A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1974.
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Kingstone parish was 1,000 a. in extent in 1901. (fn. 1) A detached part of the ancient parish, known as Radletts in Hinton Park in Dinnington parish, was absorbed by Dinnington in 1885. (fn. 2) Further detached parts, around the Rose and Crown inn at Dinnington and in West Dowlish, were also lost to the parishes which adjoined them, while in turn Kingstone absorbed two fields north and south of the road to the west of Allowenshay, known as Castle estate, which in 1842 belonged to Dinnington. (fn. 3)
The boundaries of Kingstone and Dinnington suggest that the two places once formed a single unit, probably when Glastonbury abbey held both in the 10th and early 11th centuries. (fn. 4) The deeplycut Longforward Lane, known in the 16th century as Longforehed Lane, (fn. 5) forms much of the two-mile northern boundary of the parish with Whitelackington and Seavington St. Mary. The irregular western limit, bordering Ilminster and Dowlishwake, follows a tributary of the Isle, and subsequently the road south and west of the church. Near the Butts it leaves the road and turns south to Dowlish brook, which then forms part of the southern boundary. The south-eastern boundary, with Dinnington, is highly irregular and in places interlocking, both parishes sharing Allowenshay mead. (fn. 6) The extreme eastern part of the parish crosses the Foss Way to include Paul's mill.
Most of the parish lies on undulating Yeovil sands, its eastern half being characterized by deepcut lanes, its western higher and more open. It lies mostly between the 175 ft. and 350 ft. contours, but its highest point, just over 375 ft., is on the western boundary overlooking Dowlishwake. A junction bed of limestone is found around and to the north-east of the parish church; and eastwards, at the foot of the scarp below Longforward Lane, continuing beyond the parish, is a belt of inferior oolite. Limestone and sandstone were quarried at least from the 17th century. (fn. 7)
The parish is not well watered: a spring below Longforward Lane sends a stream eastwards below the scarp through the former Allowenshay mead, the largest area of meadow land in the parish. (fn. 8) Dowlish brook forms part of the southern boundary, and a tributary of Lopen brook drove Paul's mill.
The settlement pattern of the parish, with its three scattered hamlets, is typical of the south-west of the county. With few exceptions the parish and the small hamlet around the church are consistently referred to by the name they had in the 10th century, though the Domesday form, Chingestone, provides an important variant. (fn. 9) The position of this settlement, in an irregular protrusion at the extreme western end of the parish, and the later close connexion with the former parish of West Dowlish, (fn. 10) suggests that the original estate of which Kingstone church may have been the focus extended further north and west. The settlement at Allowenshay, in the centre of the present parish, is mentioned by 1280. (fn. 11) Its early form, Alwynesheye, with its many variants, somewhat supports the theory, expressed by Thomas Gerard in the 17th century, that the name derives from Alwine, a Saxon. (fn. 12) After 1300 the name is normally used for the manor which comprised most of the parish, and Allowenshay became the largest settlement. A chapel is thought to have stood there, (fn. 13) but apparently no manorhouse. Just north of Allowenshay, however, are the remains of a park, represented by fields called the Park, Lower, Higher, and Middle Park, surrounded by the remains of a bank and ditch. (fn. 14) This may perhaps date from 1260 when John de Burgh (I) was given free warren in Kingstone. (fn. 15)
The third settlement in the parish, at Ludney, probably dates from the end of the 13th century, (fn. 16) and a fourth, known as 'Netherton', is mentioned in the 15th and 17th centuries. (fn. 17) The last has not positively been identified, though it was clearly the name of a tithing and may have been part of Dinnington.
