A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1978.
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The ancient parish of South Petherton, the largest in the hundred of the same name, covers 3,494 a. (fn. 1) It takes the name Petherton from the river Parrett with the addition 'South' to distinguish it from North Petherton, further down the river near Bridgwater. Roughly rectangular in shape, it is nearly 3 miles long and 2 miles wide. The boundaries follow water courses for perhaps three-quarters of their length: the Lopen brook in the south divides Petherton from Merriott; the Parrett forms the eastern limit of both parish and hundred (and also of the archdeaconry of Taunton), much of the line being opposite Martock and small lengths adjoining Stoke sub Hamdon, Norton sub Hamdon, and Chiselborough. The Lambrook, in the 19th century known as the Fish brook, (fn. 2) forms the northern boundary with Kingsbury Episcopi, and part of the division with Shepton Beauchamp. In the southwest, with part of Shepton, Lopen, and Seavington St. Michael, there is evidence of later formation: Lopen was certainly part of the ancient parish, and remained a dependent chapelry until the 20th century. The transfer of land from Seavington St. Mary to South Petherton by 1086 and the possible importance of Fouts cross as a meeting-place or market site may also account for some irregularity in the same area. (fn. 3)
Three-quarters of the parish lies on the fertile Yeovil Sands, producing the 'remarkably good' arable described in the 1780s. (fn. 4) North-east of a line drawn between Bridge, the town, and Middle Lambrook, however, is a ridge of limestone, followed by Pennard Sands and clay as the land slopes down to the alluvium of the Parrett valley. The limestone, known as Petherton stone, was quarried at Pitway in the 19th century, and bricks and tiles were manufactured on the slope of Pitway hill and along the East Lambrook road. Marl was dug in several places, including a site near Old Bridge, (fn. 5) and pits on the boundary between Compton Durville and Shepton and south of Wigborough gave their names to fields. (fn. 6)
The main settlement, in the centre of its parish, lies in a hollow, only the top stage of its church tower, capped with a spirelet, being visible from much of the surrounding land. Yet the highest point in the parish, mid-way between the town and the western boundary, is only 231 ft. above sea level, and most of the ground undulates gently a little above the 100 ft. contour. The ground falls as the boundaries are reached, except in the south-west in the slightly exposed area near Lopen Head, once a district of furze and heath. (fn. 7) The core of the town itself lies on sloping ground on the side of a stream, its church occupying a prominent position on a spur. There is some suggestion that the settlement north of this spur may at least have been defined on its western and northern sides, judging by the possibility of a ditch to the west of George Lane and by the course of Palmer Street. (fn. 8) Such a site would not have been very strong, especially in comparison with Stoodham, across the valley to the north. There the northern tip of the limestone ridge, reaching 190 ft., has produced evidence of occupation in the Iron Age and Romano-British periods as well as a few flint implements, though there is no evidence of any structures or fortifications, with the possible exception of a ditch above the terraces called Mere Linches. (fn. 9) The juxtaposition of two sites on each side of a stream recalls the more imposing, though still undefended, sites at Somerton and Hurcot further north.
Early occupation elsewhere in the parish has been revealed by the discovery of Bronze Age implements at Wigborough, (fn. 10) and by more extensive Roman remains. The Foss Way runs through the southern half of the parish and, although partly disused, has left its mark not only on the road pattern, but also in the place-names Stratton and Harp, the road called Harpway, and the field-names Harfurlong, Streetlands, and Netherway. (fn. 11) Confused reports of two or possibly three villas have not been authenticated, though many coins have been found over a wide area, dating mostly from the 3rd and 4th centuries. (fn. 12)
If the present settlement is more obviously of Saxon origin, yet its character is by no means uniform throughout the parish. Petherton itself lies at the centre of a group of hamlets with varying beginnings. Compton Durville seems to have originated at the centre of two, and perhaps three, pre-Domesday estates, part often associated with land in Kingsbury and also with an unidentified settlement called Clopton. (fn. 13) Traces of four common fields were apparent there at least until the end of the 18th century. (fn. 14) In the south both Wigborough and Stratton had emerged as manorial centres by the mid 11th century. The former has been suggested and rejected as the site of a battle between the Saxons of Devon and the Danes in 851, and the derivation of the place-name as 'Wicga's hill' is at variance with the gentle contours. (fn. 15) Bridge occurs as a hamlet by the end of the 12th century and is presumably named after the bridge taking the Foss over the Parrett. (fn. 16) Little Lopen occurs by 1232 and by 1386 there was a house there called the 'chapel', (fn. 17) though the position of the hamlet can only be generally indicated by the survival of Little Lopen Lane, running south near Yeabridge Farm, and by field-names. Drayton was certainly settled by 1305, (fn. 18) and judging by its name much earlier. By the end of the 13th century there was a distinction between Upper or Over and Lower or Nether Stratton, presumably originating in the two estates of the same name, the former a manorial holding linked with Lopen, the latter a member of the manor of South Petherton. (fn. 19) How far there was any distinction of settlement in a topographical sense is unknown. There was a capital messuage at Little Stratton in 1506. (fn. 20) The emergence of the hamlet of Harp, probably by 1305, (fn. 21) is a further topographical puzzle, the name in the 1970s being given to two separate farms and to the road between them.
In terms of field systems in the south of the parish it seems that in the 14th century there were four common arable fields around Stratton, parts of which were attached to the manor of Wigborough. (fn. 22) By the end of the 18th century there were six near Stratton, together with common meadow in the extreme south-west of the parish, known as Yellands in the 19th century but probably part of a more extensive South mead in the Middle Ages. (fn. 23) Drayton had three fields and three separate arable furlongs in the 18th century, with a common meadow known as Drayton mead. Wigborough, then an inclosed farm, had three arable fields which may have corresponded to an earlier pattern. (fn. 24) Two other settlements in the south of the parish had widely differing origins. Yeabridge is a group of roadside cottages dating from the early 19th century, though the settlement had existed for at least the previous hundred years. (fn. 25) A much earlier development was Watergore, which occurs in 1462, (fn. 26) and which presumably owes its origin to the road junction on which it stands. The bounds of these hamlets seem to have been marked by crosses in medieval times. The crux ville and St. James's cross occur in 1522, and the base of a cross still surviving at the southern end of Stratton may be the remains of one of these. The dedication of a cross to St. James may suggest the existence of a chapel near by. (fn. 27)
South Petherton itself lies at the centre of a web of roads and footpaths converging on church and market-place and serving the surrounding fields. This web is most noticeable in the northern half of the parish, though there is also direct road communication with Drayton, Bridge, and South Harp, and a footpath, known as Church Path, proceeding from Stratton. The town itself, however, is not on any obviously important through route, except perhaps via Bridgeway from Petherton Bridge to Shepton Beauchamp. Indeed, by the late 18th century the only through traffic to concern the manor hayward was that along the public roads through the corn fields at the time of Petherton and Stoke fairs. (fn. 28)
South of the town, however, the parish is crossed by an east-west route which probably pre-dates the Foss Way and which since the 18th century has been part of the northern London-Exeter coach road. This road, entering the parish over Petherton Bridge, may well originally have been a prehistoric trackway linking the Iron Age fort on Ham Hill with Neroche and the Blackdowns. An ancient bridge over the Parrett, possibly the Roman one carrying the Foss, was referred to as the 'old bridge' in c. 1206, (fn. 29) and gave its name to the hamlet there. The 'fair stone bridge' there in the early 17th century bore the effigies of two people, variously described as the founder and his wife and as two children drowned there. (fn. 30) The strategic importance of the bridge was evident in the Civil War, and it was broken by the Parliamentarian forces in 1645. (fn. 31) Repairs were ordered in 1648 and some were done in 1650. (fn. 32) In the early 1970s the 15th-century structure of three spans with pointed arches was replaced to take a dual carriageway, but the effigies and a direction stone have been preserved.
The road carried by this bridge diverged slightly north of the course of the Foss and at Watergore divided. Until the beginning of the 19th century the more important route, along the prehistoric course, continued to Frogmary Green. Thence it followed the parish boundary to Fouts cross. Still in the 1770s (fn. 33) this was considered the main route to Taunton via Ilford Bridges, and its importance may be gauged by the presence of inns beside it at Watergore and Fouts. (fn. 34) This route was adopted by the Ilminster turnpike trustees in 1758–9, but abandoned by them in 1802–3, (fn. 35) thus marking the end of its common use. The southern route from Watergore towards Lopen continues in use as a trunk road from London to the south-west of England.
The roads serving South Petherton itself were adopted by other turnpike trusts. The route from Fouts cross through the town to Martock was taken over by the Martock trust in 1803, perhaps in an attempt to create a through route. (fn. 36) The Langport trust adopted roads linking Fouts with Compton Durville and West Lambrook in 1824, (fn. 37) and proposals in 1830, none of which seems to have been carried out, involved the adoption of most of the roads in the town and the creation of new routes across Stoodham and Pikes Moor, south of Joyler's mill, to provide more direct access from Kingsbury southwards to Crewkerne. (fn. 38) The link towards Crewkerne was the point of a projected light railway between Martock, Petherton, and Crewkerne in 1907–8. (fn. 39) Toll houses were built at Bridge Cross, west of Petherton Bridge, and at Atkins's Gate on the Martock road, just west of the junction with the East Lambrook road.
