A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1978.
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Most of the ancient parish of Barrington was in the north of the hundred of South Petherton, with a detached area in Neroche forest lying about 5 miles to the south-west. Although not adjoining South Petherton parish the two were closely linked throughout the Middle Ages, and the least rational boundary is that with Shepton Beauchamp which links Barrington with the remainder of the hundred. The boundaries with the Stocklinches, Puckington, and Isle Brewers are former or present roads, and a stream divides Barrington from Kingsbury Episcopi in the north-east. Islands of Puckington intruded into the parish and village until the end of the 19th century, deriving from a 14th-century grant of property to a chantry, and giving rise to the name Little Puckington as part of the eastern end of the village street. (fn. 1) The estimated area of the parish in 1839 was 1,565 a. (fn. 2) In 1885 nearly 478 a. forming the detached portion in Neroche were transferred to Broadway, and in 1886 the detached parts of Barrington in Westmoor (88 a.) were added to Curry Rivel and Drayton. Barrington absorbed parts of Curry Rivel, Isle Brewers, and Puckington (c. 64 a.) so that the area of the civil parish in 1886 was 1,158 a. (fn. 3)
The village street follows the 100 ft. contour and marks both the geological and the physical division of the parish. To the north, where the land slopes gradually away to the alluvium of Westmoor, below the 15 ft. contour, marls and clays were cultivated in three open fields, East, Middle, and West, divided from each other by the long narrow stretches of Broad mead and Lunmoor. (fn. 4) Fields called Brickway there suggest a commercial use for the clay. To the south of the village the scarp of Winsmoor hill rises abruptly to a plateau of Yeovil and Pennard sands, and then to a junction bed of limestone rich in fossils. A limekiln, gravel pits, and a quarry were worked in the 19th and 20th centuries. (fn. 5) The plateau, also arable, was divided between the southern stretches of West field on Hackpen and Hangerland, where ridge and furrow survive, and the 19th-century Higher field, where banks and not hedges continue to divide the consolidated furlongs. (fn. 6)
The village is largely concentrated in a single street with the Barrington Court complex standing alone to the north-east. The Court is successor to a medieval manor-house, and is surrounded by substantial demesnes consolidated by the 17th century. (fn. 7) The church, standing above the street, lies almost at the opposite end of the village. A grid pattern of roads and droves served the fields both north and south, only Ruskway Lane becoming of any importance after the creation of the canal basin at Westport. The canal also gave rise to a settlement on former common pasture at the edge of Westmoor at Nidons or Knighton. (fn. 8) The village street was turnpiked by the Ilminster trust in 1823, together with Ruskway Lane as far as Westport. A toll-house was built at the junction of the two roads. (fn. 9)
Most of the timber in the parish until the 17th century came from Neroche, (fn. 10) but there was a little coppice and furze near the village at the same period. Wood then cut for mill timbers, rafters, and ladders included oak, elm, ash, and maple, and there were apples and plums in orchards and apples in hedgerows. (fn. 11)
The value of the common land in Neroche may have played a part in the prosperity of the parish as reflected in its earliest buildings. The Priory (only so called c. 1880), Knapp House, and Vinces are superior medieval buildings, the first dating from the late 14th century, the others from the late fifteenth. They and Allenbury Cottage are examples of houses built or improved at a time when other villages seem to have spent lavishly on their churches. (fn. 12) All retain some evidence of having had open halls with cruck roofs, and have had later ceilings and fireplaces inserted. The Priory also has a self-contained wing at its west end which, though later used as a court room, may have been built to house an older generation of the occupier's family. (fn. 13) At the other end of the village Easons is a substantial 17th-century house of ashlar, partly rebuilt in 1715 and remodelled in the late 18th century. Its original wooden screen bears traces of painted floral decoration. (fn. 14) Several other houses in the village street, built of local rubble and often thatched, are of 17th-century origin, their very survival and the presence of small cottages in Water Street and Copse Shoot indicating the relative poverty of the smallholder and cottager in the 19th century.