The principal road through the parish enters at the top of Kingstone hill from Ilminster, and forms the parish boundary through Kingstone hamlet. At the Butts it branches south-east to Ludney Cross, then east to Dozen's Corner, and then south, again forming the parish boundary, towards Crewkerne. This road was adopted by the Ilminster turnpike trust in 1758–9. (fn. 18) In 1968 a turnpike house stood in Kingstone hamlet, but just inside the parish of Dowlishwake. (fn. 19) Allowenshay, in the centre of the parish, is reached by narrow, deepcut lanes from the Butts in the west, from Dozen's Corner in the south, from Longforward Lane in the north, and from Dinnington. Longforward Lane and, for a short section Park Lane, form the northern boundary of the parish. The Foss Way cuts diagonally through the eastern end of the parish, and from it Mill Lane runs eastwards to Paul's mill, and Northfield Lane northwards towards Allowenshay mead.
It seems that the arable fields lay around Allowenshay, with a subsidiary one at Ludney. North field in Allowenshay manor is mentioned in 1537, but had disappeared by 1563. (fn. 20) Its position is not known, but Northfield Lane at the eastern end of the parish probably refers to the North field of Dinnington. (fn. 21) Small parts of West field, or Western field, survived until the 19th century, to the northeast of Boyton hill. (fn. 22) The field was still large enough in 1773 to be called a common field. (fn. 23) Ludney field, traceable in c. 1548, was still so called in the 19th century, lying to the north of the settlement. (fn. 24) Field names such as Metfordland, Woolverland, and Delverland had 16th-century equivalents in Metefurlong, Wulverlong, and Dulverlong which establish them as parts of open arable fields. (fn. 25) In the 16th century there was common meadow land at Allowenshay mead and Allowenshay moor. The former was shared with Dinnington, and the tenants usually held strips of 1½ a. each. (fn. 26)
Most of the buildings in the three settlements are of rubble and ashlar, with thatched or tiled roofs, and date from the 18th century. Exceptions are the five-bay Allowenshay Farm, in 1972 known as Old Manor House, with mullioned and labelled windows, which probably dates from the 17th century; (fn. 27) and Kingstone Farm which is medieval in origin. (fn. 28) Behind the barn at Ludney Farm is a semi-circular thatched addition, probably built to house a horse-mill.
In 1801 the population of the parish was 197. This figure increased steadily to 301 by 1841, but then fell each decade until 1891, when it was 199. A recovery to 231 in 1901 has been followed since 1911 by rapid decline, to 99 in 1961. (fn. 29)
Manor and Other Estates.
King Edmund gave to Dunstan, abbot of Glastonbury, an estate of eight hides called Kingestan in 940. (fn. 30) The abbey retained the property until Edward the Confessor's time, but had lost it by 1086 to the count of Mortain, under whom it was held by Hubert de St. Clare. (fn. 31) Hubert's successors held directly from the Crown on the confiscation of the Mortain estates in 1106.
By the end of the 13th century the manor formed part of the barony of Walkern (Herts.), (fn. 32) and the manor of Walkern was held c. 1120 by Hamon de St. Clare. (fn. 33) His son Hubert, living in 1155, was succeeded by an only daughter, Gunnore, wife of William de Lanvalai (I) (d. 1180). (fn. 34) Herson, William, was still a minor in 1185, and Oliver de Lanvalai, described as lord of Kingstone two years later, probably held in his right. (fn. 35) William (II) died in 1204 leaving a son William (III). (fn. 36) In 1194–5, however, Kingstone was held by William de Vilers, (fn. 37) and Roger de Vilers was returned as holder of a ½ fee of Mortain there in 1212. (fn. 38) This was presumably a temporary seizure, since in 1215 the manor was returned, 'as his right', to William de Lanvalai (III). (fn. 39) William died in the same year leaving a daughter, Hawise, in the wardship of the justiciar Hubert de Burgh. (fn. 40) Hubert married her to his son John (I), and their son John (II) succeeded on his father's death in 1275. (fn. 41)