The church and the market-place provided the focus of the medieval town of South Petherton, and the earliest reference to a street is to Cheap Street in 1443. (fn. 40) This was the name of the row of houses on the north side of the market-place, and continued in use until the 19th century. (fn. 41) In the centre of this market-place stood the market house and also a cross, said to have been removed in the 1830s or a little later. (fn. 42) The steep south-eastern entrance was known as Market Hill by 1668, and as the Cornhill in the 19th century. (fn. 43)
By the 17th century the pattern of streets had taken on the present arrangement, with the marketplace almost by-passed by St. James's Street and Palmer Street. Although there is no direct evidence for any planned urban development, the two lanes leading north and north-west from the market-place may represent original routes which were later made redundant either by the development of Palmer Street or by the contraction of the marketplace, the latter perhaps then causing the diversion of West Street. Palmer Street was certainly by the 17th century the home of some of the wealthiest inhabitants, (fn. 44) though no. 6 is perhaps the only building to survive among some substantial 19th-century houses. The Coke Memorial Chapel replaced a gabled 17th-century house known as Moon's after its ownership by the Mohun family. (fn. 45) The formation of Palmer Street perhaps provided the impetus for the further development of St. James's Street which in the 19th century was the commercial centre of the town and in the 20th holds most of the shops. The origin of the name has not been traced, but the presence of Holbrook's Place (nos. 40–44) and the Court House (nos. 48–50) indicates development of the northern end by the early 16th century. (fn. 46) Most of the present building in the street is irregular, largely on the street front, but some houses lie behind gardens. Most are of the 19th and 20th centuries. Nos. 33 and 35 form a pair of thatched cottages, originally framed in timber, having at least one framed fire hood backing on the through passage. Also of the 17th century is the gabled Bell inn, dated 1622 but rebuilt in 1925. Norris House, of the 18th century, was the home of the town's doctor and historian Hugh Norris.
The expansion from the central core cannot be dated precisely. By the early 17th century there was certainly settlement at Pitway and Little Petherton, both essentially groups of waste-land cottages. (fn. 47) Both imply earlier development of West Street and Butt (Budde or Budle) Lane. (fn. 48) South and North streets occur by the 1630s. (fn. 49) The former replaced the medieval church path and Hele Lane, presumably because heavy traffic found the ford in Hele Lane inconvenient. South Street contains several substantial 18th- and 19th-century houses including Yarn Barton and Knapp House (Naphouse in 1778). (fn. 50) An earlier building is no. 25 South Street, with a jointed cruck structure. (fn. 51) No. 27, South Farm, formerly South Street Farm, was largely rebuilt on the foundations of an earlier house in 1700; (fn. 52) its gable end housed a pork butcher's shop in the 19th century. (fn. 53) Cole's House, at the southern end of the street, is an early-19th-century house of local brick.
Within these main roads a series of streets and lanes form a tight network. White, High, and Roundwell streets, Pound and Court bartons occur by the mid 17th century, (fn. 54) Prigg and Pound lanes by the mid 18th century. (fn. 55) Names apparently of 19th-century origin include Joggler's hill, Vicarage Lane, Lightgate Road, and Ebenezer Row. In the 1850s Lower St. James's Street was an alternative name for Silver Street. (fn. 56) In the 1880s there was much new building at Little Petherton and elsewhere, and 20th-century development includes dwellings at Stoodham, Hams, and Summer Shard. (fn. 57)
In the 1770s the town was said to contain 'nothing remarkable'; (fn. 58) the centre was largely rebuilt in the 19th century, though on the outskirts and in the hamlets there are examples of earlier farmhouses and cottages, mostly in local stone, occasionally in brick, normally as additions. Inventories of the mid 17th century suggest that most houses had ceased to have open halls, though those of John Edmonds (1629) and John Marke (1669) seem to have been unconverted. Most were of three-roomed plan. (fn. 59) Among the surviving buildings is Hayes End Manor, divided into three dwellings. It is a 17th-century house, heightened in 1760, with a new wing added by J. W Peters. Among the associated farm buildings is a nine-bay barn, built by J. B. Edmonds in 1803, constructed on Ham stone pillars with open or weather-boarded sides, a raised floor, and a tiled roof. There is also a granary or store house of similar date, with an open cart shed on the ground floor. The construction is of Ham stone lined with brick. The top floor was used as a school in the 19th century.
Watergore includes two 17th- and one 18th-century house facing the former road to Ilford Bridges, as well as the remains of an inn. Over Stratton is virtually a single street consisting of a few 17th- and 18th-century small houses. At its southern end is Stratton Farm, a 16th-century building, originally cob walled, with a crucktrussed roof, and an open hall in the centre. South Harp Farm, a little further south, is of three-room plan of the late 17th century with an unheated central room and a projecting semi-circular stair in the back wall. Stratton Farm has a barn of 1816 at the rear. It is partly open-sided and much of the building has an upper floor with provision for temporary joists in the main open bay. Compton Durville includes the substantial Dower House, formerly Harding's Farm, which is of 17th-century origin though with extensive additions.
By 1618 there were at least two inns in the town belonging to the main manor. (fn. 60) The earliest named is the George (1622), described as a cottage, in Cheap Street. (fn. 61) It was held by successive members of the Willy family from 1698 at least until 1761, and subsequently by Martin Pyke, from 1737 until 1786 or later. (fn. 62) It occurs until 1809. (fn. 63) By 1658 there were two other inns, the Three Cups and the Rose and Crown. (fn. 64) The latter, known as the Crown in 1635 and as the Rose and Crown in 1769–70, was more usually known as the Crown again by 1773. (fn. 65) It was the most popular house in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, being used for meetings of the vestry in 1799 and for public meetings and auction sales. (fn. 66) The present building replaced a thatched structure c. 1894. (fn. 67) The White Horse inn occurs by 1690 and was held by the Prew family from 1751 until at least 1786; it continued until 1799 or later. (fn. 68) A house, late the White Horse inn, at Watergore, was referred to in 1866. (fn. 69) This may be a different building, or possibly a confusion with the Horseshoe or Three Horseshoes at Watergore, on the Ilford Bridges road, which occurs from 1748 at least until 1773. (fn. 70) By 1735 the Bell and by 1740 the Wheatsheaf were in business, the latter probably in Cornhill, the former in St. James's Street; (fn. 71) and by 1751 there were twelve licensed houses, including one at Compton Durville. (fn. 72) Among them was the King's Arms (by 1735) and the Running Footman (1751). (fn. 73)
In the early 19th century the principal inns were the Crown, the Castle (by 1806), (fn. 74) the Bell, and the Wheatsheaf. (fn. 75) The Castle stood next to the Crown in the market-place, but by 1851 had been converted to a shop. (fn. 76) In the 1830s new houses emerged including the Bunch of Grapes (1836) and the Plough, both at Fouts cross (1837). In 1869 the Fruiterers' Arms in Pitway was licensed, together with two beerhouses, the Royal Oak at Stratton and the New Inn. (fn. 77)
A benefit club was formed in South Petherton in 1786, to meet each year on 1 September. (fn. 78) The Labourers' Friendly Society was founded in 1852 and continued until 1918, (fn. 79) and the Female Friendly Society, established in 1874, continued until 1912. (fn. 80) A Provident Society, founded in Martock in 1883, had members from South Petherton. (fn. 81)
Leisure-time activities for the inhabitants included membership of the Literary Institute and Reading Room (founded by 1861), of the South Petherton Agricultural Society (by 1873), (fn. 82) or of the Volunteer Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry (by 1883), which drilled at Hayes End and later in Roundwell Street. (fn. 83) By the end of the century there were many cultural groups formed to hear lectures on science and art, horticulture and hygiene, clearly the foundation of a tradition which survives into the 1970s. (fn. 84)
The four tithings of South Petherton, Over Stratton, South Harp, and Compton Durville, produced a total of 106 men at a muster in 1539, (fn. 85) and there were 154 households returned in 1563. (fn. 86) In 1656 Petherton was described as a market town of 300 families. (fn. 87) Between 1801 and 1851 the population rose rapidly from 1,674 to 2,606, and for the next forty years fluctuated by two or three hundred a decade until 1901, when it fell to 1,997. It remained stable in the earlier 20th century, but rose in the 1960s, the total reaching 2,549 in 1971. (fn. 88)
During the Civil War cavalry under Essex visited the town in 1644 and damaged the church. They were followed by a Royalist troop including Richard Symonds, the diarist. (fn. 89) Petherton Bridge was of importance in the campaign before the battle of Langport in the following year. It was destroyed by Colonel Weldon and the Parliamentarians in May 1645, and then temporarily repaired by Goring who was in pursuit. Parliamentarians under Edward Montagu occupied the town in July after the battle. (fn. 90) The hoard of silver coins discovered in Prig Lane is assumed to have been buried by a soldier at the time of these events. (fn. 91) In 1660 a radical regiment of militia in the town demanded its pay but disappeared when its officers refused to come near. (fn. 92) During his Western Progress in 1680 Monmouth received an ovation at Petherton, and two inhabitants, Robert Sandys and Samuel Prowse, were among 24 accused of supporting him during his rebellion. (fn. 93)