Barrington Friendly Society was founded in 1807 and was dissolved in 1945. Originally open to men alone, it admitted women from 1912. It had 145 members in 1879 but by 1912 there were only 66. The Feast Day was originally the last Tuesday in May, but was later changed to 4 June. (fn. 15) A brass band was associated with the society by 1862. (fn. 16)
An inn called the Victoria was licensed in 1839. It became the Royal Oak in 1854 and remained so called in 1973. (fn. 17) A second inn, on the corner of Gibbs Lane and the main street, was there by 1839. (fn. 18)
King John was at Barrington in 1207. (fn. 19) When the Strodes lived there in the 17th century Barrington Court was the centre of their political activities as opponents of Ship Money, as government supporters during the Commonwealth, and as opponents again in the 1680s when they entertained the duke of Monmouth and supported the Protestant cause. (fn. 20) Ten men were accused of complicity in Monmouth's rebellion in 1685. (fn. 21)
The population was 374 in 1801. (fn. 22) It increased until the 1840s, and in 1841 was 596, including 66 at Nidon, formerly extra-parochial and then recently taken into the parish. Despite gradual decline the figure remained at over 500 until 1871, but the closure of the Westport canal, emigration to the United States and Canada, and removal to South Wales brought the total down rapidly. By the 1930s the figure had risen again, to over 400, and has subsequently remained stable, with 402 in 1971. (fn. 23)
MANOR AND OTHER ESTATES.
The manor of BARRINGTON belonged to the Crown T.R.E., and while not expressly mentioned in 1086 was almost certainly included in the royal manor of South Petherton. (fn. 24) Described variously as a manor and a hamlet it descended in the Daubeney family like the manor of South Petherton until 1483, when it was confiscated on the attainder of Giles Daubeney, later Lord Daubeney (d. 1508), for his part in the duke of Buckingham's rebellion. (fn. 25) It was, like South Petherton, held briefly by the Crown and in 1484 was granted to Ralph Neville, Lord Neville, later earl of Westmorland (d. 1499). (fn. 26) Daubeney recovered his lands in 1485. His son Henry, created earl of Bridgwater in 1538, died without heirs ten years later leaving Barrington to his widow for life with remainder, probably under mortgage, to Sir Thomas Arundell. (fn. 27) The countess herself was attainted in 1542. On Arundell's attainder in 1552 the lordship, manor, and park were granted by the Crown to Henry Grey, duke of Suffolk. (fn. 28) Almost immediately Suffolk sold the property to William Clifton, a London merchant (d. 1564). (fn. 29) He was succeeded by his son Sir John (d. 1593), (fn. 30) and by his grandson Gervase, Lord Clifton (d. 1618). Gervase sold the manor to his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Phelips in 1605. (fn. 31) Phelips died in 1618. One of his sons, also Thomas (cr. Bt. 1619), in serious financial difficulties, mortgaged the manor to William Strode and Hugh Pyne in 1620 and to his brother-in-law, Arthur Farwell of Bishop's Hull, in 1621. (fn. 32) The Phelipses later claimed that Strode entered lands worth £350 a year after Sir Thomas had failed to repay his first debt, but that the manor had passed to the second mortgagee, Arthur Farwell. (fn. 33)
Farwell died in 1625 leaving his son Arthur a minor. (fn. 34) In 1631 Sir William Ogle, later Viscount Ogle, of Stoke Charity (Hants) (d. 1682), stepfather and guardian of Sir Thomas Phelips's son Thomas, acquired the manor to the use of Thomas Phelips. (fn. 35) Ogle, Phelips, and Farwell in 1642 sold the property to Richard (later Sir Richard) Cholmeley of Bicton (Devon). (fn. 36) Sir Thomas Putt, Bt., of Coombe in Gittisham (Devon), married Ursula, Cholmeley's coheir, and the manor was settled on them in 1665. (fn. 37)
The Putt family retained the manor until the 20th century. Sir Thomas was succeeded in 1686 by his son Thomas, who died without issue in 1721. (fn. 38) Raymundo Putt, his cousin, inherited the property and continued in possession until 1757. (fn. 39) Thomas (d. 1787), probably his son, was followed after a ten-year minority successively by his three children Raymundo (d. 1812), the Revd. Thomas, B.D. (d. 1844), and Margaretta (d. 1846), wife of the Revd. Henry Marker of Aylesbeare (Devon). (fn. 40) The Revd. T. J. Marker of Coombe (d. 1854), son of Margaretta, was succeeded by his son Richard (1835–1916). Richard's son R. J. Marker died in 1914, and his heir on his death was his grandson R. R. K. Marker (1908–61). (fn. 41) The family trustees sold the estate, amounting to 810 a., in 1918, but the lordship was not apparently included in the sale. (fn. 42)
The capital messuage and demesnes, which may have been that part of the manor first mortgaged by Sir Thomas Phelips, were again mortgaged and in 1625 sold to William Strode (I) (d. 1666). (fn. 43) They were settled on Strode's son William in 1656, (fn. 44) though the family's title to the estate was later said to be 'so bad that when he [Strode] was to take up £1,500 to pay his sister's portion the lawyers could find no title sufficient to adventure so much money upon'. (fn. 45) William Strode (II) died in 1695; his son William (III) dying childless in 1746 was succeeded by his sister Jane, wife of Robert Austen of Tenterden (Kent). (fn. 46) Their son Sir Edward Austen, of Boxley Abbey (Kent), sold the house and some 100 a. to Thomas Harvard of Thorney in 1756, (fn. 47) and the property passed to the Hanning family in 1786–7 through the marriage of Thomas's daughter Susannah to John Hanning. (fn. 48) John was succeeded by his son William (d. 1834) in 1803, and by his grandson John Lee (Hanning) Lee (d. 1874). (fn. 49) By 1827 the property was known as Court Farm, and by 1847 was divided into two holdings, known as the Upper and Lower parts of Barrington Court, each of just over 104 a., though then held by the same tenant. (fn. 50) Lee sold the farms and house to J. W. Peters of South Petherton (d. 1858); Peters left the estate to his nephew William Parsons (Peters), also of South Petherton. (fn. 51) He died in 1902 leaving a son W. P. Peters. (fn. 52) In 1905 the property was acquired for the National Trust by Miss J. L. Woodward of Clevedon, (fn. 53) and since 1920 has been leased to the Lyle family.