Hitherto the property had been called the manor of Kingstone. On the death of John de Burgh (II) in 1280, however, the manor was called Halwenesheye, the origin of the subsequent name of ALLOWENSHAY. (fn. 42) John's heirs were his two daughters. Allowenshay formed part of the share of Hawise, wife of Robert de Grelley. (fn. 43) Sir Robert FitzPayn (Lord FitzPayn from 1299) was certainly lord of the manor by 1311. (fn. 44) At his death in 1315, however, he was said to hold Allowenshay and Kingstone hamlets of John de Burgh's heirs. (fn. 45) In 1382 the advowson, and presumably the manor, were said to be held of the Crown as of the honor of Wallingford, (fn. 46) and in 1445 the manor was held of Richard, duke of York. (fn. 47) John de Burgh's heirs were said to be overlords in 1599. (fn. 48)
The manor continued in the possession of the barons FitzPayn until 1450. Robert (d. 1315) was succeeded by his son Robert (d. 1354). Sir John de Chidiock (I) (d. 1388), who married Isabel, the FitzPayn heir, succeeded to the barony including Allowenshay. (fn. 49) Sir John de Chidiock (II) died in 1390; Sir John (III) (d. 1415) succeeded as a minor, and his wardship was held by Sir Ives FitzWaryn. (fn. 50) Allowenshay was held by Sir John's widow in dower until her death in 1434, and it then reverted to her son Sir John (IV). (fn. 51) He died in 1450, but Allowenshay was held jointly with his wife, who survived until 1461. (fn. 52) The estates were then divided, Allowenshay passing to Catherine, wife of Sir John Arundell of Lanherne (Cornw.) (d. 1473). (fn. 53) She died in 1479 and was succeeded by her son Sir Thomas Arundell, K.B. (d. 1487). His son John settled it on his wife in 1495. (fn. 54) It passed in 1531 to his second son Thomas, of Wardour (Wilts.) (executed 1552), (fn. 55) and then successively to Thomas's son Matthew (d. 1598) and to his grandson Thomas (cr. Lord Arundell of Wardour 1605). (fn. 56) Henry, Lord Arundell (d. 1694), grandson of the first baron, sold Allowenshay and other lands in Kingstone to John Poulett, Lord Poulett (d. 1665) in 1663. (fn. 57)
The estate remained in the Poulett family, held successively by the lords Poulett (after 1706 earls Poulett) until 1941, when most of the farms were sold to Oxford University, and then in 1958 to Messrs. Showerings or to the tenants. (fn. 58) The lordship of the manor was not, however, included in these sales.
From 1385, when the vicars choral of Wells acquired the rectory, the glebe lands were let to farm: to John Hewet by 1416 until at least 1428, to William Doget between 1450 and 1456. (fn. 59) Between 1460 and 1477 the vicars choral administered the property through a bailiff, but from 1480 letting was resumed. (fn. 60) The farmers included members of local families, notably Sir Hugh Poulett, lessee from 1547, (fn. 61) and William and Roger Long. (fn. 62) Nicholas Osborne had a lease from 1568, and his descendants still held the property in 1651, Henry Osborne purchasing the rectory in that year as confiscated church land. (fn. 63) By 1669 the Tripp family held the tenancy from the vicars choral, (fn. 64) and it passed on the death of Henry Tripp in 1730 to his son-in-law Henry Palmer of Clapton. (fn. 65) The Revd. Edmund Lovell of Wells acquired the tenancy in 1754. (fn. 66) His son George sub-let the holding to John Hanning of Dowlishwake in 1791 and Hanning's son William acquired the lease in 1807. William's son, John Lee Lee of Dillington House, was lessee until his death in 1874, some eight years after ownership had been transferred from the vicars choral to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 67) Capt. A. V. H. Vaughan Lee purchased the estate in 1899 and in 1968 his heirs, the Dillington Estates, owned the property. (fn. 68)
The rectory estate comprised tithes and glebe. Its net value was £15 6s. 6½d. in 1535 (fn. 69) and was assessed at over £76 in 1650. (fn. 70) Tithes of land in West Dowlish were commuted in 1838 for £22, (fn. 71) and from Kingstone in 1842 for £370. (fn. 72) Glebe was worth £4 in 1535, and amounted to 60 a. by 1636. (fn. 73) It was increased slightly in the later 18th century, but was just under 58 a. in 1858. (fn. 74)
