A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1978.
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KNOWLE ST. GILES
The parish of Knowle St. Giles lies on the northern scarp of Windwhistle ridge 2½ miles NE. of Chard and 2¼ miles SW. of Ilminster, and had an area estimated at 540 a. in 1842. (fn. 1) Bere Mills farm, a detached portion of Dowlish Wake, was added to the parish in 1885, increasing the area to 765 a. (fn. 2) It is irregular in shape, extending 1½ mile from E. to W. and a maximum of 1 mile from N. to S. It is bounded on the N. by Ilminster and Dowlish Wake, on the E. by Cricket Malherbie, on the S. by Chaffcombe and Chard, and on the W. by Combe St. Nicholas. In 1933 the parish was amalgamated with Cricket Malherbie in Abdick and Bulstone to form the civil parish of Knowle St. Giles, giving a total extent of 1,226 a. (fn. 3)
The parish is divided by the young river Isle and its tributaries, one of which forms part of the southern boundary at Woodhouse farm. From the gravel of their valley, which has signs of former mill-leats, the land rises gently, in the west to over 275 ft. at Clayhanger, and in the E. to over 400 ft., but sloping gently northwards. Like most of the Windwhistle ridge the soil is over Upper and Middle lias. (fn. 4)
The principal route through the parish, linking it with Ilminster and Dowlish Wake, runs across Knowle green (Middle Knowle green in 1787), (fn. 5) and at its NE. end is known as Wooley Lane. From Knowle green a second road runs eastwards over Upper Knowle green (fn. 6) at Churchills to Cricket Malherbie and Cudworth. The Chard—Ilminster road, turnpiked in 1759, formerly followed the western parish boundary, but in 1836 was diverted further east on a more direct route. (fn. 7) In 1787 a lane ran north from Knowle green to Bere Mills farm in Dowlish Wake, and another followed the northern parish boundary running from Ilminster to a crossroads called Four Lanes on the turnpike road. (fn. 8) Both these lanes had been 'long thrown into' the adjacent fields by 1820. (fn. 9) Harford Lane (Harput Lane by 1751) has not been located but linked Knowle and Dowlish Wake and was declared to be a private road in 1676. (fn. 10)
There is no village of Knowle, but settlement was formerly greater around Upper and Middle Knowle greens. Knowle Green Dairy and Woodhouse Dairy (in 1973 the Firs) are both at Middle Knowle green, which was also the site of the manor pound. (fn. 11) The parish church appears isolated at the end of a path on the high ground in the east, where the former St. Giles's well (mentioned 1620, 1673) was sited. (fn. 12) Other settlement is in isolated farms at Illeigh, Woodhouse, and Pinkham. Widgery farm occurs in 1444 as the field-name Wygellysworthe. (fn. 13)
Chard canal, cut through the parish beside and east of the river Isle, was opened in 1842 and closed in 1867. It was succeeded by the railway to Chard via Ilminster, opened in 1866, which followed a similar course through the parish. (fn. 14)
In 1563 and 1601 Knowle had a mere ten households. (fn. 15) No further figure for its population is available until 1801, when it stood at 61. It rose to 91 in 1821, thereafter fluctuating between 90 and 110. It again rose in 1871, to 118, but, despite the extension of the civil parish in 1885, had fallen to 92 by 1891. After a brief rise to 100 in 1901 (fn. 16) it fell gradually to 81 in 1931. The amalgamation with Cricket Malherbie gave a population of 127 in 1951 and 118 in 1971. (fn. 17)
Sir Amias Preston (d. ? 1617), the naval commander, leased and probably occupied Woodhouse between 1590 and 1600. (fn. 18)
In September 1644, while Charles I was at Chard, royalist forces were quartered at Knowle before moving to South Petherton. (fn. 19) Ten parishioners were accused of participating in the Monmouth rebellion of 1685. (fn. 20)
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
In 1066 Godric and Alvric held the manor of KNOWLE, but by 1086 had been dispossessed and their lands granted to Roger de Courcelles. (fn. 21) The overlordship of the manor is seldom mentioned but was claimed in 1286 by Hugh Pointz (fn. 22) and in 1312 by Nicholas Pointz, when he was succeeded by his son Hugh. (fn. 23)
