. Poulett Thomson (cr. Baron Sydenham and Toronto 1840, d. 1841) then President of the Board of Trade. (fn. 153) He was still charged with the payment of 4s. 6d. to the lord of Long Sutton as his predecessor, John Bourne, had been in 1539. (fn. 154) The property seems to have been sold after Thomson's death. Between 1832 and 1845 it was known as Demas Sutton farm, recalling the medieval tithing name of Demi Sutton. (fn. 155)
The farm-house attached to this property in 1844 is now known as the Court House. It is the oldest domestic building in the village and may be of 14th-century origin. It is built of lias with Ham stone dressings and consists of a single range on an approximately north-south axis with porches of different dates projecting from the two long sides. The northern half of the range contains a formerly open hall, later divided by a floor, with a screenspassage and gallery across its south end. Beyond the passage the building appears always to have been two-storeyed, but this part of the house has been altered and re-roofed. There are indications of timber-framing in the end wall to the south; it contains a window with closely-set diagonal mullions, blocked by the insertion of a later chimney. The former hall has retained its smoke-blackened open roof, though some of the timbers were replaced in the 1930s. The roof has three main bays, divided by arch-braced collar-beam trusses with raised base-cruck principals. Braced crown-posts support a collar purlin and each main bay has two tall but slender wind-braces, slightly curved. Lighter intermediate trusses have no crown-posts. The trusses on the two end walls are of the 'aisled' type and other features of the roof, notably the main throughpurlins which are set square in the manner of arcade-plates, are reminiscent of aisled-hall construction. The same early characteristics, also associated with base-cruck principals, have been found in several other roofs in the West of England; comparison with dated examples suggests that they may belong to the late 13th and 14th centuries. (fn. 156)
The front entrance of the medieval house was evidently at the west end of the screens-passage where there is a wooden pointed arch. The twostoreyed stone porch outside it has diagonal buttresses. The outer opening has been walled up but what appears to be its relieving arch is still visible; in the south wall of the porch is a primitive twolight stone window. A pointed stone doorway on the south side of the screens-passage has been blocked by a 17th-century stair. The house was evidently altered at various dates and contains an assortment of mullioned windows, both of wood and stone. The most drastic reconstruction seems to have been carried out in 1658 by the tenant, Thomas Spigurnell, gentleman. (fn. 157) It included the insertion of stone-mullioned windows in the north gable-end and the east front which have archaic four-centred heads to the lights. Spigurnell evidently renewed much of the masonry and built the large chimney against the west wall of the hall. The removal of the main entrance from the west side of the house, which entailed adding an east porch, is also likely to be his work. The porch, which may originally have been two-storeyed, has a semi-circular outer arch and an inner doorway with a four-centred head.
The Court House, including the hall roof, was carefully restored in the 1930s and vested in a trust by the Society of Friends. (fn. 158) A dovecot, forming part of a barn south-west of the house, probably dates from the 17th century.