The rectory buildings in 1636 were described as a dwelling-house, orchard and garden, two barns, a stable with outhouses, and a great court with a pigeon-house in it. (fn. 75) The house itself in 1650 comprised a hall, kitchen, buttery, and several 'lodging rooms' over them. One of the barns was of stone, with a thatched roof. (fn. 76) The lay rector or his undertenants then lived in the house. The existing farmhouse of Kingstone farm evidently incorporates the 1650 building. Although by then it was a twostoreyed structure there may formerly have been a medieval open hall, floored over in the 16th or early 17th century. The present building consists of an east range, containing the service rooms, and a cross wing to the west. There are indications that the floor above the kitchen is an insertion. In the west wing, which may represent the two-storeyed solar wing of the original house, an open collar-beam roof with curved wind-braces is visible. A large stone barn to the west of the farmyard has a similar roof near its south end and a medieval doorway with a pointed head.
Lands in Ludney are first clearly mentioned in 1316. They formed part of property let to the lord of the manor, Robert FitzPayn, which had once been demesne land and were again to be united to the demesne in 1323. (fn. 77) Earlier, in 1293, Humphrey de Kail held lands at Lodehaye. (fn. 78) Thomas, son of John Kail, who was found in 1413 to have held a carucate in Ludney as parcel of Cudworth manor, may perhaps have been a descendant. (fn. 79) John Browne of Frampton (Dors.), owner of a freehold messuage and land in Ludney in 1563, formerly held by William Speke and then Thomas Sydenham, also held land in Netherton tithing known as Kayles Gore. (fn. 80)
By the end of the 17th century Ludney farm, occupied by the Longs, included lands in Chillington, and was bought in 1698 by Bernard Hutchings from Robert Browne of Frampton. (fn. 81) Hutchings died in 1728 leaving the farm to Vere Poulett, and it was thus merged with the rest of the Poulett holding in the parish. (fn. 82) By 1744 the farm measured 90 a. in Kingstone parish; about 1811 it had increased to 152 a. though by 1842 it was only 109 a. (fn. 83)
The Mauncell or Maunsell family, of Maunsel in North Petherton, were freeholders in Kingstone by 1486, and held an estate by knight service of the manor of Allowenshay. (fn. 84) This was claimed as a manorial holding: a lessee in 1560 was required to do suit at John Maunsell's court at Kingstone. (fn. 85) The property then comprised a capital messuage, buildings, and land in Allowenshay, Kingstone, and Dowlishwake. The tenants were the Masters family. (fn. 86) Robert Masters bought the farm from Richard Maunsell in 1620 on the latter's failure to repay a mortgage; it was sold by Mary Masters, widow, and another, to William Walden of Dowlishwake in 1661. (fn. 87) At the beginning of the 18th century it was owned by the Bacons of Harpford in Langford Budville, who mortgaged and then apparently sold it to John Collins of Ilminster and Hatch Court. Described then as Kingstone farm, and comprising some 46½ a., it was sold by Collins's widow to John Hanning of Dowlishwake in 1792, and thus descended to John Lee Lee of Dillington House. (fn. 88)
The ancient parish corresponded very closely in size with the 8 hides of the 10th-century estate at Kingstone held by Glastonbury, and with its Domesday successor. (fn. 89) It seems likely, however, that the manor as it later developed lay partly in Dinnington. (fn. 90) The size of the demesne holding at Domesday, 4 hides, shrank considerably during the next two centuries. At some date between 1215 and 1280 some 143 a., apparently of demesne land, were granted away, leaving only 108 a. in 1315. (fn. 91) About 138 a. were bought back about 1319, and by 1563 the demesne estate was over 320 a., most of which was held by copyhold tenants. (fn. 92)
There were 3 serfs on the demesne at Domesday with 11 villeins and 13 bordars on the rest of the estate, evidently a highly-populated holding. (fn. 93) Twelve nativi were attached to the demesne estate of 143 a. granted away before 1280, so that the remaining demesne in 1315 included 16 customary tenants, one cottar, and one free tenant, all paying rent. Labour services were worth 12s. 4d. only, comprising 3s. for ploughing, 16d. for haymaking, and 8d. for harvest. (fn. 94) By the mid 15th century the manor yielded rent only. (fn. 95)