The Domesday tenant was William de Almereio, (fn. 24) but no occupier has been traced thereafter until c. 1186–8 when Alan de Furneaux included Knowle chapel in his grant of Cudworth church to Wells cathedral. (fn. 25) This grant was confirmed by Richard of Knowle (fn. 26) who may have had some interest in the manor or advowson. The manor was held by another Alan de Furneaux in 1286 (fn. 27) and it evidently descended with Cudworth manor. Lands at Illeigh in Knowle were in 1498 held of John Speke as of his manor of Cudworth. (fn. 28)
In 1303 Hugh de Beauchamp and Ralph of Stocklinch held lands in South Illeigh and Knowle under Matthew de Esse and Humphrey de Kail. (fn. 29) This indicates an earlier subinfeudation of Knowle with Chaffcombe manor by Alan de Furneaux or Geoffrey his son to Oliver Avenel (d. c. 1226), and a subsequent descent with the halves of Chaffcombe manor through Avenel's daughters. The estate was subdivided, the Beauchamp half ultimately becoming the manor of KNOWLE ST. GILES, and the Stocklinch half comprising the farm or manor and mills of Illeigh. By 1386 two thirds of the Beauchamp lands in Knowle had been granted to John Dillington, probably in right of Elizabeth his wife, for life together with the reversion of the remaining third on Nicholas Buller's death. Thereafter the lands were to pass to Thomas and Joan Buller and their descendants. (fn. 30) When James Goodwin purchased John (VI) Buller's moiety of Chaffcombe manor in 1612 he was also offered Knowle manor for £800, but refused it. (fn. 31) In the same year Buller sold Knowle to William Powell, archdeacon of Bath (d. 1614), (fn. 32) who was succeeded by his son Samuel (I) Powell (d. 1656–7). (fn. 33) The manor then passed by successive sons to Marmaduke (d. 1682), Samuel (II) (d. 1722), Samuel (III) (d. 1738), and Samuel (IV) (d. 1739). (fn. 34) Sarah Powell (d. 1783), mother of the last, executed leases in Knowle until her second son Henry (d. 1769) came of age, and on his death she and her daughter Mary acted as joint lords. (fn. 35) Mary Powell (d. 1787) succeeded her mother and, on her death, the manor passed to her cousin the Revd. Thomas Alford (d. 1805) of Ashill, grandson of Samuel (III) Powell's sister Frances. (fn. 36) Alford agreed to sell the estate to Lord Poulett in 1797, although the sale was completed by Alford's widow Sarah, and son Edward in 1811. (fn. 37) Thereafter the manor descended through successive Earls Poulett, the lordship being omitted from the sale of the estate in 1912. (fn. 38) William John Norton was described as lord between 1927 and 1931, (fn. 39) but no subsequent reference to the manor has been traced, nor any mention of a manorhouse.
The manor of ILLEIGH was held T.R.E. by Bruning but by 1086 had been added to Knowle manor and was held by William de Almereio under Roger de Courcelles. (fn. 40) It descended with Knowle until the division between the daughters of Oliver Avenel, when it formed the nucleus of the second half of the Knowle estate and passed with a half of Chaffcombe manor to the Noneton family and their successors. In 1303 it was held by Ralph of Stocklinch and included a carucate of land, 40 a. of meadow, 15 a. pasture, and 5 a. woodland. (fn. 41) The manorial administration was combined, like its ownership, with the Poulett moiety of Chaffcombe in the mid 16th century. (fn. 42) In 1918 Illeigh, then called Knowle farm, was sold by Lord Poulett to the tenant, E. R. Mead. (fn. 43) It passed to John Bale between 1919 and 1923 (fn. 44) and under its present name, Manor farm, was sold by him in 1941 to Mr. L. Maidment, owner in 1973. (fn. 45)
The house was first mentioned in 1303 (fn. 46) and was probably occupied by the Burre family, originally of Essex, who moved to Knowle from Cricket Malherbie between 1573 and 1581. (fn. 47) John Burre (d. c. 1585) was succeeded at Knowle by his son Simpson, the wealthiest inhabitant of the parish in 1628. (fn. 48) The present Manor Farm, of flint and brick with Ham stone dressings and tiled roof, has been totally modernized and has no early internal features.