In 1538–9 a freehold estate was held by John Porter of the lord of Long Sutton manor. (fn. 159) Thomas Porter owned it in 1546, and William Porter in 1557–60. (fn. 160) Robert Cary was in possession by 1566, but two years later it was in the hands of James Hodges. (fn. 161) Hodges died in 1601 leaving land in Upton and Somerton to his daughter Mary and her husband John Rosse. (fn. 162) Their son James conveyed the Upton property, then described as the 'manor' of Upton, to Samuel Spalding in 1637. (fn. 163) Augustine Spalding sold it to Arthur Fortescue in 1661. (fn. 164) Fortescue was still owner in 1692, but by 1729 it had come into the hands of the Langfield family. (fn. 165) Sylvester Langfield (d. 1746) was succeeded by his son Sylvester; the son seems to have held the property until 1774, and Elizabeth Langfield, apparently his mother, until 1791. (fn. 166) John Laver held it from that time at least until 1838. (fn. 167)
The rectory of Long Sutton, created a prebend in Wells Cathedral c. 1200, (fn. 168) was held by successive abbots of Athelney until after the Dissolution, the last abbot retaining it until 1554 or later. (fn. 169) In that year the reversion was granted to the chapter of Wells, but Dr. John Lloyd of Owlswick (Bucks.) held it by 1583 and Thomas Butler of London had a Crown lease in 1591. (fn. 170) In that same year it passed to the newly-constituted chapter of Wells, (fn. 171) who leased it throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. From 1703 if not earlier the lessees were successive lords of Long Sutton manor. (fn. 172) Between 1822 and 1831 it was sold to the then lessee, Lord George Cavendish. (fn. 173) About 1920 a large portion was given by the duke of Devonshire to augment the vicarage, and the remainder was transferred to the Church Commissioners in 1923. (fn. 174)
The rectory was taxed at £23 6s. 8d. in 1291. (fn. 175) In 1535 the net value was £6 16s. 10d. and the income of over £11 was entirely from tithe corn. (fn. 176) Between 1538 and 1546 it was farmed for £26 13s. 4d., (fn. 177) and in the 17th and 18th centuries was let for £40, though its value was assessed in 1650 at £100. (fn. 178) In 1721 it was worth £120. (fn. 179) The tithes were commuted in 1844 for £400. (fn. 180) The only buildings belonging to the rectory were a nine-bay stone barn and a garner house. (fn. 181) The barn stood between the manor-house and the churchyard and was demolished in the late 19th century. (fn. 182)
Eight of the ten hides in Sutton were in 1086 held by Athelney abbey, and the remainder, formerly abbey property, by Roger de Courcelles. Four hides were held by the abbey in demesne, 3½ were farmed by 8 villeins and 6 bordars, and ½ hide was occupied by Roger Brito. The demesne of de Courcelles' holding was worked by 4 villeins and 3 bordars. There were 4 serfs on the abbey demesne and one on de Courcelles'. (fn. 183) There was said to be land for 16 ploughs but only 11 were recorded, 6 on the villein holding under Athelney, and only 2 on the abbey demesne. Pasture was clearly of importance: the abbey demesne comprised 40 a. of meadow and 100 a. of pasture, and there were 6 beasts (animalia), 15 pigs, and 102 sheep. Only 6 a. (fn. 184) of meadow were recorded on de Courcelles' holding, but his tenants had between them a cow, 9 pigs, and 214 sheep. The abbey estate was valued at £8, de Courcelles' estate 50s. (fn. 185)
By the mid 13th century customary rents on Knole manor, worth £4 7s. 6½d., were larger than the value of works, either still performed or commuted. (fn. 186) Commutation had evidently taken place on Long Sutton manor by 1349, (fn. 187) and on a small freeholding by 1305. (fn. 188) By 1539 the bailiwick of Sutton, the whole of Athelney's estate in the parish, comprised 61 customary holdings, worth over £57, and 7 freeholdings. (fn. 189) Some of these freeholds later acquired some of the attributes of manorial status, but ancient rents were still paid until the 19th century. (fn. 190)
The abbey demesne in Long Sutton manor in 1349 comprised 100 a. of arable, 20 a. of meadow, and 12 a. of pasture. (fn. 191) One or two small holdings were added after that date and by 1538 the demesne farm included 145 a. of arable in the common fields. (fn. 192) Knole manor comprised a carucate in demesne c. 1254, together with meadow worth 34s., and withybeds. (fn. 193) The freehold estate of Edmund St. Lo, later known as the 'manor' of Upton, was 120 a. in 1541. (fn. 194) The total extent of Athelney's demesne in 1349 was £8 1s. 11d., and in 1486 £8 0s. 7d. (fn. 195) Total rents of the bailiwick in 1538–9 were £59 3s. 8¾d. (fn. 196) Rents at Knole were £6 5s. 8½d. c. 1254 and £19 1s. 4d. in the later 15th century, with an extra sum of 31s. 7½d. described as donum Sancti Martini. (fn. 197)