Arthur Bury, D.D. (d. 1713), rector of Exeter College, Oxford, 1666–90, seems to have retired to Compton Durville, and was buried in the parish church. (fn. 94) Thomas Coke, D.C.L. (1747–1814), first superintendent and 'bishop' of the American Methodist Church, and first secretary of the Methodist Conference, was curate at the parish church from July 1772 until his summary dismissal in March 1777. He joined John Wesley but did not lose his connexion with South Petherton, and he bought a new house in St. James's Street at the end of 1778. (fn. 95) Thomas Northcote Toller (1756–1812), Nonconformist divine of Kettering (Northants.), was born in the parish. (fn. 96) Hugh Norris (1821–1910), surgeon in the town from 1852 and a noted antiquary, was first joint editor of Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries 1888–90. (fn. 97) Field Marshal Lord Harding of Petherton was born in the parish in 1896. (fn. 98)
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
The manor of SOUTH PETHERTON, probably a longstanding possession of the Saxon royal house, still belonged to the Crown in 1066 and 1086. (fn. 99) Henry II gave it to Hamelin of Mayenne, a Norman, from whom it passed to Hamelin's brother Joel. (fn. 100) Joel almost certainly rebelled against the Crown during the war in which Normandy was lost, (fn. 101) so that his English lands were seized by King John. The custody of South Petherton so seized was successively granted to Terry the German (Teutonicus), who held it in 1211 (fn. 102) and 1212, (fn. 103) and to Philip Daubeney, a Breton, who held it by 1225. (fn. 104) In 1231 Daubeney received the manor in fee (fn. 105) and in December 1234 gave it to Ralph, his consanguineus. (fn. 106) Despite this Philip was able to mortgage the manor to his nephew Ralph, not certainly the same, for 7 years in February 1235 (fn. 107) and by June 1235 for the same term to Jocelin, bishop of Bath. (fn. 108) By 1237 the bishop had been authorized to assign his rights as mortgagee to his steward, with remainder to the chapter of Wells. (fn. 109) How this worked out is not known, but by 1243 Ralph Daubeney (d. 1291–2), Philip's minor son, owned the manor outright. (fn. 110) Ralph was succeeded by his sons Sir Philip (d. 1294) and Ellis. (fn. 111)
Ellis was summoned to Parliament between 1295 and 1305 as Lord Daubeney. He died in 1305 leaving an infant son Ralph (fn. 112) who in 1318 succeeded to the English estates of his family. (fn. 113) Ralph Daubeney fought at Crécy, and survived at least until 1378, though he had assigned his rights in South Petherton and Barrington to his heir, Sir Giles, in 1371. (fn. 114) Sir Giles died at Barrington in 1386, his son, also Sir Giles, in 1403, and his grandson John in 1409, the estates being thus charged with double dower and farmed for five years during a minority until 1391 by Margaret Courtenay, countess of Devon. (fn. 115) By 1412, during another minority, Queen Joan farmed two-thirds of the manor while Giles, brother of John Daubeney, was under age; Margaret, widow of Sir Giles (d. 1403) held dower; and Elizabeth, John's wife, held certain specified lands. Margaret died in 1420 and Elizabeth in 1440. (fn. 116)
Sir Giles Daubeney died in 1446. (fn. 117) He was succeeded by his son William, who survived until 1461, leaving a young son Giles (later Sir Giles) as his heir. (fn. 118) The younger Giles joined Buckingham's rebellion and his lands were confiscated and given to Ralph Neville in 1484. (fn. 119) They were restored by Henry VII, who employed Sir Giles as a military commander and ambassador. He was created Baron Daubeney in 1486 and K.G. c. 1487. He died in 1508.
The manor then passed to his flamboyant courtier son Henry (cr. earl of Bridgwater 1538, d. 1548), whose heavy spending forced him to sell most of his property. South Petherton was disposed of to Sir Thomas Arundell of Lanherne (Cornw.) and Wardour (Wilts.), his kinsman, in 1541 for £900, Daubeney receiving it back with Barrington in 1543 for the lives of himself and his wife. (fn. 120) Arundell, attainted in 1552, still possessed only the reversion, the manor passing to the Crown on the countess of Bridgwater's death in 1553. (fn. 121) It was then leased to Richard Gorney, Sir Thomas Arundell's widow Margaret acquiring a reversionary interest in 1554 and then apparently purchasing Gorney's lease. (fn. 122) Margaret Arundell's grant was to continue until £1,000 had been raised for the marriage portions of her two daughters; the manor was then to pass to Sir Charles Arundell, a younger son. Margaret died in 1572, apparently still in possession, and Sir Charles died without heirs in Paris in 1587. (fn. 123)
Sir Charles's heir was his brother Sir Matthew (d. 1598), and the manor then passed successively to Sir Matthew's son Thomas (cr. Lord Arundell of Wardour 1605), and to his grandson, also Thomas, in 1639. (fn. 124) Thomas, Lord Arundell, died in the royalist cause in 1643, and was succeeded by his son Henry. (fn. 125) The manor was, however, sequestrated in 1647 and again in 1651, and then in 1653 purchased for just under £4,000 by trustees headed by Humphrey Weld, of Lulworth (Dors.), like Arundell a Roman Catholic. (fn. 126) The manor was regranted to Lord Arundell in 1660 (fn. 127) and descended with the barony until 1792, (fn. 128) when Henry, 8th Lord Arundell (d. 1808), sold it to John Baker Edmonds, a local landowner. Edmonds was still in possession in 1832, but it seems that after his death in 1848 the property came to John Toller Nicholetts, from whom it was transferred to William Parsons Peters, of Yeabridge House. (fn. 129) His grandson J. R. Peters of Hayes End was apparently lord of the manor in 1952 but claimed no manorial rights.
By the early 17th century Thomas Gerard found that all trace of the 'palace' of early kings had disappeared, but he was shown a spot 'something south of the church' which was the site of it. (fn. 130) Such a site certainly bears a closer relationship to the early settlement of the town than does the more widely accepted 'King Ina's Palace' (see below). The site that Gerard saw, however, may have been the capital messuage of the rectory estate which, in association with enclosures and a mill, lay between the town and Hassockmoor. (fn. 131) Subsequently the Daubeneys built a house in the valley below the town on its eastern side, possibly because their larger house at Barrington was in the late 14th century occupied by two dowagers. (fn. 132) The house seems to have become associated with a part of the main manor that later formed the manor of South Harp, first so called in 1475. (fn. 133) The manor passed out of Daubeney hands in 1540 and for a time the house was the manor-house of South Harp, owned until after c. 1633 by William Seymour, Lord Hertford (d. 1660) and let to the Sandys family from 1618. (fn. 134) The Sandyses continued as occupiers and later as owners until the death of Dr. Edwin Sandys in 1761. (fn. 135) The house then passed to Thomas Bridge and c. 1802 to William Gifford. By 1840 it was owned by John Batten, and in 1862 it was restored by the then owner Edmund Escourt Gale, a relative of the lord of the manor. (fn. 136) It became known as 'Old Palace' or 'King Ina's Palace' in the 19th century. (fn. 137)
The old house consisted of a main range, partly two-storeyed, partly containing a hall which extended to the roof, and at its east end a cross-wing with a decorated bay window of two storeys. (fn. 138) The hall was built probably in the later 14th century and the cross-wing added in the early sixteenth. In the mid 19th century the hall range was remodelled to give two storeys throughout, with a line of gabled windows lighting the upper floor, and attics were put into the cross-wing. Outbuildings were also added or rebuilt to the north-east to create a service wing.
In the absence of a manor-house after the sale of South Harp to Edward Seymour in 1540, (fn. 139) it seems possible that the premises known since the 19th century as the Court House were used for that purpose. The Prowse family, successors to Nicholas Saunders, a prosperous merchant, owned or occupied the house from 1675 until the 19th century. (fn. 140) It was certainly divided by 1840, and in 1974 was known as nos. 48–50 St. James's Street.
The house is in origin a 16th-century building with a main-range end on to the street and a service cross-wing beyond the entrance passage. A porch was added in the angle between the ranges in the 17th century. Early in the 18th a tall block containing two principal rooms on each floor was added next to the south gable of the cross-wing, possibly to provide accommodation for the manor court. Later in the century the main range was heightened and a two-storeyed canted bay window inserted into the gable towards the street. The fittings include a quantity of panelling of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Alward, evidently a Saxon, held T.R.E. an estate later known as the manor of WIGBOROUGH. By 1086 he had been succeeded by John the usher (hostiarius), who held the property by serjeanty as porter or usher in the king's hall. (fn. 141) This service had been commuted to a payment of 40s. each year by 1226, (fn. 142) and to half that sum by 1382. (fn. 143) The nominal service was still recorded in 1425, but by 1479 the manor was said to be held of William Berkeley by knight service. (fn. 144) The service of door-keeper of the king's chamber was claimed for the property in 1631. (fn. 145)
At the end of the 12th century the owner of the manor was William the usher, who was succeeded by his daughter Helen by 1207. (fn. 146) She married Eustace of Dowlish by 1219, and they were both in occupation in 1243. (fn. 147) Their son and successor, Richard of Wigborough or le Arussir, occurs in 1267 and died in 1270. (fn. 148) William of Wigborough, presumably his son, held the property in 1284–5, and one of the same name who occurs in 1306 died in 1325. (fn. 149) William was then succeeded by his brother Richard who in 1327 settled Wigborough on Richard de Cogan and his wife Mary, subject to the life interest of himself and his wife Maud. (fn. 150) Maud outlived her husband and died in 1359 when Richard (d. 1368) and Mary de Cogan succeeded. (fn. 151)
Sir William Cogan, their son, died in 1382, leaving his own son John a minor and his wife Isabel holding dower in the manor. (fn. 152) Isabel, who married Sir Robert Harington, died in or before 1408 and her property passed to the Crown during the minority of Cogan's eventual heir Fulk FitzWaryn (III). (fn. 153) The remainder of the manor passed on Cogan's death to his son John, who survived his father by less than a month, and was succeeded by his sister Elizabeth, wife of Sir Fulk Fitz Waryn. (fn. 154) Sir Fulk died in 1391 and Elizabeth married Sir Hugh Courtenay; Hugh outlived his wife and retained her lands until his own death in 1425. (fn. 155) The heir to his Fitz Waryn lands was Elizabeth, daughter of Fulk Fitz Waryn (II) (d. 1407–8) and wife of Sir Richard Hankeford, who was already in possession of the remainder of the manor.