The medieval manor-house complex, including a 'demesne court' or farm-yard by 1235, (fn. 54) lay to the north and east of the present house. (fn. 55) By the late 14th century the house included not only a hall with a two-storeyed solar wing to the east, but a new two-storeyed addition on the north side, together with kitchens, (fn. 56) a chapel, and farm buildings including a gatehouse, a great barn, an ox-shed with lofts (alte camere), a straw-house, and a pig-stye, the whole surrounded by a series of ditches. (fn. 57)
The present house, usually known as Court Farm until the late 19th century and since then as Barrington Court, entirely replaced the medieval complex. (fn. 58) The building, of Ham stone ashlar, has usually been ascribed to Henry Daubeney, earl of Bridgwater (d. 1548), is said to have been put up c. 1514 when he came of age, and is thought to have been influenced in its design by advanced Renaissance details seen in France either when his father was ambassador (but not after 1500) or through his own presence at the Field of Cloth of Gold (1520). (fn. 59) If these influences make the accepted dating doubtful Daubeney's subsequent career makes any other in his lifetime unlikely. His interests were centred on the Court and the army, but from the 1530s the sales of his estates and his heavy expenses in acquiring an earldom, though he had no children, mark the beginnings of decline, completed in 1541 by the implication of his wife in the fall of the Howards. In 1543 he yielded all but a life interest in Barrington itself, and by 1547 he almost certainly had but one house, South Perrott (Dors.), his only known residence since 1535. (fn. 60)
Leland makes no mention of a house though he came very near, and the property was described on purchase in 1552 only as a 'lordship, manor, and park'. (fn. 61) The purchaser at the time, William Clifton, was a Norwich man and a London merchant who had already invested in other property in the county. (fn. 62) Still living in London in 1557, he was certainly resident at Barrington in 1559 and died there in 1564. (fn. 63) The porch of the house, which is studded with a series of masons' marks, has been considered an addition of c. 1560–70, (fn. 64) but those same marks occur over the whole house, indicating construction in one phase and suggesting that the new purchaser of the estate, William Clifton, may have been the builder.
Assuming the porch to be part of the original design, the house is E-shaped, having a main range containing the hall and buttery divided by a screens passage, and long projecting wings, with staircases in square projections between them and the main range. The style is similar to that of several large houses built in East Anglia in the mid and later 16th century. (fn. 65) The twisted finials and ogee caps, the octagonal buttresses to the gables, and the four-centred heads below the transoms of the main windows have local parallels of a similar date at Melbury, Clifton Maybank, Parnham, and other houses in Dorset, the hallmarks of local masons, perhaps creating the notion of a house standing unfinished for a long period. (fn. 66)
Until c. 1920, when the stable block was converted to a dwelling, there was a porch at the west side of the house bearing arms which were probably used by William Clifton. (fn. 67) Inside there are no original decorations and fittings, the earliest being two overmantels dating from the Strode occupation. William Strode (I) 'bestowed money and labour to restore it to its pristine beauty' before 1633, (fn. 68) and his son claimed to have spent £3,000 on it before 1677, presumably largely on the brick stable block of 1674. (fn. 69) About 1825 half the house was 'almost completely destroyed' and remained virtually gutted, part being used as a cider cellar. There were suggestions c. 1905 that it should be pulled down and rebuilt elsewhere. (fn. 70) Between 1920 and 1925 the house was restored and the stable block converted into a dwelling by Forbes and Tate. Barrington Court is now furnished with the collection of panelling and interior fittings made by Col. A. A. Lyle. (fn. 71)
Gardens to the west of the house were laid out after 1920 to the designs of Gertrude Jekyll and include a building known as 'bustalls', a 19th-century cattle shed. (fn. 72) Further from the house, largely on the north and west, stand the home farm and tenants' houses, forming a complete 'manor place' inspired by the work of the Arts and Crafts movement. To the south of the house are the remains of the park, formed by 1483. (fn. 73) At its largest in the 16th century it was described variously as one or two miles in compass. (fn. 74)