Arable land predominated in Kingstone in the 11th century, when there were 7 ploughs on land for eight. There were 41 a. of meadow, and woodland 6 by 3 furlongs. Thirty-eight pigs and 61 sheep were supported on the estate. (fn. 96) Of the holding granted from the demesne in the 13th century 127 a. were arable and only 16 a. meadow; (fn. 97) the demesne in 1315 amounted to 90 a. of arable, 10 a. pasture, and 8 a. of meadow. (fn. 98) By the mid 16th century, however, the manor was fairly evenly divided between arable and grassland. (fn. 99)
The value of the manor at Domesday was £9, the same as the figure before the Conquest. (fn. 100) The depleted demesne in 1315 was worth £8 4s. 6d., and rents formed half that total. (fn. 101) Between 1465 and 1530 the income from the manor varied between £33 15s. 5d. in 1488–9, and £43 1s. 7½d. in 1495–6, based on a rental worth over £35. (fn. 102) There was evidently a crisis during the period 1519–23 and at its height, in 1519–20, arrears amounted to over £20, more than half the usual income. (fn. 103) The same rental was used in the 17th and 18th centuries, with a further crisis in 1644 when arrears of fines were high and total arrears were over £62. (fn. 104) The rectory estate showed a declining income in the 15th century, the annual farm falling from £20 8s. between 1416 and 1428 to £15 between 1450 and 1456. (fn. 105) The farm varied between £14 and £22 from 1480 until the mid 16th century. (fn. 106) Thereafter, until 1754, the rent was £17, though the real value was £76 in 1650. (fn. 107)
When surveyed in 1563 more than half Allowenshay manor was inclosed, several holdings recently, and there is evidence of consolidation in both common arable fields and meadow land. (fn. 108) Inclosure continued during the rest of the century: in 1574 and 1579 committees were chosen in the manor court to supervise the division of land for the purpose. (fn. 109) There were no traces of common fields beyond names by the time of the tithe award in 1842. Not unconnected with this movement, but whether cause or effect, was the high number of dilapidated tenements in the manor in 1563. (fn. 110)
By 1563 the property was divided into the three main settlements of Allowenshay, Kingstone, and Ludney, and the tenures into free, copyhold, and customary, with copyholds and leaseholds on the former demesne. (fn. 111) There were 26 copyholds and one leasehold on the former demesne, and 7 freeholds and 16 customary on the rest of the manor. Many of these holdings, one or two described by their ancient names of 'ten acre tenements' or 'twenty acre tenements', were held by a small number of families. The Chapells, for example, had over 220 a. between them, the Longs nearly 200 a. The fortunes of the Longs had probably been founded on the work of William Long, bailiff and rent collector in Kingstone and Pitney for the Arundells. (fn. 112) The Drewes held just over 80 a., and Thomas Drewe (d. ante 1579) left goods and farm implements valued at over £200. (fn. 113) Another tenant of the manor was Sir Hugh Poulett, whose 100 a. were largely in the detached part of the parish which was later absorbed into Hinton Park. (fn. 114)
The history of the next two centuries is of the gradual consolidation of the Poulett holding in the parish and of the growth of that of the Hannings, later of the Lees of Dillington. (fn. 115) Farming seems to have been carried on, at least in the 17th and 18th centuries, in units of between 30 a. and 70 a., held on leases for three lives. Dairies were occasionally let for much shorter periods. (fn. 116) By 1842 Lord Poulett's holding in Kingstone amounted to nearly 786 a., divided between three farms in Allowenshay and Ludney farm, measuring between 60 a. and 109 a., and many smaller holdings. (fn. 117) Still in 1935 only two farms were over 150 a. in area. (fn. 118)
Farming has always been the dominant activity in the parish: 42 families out of 58 were engaged in it in 1821. (fn. 119) The occupations of the 19th-century inhabitants were usually closely related to farming and included, by 1861, a 'machine owner'. (fn. 120) In 1872 there was a 'threshing machine proprietor'. (fn. 121) Less usual was a 'marine store dealer', in business by 1897. (fn. 122) The fairly even balance between arable and grass at the beginning of the 20th century (fn. 123) was still apparent in 1968, though a substantial acreage was devoted to fruit growing.