The importance of pasture land is illustrated by the frequency of disputes over ownership and common rights, (fn. 198) which reveal complicated grazing regulations. Rights in Little moor, near Load Bridge, were disputed between the abbot of Athelney, the Crown, and a number of commoners from 1364 until 1383. The proceedings revealed how part was held in severalty by the owner of Knole manor from February until August each year for hay; by the abbot as chief lord from then until Michaelmas; and was then open to various commoners for the rest of the year, the share of Knole manor being pasture for 8 oxen and a 'beast of the plough'. (fn. 199) The conveyance of a small holding at Little Load to the abbot in 1431 included common of pasture for 8 oxen, a mare, and a colt in Rodmoor. (fn. 200)
Despite the importance of pasture, arable land accounted for a considerably larger area. A threeyear rotation was practised by 1349 on Long Sutton manor. (fn. 201) Part of the rent for the rectory, the only income of which was tithe corn, amounted to 66 quarters of wheat and 14 quarters of dredge in 1538–9. The lessee of the manor at the same time had to sow 40 a. of wheat and 46 a. of spring corn in the last year of his tenancy, and the farm had to be stocked with 6 oxen, 6 cows, a bull, and 2 sheep. (fn. 202)
Early in the 17th century the income from Long Sutton manor was £90 10s. 4d. and in 1663 £85 6s. 6d. At the earlier date there were 119 copyholders on one, two, or three lives, and 7 leaseholders, also for lives. By 1663 there were 66 copyholders and 40 life leaseholders. (fn. 203) Within the next thirty years the number of copyholders fell to 56 but there was evidently some fragmentation of leaseholds for lives, which had risen in number to 92. (fn. 204) Rents, however, remained stable, and were £90 15s. 9d. in 1765. (fn. 205)
Cattle grazing was of some importance in the 17th century. Landmoors, West Landmoors, and Haymoors in the west of the parish were inclosed c. 1620, and had doubled in value by c. 1633. (fn. 206) Between 1627 and 1637 two brothers supplied the London market with stock from the parish. (fn. 207) Consolidated farms also began to emerge including Little Load farm by 1674 and another in the same area by 1692. (fn. 208) By 1720 there were 55 tenants on Long Sutton manor with over a hundred separate holdings, but one farmer had over 200 a., three over 100 a., and seven over 60 a. (fn. 209) Some forty years later there were three farms at Knole with c. 60 a. or over. (fn. 210) Leases for lives persisted: in a total of 3,993 a. for the whole parish 2,232 a. were so held c. 1815. (fn. 211) By 1838 freehold tenure had been increased by over 670 a. on Long Sutton manor, and by 1844 only 102 a. were held for lives on Knole manor, a reduction of nearly three quarters. (fn. 212)
The remaining commonable land was inclosed in 1814 under an Act of 1809. Just over 1,418 a., mostly arable land in the north-west of the parish, were allotted among 20 owners, principally to Lord George Cavendish. (fn. 213) Subsequently improved drainage in the south and east of the parish enhanced the quality of the grassland around Knole, and in the years after 1840 dairying became important. Farm buildings were often extended to house more cows and new sets of buildings were erected. In 1844 Lower Knole farm had its buildings concentrated around the farm-house on the southern side of Stone Mead Lane. (fn. 214) By 1886 stalls, calving pens, two cattle yards, and other buildings had been added on the opposite side of the lane as the tenant farmer concentrated his efforts on dairying. (fn. 215) A similar development took place at Bineham House, subsequently Bineham Dairy farm, also on the Ilchester estate. (fn. 216) Three new farms, Bineham, Plot Dairy, and Upton, complete with buildings, were established during the same period on the Devonshire estate. (fn. 217) In 1859 twelve men were described as farmers in the parish, in 1866 31 including two dairymen, and in 1875 30 including five dairymen. (fn. 218) Many of the farms were sold to the sitting tenants when the Ilchester and Devonshire estates were sold in 1913 and 1919, but there followed a certain amount of consolidation, so that by 1919 there were only 17 farms and a dairy. (fn. 219) Dairy farming continues to be of major importance.