The capital messuage and farm of WOOD, later WOODHOUSE, was first mentioned in the early 13th century, when John of Wood, of Knowle, held lands in Chaffcombe, (fn. 49) and Andrew of Wood held a virgate of land at Knowle in 1235. (fn. 50) John Buller (d. 1485) held Wood in fee under Knowle manor in 1444 and his family claimed to have held and occupied it from a much earlier date. (fn. 51) Thereafter it descended with the Buller half of Chaffcombe. Alexander Buller (d. 1526) occupied the farm under Lord Daubeney, probably as lord of the hundred, and when the Bullers moved to Lillesdon they leased Wood to George Poulett in 1573. (fn. 52) There followed successive assignments of this lease to occupiers: to John Andrews alias Fry in 1582, to Amias Preston in 1590, and to Simon Courte in 1600. (fn. 53) John (VI) Buller bought the lease from Courte in 1604 and sold it with his half of Chaffcombe to James Goodwin and others in 1612, with which it passed to John Poulett, later Lord Poulett, in 1613. (fn. 54) The farm continued in the Poulett family, being occupied by John Bluet in 1701, until its sale in 1913 to J. W. Davison. (fn. 55) In 1920 he sold it to Holliday Hartley, and Hartley conveyed it in 1924 to Mr. J. G. Vincent, the owner and occupier in 1973. (fn. 56)
The medieval house was burnt down in 1806. It was thatched and included 'a spacious room open to the roof' with 'a wide fireplace, spanned over with an arched stone chimney piece'. After the fire a female skeleton was found under a paving stone and, within the wall near the oven, an infant's remains. (fn. 57) The present Ham stone house was built to the south of the original house after the fire. (fn. 58)
In 1624 Matthew Pitt of Cricket Malherbie died holding under Knowle St. Giles manor 2 houses, a cottage, 2 gardens, 3 orchards, and 145 a. of land in Knowle and Dowlish. (fn. 59) It is not known when these lands were enfranchised, but Matthew's son Benjamin (d. c. 1650) of Standerwick left leases of the property to trustees. (fn. 60) The freehold was sold in 1735 by Robert Pitt, probably grandson of Benjamin, to Nathaniel Hartley of London, under whose ownership it became known as Knowle farm. (fn. 61) Hartley died intestate without heirs in 1762 and the estate, then containing 84 a., passed to the Crown. The lands lay principally in the NE. of the parish with some 12 a. in Dowlish Wake. The farm was leased to John Vincent for 31 years in 1788 and was purchased by Lord Poulett in 1819. (fn. 62) The lands subsequently descended with the Poulett estate and were taken to form part of Pinkham farm in the early 19th century. (fn. 63) The farm-house lay at Middle Knowle green, although the lands were in a detached part of Dowlish Wake parish. (fn. 64) It had 'fallen to decay' by 1820 and was demolished soon after. (fn. 65)
In 1086 Knowle paid geld for 1¼ hide and there was land for 2 ploughs. Three virgates and one plough were held in demesne and the remaining half hide with only a ½ plough was worked by 5 villeins and 4 bordars. Stock included 6 head of cattle and 48 sheep. Woodland measuring 4 by 2 furlongs probably represented the area later cleared to form the estate of Wood. To Knowle had been added Illeigh, evidently then a single farm, which gelded for 3 virgates and had land for 2 ploughs tilled by a single demesne plough. There were one villein, one bordar, and one serf, and no stock was recorded. The values of both estates before and after the Conquest remained unchanged at 60s. and 15s. respectively. (fn. 66)