There was a mill in Kingstone parish by 1280, attached to the manorial demesne. It was granted at an unknown date to John de Skeggleton, to whom the miller, Henry de Beaulieu, paid 33s. 4d. (fn. 124) The mill became part of the manorial demesne again in 1319. (fn. 125) This mill, the precursor of Paul's mill, was repaired in 1494–5 with Ham and local stone and timber. (fn. 126) John Sampford was miller in 1538. (fn. 127) The holding of William Isham, miller by 1563, comprised the corn mill called 'Pawles mylle', an acre of arable, and an acre of meadow. Customary tenants of the manor had to scour the mill-pond each year on the morning of Thursday in Pentecost week. (fn. 128) Christopher Isham was miller by 1573 and was still there in 1581. The sluices were said to be ruinous, and he was ordered to repair them in the latter year. (fn. 129) In 1615 the customary tenants were presented for their failure to scour the mill-pond, and the miller, Thomas Pyke, for allowing the floodgates above the mill to decay. (fn. 130) During the 18th century the mill was held on lease, in 1706 by Thomas Owsley of Merriott, in 1728 by George Gummer of Hinton St. George, and in 1743 by Gummer's widow. (fn. 131) About 1796 Maximilian Brice bought it from the lord of the manor and some three years later there was a dispute between Brice and the tenant of land near the sluice above the mill-pond. (fn. 132) The Brices continued to hold the mill until at least 1897, but thereafter it probably ceased to be used. (fn. 133) The mill-house was still occupied in 1968, but the mill-pond had been drained, and the water now flows at some distance from the mill, probably in the course of the original stream.
There seems to have been a mill at Ludney by the late 15th century: from 1486 at least until 1530 the lord of the manor received a rent of 40s. from the tenant of this mill. (fn. 134)
Kingstone was regarded as a tithing of the hundred of Tintinhull by the end of the 12th century. (fn. 135) The tithingman was elected in the manorial court of Allowenshay, though his appointment was not regularly recorded by the 16th century. (fn. 136) Allowenshay manor court, described as curia legalis and view of frankpledge for general administration and manor court for tenurial business, was meeting twice a year, in April and September, according to the earliest surviving court rolls of 1537–8. (fn. 137) From the 1570s onwards only one meeting was held, in September or October, though the manor court for surrenders, recorded separately, met at other times when required. Apart from the tithingman no other manorial official seems to have been appointed by the court, though there are occasional references to a bailiff and a hayward, and inclosures carried out in 1574 and 1579 were supervised by a committee of four. (fn. 138)
Books of court proceedings survive intermittently from 1537 to 1679. (fn. 139) Apart from matters relating to holdings, a frequent concern was the scouring of ditches. Other business included orders against subleasing and against lodgers in the 1570s and 1580s, the repair of houses, and items of general farming policy. Thus in 1574 pigs were ordered to be kept within their sties or bartons after the corn had been carried, warning having been given by the hayward in church. (fn. 140) Customary tenants, it was agreed in 1580, could obtain fuel and wood from Allowenshay mead and Allowenshay moor at any time except between hay and corn harvest. (fn. 141)
John Maunsell required the tenant of his farm at Kingstone in 1560 to attend his court and do suit. Maunsell held the property as of the manor of Allowenshay in fee, his grandfather having paid relief in 1521. (fn. 142) No court records survive.