The rectory of Barrington, described as the tithing corn, chapel, and farm, were let by the abbot of Bruton to Sir Thomas and George Speke on a lease for 60 years in 1532. (fn. 75) In 1549 the chapter of Bristol, successors of the canons of Bruton, let the reversion of this lease to John Norys of West Monkton and Christopher Samford of Halberton (Devon). (fn. 76) Two years later Norys and Samford assigned their rights to Sir Hugh Poulett. (fn. 77) The Pouletts appear to have leased the rectory until 1788 though usually sub-letting the tithes. (fn. 78) These were worth £96 in 1619 and £120 in 1650. (fn. 79) In 1667 they were let for £100, and in 1787 for £115. (fn. 80) From 1788 the chapter of Bristol leased the property to the Hannings: John Hanning was succeeded in 1800 by William Hanning. (fn. 81) The lease by the chapter to John Lee Lee in 1835 was for £15 3s. 4d. a year including land tax, (fn. 82) though the rent-charge in lieu of tithes was fixed at £396 6s. in 1839. (fn. 83) The lease reverted to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners before 1895. (fn. 84)
Philip Daubeney (d. 1236) gave to the canons of Bruton his grange at Barrington. (fn. 85) There seems to have been a barn on rectory property in 1619, (fn. 86) though the 18th-century leases do not expressly mention one. A barn certainly stood on the north side of the churchyard until 1871 when it was demolished and its site consecrated for burials. (fn. 87)
In 1301 Gilbert de Knovill was licensed to give land and rent to support a chantry in Puckington church. (fn. 88) By 1571 the former chantry estate in Barrington, occupied by the rector of Puckington and considered part of Puckington parish, amounted to 76 a. (fn. 89) In that year it was granted to Henry Middlemore. The subsequent descent of the property has not been traced.
Barrington may well have been included in the Domesday estate of South Petherton, and the earliest separate occurrence of it is in 1292 when the property of Ralph Daubeney there, variously then and later described as a hamlet or manor, was valued at £18 17s. The demesne farm then comprised the manor-house, garden, and dovecot, 142½ a. of arable and 45 a. of meadow, very close to the area of Court farm in the 19th century. (fn. 90) Rents of free and customary tenants accounted for £11 10s. 4d., works were valued at 6s. 6d., and chevage at 2s. In 1305 Ellis Daubeney's property comprised slightly less arable and meadow but included pasture, apparently some held in common, and the remainder in closes. (fn. 91)
Thirteenth-century land transactions reveal a number of local families including the Lortys and the Durvilles holding estates in the parish, usually amounting to a carucate or less. (fn. 92) From 1364 some land was alienated for a chantry at South Petherton, and rents from it were still paid in 1552 when they were owned by Francis Hastings, earl of Huntingdon. (fn. 93) In the same year the net value of the manor was only £7 9s. Rents of free and customary tenants together were worth nearly £56, but the chantry rent was £40. (fn. 94)
From the early 17th century the parish was without a resident lord, though the Strodes were dominant as owners of the former demesne, and the Pouletts were farmers of the parsonage. In the early 17th century there were over 80 customary lifehold tenants, the largest holdings by 1635 those of William Royce (60 a.) and Thomas Pitterd (57 a.). (fn. 95) There were also 'conventionary tenants', 12 in number in 1641, who held leases for 99 years on two or three lives. These included three tenants who between them shared 185 a. of land in Neroche forest. In 1635 there were also three freeholdings, including parcels in Dommett and Swell. Sir George Speke paid rent of 28s. 8d. and owed suit of court twice a year for an estate which may have included the house known from the late 19th century as the Priory. (fn. 96) Speke's property had been held by his family at least since 1544, (fn. 97) and in 1637 was worth between £5 and £6. (fn. 98) Part was leased to the Bicknell family, and in 1601 'Farmer' Bicknell held 100 a. (fn. 99) William followed by Arthur Bicknell were leading rate-payers in the parish between 1627 and 1644. The Spekes continued their interest until the end of the 17th century. (fn. 100)
The economy was affected by the disafforestation of parts of Neroche forest. Barrington manor claimed an interest there at Cleyhill and Barrington hill, in some 1,200 a. Division took place c. 1631 when part was allotted to the lord of the manor and part to customary tenants. Some inclosure for wheat had already taken place, and cattle, sheep, and pigs had been grazed, though a century earlier the whole area had been under the control of the manor hayward. (fn. 101) The Crown retained some 200 a. at least until 1638, (fn. 102) and claims for commonage continued for at least another twenty years. The 'king's part of the forest' was referred to as late as 1701. (fn. 103) New Park, later King's Park farm, was established there by 1688. (fn. 104) Venner's farm, owned in 1757 by Kingsford Venner, was known by that name in 1786. (fn. 105) It was then predominantly 'rough' grassland (128 a.), with 27 a. of arable.