A tucking-mill was working in the parish in 1715, and cloth was made on a small scale at the end of the century: there was a silk-house in 1798, and the manufacture of Dowlas, Teck, and sailcloth employed many people. (fn. 220) There was also a 'tobacco manufactory with a snuff mill', (fn. 221) and gloving was done by women at home. (fn. 222) For a short time in the 1920s the Wessex Shirt and Collar Co. Ltd. had a factory producing shirts, collars, pyjamas, and gloves. (fn. 223) Quarrying was also important. Shallow workings in the lias for local use gave way to systematic exploitation in the 1890s which continued until 1939. (fn. 224) Lime burning was carried on at Upton from the mid 18th century until the 1930s. (fn. 225)
The number of shops in the village in the late 19th century was larger than that of many neighbouring villages, and included one retailer who described himself as draper and grocer who also sold patent medicines and kept a shoe warehouse. (fn. 226) A post office was established by 1861. (fn. 227) The first garage was opened by 1923 and the increasing traffic along the Langport road was catered for at the Court House where meals were served in the 1930s. (fn. 228)
In 1616 the parish refused to help to support the poor of Somerton because 60 of its own poor, many of whom were children, needed daily relief, and 80 more had 'neither house, nor anything else but their hands to relieve them', and the rates were producing but half of their former return. (fn. 229) A century later between 20 and 25 people were being regularly relieved at a cost of c. £95. (fn. 230) Expenditure by 1744–5 was a little lower and was similar in 1776. (fn. 231) It rose sharply by 1803, when 27 people including 10 children were supported. (fn. 232) This high level remained a permanent feature. (fn. 233)
In 1267 the monks of Athelney were granted an annual fair on the eve, feast, and morrow of St. James (25 July). (fn. 234) No further trace of this fair has been found. A 'pedlary' fair was held in the village on Trinity Monday by 1791, and continued in connexion with the annual walk of the friendly society until 1970. (fn. 235)
A mill was held by Reynold Huse in 1341. (fn. 236) Paul Tucker, who held the same estate in the 17th century, occupied a mill in 1678. (fn. 237) He was succeeded by the Gillett family, John Gillett in 1715 holding the former water grist mill as a tucking mill. (fn. 238) The family still held the property in 1767. (fn. 239) A mill on Long Sutton manor in 1349 was worth only 2s. because it could not grind in summer for want of water. (fn. 240) This mill was still working in 1679. (fn. 241) By 1844 only its site and the site of the pond were known, immediately west of Manor Farm. (fn. 242) Athelney abbey had a windmill in 1349. (fn. 243) It was let for 10s. in 1538–9, and may have stood in a field, formerly known as Mill Toit, to the north of the Langport road in the west of the parish. (fn. 244) There was a mill at Knole by 1479–80. (fn. 245) It occurs in 1520–1, and occupiers are traceable throughout the 18th century. (fn. 246) About 1870 it was moved to its present position in the centre of the hamlet from a site higher upstream. It then became an overshot mill, driven by means of an iron wheel placed at the end of the long, two-storeyed lias building. It seems to have gone out of use by 1883. (fn. 247)