The early medieval estates were divided by the river Isle, Illeigh on the west and Knowle on the east with Knowle's woodland lying in the south. Clearance of the woodland had probably begun by the early 13th century when the existence of Wood as a farm and freehold within Knowle manor may be inferred. The parish thus comprised two large farms and one manorial estate. Knowle manor was described in 1382 as 2 messuages, 2 mills, one carucate of land, 12 a. of meadow, 12 a. pasture, and 10s. rent, (fn. 67) and in 1386 as 2 messuages, one carucate of land, 16 a. of meadow, 20 a. pasture, 2 a. wood, 12 a. moor, and 14s. 1d. rent. (fn. 68)
In 1444 there were three freeholders paying rents of 25s. 9½d., the foremost of whom was John Buller holding Wood, a water-mill, the pasture of Old Lea (c. 40 a.), (fn. 69) and a close called 'Sherpeham'. Edward, Lord Cobham (d. 1464), held a meadow called 'Aysshilyete', and Thomas Wattes (d. 1460) owned a messuage and 40 a. in Knowle with a further 20 a. in West Dowlish, (fn. 70) apart from further customary lands in Knowle. The largest of the four customary holdings was occupied by John Fouler: a tenement, the only two cottages, 1½ a. arable, and 2 closes, and the total rental of the manor was then £4 0s. 2½d. (fn. 71) No reference has been found to the manor-house or demesne of Knowle, but the demesne of Wood is sometimes mentioned, (fn. 72) suggesting that Wood served as the manor-house and was occupied as such by the Bullers.
The value of Knowle manor had risen to £5 by 1486 (fn. 73) which may be compared with an identical income from the Poulett lands at Illeigh in 1498. (fn. 74) The latter estate then comprised 100 a. of pasture, 40 a. meadow, and 2 mills. (fn. 75) In 1542 Illeigh was leased with Chaffcombe Poulett manor-house and a further 122 a. of land. (fn. 76) The demesnes attached to Wood totalled 98 a. in 1573, including a wood near the house and a green, probably Middle Knowle green. (fn. 77) The property was then let with Chaffcombe Park (40 a.) in Chaffcombe and Marl Pit fields (50 a.) in Cudworth. (fn. 78) Leases of other lands described as former demesne of Wood were executed from 1569, including Pearse moor and Old Lea, both lying in the east of the parish. (fn. 79)
By the 15th century most of the parish seems to have been inclosed grassland (fn. 80) and there is no direct evidence for any former open field system. Unauthorized felling of ash trees in 'Knowle moor' took place after the lord's death c. 1420 (fn. 81) and common of unspecified pasture occurs in the 17th century, (fn. 82) but no large tracts of open land can be located. Most of the cottages lying within the manor, which are first mentioned in the late 17th and earlier 18th century, are described as being built on the waste, (fn. 83) and settlement throughout the parish seems to have been generally by encroachments on the roadsides made during that period.
Tenure from the 16th century was mostly on leases for 99 years or 3 lives and few copyholds survived into the 17th century. The sizes of manorial holdings were small, none, apart from Old Lea of 38 a., being over 15 a. (fn. 84) In contrast Illeigh contained in 1707 141 a., all pasture and meadow, and Woodhouse had 105 a., of which 35 a. were arable. (fn. 85) In the 18th century leases for 99 years or 3 lives of these two properties were granted to members of the Poulett family, who then sublet for short terms at much higher rents. (fn. 86) The extent of Illeigh was subsequently increased by the addition of a tucking mill and 9½ a. in Knowle, and 16 a. in Chaffcombe, the whole being rented in 1786 for £162 10s. (fn. 87) With the purchases by Lord Poulett of Knowle manor from the Alfords in 1811 (fn. 88) and Knowle farm from the Crown in 1819, (fn. 89) almost the whole parish, with the exception of the glebe, passed into the hands of a single owner. In 1819 Illeigh farm, the former Alford lands, and Knowle farm, totalling 296 a., were amalgamated and leased to a single tenant for £570 a year, and Woodhouse with 140 a., partly in Chaffcombe, was let for £310. (fn. 90) By 1842 the Poulett holdings of 471 a. covered 87 per cent of the parish. A new farm had been created in the east of the parish, Pinkham with 188 a., Illeigh totalled 158 a., and Woodhouse 111 a. Apart from the glebe of 36 a. there were no other tenements over 12 a. in extent. (fn. 91)