By 1787 the largest rate-payer was John Hanning, owner of the manor-house and demesnes and farmer of the tithes. (fn. 106) These last had recently been let for £115, slightly under their apparent value. Quit-rents at the same period totalled £54 10s. 1½d. (fn. 107) By the late 1790s the most substantial tenant farmers were the Eason, Rossiter, and Royce families, each of whom had farms of c. 50 a. (fn. 108)
Nearly 500 a. were subject to tithes in the main part of the parish by the later 18th century, not including the farm attached to the manor-house. In 1778 grassland accounted for 202 a., wheat for 147 a., and beans for 94 a. The remainder was divided between potatoes (22 a.), flax (12 a.), barley (8 a.), hemp (5½ a.), and peas (2 a.). Cider produced £12 in tithe, cows £2 15s., and sheep c. £2. (fn. 109) In 1786 there were 94 a. of beans, 88 a. of Lent grain, and 74 a. of winter wheat, followed by 49 a. fallow, and 20 a. of flax. In that year most of the flax was grown in 15 strips in West field, most of the beans in 73 strips in Middle field, and most of the Lent grain in 61 strips in Higher, Hanging Land, and Hackpen fields. (fn. 110) These arable fields, eight in number, were continuously in tillage at the beginning of the 19th century, and the holdings were well scattered. (fn. 111) The titheable area in 1839, virtually the whole parish, comprised 813 a. of arable, 667 a. of meadow and pasture, and 80 a. of orchards and gardens. (fn. 112)
Parliamentary inclosure affected the detached part of the parish in Neroche forest, and parts of West moor. Small areas were inclosed and added to the old fields on and around Barrington hill in 1833 under Act of 1830. (fn. 113) West moor, inclosed in 1838 under Act of 1833, gave just over 108 a. to Barrington in 25 units, mostly for pasture. (fn. 114) Open-field tillage continued in large parts of the parish until the end of the 19th century: land in East, Middle, and Higher fields was still extensively cultivated as strips in 1879, (fn. 115) and some strips survived at least until 1918. (fn. 116)
The manor estate contained nearly 1,139 a. in the ancient parish in 1895, and included 44 cottages. The largest single holding on it was New House farm (121 a.). (fn. 117) Barrington Court farm, held of the Peters family, was larger, amounting to 192 a. Venners and Barrington Hill farms, both in the area transferred to Broadway in 1885, comprised 230 a. and 106 a. respectively. (fn. 118) The sale of the manor in 1918 involved about 832 a., comprising 5 farms, 7 small holdings, 47 cottages, and accommodation land. (fn. 119)
The parish seems to have suffered at the end of the 19th century not only from the general agricultural depression but also from the closure of the Westport canal. It is impossible to assess the benefit the parish derived from Messrs. Stuckey and Bagehot's wharves and coal yard established at the northern boundary of Barrington in 1840, but a local petition against closure was rejected in 1880, five years after the canal had ceased business. (fn. 120) The decline in population at the end of the century was ascribed in part to young men finding no work in agriculture and seeking employment in Glamorgan coal mines. (fn. 121) By 1897, however, alternative employment was to be found in a factory at the east end of the village making linen collars, which continued in production until the late 1920s. (fn. 122) Gloving was also a common occupation. (fn. 123) Flax and hemp were extensively cultivated in the 19th century; (fn. 124) the southern part of the parish remains largely arable, the northern principally under grass.