Hankeford died in 1431 leaving two young daughters, Thomasia and Elizabeth. (fn. 156) Elizabeth died in 1433 and the whole manor passed to her sister, later wife of William Bourgchier. (fn. 157) For the next hundred years the property was held by the Bourgchiers, later lords Fitz Waryn and earls of Bath, the last of whom, John, married the sister of the last Daubeney to own the main manor. (fn. 158) In 1545 John Bourgchier, earl of Bath, in association with John Selwood, a Chard merchant, sold the manor to John Brome. (fn. 159) Brome died in 1558, having previously settled it on his wife Alice; his heirs were his daughter Elizabeth, wife of James Compton, and his grandchildren Brome Johnson and Alice Serrey. Alice Brome was still alive in 1559 and surrendered her interest in 1567, but survived until 1581. (fn. 160) Elizabeth Compton, owner of one third share, died in 1579 leaving her son Henry as her heir; (fn. 161) Alice Serrey, wife of William Deane, died in 1575 leaving her share to her son George; (fn. 162) and Brome Johnson died in 1586. (fn. 163)
Johnson's son Emorb in 1611 married his distant cousin Alice, daughter of Henry Compton, thus uniting two thirds of the estate. (fn. 164) The descent of the other share is not clear, but it may have been acquired by Emorb Johnson between 1596, when George Deane came of age, and his own death in 1615. (fn. 165) Emorb Johnson left three daughters Penelope, Elizabeth, and Frances. The last did not survive to majority, and the manor descended jointly to Penelope, wife of Sir Thomas Hele, and Elizabeth, wife of John Harris. Both died shortly after childbirth, the latter in 1631 and the former in 1630, but Penelope had a surviving son Thomas, who died in the lifetime of his father in 1665. (fn. 166) Sir Thomas Hele, of Flete, Holbeton (Devon), certainly occupied the house in the 1650s, and after his eldest son's death was succeeded by a younger son, Sir Henry (d. 1677), and then by a Richard Hele. (fn. 167)
Thereafter the descent of the ownership is not clear, the Gundry family being at first tenants and later owners. Nathaniel Gundry became the largest ratepayer in South Harp tithing in 1666 and the fourth largest in the whole parish. (fn. 168) He died in 1676 and was succeeded by his son Nicholas, who still occupied the property, no longer referred to as a manor, in 1696. He was followed by Thomas Gundry in 1698, (fn. 169) and a Thomas Gundry was still there in 1749. (fn. 170)
By 1762 Wigborough farm, of 216 a., was owned by Robert Hillard. (fn. 171) One of the same name held it at least until 1826, and in 1840 it was owned by his executors. (fn. 172) In 1852 Hillards' heir, Thomas Roach of Dulverton, leased the estate to George Moody; (fn. 173) Moody subsequently bought the property, and at his death in 1895 it passed to a Miss Moody. (fn. 174) In 1920 she sold the farm, then comprising 222 a., to Mr. J. G. Vaux, the tenant. In 1974 the property belonged to his son Mr. S. G. Vaux. (fn. 175)
About 1206 the prior of Bruton allowed Helen the usher to have a chantry in her oratory at Wigborough. She and her heirs were to present a chaplain to the canons, who was to pledge himself not to take any offerings or tithes there. (fn. 176)
Buildings including the manor-house were in 1382 arranged around a courtyard. Isabel Cogan was assigned as dower two low chambers with a solar above, at the northern end of the hall, a third of the kitchen at the east end, and a third of a buttery at the south end of the courtyard, together with a chapel. (fn. 177)
Wigborough Manor now comprises the central and parlour ranges of what was probably designed as a symmetrical house, but for which there is no evidence of completion. (fn. 178) The central range contains a tall hall with screens passage and gallery above; the parlour wing also has the main staircase, adjacent to which there was a projecting garderobe turret, now removed. There is a considerable quantity of panelling, much of it reset; on one bracket is the date 1585, which may be the date of the completion of the house. There are also a number of moulded plaster ceilings of the early 17th century and one fireplace with the arms of Hele of Flete. Among the stone farm buildings is one dated 1765 with the initials of Robert Hillard and his wife.
Merlesuain the sheriff held two hides of thegnland in Stratton T.R.E. which by 1086 had become part of the manor of South Petherton. (fn. 179) By c. 1258 an estate later known as the manor of GREAT STRATTON or OVER STRATTON was held by Nicholas de Meriet of the Crown, presumably by royal grant between 1086 and the grant of the manor of South Petherton to the Daubeneys in 1225. (fn. 180) The manor, said in 1308 to be held of the Crown in free socage for 1 lb. of cumin, (fn. 181) descended like the manor of Great Lopen in Lopen to Sir Giles Strangways (d. 1562), and then to his son John, who was holding it in 1568. (fn. 182) By 1611 the manor was owned by Henry Compton (d. 1628), and from him it presumably descended through his daughter Alice to the Johnsons of Bridge and Wigborough. (fn. 183) The manor was evidently made over by William Ostler to John and George Daniel in 1755, but has not been traced further. (fn. 184)
A tenement at 'Southampton' within the manor of South Petherton occurs in 1305. (fn. 185) This may be an early reference to the hamlet of SOUTH HARP or SOUTHARP, first described as a manor in 1475. (fn. 186) The name occurs regularly as a member of the main manor from the end of the 14th century, (fn. 187) and by the mid 15th century was linked with Chillington for administrative purposes. (fn. 188) It occurs as 'Southyngton' in 1446. (fn. 189) In 1475 it was still in the hands of the Daubeneys. (fn. 190) It passed on the death of Giles, Lord Daubeney, in 1508 to his son Henry, and in 1517 was settled jointly on Henry and his wife. (fn. 191) Henry, then earl of Bridgwater, sold the property with Chillington, subject to a life pension for himself, to Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford, in 1540. (fn. 192) On Seymour's attainder in 1552 the property passed to the Crown, which retained it until 1570 and then granted it to Thomas Wentworth, Lord Wentworth (d. 1584). (fn. 193) The Seymours, in the person of Edward, earl of Hertford (d. 1621), laid claim to the property in 1572 and finally secured it ten years later. (fn. 194)
The property then descended like the manor of Shepton Beauchamp to John Seymour, duke of Somerset who died unmarried in 1675. It then passed to Elizabeth (d. 1697), niece of John, and wife of Thomas Bruce, earl of Ailesbury (d. 1741). Lord Ailesbury held courts until 1703 and his sons Charles, Robert, and James Bruce from 1704 to 1708. (fn. 195) By 1710 they had been succeeded by John Johnson of Syon Hill, Isleworth (Mdx.), though by that time much of the land had been let on leases for lives by the Bruces. (fn. 196) By 1754, when ownership of the manor was disputed between Orlando Johnson, successor to John Johnson the younger, owner in 1726, and the Child family of Osterley Park (Heston, Mdx.), the property was apparently small. (fn. 197) Agatha, widow of the London banker Samuel Child (d. 1752), acquired the estate in 1756 in right of her late husband as creditor, and settled it together with Shepton Beauchamp, Norton sub Hamdon, and the advowson of Stocklinch Magdalen, on her elder son Francis in 1757. (fn. 198) Francis, who rebuilt Osterley Park, died without issue in 1763, (fn. 199) and was succeeded first by his brother Robert (d. 1782) and then by Robert's daughter Sarah Anne (d. 1793), wife of John Fane, earl of Westmorland (d. 1841). (fn. 200) Their only daughter, Sarah Sophia, the heir to the Child fortune, married George Villiers, later earl of Jersey, in 1804. She was to become the leader of London fashion, and occurs in two Disraeli novels. (fn. 201) Lord Jersey sold his wife's Somerset properties in 1807, the lordship of the manor of South Harp and a 'small but desirable farm' of 33 a. being bought by John Baker Edmonds for £2,000. (fn. 202) The land was then absorbed in the Edmonds estate.