Rolls and books of the manor court of Long Sutton or Sutton Valence survive for 1541–2, (fn. 248) intermittently for the period 1546–1669, (fn. 249) and regularly between 1671 and 1694 and between 1745 and 1839. There is no further record until the last court in 1885. (fn. 250) The court, described as a manor court until the late 17th century and from 1745 as a court baron, met twice a year, in spring and autumn, until 1784, and thereafter only in autumn. From the 16th century and probably earlier its jurisdiction was divided into two parts, wards, or ends, each apparently coinciding with a tithing, and each part made separate presentments through its tithingman. (fn. 251) A hayward was appointed for each part until 1745 and again, though less regularly, from 1756 until 1839; there were three haywards between 1787 and 1800 and one in 1885. About 1602 the haywardship of the east part carried a salary of 5s. a year, while in the west part the office was held in rotation by eight tenants of certain arable plots. (fn. 252) There were apparently no other officers of the court, but particular orders of the court were regularly supervised by committees. Courts in the 17th century were held in the upper room of the church house. (fn. 253) The last court was held in the Devonshire Arms. (fn. 254)
The lord of Knole owed suit to the court at Sutton and his tenants in 1541–2 were presented there for overcharging the common fields there. (fn. 255) The chief concerns of the Sutton court were the maintenance and repair of houses, river banks, and ditches, and the administration of the fields. It claimed jurisdiction over pleas of debt of customary tenants in the 16th century, (fn. 256) and issued orders that, among other things, the churchwardens in 1547 should choose their successors, (fn. 257) in 1639 that dyed wool should not be washed in streams, (fn. 258) and, from 1760, that horses of coal-carriers found straying from the towing-path should be impounded. (fn. 259)
Courts were held at Knole by c. 1254. (fn. 260) Rolls, books, and other papers survive for 1479–80 (fn. 261) and 1521, (fn. 262) and intermittently for 1625–65, 1728–91, and 1830–63. (fn. 263) In the early 17th century the courts were described as views of frankpledge but from 1657 the regular twice-yearly sittings in April and October were usually called collectively courts leet and baron. A tithingman occurs by 1479 and a tithingman, a constable, and a hayward in 1664. No constable was appointed after 1740, but the tithingmanship continued until 1841 and a hayward was appointed until 1863. (fn. 264)
A court-house stood in Knole until after 1844; it was demolished before 1912. (fn. 265) Repairs to ditches, roads, and bridges were the main concern of the court until the 18th century, when its main business was the control of the common fields.
From the early 18th century a 'public vestry or parish meeting', summoned by 'warning . . . from house to house', administered the parish, the overseers serving in rotation in respect of their holdings. (fn. 268) Overseers' rates financed not only generous cash payments for maintenance, clothing, and rents for all badged paupers, but also paid for repairs to river banks, roads, and gates. Surveyors of highways, one for each tithing, occur by 1730. (fn. 269) The vestry became more select during the early 19th century and by 1839 the parish was effectively controlled by the two churchwardens, one of whom was responsible for the administration of the Sedgemoor allotment. (fn. 270) From 1867 until 1870 waywardens were appointed by the vestry. (fn. 271)
By 1674 the ground floor of the church house was leased to the churchwardens for the use of the poor. (fn. 272) By 1692 the house was held by the overseers, and in 1737 was established as a workhouse. (fn. 273) A poorhouse was established at Upton by 1782. (fn. 274) The former church house was replaced by a poorhouse in Back Lane, which remained in use until 1852. (fn. 275) The parish became part of the Langport poor-law union in 1836. (fn. 276)
Fragments of Norman masonry preserved beneath the pulpit precede the earliest documentary evidence for the church. (fn. 277) About 1200 Athelney abbey, which had owned an estate at Sutton from the 9th century, gave the church to Bishop Savaric (bishop 1192–1205) to form a prebend in Wells Cathedral, to be held by successive abbots. In return the church was appropriated, and before 1227 a vicarage was ordained. (fn. 278)