There was a water-mill on the demesne estate by 1292, worth then 6s. 8d. (fn. 125) In 1440 Elizabeth, widow of John Daubeney (d. 1409), held land in dower including 'Mulfurlong', said to be near the site of the mill. (fn. 126) A mill was farmed for 10s. in 1552. (fn. 127) In 1601 there were said to be three water-mills on the manor, (fn. 128) and three mills 'new let' were part of the demesne estate in 1656. (fn. 129) They have not been traced further, but presumably lay on the stream which flows near the present Barrington Court, where a water-wheel operated c. 1910. (fn. 130)
There was doubt in the 1580s about the exact status of Barrington, but a witness claimed that in the time of Henry Daubeney, earl of Bridgwater (d. 1548), the manor was represented by a separate homage at courts held for all the neighbouring Daubeney estates at South Petherton. Other witnesses mentioned a separate bailiff for Barrington. (fn. 131) The manor court seems to have continued of comparatively little consequence, owing at least in part to the absence of lords. Extracts from courts variously described as courts leet, courts baron, manor courts, and views of frankpledge, survive for 1641, 1652–3, 1657, 1705, and 1734. (fn. 132) Courts were held until 1914. (fn. 133) Before that time its functions were limited to the receipt of rents and the provision of posts and gates. In the late 17th century the offices of tithingman and hayward were held together in annual rotation by presentment of the Michaelmas leet jury. (fn. 134) The tenant of a cottage in the mid 19th century was excused lord's rent in return for ringing the church bell 'to give notice of the steward's arrival to hold the court'. (fn. 135) The courts were then said to have been held in the Priory.
At least from 1625 parish affairs were under the control of two and occasionally of three overseers and two churchwardens. (fn. 136) Waywardens were active from 1697 and surveyors of the highways as necessary. (fn. 137) From the late 17th century overseers held office in rotation. From 1798 one overseer was to be paid 1½ guinea for the whole year; the other was said to be paid ½ guinea or himself serve the winter half-year. (fn. 138) In 1833 the overseers were paid £4 'as a slight remuneration for executing the office'. A salaried 'acting overseer' was appointed in 1834. (fn. 139) By 1690 there was a monthly parish meeting; by the end of the 18th century it was called a vestry and usually comprised three or four members. (fn. 140)
From the 17th century badged paupers received house rent, and payments in cash were supplemented by payments for a nurse, the repair of a man's chimney, and the provision of clothing and food. (fn. 141) Beans, potatoes, and barley were bought in 1801 and from 1800 the overseers paid for a girls' schooling. (fn. 142) On one occasion, in 1701, the overseers also paid for fencing the common fields. The waywardens in 1697 provided a direction post at 'Hucker's Plot'. (fn. 143)
By the mid 19th century the churchwardens dominated parish affairs. They paid the salary of the assistant overseer in 1848–9 and again from 1853 to 1864, and also found money for the constable in 1858–9. Both wardens were nominated by the vestry at least until 1868, though the minister was usually chairman from 1859. (fn. 144) In 1868 the vestry business was divided; the March meeting thereafter dealt with civil matters not necessarily under the minister, while the April meeting was exclusively ecclesiastical. Overseers and waywardens were elected annually until 1894. (fn. 145)
In 1811 the vestry agreed to rent a house for use as a poorhouse. (fn. 146) From 1819 this house was rented by the wardens directly from the lord of the manor. (fn. 147) The parish became part of the Langport poor-law union in 1836, (fn. 148) but the poorhouse was already rented out for other purposes. (fn. 149) It was sold in 1838. (fn. 150) The house stood on the south side of Court Road at its western end, and in 1973 was a store.
Part of a capital found embedded in the tower is evidence of a building of the earlier 13th century, though the earliest reference to a church occurs as late as 1240–1. In that year the 'risk and inconvenience' of taking corpses to the mother church at South Petherton induced the bishop, after disputes between the inhabitants and the rectors, the canons of Bruton, to consecrate a burial ground at Barrington, provided that the church remained a dependent chapelry. (fn. 151) The canons of Bruton were charged with finding chaplains to serve the cure, and remained so charged until the Dissolution. (fn. 152) In 1542 the newly-created chapter of Bristol succeeded to the rectory, (fn. 153) and retained the patronage until 1885, though the lessees of the tithes usually appointed and paid the chaplains in the 17th and early 18th centuries. In 1885 the chapter exchanged the advowson with Mrs. Eliza Coles (d. 1897) of Shepton Beauchamp and her son, Canon V. S. S. Coles (d. 1929), gave it in 1913 to the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield (Yorks. W.R.), patrons in 1973, with the suggestion that he or his sister should be consulted 'if occasion should arise'. (fn. 154) The benefice, an augmented curacy from 1751, remained a perpetual curacy until 1968. From 1963 it was held with Puckington. (fn. 155)