The rectory estate in South Petherton, owned by the canons of Bruton from 1181–2, was presumably the hide of land Alviet the priest held in 1086. (fn. 203) By 1291 the income from lands and tithes, including the tithes from the dependent chapelries, amounted to £53 6s. 8d., the results of accumulated grants by the Daubeneys and their tenants, and earlier by Walter de Mayenne. (fn. 204) By 1334 the value was over £59 and included 36 a. of land, rents worth £4, a mill, and pasture for 8 oxen and a bull. (fn. 205) In 1511–12 the net income from the estate was just over £66, of which nearly £18 came from rents. (fn. 206)
The rectory lands, as distinct from the tithes, came into the hands of the Crown when Bruton abbey was dissolved in 1539, and in 1553 were leased with Canons mill successively to William Treasorer, William Helhouse, and Richard Radbard of Middle Lambrook. In 1563 the property, soon to be known as the lordship and manor of SOUTH PETHERTON alias HELE or simply as the manor of HELE, was sold to William Raven of London. He in 1566 sold his interest to Blaise Radbard of Drayton and James Ayshe of South Petherton. (fn. 207) Radbard died in 1576, leaving his share to his brother William, vicar of Somerton (d. 1581). (fn. 208) William sold a third of his share to his brother Walter, of Beer in Aller, and two thirds to his 'cousin' James Ayshe of Bucknell (Oxon.). (fn. 209) Walter in 1579 disposed of his third to Charles Arundell of Shaftesbury (Dors.), from whom it passed to Ayshe in 1582. The property thereafter descended in the Ayshe family passing from James Ayshe of Stone in Chulmleigh (Devon) to his son William in 1614. William died in 1617 leaving an heir, James, a minor. James himself died in 1626 and a long minority followed, William Ayshe coming of age c. 1642. (fn. 210) William suffered confiscation in the Civil War and died in 1657, leaving a child to succeed. (fn. 211) The heir, James, only acquired control of his property in 1679, the estate having been encumbered with debts and in the hands of trustees. He died before 1683, leaving as his heirs his sisters Mary and Elizabeth. On Elizabeth's marriage to Samuel Cabell of Buckfastleigh (Devon), Mary sold her share to Cabell for £3,500, a sum finally acknowledged in 1690. (fn. 212) Cabell died in 1699, (fn. 213) and his widow married Richard Fownes (d. 1714) of Steepleton Iwerne (Dors.) in 1701. She died in 1724. (fn. 214)
Elizabeth Fownes was succeeded by her sister Mary, wife of James Prowse of Norton Fitzwarren, who died in 1737, leaving the manor to Thomas Bowyer, vicar of Martock and her kinsman, as trustee and residuary legatee. (fn. 215) Bowyer was still in possession in 1749, (fn. 216) but by 1753 he had sold it to Henry Hele, M.D., of Salisbury. (fn. 217) Hele died in 1778 and the manor passed to Henry Stephens of Kencott (Oxon.), husband of Hele's grand-daughter Phoebe Martha, with contingent remainders to their children and then to Hele's grandson George Jocelyn Robinson (d. 1788). In 1797–8 John Baker Edmonds of South Petherton acquired the reversion of Robinson's three sons, expectant on the death of Henry and Phoebe Stephens, and in 1822 Edmonds bought the remainder from the Revd. John Hopkins, husband of George Robinson's only daughter. (fn. 218)
The manor-house of Hele stood near Hele Lane, and was described in 1750 as 'built . . . not many years ago'. It was of Ham stone with one sashed front, perhaps added to a house elsewhere described as 'late Elizabethan, or more probably Jacobean'. There were eight rooms to each floor 'mostly well wainscotted' and it was entered from the lane 'through an arched porch forming the base of a low square turret, balustraded at the top', which betrays the earlier origin of the dwelling. Beside the house were offices, stables, a walled garden, fishponds stocked with carp, and a farm-house. The manor lands were mostly inclosed with apple trees. From the 1760s onwards the house was occupied by a farmer, and it was demolished c. 1860, its materials being incorporated in the Parrett Works in Martock. (fn. 219)
By 1511 the tithes of the parish and its dependent chapels, together with the tithe barn, were let in ten separate units, and totalled £48 10s., of which £36 13s. 4d. came from South Petherton. (fn. 220) By 1514 all the tithes were farmed by John Brett or Birte (d. 1532), who was rectory bailiff and collector of rents. (fn. 221) Isabel Brett received a lease for life of the rectory mill. (fn. 222) Elizabeth Birte held the tithes in 1562 under lease granted by Abbot Gilbert of Bruton in 1532. (fn. 223) By 1562 Hugh Poulett had already acquired an interest, and the Poulett family continued as farmers of the tithes of the whole parish under the chapter of Bristol, rendering £50 8s. a year and finding priests in the four chapels. The Pouletts continued to let the tithes in the units found in 1511. (fn. 224) The family's ascendancy in South Petherton came to an end in 1788, though they continued to lease the tithes of Lopen, Seavington, and Chillington. (fn. 225) From that date the tithes were never let as a single unit: John Eason of Bridge held the whole area south of the Foss Way except the Wigborough estate under two leases; (fn. 226) Robert Hearen of Compton Durville leased the tithes of Compton; and John Quantock of Chichester the barn, and the tithes of South Petherton and Wigborough. (fn. 227) The clear value of the tithes in the parish and its chapelries was put at £55 5s. in 1777, and at £245 19s. in 1786. (fn. 228) The tithes of Compton, lately held by Benjamin Hearen, were before 1817 divided between Burchall Peren and Vincent Stuckey, the two leading owners there. (fn. 229) The Eason interest was bought by John Weston Peters. In 1839 the tithes were commuted, the chapter of Bristol having already sold their interest as rectors to Quantock (in 1802) and Peters. (fn. 230) Frances Herne Quantock thereafter received a rent-charge of £506 2s., John Weston Peters £217, and Burchall Peren under the chapter £155. (fn. 231) The Perens continued as lessees under the chapter until 1872. (fn. 232)
In 1619 it was reported that there was no house on the rectory estate, but only a large barn, (fn. 233) 'a little distance to the south' of the church. (fn. 234) This barn, bearing the arms of two branches of the Mohun family, adopted by Bruton priory, and the arms of Abbot Gilbert, was built c. 1515, (fn. 235) and demolished in the 19th century. (fn. 236) The arms were incorporated in the then new vicarage house.
The statement about the lack of a house has been persistently denied by local tradition, which asserts that a house called 'Holbrook's Place' or 'Higher House' was the parsonage house. The name of Thomas de Holebroke occurs among the free tenants of the main manor in 1305, and the family continued as such at least until 1388. (fn. 237) By the early 17th century the house was also known as 'Higher House' to distinguish it from the present 'King Ina's Palace' both then in the hands of the Sandys family, (fn. 238) who continued to hold it at least until 1729. Its subsequent history is not known, though it was apparently acquired by the Pouletts and may have been the house let by them with the barn and tithes in 1787. (fn. 239)
The house, in 1974 divided and known as nos. 40–44 St. James's Street, has at its south end some 15th-century windows, and probably extended further to the east. The main range along St. James's Street is of 17th-century origin, and was formerly a substantial dwelling. (fn. 240)
Two Domesday estates, one of 3 hides held by Mauger de Cartrai in succession to Godric of the count of Mortain, and the other of a hide and a virgate formerly part of the manor of Martock and held by Ansger the cook, have been identified as parts of the later hamlet of Compton Durville. (fn. 241) It is possible that a third estate, called 'Contitone', held by Count Eustace, may also be identified with this Compton. This estate was held of him by Maud in succession to Ulnod. (fn. 242) The subsequent history of Compton reflects this fragmentation.
The immediate descent of these properties is not known, but a succession of disputes from 1212 onwards suggests that until that time a large estate was held by the Durville family. William de Durville (fn. 243) was succeeded before 1212 by his son Eustace, and both had already subinfeudated much of their property to tenants including Reynold of Bath, the prior of Bruton, Adam le Bel, and Robert de Radwell. Subsequently, but still before 1212, two fees of the Durville estate in Compton and 'Clopton' in Kingsbury were granted by Eustace and his son William to Alice de Vaux, and these descended with her other properties in the area. (fn. 244) The remaining Durville holdings were forfeit to the Crown when Eustace was hanged for felony between 1223 and 1229. (fn. 245) Such tenants as Reynold of Bath received their holdings of the Crown by escheat. (fn. 246)
Among the early tenants of the Durvilles was Adam le Bel, granted a freeholding of 50 a. by William de Durville in the late 12th century. He was succeeded by Robert le Bel who by 1223 owed service to Alice de Vaux. (fn. 247) A Robert le Bel, either the same man or his son, died in 1256 holding ½ virgate, late Durville's, in Compton in chief, 3 virgates of Sir Alan de Furneaux, and a mill of the heirs of Sir William Malherbe alias Malet, all said to be in Compton Durville. (fn. 248) He was succeeded by his son Adam, by a grandson also Adam, and lastly by a granddaughter Isabel, wife of Reynold Funtaynes. (fn. 249) By 1280 some of the estate had been let to the Kail family.