The Hearth Tax exemptions of 1674 were signed by the churchwardens, two overseers, and the tithingman. (fn. 143) The last office still existed in 1693. (fn. 144) In the later 18th century the parish was divided into two units for the purposes of poor-relief, though the two overseers returned figures for a single unit in the early 19th century. (fn. 145) There were two surveyors of the highways by the end of the 18th century; (fn. 146) they and the overseers were appointed by the vestry. (fn. 147) The parish became part of the Chard poor-law union in 1836. (fn. 148)
There was a church at Kingstone by 1291. (fn. 149) The advowson belonged to the FitzPayns, lords of the manor, by 1311, and descended with the manor until 1382 when Sir John Chidiock gave the rectory with the advowson to the chapter of Wells for the benefit of the vicars choral of the cathedral. A portion was reserved for a parochial chaplain and the rest of the income divided between specified masses in the cathedral and the vicars' common fund. (fn. 150) Chaplains were found by the vicars choral until 1568. The responsibility was then transferred to the successive farmers of the rectory, though the vicars choral had to approve their nominees and appointed if the lay rectors failed to do so. (fn. 151) Capt. A. V. H. Vaughan Lee was the last lessee of the rectory to be patron when he presented in 1905. (fn. 152) The vicars choral presented in 1916 and by Order in Council the patronage was transferred to the chapter of Wells in 1935. (fn. 153)
The benefice, which is technically a perpetual curacy, has since 1873 been held in plurality, until 1905 with Lopen, from then until 1916 with Ilminster, and from 1916 until 1969 with Dowlishwake. (fn. 154) In 1971 it was a curacy-in-charge with Dowlishwake and Chillington. (fn. 155)
The church was valued at £13 6s. 8d. in 1291, (fn. 156) but at only £6 8s. 4d. in 1334. (fn. 157) When first mentioned in 1533–4 the curate's stipend was £6. (fn. 158) From 1552 this sum was gradually raised to £10 10s. in 1559, but from 1565–8 the curate was paid only £10. (fn. 159) By 1705 the lessees paid the curate £16, (fn. 160) a sum still charged upon the rectory estate in 1968. (fn. 161) The benefice was, however, augmented in 1727, 1811, (fn. 162) and 1819, in the last year partly by the then incumbent. (fn. 163) By 1831, therefore, the income had increased to £53. (fn. 164)
During the 17th century the curate had 'a little dwelling-house with a garden'. (fn. 165) In 1815 there was said to be a house, but 'unfit for residence, having never been inhabited by a clergyman from its meanness and age'. (fn. 166) The then incumbent lived in Ilminster, and he reported 'no glebe house' in 1831. (fn. 167) His successors, at least since 1875, have lived outside the parish. (fn. 168)
A number of curates in the later 18th century were local men: Nicholas Vere (occurs 1755–69) was a native of Ilminster, John Templeman (occurs 1778–81) came from Merriott, and John Fewtrell (occurs 1784–90) from Broadway. (fn. 169) The most distinguished curate during this period was Septimus Collinson (1777–8), who became rector of Dowlishwake in 1778 and was later to be Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and Provost of the Queen's College, Oxford. (fn. 170) The parish was often served by assistant curates, particularly during the incumbency of John Hawkes Mules the younger (1815–58), who held the benefice with Ilminster, Isle Abbotts, and Thorn Coffin. (fn. 171)
It was reported in 1576 that only two sermons had been preached in the previous year, and the farmer of the rectory was cited to answer the charge. (fn. 172) In 1815 'alternate service' was 'duly and regularly performed'. (fn. 173) Services, alternately morning and evening, were reported in 1840 and 1843. (fn. 174) In 1843 it was stated that Holy Communion was celebrated four times a year and that the curate, non-resident by licence, catechized before and after services. (fn. 175) Congregations averaged between 70 and 90 in 1850–1, and the morning service attendance on Census Sunday 1851 was 84, including 34 Sunday-school children. (fn. 176)