By 1574 the curate was receiving £6 13s. 8d. a year supplemented by 40s. tabling. (fn. 156) A further 10 marks was given annually under the will of Sir Anthony Poulett (d. 1600) for preaching four times yearly. (fn. 157) In the 1650s Lord Poulett was paying a curate to serve both Barrington and Chillington for £30 a year. (fn. 158) In the 18th century the curate of Barrington was paid half that sum, and any assistants received the same. (fn. 159) The stipend was augmented in 1750 by £200 each from Dr. Henry Waterland, prebendary of Bristol and rector of Wrington, and from Queen Anne's Bounty. A further £200 was given by lot in 1792. In 1812 £100 from Edward Combe and £100 from the Pincombe trustees were met by a Parliamentary grant of £300, and in 1817 a further gift of £100 from Edward Combe, then curate, was matched by the chapter of Bristol and another Parliamentary grant of £300. The last sum was used to purchase just over 12 a. in Somerton in 1818, which was sold in 1877. (fn. 160) In 1815 the value of the living was said to be £69, in 1831 £84, and in 1851 £80, £15 coming from endowments and the remainder from land. (fn. 161) In 1948 there were 29 a. of glebe situated in Combe St. Nicholas, and the same property was held in 1974. (fn. 162)
In 1240–1 the parishioners were declared by the bishop to be responsible for finding the chaplain a new house should his own come within the new churchyard boundary. (fn. 163) A house was provided for the curate in 1619 (fn. 164) but there was none by 1815. (fn. 165) Joseph Hamlet, curate 1885–1926, lived at first in the clergy house at Shepton Beauchamp, but by 1914 in the Cottage in Barrington. (fn. 166) In 1918 he bought a house called Reeveleys, in 1973 known as the Glebe House. (fn. 167) This was sold when the benefice was linked with Puckington.
Many of the incumbents combined the curacy with other livings. Leonard Stevenson, B. Th., described as 'rector of Puckington and Barrington', was pardoned for some unknown offence in 1547. (fn. 168) William Southeye, curate in 1574 and for the previous seven years, was also prebendary of Cudworth and rector of Puckington and South Bradon. (fn. 169) John Meacham, presumably assistant curate to John Smythe (occurs 1627–34), preached fortnightly though apparently without licence in 1630. (fn. 170) Hugh Mere signed the Protestation, and is said to have been imprisoned. (fn. 171) John Vaigge combined the curacy with that of Chillington from 1650 to 1655, and was succeeded by a Mr. Crane. (fn. 172) Both lived in Chillington. After a vacancy in 1663 the cure was held by John Tyce (d. 1667) who lived at Seavington Abbots. (fn. 173) The rapid succession of curates and assistants in the 18th century was at least partly due to the small stipend and lack of a house. Edward Combe, curate 1810–48, lived at his family home at Earnshill House; he also served as assistant curate of Isle Brewers, (fn. 174) and in 1835 was rector of Donyatt and Earnshill, the second a sinecure, and perpetual curate of Drayton. (fn. 175) He was succeeded by James Stratton Coles (1848–72) who held the living with Shepton Beauchamp. (fn. 176) Under him the parish began its high church tradition, which was continued under Arthur Lethbridge and Joseph Hamlet (d. 1926) both trained and influenced by Canon Coles. (fn. 177) Hamlet served on the Langport Rural District Council and Board of Guardians from 1901 until his death. (fn. 178)
The chancel of the church was reported to be in ruins in 1547, and there was no processional in 1557. (fn. 179) In 1815 services were held alternately morning and evening. (fn. 180) Two services were held bnote idd n Census Sunday there were congregations of 175 in the morning, including 93 Sunday school pupils, and 254 in the afternoon (with 100 pupils). (fn. 181) By 1870 Holy Communion was celebrated fortnightly. (fn. 182) Vestments and ornaments were introduced under Arthur Lethbridge, curate 1878–83. (fn. 183)
The church of ST. MARY (fn. 184) is built of coursed Ham stone rubble and ashlar and has a chancel with south vestry, central tower with transepts, and nave with north porch and south aisle. The crossing with its short octagonal tower, the chancel and transepts were built in the late 13th century and retain many of their original features including window tracery and, in the south transept and chancel, piscinas. The chancel windows were, however, replaced in the 15th century and, perhaps at the same time, the tower was heightened and embattled, squints were cut from the transepts to the chancel, and the nave was rebuilt. The new nave, which can be little if any larger than its predecessor, has both western and northern entrances, the latter with a porch decorated with shafts and an ogee cresting above the doorway. The south aisle, of two bays, and the vestry were added in 1860–1 by J. M. Allen of Crewkerne during extensive restoration which included rebuilding the lower part of the tower stair and the renewal of the roofs. (fn. 185) An opponent of the scheme said that the church was 'inconsiderately pulled to pieces . . . the interior entirely demolished and denuded . . . so that nothing whatever was left . . . but the naked walls'. (fn. 186) A gallery at the west end of the nave, erected in 1819, was dismantled at the time, and a new pulpit and font provided. (fn. 187) The windows each side of the chancel are by C. E. Kempe. (fn. 188)