Robert le Bel (d. 1256) leased 26 a. to Thomas Kail, whose son Humphrey was still in occupation in 1280. (fn. 250) Another Humphrey held land of the Daubeneys in 1298. (fn. 251) Kails continued to hold properties of various lords in Compton at least until the end of the 14th century, William Kail (d. 1348) having 60 a. and a rent of three separate owners, and John Kail (d. c. 1383–4) 81 a. in chief. (fn. 252) John's heir, Thomas, was a minor, and died while still under age in 1394, leaving as his heir his sister Idony, later wife of John Poulett. (fn. 253) The subsequent descent of the estate has not been traced.
The only 13th-century estate which can be linked with any certainty to the Domesday holders was that of Alice de Vaux, who in 1212 held land which descended like her manor of Seavington Vaux from Mauger de Cartrai. (fn. 254) Her son and successor, Robert de Vaux, occurs in 1223 when his mother was still alive. (fn. 255) Before 1229 part of Alice's estate, indeed perhaps all of it in Compton, was settled on her daughter Grace and William de Wydiworth on their marriage. (fn. 256) William was still in occupation in 1242–3. (fn. 257) By 1284–5 the heirs of Wythele held an estate of ½ virgate from the heirs of Ashill, namely from the Multon family, descendants of Alice de Vaux. They in their turn held of Isabel de Forz, countess of Aumale, suggesting a descent like the manor of Seavington Vaux. (fn. 258) Henry de Wythele died in 1329 holding the same small estate, and was succeeded by his son Reynold, a minor. (fn. 259) By 1384 this property had been merged into the larger estate of Sir John Weylond, by whom it was held of Sir John Streche of Pinhoe (Devon) as of the manor of Ashill. (fn. 260)
In 1212 Reynold of Bath among other tenants of Robert son of Alice de Vaux was challenged to provide proof of right of entry to his land at Compton and 'Clopton', and claimed the right by grant of Eustace de Durville and his father. (fn. 261) Osbert of Bath, perhaps his son, was holding of the manor of South Petherton two virgates in Hassockmoor in 1232. (fn. 262) Reynold of Bath died in 1254–5 holding an estate called Radwell, in Kingsbury Episcopi, two virgates in Hassockmoor in socage of Nicholas de Meriet, lord of Merriott, and 1½ virgate lately of the fee of Eustace de Durville. (fn. 263) He was succeeded by his son Reynold, a minor. (fn. 264) Osbert of Bath held the property by 1283 and at his death in 1296 held Radwell, 80 a. of land in Compton for 1/6 fee of Mortain, and a capital messuage, rents, and 128 a. of land at Hassockmoor of the Meriets. (fn. 265) Osbert's heir was his daughter Elizabeth, wife of William de Weylond.
In 1305 William de Weylond and his wife held of her inheritance from the Daubeneys some freehold land at Hassockmoor. (fn. 266) In 1324 William, lord of Radwell, held land both at 'More', probably Hassockmoor, and at Compton. (fn. 267) Nicholas de Weylond in 1326 received a grant of free warren in his demesnes at both places, (fn. 268) but by 1331 Robert, son of William Weylond and Cecily his wife, appear to have held the land at Compton and Moor. (fn. 269) Robert was dead by 1349, though his widow survived. (fn. 270) It seems likely that the property then descended to another branch of the family, represented in 1308 by John Weylond who held land in 'Mora by South Petherton', later also called Hassockmoor, in free socage of John de Meriet. (fn. 271) A Sir John Weylond held this estate in 1373, (fn. 272) and in 1375 it was described as a carucate held for ½ fee. (fn. 273) By 1383 Sir John also held the manor of Radwell and probably also the other Weylond estate. (fn. 274) He died in 1386 holding several properties which must have originated with Alice de Vaux. (fn. 275)
The estates were held jointly with his wife Burga; Peter, their son and heir, was a minor. (fn. 276) Burga outlived her son, and at her death in 1388 the heir was Joan, daughter of Peter's sister Elizabeth. (fn. 277) A dispute ensued about the overlordship of the Hassockmoor property between the Crown as guardian of the Daubeney heir and the owners of Merriott manor. (fn. 278) Part of the property passed directly to John Streche of Ashe, Musbury (Devon), husband of Joan, Weylond's granddaughter, by 1406, when it was described as the manors of HASSOCKMOOR, COMPTON DURVILLE, and Radwell in a conveyance in fee to Sir Thomas Brook. (fn. 279) Streche was credited with the land in Compton and Hassockmoor in 1412, (fn. 280) but after his death his widow sold her interest to feoffees, and it is likely that the fee passed to Sir Thomas Brook. (fn. 281) Joan, Brook's widow, held property near by in 1431 which passed to her son Edward, Lord Cobham (d. 1464), to his heir John (d. 1512), and to John's younger son Thomas. In 1505 Thomas conveyed it to John Brook, gentleman. (fn. 282)
Probably this property, described as the manors of Hassockmoor and Compton Durville, was conveyed by Richard Hody, owner of land in Ash, Martock, to Griffith Meredith in 1544. (fn. 283) From Meredith Hassockmoor alone passed in 1552 to Humphrey Walrond of Sea in Ilminster (d. 1580), and then to Humphrey's son Henry (d. 1616). Humphrey, Henry's eldest son, conveyed it in 1637 to John Bonning of Atherstone in Ilminster. (fn. 284) In 1691 and 1701 the manor was held by Mrs. Mary Bacon of Harpford in Langford Budville (fn. 285) and in 1748 transferred from Thomas Westcott and John Hillard and their wives to Anne Collins, widow. (fn. 286) From her it passed to John Collins and his wife Jane of Hatch, the second of whom in 1794 sold some of the lands of the 'manor or reputed manor' to John Stuckey, to be incorporated in Compton farm. (fn. 287)
The descent of Compton Durville is difficult to trace during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Forte family, tenants of the Weylonds by the late 14th century, (fn. 288) occur as occupiers in the 16th century, and by the 17th may have lived at Rydons. (fn. 289) The Stuckeys were owners of what was called the manor in Elizabeth I's reign. (fn. 290) John Stuckey was the most substantial occupier in Compton tithing in the early 18th century, and was succeeded by his son Robert in 1741. (fn. 291) Robert's son John, of Weston in Branscombe (Devon), died in 1810 leaving his property in Compton to Vincent Stuckey of Langport. (fn. 292) On Vincent's death in 1845 it passed to John Churchill Langdon of Parrocks Lodge, Tatworth. (fn. 293) Langdon's son J. S. C. Langdon sold his holding, then known as Manor farm, to James England in 1888, when it amounted to just over 162 a. (fn. 294) England died in 1895 and his trustees sold the property in 1909. (fn. 295) In 1919 Capt. C. P. L. Firth (d. 1955) acquired the estate from Col. A. Leggatt. In 1949 the manorhouse was transferred to the Fidelity Trust for religious uses, and after Capt. Firth's death it was occupied by the Society of the Sacred Cross. In 1962 the tenancy was transferred to the present (1974) occupiers, the Community of St. Francis, which in 1964 opened a small hospital.
Compton Durville Manor is a substantial 17th-century house of three-roomed plan, with a through passage, two-storeyed porch with side entry, and a two-storeyed canted bay window. Several of the rooms contain 17th- and 18th-century panelling, the earliest brought from the present Dower House. The north end of the house was rebuilt by Capt. Firth in 1926–7 to his own designs on four floors, and incorporates a chapel. A fragment of medieval carved stone outside the chapel came from Clifton Maybank (Dors.). (fn. 296)
Opposite the house, on the site of the former stable yard and gardens, themselves replacing an earlier tithe barn, is a small hospital complex, and a chapel, designed by Royden Cooper of Yeovil and opened in 1964. A barn, formerly used as a club room for the hamlet, has since been converted into a guest-house. The bellcot over the chapel, inscribed 'J. S. 1828', came from a mill at Sandpit, near Broadwindsor (Dors.), and formerly stood on the stable block.
There was evidently a settlement at BRIDGE by the end of the 12th century, the family of Bruges presumably also taking its name from the bridge over the Parrett nearby. Emme de Bruges in 1200 failed in a claim for ½ virgate in South Petherton. (fn. 297) In 1232 William de Bruges and another held ½ virgate in Strete, probably Stratton, and other lands in Petherton and Chillington, all parcel of South Petherton manor. (fn. 298) A Hugh de Brugg was succeeded by another Hugh towards the end of the 13th century, and the family continued to hold land in the parish at least until 1330. (fn. 299) By 1305 the Daubeney demesne included a garden and a dovecot in Bridge, and by 1313 unspecified lands there, including a mill, were held by the Moleyns family. (fn. 300) The Daubeneys continued to claim lordship there linked with Great Stratton in 1388. (fn. 301)
In 1548 Robert Gerard of Sandford Orcas (Dors.) sold to William Johnson of Hinton St. George the 'farm and mansion house called Bridge' with accompanying lands for £100. (fn. 302) The property descended on William's death in 1570 to his son Brome. (fn. 303) On Brome's death in 1586 it was described as a manor and was held as of the manor of South Harp. (fn. 304) It had already been settled on his wife ten years earlier, and she retained it until after the death of her son Emorb in 1615. (fn. 305) She was dead by 1630 when the share of the property owned by Emorb's daughter Frances was divided between her two sisters, Penelope and Elizabeth. (fn. 306) The property then descended like the manor of Wigborough and in 1658 was made over to William Helyar. (fn. 307) The descent probably still followed Wigborough through the Gundry family. Thomas Gundry held Bridge in 1749 but was dead by 1752. (fn. 308) By 1766 it had passed to William Ostler, said to have been a relative. (fn. 309) Ostler was still in possession in 1782 but by 1790 was succeeded by John Eason. (fn. 310) Eason increased the size of the holding and died in 1814, leaving instructions for his burial in the plantation at the lower corner of his home close. (fn. 311) He left the estate to his sister Elizabeth (d. 1830) and then to John Weston Peters (d. 1858) of Corton Denham, provided he lived at Bridge. (fn. 312) In 1840 the estate attached to the house was 346 a. (fn. 313) The property descended to the Blake family, and in 1859 a large house was built between the older manor-house and the London road, surrounded by a small park. (fn. 314) This house was demolished c. 1950, and the park laid out for mobile homes.