The agricultural life of the parish during the late 18th and 19th centuries was dominated by the Vincents, a large family of tenant farmers. Anthony Vincent, initially from Chard but originally from Ilminster, arrived in Knowle c. 1730. (fn. 92) His son James (d. 1801), a butcher, leased Woodhouse farm and other lands by 1771, (fn. 93) and the latter's son John (I) (d. 1830) rented Illeigh from 1786. (fn. 94) Of John's sons, William (d. 1856) held Woodhouse, John (II) (d. 1854) held Pinkham, and Joseph Soper (d. 1855) held Illeigh and a small farm on the western boundary, mostly in Chard. (fn. 95) The Vincents also rented lands in Chaffcombe. Robert Vincent (d. 1834), brother of John (I), and his son Robert held Chaffcombe Gate farm and another branch settled at Kingston Well. (fn. 96) Woodhouse was occupied successively by William Vincent's son and grandson, J. G. Vincent (d. 1898) and J. W. H. Vincent (d. 1929). It was held in 1973 by the son of the last, Mr. J. G. Vincent, who purchased it in 1924. In 1973 the family also held the Firs (formerly Woodhouse Dairy) in Knowle, Chaffcombe Gate, Chaffcombe Lodge, and the former glebe in Chaffcombe, and Wallscombe in Chard. (fn. 97)
When the Poulett estate was sold in 1912 Pinkham had 151 a., Illeigh (then Knowle farm) 142 a., Woodhouse 114 a. (of which 44 a. lay in Chaffcombe), Knowle Green Dairy (formerly held with Pinkham) 47 a., and Woodhouse Dairy (held with Woodhouse) 47 a. (fn. 98) The agriculture was mixed with a predominance of dairy farming. In 1905 there were 453 a. of grassland and only 155 a. of arable. (fn. 99) Only Manor farm (formerly Illeigh) had over 150 a. in 1939, and this had fallen to 113 a. by 1941. (fn. 100) By 1973 Woodhouse had increased to 126 a., while Manor farm covered 88 a. The acquisition of Pinkham farm and other lands in the eastern half of the parish by Cricket Malherbie Dairies c. 1942 had resulted in a division of the parish between them and the Vincent family. (fn. 101)
The economy of the parish has always been largely agrarian, although fulling-mills indicate links with the clothing trade, reinforced by references to two clothiers between 1682 and 1703. (fn. 102) In 1851, apart from six female glovers, the entire parish was employed in agriculture. (fn. 103)
Gilbert atte Mulle is recorded in Knowle or Chaffcombe, probably the former, in 1327. (fn. 104) A water- and fulling-mill at Illeigh were held by Thomas Denebaud (d. 1362) under the Kail family and descended with Illeigh manor to the Pouletts. (fn. 105) In 1498 they were held with lands of 140 a. and valued at 100s. (fn. 106) In 1532 the fulling-mill, then a copyhold of Chaffcombe manor and formerly occupied by John Blackaller, was surrendered by Joan and Dorothy Morren to John Coche. (fn. 107) John Irish diverted the course of a stream flowing to the lords' mill in 1561, but as Irish held no property under the Pouletts the manorial homage could not amerce him. (fn. 108) The fulling-mill had reverted to the Morren family by 1572 when, on the death of Matilda, widow of William Morren, the mill passed to her son William. (fn. 109) In 1716 it was occupied as copyhold by Robert Morren with a mansion house, and it was leased in 1733 and 1746 to Peregrine Poulett under the name of Knowle mills. (fn. 110) By 1747 the property evidently included both the fulling- and the water grist-mill mentioned in the 14th century. (fn. 111) The mills occur in 1771 (fn. 112) but cannot definitely be identified thereafter.