The patronage was initially also granted to the bishop (fn. 279) but, except in 1342 when he 'conferred' the benefice by apostolic authority, (fn. 280) the monks presented to the vicarage. (fn. 281) Sir Thomas Dyar presented in 1564 and the farmer of the prebend in 1596. (fn. 282) The chapter of Wells were patrons in 1574 and from the 17th century to the present day. (fn. 283)
The vicarage was taxed at £5 in 1291. (fn. 284) In 1535 the net value was £8 18s. 0d.; an allowance of 6 qr. of wheat and 6 qr. of dredge payable from the rectory and valued at £2 3s. 4d. was probably not included. (fn. 285) By 1613 this allowance, described as 6 qr. of wheat, 4 qr. of dredge, 2 qr. of beans, and 16s. or a winter gown, had not been paid for 20 years. (fn. 286) The sum of £8 in lieu was paid by the impropriator from 1703 until 1923. (fn. 287) The benefice was temporarily augmented to £40 during the Interregnum, (fn. 288) but the reputed value c. 1668 was £30. (fn. 289) The net income in 1831 was £229. (fn. 290)
Tithes payable to the vicar were worth £13 8s. in 1535. (fn. 291) They were commuted to a rent-charge of £232 in 1844. By composition all meadow land, some 656 a., paid a modus of 3d. an acre; 3d. was paid for each cow and 1d. for the fall of calf or colt in lieu of tithes of milk, calves, and colts. Just under 200 a. paid five farthings an acre for all vicarial tithes. (fn. 292)
In 1535 the glebe was worth 10s. (fn. 293) By 1613 it measured ½ a. of inclosed arable and pasture, 3 a. of meadow, and c. 10 a. in the common fields, together with a garden and barton. (fn. 294) By 1844 the glebe measured just over 17 a., which by 1948 was reduced to 14 a. (fn. 295) The former vicarage house stood on the west side of the green in the centre of the village. (fn. 296) Early in 1663 it was reported to have been 'down' for some time, and in 1681 the hall, porch, and buttery with a chamber above were in need of rebuilding. (fn. 297) In 1815 the house was considered unfit for residence 'being very old'. (fn. 298) It was demolished by 1840. (fn. 299) The present Vicarage, on the eastern outskirts of the village, replaced it.
William Underhill, vicar in 1397, was licensed to farm the benefice for seven years while studying. (fn. 300) John Towkere (vicar 1429–36) was deprived for farming the glebe without licence and leaving the cure unserved. (fn. 301) Pluralism was common in the 17th century. Paul Godwin (vicar 1596–1607) was also vicar of Burnham and rector of Rampisham (Dors.). (fn. 302) John Norris, vicar from 1639, was replaced by Gabriel Ball, who served the parish between 1647 and 1654. (fn. 303) For much of the 18th century the benefice was held by Moses Foster (vicar 1738–53) and his son Aaron (vicar 1753–76). (fn. 304)
In 1815 services were held once every Sunday, alternately morning and evening. (fn. 305) Two services were held by 1851, the average congregation being 100 in the morning and 210 in the afternoon, including 55 Sunday-school pupils at each service. (fn. 306) Holy Communion was celebrated monthly by 1870. (fn. 307)
There was a chapel at Upton, founded probably by Henry III, who granted to Athelney abbey four messuages and 158 a. of land to support a chantry priest to celebrate on three days each week. (fn. 310) The endowment was still attached to the chapel in 1381, (fn. 311) but most seems to have been lost by 1535 when the curate of the parish serving the chapel was paid a composition from the vicarage income. (fn. 312) In 1548 its land was worth 4d. (fn. 313) It was serving 23 households in 1563 (fn. 314) but probably went out of use soon afterwards. It was leased in 1572 and has not been traced thereafter. (fn. 315) Its site is not known.
A chapel at Knole was also under the care of the assistant curate in 1535. (fn. 316) It was endowed with lands worth 4d. and in 1563 served 17 households. (fn. 317) It was leased in 1572 with Upton chapel. (fn. 318) A field called Chapel Hays at the eastern end of Bineham field may be either its site or its endowment.