Old Bridge began as a 'pretty house' built by Brome Johnson (d. 1586). (fn. 315) This seems to have been of three-roomed plan, probably with a detached kitchen, the screens passage dividing the central hall from an unheated storage room to the north. Of this house only the plan survives. Windows with ovolo mouldings were inserted in the early part of the 17th century, but these were largely replaced and a new wing added to the south in the late 17th or early 18th century.
In 1232 William de Loveney held 2 virgates in LITTLE LOPEN as of the manor of South Petherton. (fn. 316) The family, in the persons of Walter, Andrew, and Richard de Loveney, were successive occupiers at the end of the 13th century. (fn. 317) In 1301 William son of Walter Loveney sold property there to John de Stafford. (fn. 318) In 1305 Robert de Abindon and his wife Maud held a carucate and a house of Ellis Daubeney which Maud had purchased. (fn. 319) Maud may be identified with the Maud de Cantebrigg who died by 1332 holding land in both Little Lopen and Drayton of Ralph Daubeney. This Maud had been married to John de Stafford, and her heir was her daughter Joan, later wife of Thomas de Crauthorn. (fn. 320) The estate at Little Lopen was described as 6 bovates of arable and 2 a. of meadow. In 1362 Joan transferred her property in the parish and elsewhere to John de Moleyns and Alice his wife, daughter of Thomas. (fn. 321) John died in 1387 holding land in Bridge, Drayton, and Little Lopen of Eleanor, widow of Sir Giles Daubeney. (fn. 322) His children were a son Nicholas, a minor, and two daughters, but the descent of the property is thereafter obscure. Land in Little Lopen was held by William Case (d. 1494), and was granted by John Case to Sir Giles Daubeney in 1505. (fn. 323) Property there was conveyed by Richard Kyrton to John Horner the younger in 1539. It was leased by Margery Chislet to John Hippisley of Ston Easton in 1576, the lease demanding suit of court to Little Lopen. (fn. 324) Later leases and sales involved small acreages there, (fn. 325) but by the mid 18th century the name referred only to closes. (fn. 326)
In 1388 Clemence, widow of John Moleyns, was assigned as part of dower a small house called the chapel at Little Lopen, with part of a garden at its north end, and a garden called Cotehay. (fn. 327)
By 1066 there were seven separate estates in the area of the modern parish. If the whole had once been a single unit, its dissolution had begun at an early date, and one if not two properties in Compton had more recent connexions with Martock. (fn. 328) Yet the tributary holdings, the one at Stratton still a reality in 1086, the other at Cricket St. Thomas then only a memory, (fn. 329) and the status of the parish church as a minster, with daughter churches at Barrington, Seavington St. Mary, and Chillington, strongly suggests a large pre-Conquest royal estate almost certainly much greater than the Domesday manor. The minster holding was probably, like Crewkerne, carved out of the royal holding, and the later manor of Wigborough, one of several close to royal estates held by the king's usher, (fn. 330) also presumably originated in a grant from Crown land. Minor adjustments between 1066 and 1086 included the loss of ½ hide of unidentified land and the addition of some 35 a. from Seavington St. Mary. (fn. 331)
By far the largest estate in 1086 was still the capital manor, its exact size unknown because it never paid geld. There was land for 28 ploughs, but these were only on the demesne. There were probably three estates at Compton, totalling 9¼ hides, (fn. 332) of which perhaps two thirds were in demesne. (fn. 333) Wigborough measured 2 hides, just over half in demesne, and the minster estate of 1 hide was entirely so. (fn. 334) These holdings were predominantly arable, but there were c. 90 a. of meadow, (fn. 335) pasture measuring 4 by 2 furlongs at Compton, 10 a. of wood formerly in Seavington, and more woodland, measuring 10 by 11 furlongs, attached to the capital manor and situated locally in Neroche forest. The sheep population of 319 included 24 rendered by the occupier of Stratton. The largest flock was at Compton. The recorded population was 147, including 22 coliberts on the main manor and 10 serfs.
The subsequent development of the capital manor alone can be traced with any accuracy. There, by the end of the 13th century, most of the income was derived from rents, assessed at £40 12s. 9d. in 1291–2, and at £45 1s. 3½d. in 1305, fairly close to the £42 8s. 4d. received on the capital manor in 1086. (fn. 336) Customary works, worth 13s. 4d. in 1291–2, had not entirely disappeared by 1305, (fn. 337) but chevage, at 7s. in 1291–2, was probably not levied at the later date. The small value of such dues may be connected with unsuccessful attempts of customary tenants to avoid increased exactions demanded by Ralph Daubeney. (fn. 338)
The size of the demesne farm had not significantly changed during the same two centuries. The two carucates of 1086 were expressed as 215 a. of arable and 22 a. of meadow in 1291–2 and as 198 a. of arable and 30 a. of meadow in 1305. The Domesday wood had become 200 a. in Neroche. By 1305 the 63 villeins and 15 bordars had become 18 free tenants, 30 free tenants for life, and an unknown number of customary tenants, of whom 28 were described as cottars for life, and 15 as cottars at will. (fn. 339) The later, poorly documented, history of the capital manor suggests consolidation and growth of free tenancies into holdings of pseudo-manorial status in the hamlets of the south such as Stratton, South Harp, Bridge, Little Lopen, and Drayton. (fn. 340) By 1386 11 tenants were regarded as theoretical contributors to the Daubeney knight's fee. (fn. 341) The most substantial among these in the 14th century were Robert de Abindon, Henry de Moleyns, and Isabel Cogan. Robert de Abindon held a carucate at Little Lopen, a virgate at Drayton, and three furlongs in South Petherton in 1305, (fn. 342) Henry de Moleyns, owner of Joyler's mill, also held 1½ virgate of arable, 18 a. of meadow, and 2 a. of pasture in Bridge and Petherton by 1313. (fn. 343) His daughter-inlaw was assigned substantial dower in 1388, amounting to well over 80 a. scattered in the open fields and closes throughout the parish, principally in the south. (fn. 344) Isabel Cogan held dower in Wigborough and Stratton from 1382, including a park at Wigborough, and a number of cottages. (fn. 345)
Most of the holdings were, however, much smaller, like the farm of John Heyle or Hale, probably to be linked with the area known as Hele. John died in 1310 occupying a house, ½ virgate of arable, and 4 a. of meadow. (fn. 346) By the end of the 14th century, at least in Stratton, nativi were still present in some numbers, and in the 1460s attempts were being made to recover at least eight who had left the manor. (fn. 347)
The stock on the 50-a. estate of St. John's chapel in 1325 included 3 draught animals, a foal, 5 sheep, a lamb, a pig, and a few poultry, and crops were wheat, oats, barley, and rye, probably a fair reflexion of a primarily arable parish. (fn. 348) The rectory estate in 1334 comprised a carucate of arable, 20 a. of meadow and pasture in closes, and 16 a. of the same in common. (fn. 349) It is not known whether the proportion of inclosed to open grassland was general throughout the parish, but certainly by the 1380s it is clear that former common meadow was normally 'bounded out'. (fn. 350) The arable fields of the main manor were probably little changed from their arrangement in the 18th century: Stoodham and White fields occur in 1388, (fn. 351) Chapel field, Horse Castle, and Metlands in 1531. (fn. 352) In the south of the parish in Stratton tithing, there seem to have been four main arable fields, North, East, West, and Nether Stratton fields. (fn. 353) South mead was still grazed in common in 1462. (fn. 354)
The main settlement in the parish, a preDomesday mint-site (fn. 355) and minster-centre with a substantial cash-based economy, did not immediately develop additional urban characteristics. Described as a villata in 1210–11, (fn. 356) it only received a grant of a weekly market and annual fair in 1213, and these were worth only £1 together at the end of the century. (fn. 357) Ownership by the Daubeneys did not result, as far as can be traced, in any known planned urban expansion, and indeed the occupations of inhabitants in the late 13th and early 14th centuries (fn. 358) do not necessarily suggest more than a large village. By the 15th century, however, there are indications not only in the names of streets, but also in the status and occupations of some of the inhabitants, that it was something more than a village; Nicholas Davy 'husbandman alias attorney' occurs in 1447, and John Key, mercer, died in 1510. (fn. 359) John Roller, a London grocer, evidently had interests in the parish in 1471. (fn. 360) The place was of some administrative significance, for inquisitions before escheators were often conducted there, (fn. 361) even before the 15th century when several natives were chosen for office, including William Case (d. 1494), escheator 1485–6, who lived probably in a house known in the 1640s as Cassells; (fn. 362) Cuthbert Clavelshay (coroner 1505–6), and John Brett (coroner 1505–6, escheator 1529–30). (fn. 363) Brett himself was bailiff and collector of rents for Bruton abbey and farmer of most of the tithes between 1511 and 1523. (fn. 364) He died in 1532. (fn. 365)