Another fulling-mill, owned by the Pouletts c. 1665, was then occupied by John Stone, between 1708 and 1731 by Elias Stone, and from 1731 by Jennings Darby. (fn. 113) It was leased as Willmotts mill for 42 years to Vile Miller in 1741 and excepted from a lease of Illeigh farm two years later. (fn. 114) In 1786 a seven-year lease of Illeigh farm included two water-grist-mills and two tucking-mills (fn. 115) and these were held with the farm in 1832. (fn. 116)
Two mills held by John and Joan Beauchamp in 1382 apparently lay in what became the manor of Knowle. (fn. 117) In 1444 John Buller held a water-mill in fee for a rent paid to Knowle manor. (fn. 118) A copyhold tenement with grain- and fulling-mills, occupied by John Miller, was held under the Powell manor of Knowle in 1669, the tenant having liberty to erect a cloth rack in the meadow. (fn. 119) The premises were converted to leasehold in 1681 and held by John Miller, clothier, in 1690. (fn. 120) This property may be identified with a fulling-mill, formerly occupied by William Robins, then by John Vincent, which formed part of Knowle manor conveyed to Lord Poulett in 1811. (fn. 121)
All the mills mentioned probably lay on or near the river Isle near Illeigh Farm. In 1842 fields named Millers Dry ground, Millers orchard, and Millers mead lay immediately south of the farm, and Tuckers Mill mead to the north-east. (fn. 122) The opening of Chard canal in 1842 (fn. 123) may have disrupted the flow of water to some or all of these mills. None is mentioned thereafter. A mill-house and mill-leat lie at Manor (formerly Illeigh) farm, immediately west of the farm-house. The iron overshot mill-wheel was removed c. 1955. (fn. 124) It is uncertain which of the above mills this represents.
No court rolls have been traced for the manor of Knowle St. Giles. The Poulett lands at Illeigh were treated as copyhold under Chaffcombe manor by 1532, (fn. 125) and courts between 1560 and 1572 were described as being held for the manors of Chaffcombe and Knowle. (fn. 126) Suit of court to the former Powell manor was demanded of a lessee as late as 1853. (fn. 127)
During the 17th and 18th centuries there were generally a single churchwarden and one assistant or sidesman, although two churchwardens occur in 1729. (fn. 128) Vestry minutes survive from 1844 and record the appointments of a churchwarden, overseer of the poor, waywarden, and (from 1857) a guardian of the poor. On occasions two or three of these offices were held by one person, and a female overseer was elected in 1874. (fn. 129)
A small cottage at 'Harput Lane' was leased by the parish in 1751 to house the poor 'in actual relief', (fn. 130) but no later reference to a poorhouse has been traced. The parish joined the Chard poor-law union in 1836. (fn. 131)
The chapel of Knowle is first mentioned c. 1186–8 when Alan de Furneaux granted it to Wells cathedral as part of the endowment of Cudworth prebend, upon which it was subsequently dependent. (fn. 132) There is no earlier evidence to show that it was annexed to Cudworth before that date. The cure of souls belonged directly to the prebendary and the chapel was served by assistant curates (called perpetual curates in the early 19th century) (fn. 133) nominated by him until a vacancy in the prebend in 1844. The chapel was then separated from Cudworth and the bishop assumed the appointment of perpetual curates, sometimes called vicars, at Knowle. In an exchange of patronage in 1852 the advowson was transferred to the bishop of London. (fn. 134) When a vacancy occurred at Knowle in 1908 vain efforts were made to restore Knowle to Cudworth prebend. (fn. 135) The living was united with the benefice of Cricket Malherbie in 1961 and has been held since that year in plurality with Chaffcombe. (fn. 136)
No figures for the income of Knowle distinct from that of Cudworth prebend are available until 1815, when it was valued at about £90. (fn. 137) This figure had fallen to £72 between 1831 and 1866, being composed of £60 a year from Queen Anne's Bounty and £12 10s. from the lessee of the prebendal glebe. (fn. 138) Customary tithe moduses were paid as at Cudworth, except that the tithes rendered in 1636 by the tucking-mills were assessed by mutual agreement. (fn. 139) The tithes of Knowle were commuted for a rent-charge of £65 in 1842. (fn. 140)
The glebe lands totalled 27 a. of pasture in 1571, the area of the same ground being estimated at 32 a. in 1636. (fn. 141) These fields were still held by the prebendary in 1842, although most had been converted to arable. (fn. 142) By 1894 the amount of glebe had fallen to 22 a., an acreage still held in 1923. (fn. 143)