In 1560 the lord of the manor leased a church house to three men, (fn. 177) and the manor court in 1602 ordered the churchwardens to repair it. (fn. 178) By 1383 a piece of land was attached to the church, known as St. John's acre. (fn. 179) Another piece of land, in Ludney field and known as the church acre, given for a light on the high altar, had formerly been part of the church's estate. (fn. 180) By 1563 it had become manorial property, though the tenant still paid 2s. a year to the church. (fn. 181)
Until 1450 the dedication festival of the church was observed on the eve of the Purification, namely, on the feast of St. Bridget of Kildare. (fn. 182) The church, however, was said in 1383 to be dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and All Saints. (fn. 183) There was apparently a chapel in Allowenshay; (fn. 184) land called 'Chapelhay' in 1563 may have marked its site. (fn. 185) The dedication festival of the parish church may have been changed after the chapel had ceased to exist. After 1450, however, the festival was changed to the first Sunday in October 'in order that it may be observed with more solemnity and devotion'. (fn. 186)
The parish church of ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST AND ALL SAINTS stands in a prominent position which contributes to the impressive appearance of a comparatively small building. It is built of Ham stone and consists of a chancel with later north vestry, a central tower, and a nave with south porch. The existence of a central tower without transepts is unusual and may indicate the persistence of a Norman plan. The oldest part of the present church, however, is the early-14th-century porch, which incorporates a cusped ogee-headed window, now blocked. The chancel also belongs to the 14th century. The 15th-century tower preceded the nave, the north wall of which was later realigned, at the time when the roof was renewed at a different pitch and the parapet added. The nave has large three-light Perpendicular windows in its side walls and at the west end. Below the west window is a richlydecorated doorway. The angle stair-turret of the tower rises above the parapet and on the south side both the two-light opening at the belfry stage and the opening below are filled with pierced Somerset tracery. The church possesses a Perpendicular font, and there are fragments of glass in the nave windows incorporating the blazing sun emblem.
There are six bells: (i) 1930, Mears and Stainbank; (ii) 1930, Mears and Stainbank; (iii) 1696, Thomas Purdue; (iv) 1930, Mears and Stainbank; (v) 1693, Thomas Purdue; (vi) 1930, Mears and Stainbank. (fn. 187) The plate includes a silver cup and cover of 1573, a pewter flagon dated 1633, and a pewter bowl of 1722. (fn. 188) The marriage and burial registers begin in 1715, the baptisms in 1717; they appear to be complete. (fn. 189)
In 1825 the house of William Membury in Allowenshay was licensed for use by a group of Bible Christians. The group continued until 1829 and was revived between 1840 and 1843. (fn. 190)
A Sunday school, supported by subscription, with about 30 pupils, was the only school in the parish in 1818. (fn. 191) A day-school opened in 1830, and in 1833 there were 17 boys and 19 girls attending it. The school was partly supported by the curate and partly by payments of 1d. by the pupils. At the same time there was a Sunday school, with the same number of pupils, wholly supported by the curate, who also provided a lending library 'amply supplied with religious and useful books'. (fn. 192) By 1859 the day-school had been united with the National Society. (fn. 193) The school was still active in 1875, but by 1883 the children of the parish went to Dowlishwake, the school at Kingstone having closed. (fn. 194)