The church has six bells: (i and ii) 1894, Taylor of Loughborough; (iii) 1869, Warner; (iv) no inscription; (v) 1743, Thomas Bilbie; (vi) 1894, Taylor. (fn. 189) The plate includes a cup and cover by 'I.P.' dated 1573, a paten of 1723, given by Mrs. Anne Strode, a flagon of 1724, given by William Strode (III) her husband; and a chalice and paten of 1877–8 of late-medieval design. (fn. 190) The registers date from 1653 but are incomplete; they include marriages celebrated outside the parish between 1668 and 1747. (fn. 191)
In 1585 a man was 'vehemently suspected of papistry' for having service books, a crucifix, and a private altar in his house, though they had recently been destroyed at the order of the lord of the manor. (fn. 192)
Thomas Budd was living at Barrington when licensed as a Presbyterian preacher in 1672. (fn. 193) Thomasin Budd's house was licensed for worship in 1689 and other premises were used successively by dissenters until at least 1718. (fn. 194) Budd was described as minister at Barrington at his marriage in 1690 but as Presbyterian teacher of Burrow in Kingsbury at his death in 1722. (fn. 195) A house was licensed for Presbyterians in 1752 and another ten years later. (fn. 196) There were 10 Presbyterians and an Anabaptist in the parish in 1776. (fn. 197) Two rooms were used, probably by Presbyterians, from 1799. (fn. 198) In 1850 another house was licensed for Independents. It had accommodation for 100 and the evening congregation on Census Sunday 1851 numbered eighty. (fn. 199)
Wesleyan Methodists (fn. 200) were established in 1808 and in 1841 there were 11 members. (fn. 201) A decision by the circuit preachers to close the preaching place was flouted by the members in 1847, and in 1851 it was decided by the circuit to provide a preacher 'when they have a preaching place'. (fn. 202) A chapel was erected in 1859. (fn. 203) It was closed in 1965, and in 1973 was used as an artist's studio.
From 1800 the overseers paid fees for the education of a pauper girl, presumably in Barrington. (fn. 206) By 1818 there were two day-schools for 45 children and a Sunday school for 50 children. (fn. 207) By 1825 the Sunday school had 54 pupils. (fn. 208) Ten years later there was a day-school for 40 children supported by parents' payments, and a Sunday school for 51 children with an endowment under the will of Elizabeth Eason. (fn. 209) The Sunday school had 55 pupils in 1846–7. (fn. 210)
The National school, later Barrington Voluntary Controlled school, apparently derived from the endowment of Elizabeth Eason (d. 1830), and is said to have been built c. 1840. (fn. 211) It remained under the control of trustees until 1903. (fn. 212) In 1884 it was reported as 'quite the weakest' school the Diocesan Inspector had to examine. (fn. 213) Attendance was always its greatest problem, especially during the blackberrying season, and the attendance officer admitted in 1900 that he was too frightened of Barrington people to enforce the law. (fn. 214) In 1903 there were 70 children on the books, and evening classes were held. (fn. 215) By 1906–7 the average attendance was 63 when there were 122 children on the books. (fn. 216) The average in 1938 was 25 out of 96 on the register. (fn. 217) From 1972 the school took pupils in the 5–9 age range, older children travelling to Middle School at Ilminster. In 1973 there were 42 children on the books. (fn. 218)
Elizabeth Eason of South Petherton, spinster, by will gave £ 1,000 in trust for a school for boys and girls. (fn. 219) The income was just under £40 at the end of the 19th century, part of which had been used to provide gardens for the school. (fn. 220) Under a Scheme of 1927 the income was to be used for the maintenance and repair of the school buildings, to support children in secondary or further education, and for social and physical training. (fn. 221) The income of c. £150 in 1976 was distributed in grants for school uniforms and for travelling expenses to attend evening classes.
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
By will dated 1829 Mrs. Mary England devised the sum of £122 13s. 6d., the income to be applied equally by the vicar and churchwardens to the relief of the poor of Kingsbury Episcopi and Barrington. (fn. 222) In the 1840s the charity was distributed in coal, shop tickets, blankets, sheets, or calico for shirts, but twenty years later coal and cash only were given. (fn. 223) From 1895 the accounts were rendered to the parish meeting, though the churchwardens remained trustees. (fn. 224) Coal was still purchased in 1950 and there were 88 recipients in that year. By 1953–4 cash vouchers were issued (fn. 225) and by 1973 payments were made in cash. (fn. 226)