The parish church of the HOLY TRINITY is a large building of lias with Ham stone dressings. It consists of a chancel with north and south chapels extending from the aisles, aisled and clerestoreyed nave with north and south porches, and west tower. The building dates almost entirely from the late 15th century, an order to dedicate the work having been issued in 1493. (fn. 319) The tower, which dominates the rest of the church by its height, appears from its style to be of the same period. An analysis of the various features in comparison with those of other notable Somerset towers, however, has suggested a building date as early as 1440. (fn. 320) It has set-back angle buttresses, intermediate vertical shafts, a south-west stair-turret, and an embattled parapet with pinnacles. The west doorway has a stoup beside it and is surmounted by a large Perpendicular window. Two stages higher there are central windows flanked by niches. The belfry stage has three openings to each face, the central one with Somerset tracery, the others blind. On the west side the central opening is dated 1622, suggesting that the tracery may have been renewed at that period. On the other hand there is plenty of evidence that quite elaborate Perpendicular work was being carried out in the county in the earlier 17th century (fn. 321) and it is possible that the upper stages of the tower were not completed until 1622.
In the rest of the church the windows, nave arcades, and other features are in a uniform Per- pendicular style. The tower-arch and the arches to both chapels are panelled and it is likely that these parts of the church were the last to be built. In the chancel the sedilia have four-centred heads and there is a trefoil-headed piscina. That the two porches are later additions is suggested by the fact that the buttresses on the nave walls have been cut back to accommodate them.
There is little evidence of the earlier churches on the site. The plain jambs and rear-arch of one of the south aisle windows may indicate that an older opening was adapted for the insertion of Perpendicular tracery. The richly-carved wooden pulpit carries the initials 'I.P.' and 'W.S.' It may therefore date from the time of abbot John Petherton (1424– 58) and William Singleton (vicar 1455–62), in which case it would have been made between 1455 and 1458; the figures in the niches were added in 1910. (fn. 322) The nave roof, with carved tie-beams and supporting angels, is contemporary with the rest of the building. The fine wooden screen, of the Devon type, stretches across the church, dividing nave from chancel and aisles from chapels. The upper part, including carved fan-vaulting supporting the former rood loft, has been restored. The rood loft stair is housed in a projecting turret on the south side of the church. The 15th-century octagonal font, carved with quatrefoils, has a Jacobean cover. The aisle roofs are 17th-century replacements, that on the north being dated 1691; their repair was the responsibility of the owners of two freeholds in the parish as late as 1798. (fn. 323) Outside the church is what appears to be the base of a 15th-century cross, similar to that at Charlton Mackrell; (fn. 324) it has muchweathered carved panels and, on the diagonal sides, square attached shafts.
The church has six bells: (i) 1961; (ii) 1618; (iii) 15th century, Exeter foundry; (iv-vi) 1863, Mears. The plate includes a cup and cover of 1781. (fn. 325) The registers begin in 1559, but there are gaps for the periods 1654–9 and 1666–1710.
A Friends' meeting was being held in the parish by 1662. (fn. 326) A group of twenty 'sectaries', many if not all Quakers, were presented at a visitation in 1663 for refusing to attend public worship, and marriages without banns and unlicensed burials were reported. (fn. 327) There was a permanent meeting-house by 1669, when Robert Ford's house was licensed for use by 100 Quakers under three teachers. (fn. 328) In the next year meetings were held in the house of Richard Nowell, one of the 'sectaries' of 1663 and one of the 19 people fined a total of over £153 in that year alone. (fn. 329) Further licences were issued in 1689 for meetings in the house of Richard Nowell, and in 1699 for Samuel Langfield's house. (fn. 330) The meeting-house in use in 1970 was erected in 1717. (fn. 331)
The Quaker community decreased in numbers in the 18th century and by 1793 only one family was living in the parish. The meeting-house was therefore closed and members went to Somerton. (fn. 332) It was re-opened in 1795, alternating with Somerton, was closed again in 1798, and alternated with Somerton again from 1801. (fn. 333) This arrangement must have been discontinued by 1828, when the Somerton meeting-house was sold. (fn. 334) The Sutton meeting continued and was considerably revived at the end of the 19th century after a series of missions and the establishment of a school. (fn. 335)
The house now divided into two dwellings opposite the meeting-house is traditionally the site of Richard Nowell's house. (fn. 336) The present meetinghouse, dating from 1717 (fn. 337), stands in a small graveyard. It is a plain rectangular building of local lias, divided horizontally by a Ham stone stringcourse. The hipped slate roof has stone slates along the eaves and a coved cornice. Sash windows with plain wooden shutters are set in Ham stone frames. Across one end of the building is a passage with a gallery above it, entered from both front and rear by doorways surmounted by segmental hoods on brackets. Internally the original benches survive, as well as the wooden partitions with movable shutters which divide both passage and gallery from the main meeting-room. Ancillary buildings include stabling with a mounting block.