Knowle was probably served principally by the curates of Cudworth until the mid 18th century, although a chaplain or assistant curate was recorded in 1450, 1526, and 1532. (fn. 144) From 1760 a succession of perpetual curates was licensed, all having livings or posts elsewhere. Robert Burnett Patch (curate 1778–80) was headmaster of Crewkerne grammar school (fn. 145) and Lewis Evans, F.R.S. (curate 1780–1827), the first mathematics master at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, London, was a noted astronomer. (fn. 146) John Allen (curate 1839–55) was headmaster of Ilminster grammar school and was succeeded in turn at Knowle by his son-in-law, Edmund Boger, and two of his sons, J. T. W. and F. E. Allen. (fn. 147) Later the living was held by three headmasters of Chard grammar school, George Phillips (curate 1873–88), W. S. Watson (curate 1889–93), and C. E. Lucette (curate 1908–17). (fn. 148) From 1893 the parish was usually held with the rectory of Cricket Malherbie, and from 1939 with that of Chaffcombe. (fn. 149) During the 19th century assistant curates were regularly employed, although these too were non-resident. In 1815 Richard Preston and in 1827 Francis Mules held the post with the curacy of Ilminster where they resided. (fn. 150)
In 1577 the prebendary was presented for not repairing the windows of Knowle chancel, (fn. 151) and his successor was also presented for dilapidations in the chancel in 1637 and 1640. The north aisle evidently belonged to the owners of Illeigh for the earls Poulett were required to mend its windows in 1637 and 1729. The wooden bell tower, in a dangerous state, and the third bell, 'cracked and useless', were repeatedly presented between 1691 and 1746. The porch, tower, and pews were out of repair in 1747. (fn. 152) The curate held one service every Sunday in 1815, for which he received £30, the surplice fees, and fees of the churchyard. (fn. 153) By 1851 there were two Sunday services, Census Sunday seeing a congregation of 39 in the morning and 75 in the afternoon, with 5 Sunday-school pupils at each. (fn. 154) The rebuilding of the chapel in 1840 had provided an additional 105 sittings, and in 1851 of 150 seats, 120 were free. (fn. 155) By 1870 there were one or two Sunday services with sermons and Holy Communion was celebrated about four times a month. (fn. 156)
In 1548 13s. 4d. was held by William Morne for the maintenance of lights within the chapel. (fn. 157)
The chapel of ST. GILES was totally rebuilt in 1840. (fn. 158) The old church comprised a nave with north and south porch. The nave and aisle had east windows in the 15th-century style, that in the former perhaps reset in the position of the chancel arch subsequent to the removal of the chancel whose dilapidation is mentioned above. A wooden bell tower was replaced in the 18th century by a western bellcote of stone, decorated with gothic finials. (fn. 159)
The registers date from 1695 (marriages from 1696), but lack baptisms and burials for 1784–1812 and marriages for 1745–1812. (fn. 162)
In 1819 the poor were 'without means of educating their children', (fn. 163) but by 1835 a Sunday school for 20 pupils had been started, supported chiefly by the incumbent with some assistance from three farmers. (fn. 164) A small gothic schoolroom was erected at the north corner of the churchyard c. 1840, (fn. 165) probably contemporary with the rebuilding of the church, and by 1846 the school, taught by an unpaid master, had been affiliated to the National Society. There were then only ten pupils and the school was supported by subscriptions. (fn. 166) The date at which the day-school came into being has not been traced, but it was functioning as a mixed church school in 1883 when there was an average attendance of 24. (fn. 167) By 1903 the average attendance had risen to 34, housed in two rooms which were also used for parish meetings. The children were taught by a mistress and monitress and, apart from subscriptions and grants, the school received £5 a year from an unspecified charity. The inspector in that year was particularly impressed by 'the careful and successful instruction given in gardening'. (fn. 168) Average attendance figures remained at about 35 during the early 20th century (fn. 169) and the school closed in 1920. (fn. 170) The school building was used for storage in 1973.