In 1798 a silk-house was licensed for use by a group of Independents. (fn. 338) In 1839 a house was licensed on the application of George Lilley, minister. (fn. 339) Cottage services were held at Knole by Congregationalists from 1860, and a house was later converted into a chapel. The building, which stood on the south side of Gore Lane, was abandoned by 1896. (fn. 340)
Wesleyans held services between 1812 and 1841. (fn. 341) In 1844 Francis Masters, Bible Christian minister at Somerton, applied for licence to use a house occupied by John Gould. Gould signed the 1851 return in respect of part of a dwelling-house, which had room for 30 people. Attendances numbered 12 in the afternoon and 23 in the evening of Census Sunday. (fn. 342)
In 1850 Samuel Ralls of Load Bridge was licensed to use a building there for worship. (fn. 343) Possibly deriving from this licence a group of Brethren were meeting in a chapel holding 120 people by the following year. An average of 15 attended each Sunday morning, but no figure was available for the evening service. (fn. 344) By 1886 their chapel stood on the south side of Shute Lane, west of the junction with Back Street. (fn. 345) The congregation later transferred to a building on the Langport road west of the Court House. This chapel was used until c. 1943, when the members moved to Somerton. (fn. 346)
There were unlicensed schoolmasters in the parish in 1634 and 1663, the former the assistant curate, and another schoolmaster was married there in 1650. (fn. 347) A Quaker school, first proposed in 1700, was established in the old meetinghouse in 1719–20, but continued only until 1722. (fn. 348)
In 1818 there was a Sunday school for 100 pupils and two day-schools for 45 pupils. (fn. 349) A day-school there in 1825–6 was of ill repute, the money for its support being 'utterly thrown away'. A nightschool then kept by the assistant curate did 'much good'. (fn. 350) The Sunday school, financed by subscription, was re-established in 1828 and by 1833 had 41 boys and 58 girls. The day-school then had 24 boys and 16 girls, whose parents paid for their schooling. There were also three infants' schools with some 72 pupils between them. The largest, started in 1832, was supported both by subscriptions and school pence. (fn. 351)
In 1840 the vicar conveyed to trustees a plot of land on the west of the green, formerly the site of the vicarage house, on which to erect a schoolroom. (fn. 352) The school was affiliated to the National Society and was financed by government grant, school pence, and a voluntary rate. The building was replaced in 1871 by the present school on the south side of the green, on a site given by the duke of Devonshire. The old buildings became the master's residence. (fn. 353) By 1903 the school could accommodate 125 boys and girls and 70 infants, though average attendances were 92 in the mixed school and 37 in the infants'. (fn. 354) From 1941 the school ceased to take senior pupils and in 1944–5, when it took voluntary aided status, there were 54 children on the books. In 1969 there were 72 children. (fn. 355)
A Sunday school was held in the National schoolroom by 1861 and a night-school was established by 1866. (fn. 356) In 1890 a school for nonconformists was opened in a cottage opposite the Friends' meeting-house. Two years later it was transferred to a schoolroom next door known as Temperance Hall. The school continued until 1939. (fn. 357)
Charities for the Poor.