Accounts of South Harp, Stratton, and the rectory manors survive for the late Middle Ages. South Harp, administered with Chillington, was worth £27 5s. 9d. in rent in 1496–7. (fn. 366) Stratton rents were in 1494–5 worth a total of £13 9s. 2d., compared with rent, aid, and commuted works worth £9 5s. 3d. in 1285 and £8 15s. 5d. in 1308. (fn. 367) The total fluctuated between 1494 and 1523, rising to £14 14s. 9½d., though arrears in 1501–2 were as high as £9 11s. (fn. 368) High arrears were characteristic of the rectory estate, which included also rents from Barrington and Lopen and tithes from Lopen, Chillington, Upton in Seavington St. Mary, and Swell. The total of rents, issues, and the farm of tithes was £71 7s. 9d. in 1514–15, with arrears of over £157 stretching back 25 years. (fn. 369)
The dispersal of the Daubeney estate brought about by the financial difficulties of Henry Daubeney, earl of Bridgwater (d. 1548), and the dissolution of Bruton abbey had an important effect on the pattern of land-holding, particularly in the south of the parish, where the manors of South Harp and Stratton and the Daubeney properties were divided into small units that often fell to outside owners. The Hippisleys of Ston Easton held land in South Harp, Stratton, and Drayton by 1556, (fn. 370) the Wyndhams succeeded the Wadhams in Stratton in 1609 and still held there in 1682, (fn. 371) and the Spekes in 1680 owned a farm of 23 a. and the Wynard's house, a property which William Wynard of Exeter had bought from Richard Kympe in 1435 to endow Godshouse in Exeter. (fn. 372) The influence of these owners was small; not so that of the Pouletts, whose ownership of the great tithes on lease from the Bristol chapter made them the most substantial ratepayers in the parish for more than two centuries. (fn. 373)
There is no information about the larger landholdings until the 17th century, when a comparison is possible between the capital manor under the Arundells, Stratton under the Seymours, the former rectory manor under the Ayshes, and the slightly earlier evidence of the estate formerly belonging to St. John's chapel. In 1626 William Ayshe's holding comprised the manor of Hele, Joyler's mill, and some 34 a., some held of the Arundells and some of the manor of Wigborough. The total value of the holding was £9. (fn. 374) By 1663 Mrs. Ayshe owned a very much larger estate, and was third in the list of parish ratepayers and the second largest owner of land. (fn. 375) Purchases continued throughout the century so that by 1699 the holding was large. (fn. 376) Lord Hertford's rent income from South Harp totalled in theory £53 3s. 10½d., more than half from customary rents, and over £13 due from the feefarm rent of the former manor-house, let to Emanuel Sandys. Arrears, however, also amounted to over £53 at the beginning of 1650 and to over £55 at the end for South Harp and Chillington together. By the beginning of 1654 the arrears had risen to £ 159. (fn. 377) The income of the capital manor was just over £363 in 1631–2, rising to £381 in the next, and falling to £236 in 1633–4. Rents alone accounted for nearly £95, of which over a third were unpaid in 1642–3. Arrears in the previous year were over £92. (fn. 378) In 1653, however, the estate was valued at £3,997 when sold. (fn. 379) By 1660–1 the rent had fallen to just over £67, though contracts for leases for the year brought a profit of £1,048. The largest fine, £560, was from George Sampson, presumably for Rydon farm, and it was followed by one of £360 paid in 1661–2 by Robert Mohun. (fn. 380) By 1698 rents had fallen further, apparently amounting to £24 17s. 9d., of which £5 8s. 4d. was from the dwindling number of freeholders who had grants made 'a great many years since'. (fn. 381)
The small estate of the former St. John's chapel owned from 1558 by All Souls College, Oxford, amounted to about 80 a., and was probably typical of holdings of its size. Arable lay in 4 common fields in Petherton, 2 in Compton, 2 in Bridge, and 5 in Drayton. There was common meadow at Broadmead in the north-east of the parish, and in Drayton mead common pasture in Cowleaze in the south-west. A few closes of arable show the beginnings of the inclosure of Nether field in Petherton and of fields in Drayton. At Drayton the college was one of four estates holding both common arable and common meadow occupying strips in a fixed order 'and so keepeth that order in every furlong'. (fn. 382)
The size of the parish and the consequently large number of common fields suggest a fragmentation of holdings greater than usual in the area. The All Souls estate in James I's reign, estimated at 77 a., was held in 75 separate parcels; (fn. 383) and in 1680 George Speke's 23 a. lay in five open arable fields, though by then Petherton Nether field was partly inclosed, and Whitefield included some meadow. (fn. 384) The increasing number of closes forming the manor of Hele by 1699 and parts of Stratton South field 'newly inclosed' by 1647 show that the process of inclosure was noticeable in the 17th century, (fn. 385) though there were certainly medieval closes in the area south-west of the village near Moor where some of the Hele property lay, and the hedge pattern suggests more ancient inclosure. (fn. 386) The estate still retained at least 56 a. in the common fields and shared in Broad and Common meads. (fn. 387)
Earlier in the century Pinson or Pinsham and Chapel fields were closed from All Saints 1633 so that Lent corn could be sown, and Ham, Ryland, and Nether fields closed at Michaelmas 1637 to prepare for winter corn. In any years when Chapel, Hams, Ryland, and Nether fields had corn, no cattle were permitted before the grain was carried, and no sheep within eight days after carrying. The common meadows, divided by merestones into doles, are less prominent because small. (fn. 388) Later in the century grazing and stinting regulations were often reiterated in the manor court, suggesting either greater pressure from increased stock or the court's ineffectiveness. Thus in 1664 all tenants were required to pay 1d. to the hayward for each acre in the grain fields. Fretting or grazing the common fields was at the rate of 2 sheep an acre up to Christmas, with a total of not more than forty. Broadmead was fretted from St. Bartholomew's Eve (23 Aug.) for three weeks with 2 beasts, a horse, 4 yearlings, or 8 calves an acre, and from then until Martinmas only with cattle belonging to inhabitants. Between Martinmas and Christmas the stint was the same as in the common fields. (fn. 389)
Farming seems generally to have been of the usual varied pattern. Tithes were payable in the 1630s on wheat, rye, barley, oats, beans, peas, vetches, hay, hemp, and flax. (fn. 390) The possessions of Alice Worth of South Harp (d. 1636) show this diversity in one holding—wheat, barley, beans, hay, hemp, cider, apples, 22 sheep, and 37 geese. Her house, typically two-storeyed with a ceiled hall, included a shop. William Edmonds (d. 1667), on the other hand, concentrated on corn-growing. (fn. 391) Thomas Parker (d. 1663), who was described as yeoman, had a flock of at least 70 sheep, (fn. 392) and John Marke (d. 1669) had forty. (fn. 393) Many farmers grew hemp. (fn. 394) Tradesmen in the 17th century included a glover in 1638, (fn. 395) a woollen-weaver in 1640, a pewterer in 1644, and a linen-weaver in 1646. (fn. 396) William Glover (d. 1644) possessed two weaver's looms, sack cloth, and yarn in his shop. (fn. 397) The market was hardly thriving in the 1630s, (fn. 398) though it was regarded as important enough to make the town an administrative centre in the 1650s. (fn. 399)
By the 17th century South Petherton was the home of a number of inter-related families including the Sandyses, Prowses, Ayshes, Mohuns, and Heles, all originating outside the parish. Emanuel Sandys was one of the most substantial freeholders by the 1640s who for some forty years had played an important role in parish affairs. (fn. 400) He lived in the former Daubeney manor-house. As constable in the 1620s he was accused of shielding a drunkard from treason charges. (fn. 401) He was also at least nineteen years in arrear with rent to the capital manor in 1631–2. (fn. 402) Many monuments in the church show the prominence of this family. (fn. 403)
Inclosure during the 18th century seems to have been slow. Rydon farm in Compton was probably consolidated by mid century if not earlier, its size having been constant from c. 1580. (fn. 404) By 1762 Wigborough farm was entirely in closes, (fn. 405) though most of the South Harp property remained scattered. (fn. 406) Elsewhere in the parish Hayes End and East fields, both in Stratton, were still entirely open in 1726. (fn. 407) Higher and Lower Bridge fields were so in 1775, though closes had by then been taken out of Hams and Chapel fields further north, (fn. 408) and individual owners were making small exchanges in the interests of consolidation. (fn. 409)
According to a tithe survey of 1786 arable and grass were evenly divided: 1,831 a. were under crop or were fallow, 1,153 a. were pasture, 449 a. were meadow, and 175 a. alternatively meadow or pasture. (fn. 410) Some 746 a. of arable were under openfield cultivation and 124 a. of meadow were held in common, mostly in Petherton mead or Petherton Broadmead. Some 677 a. were under wheat, 402 a. under beans, 159 a. under Lent grain, and 136 a. under flax. Seventy acres were sown to peas, 63 to vetches, 31 to potatoes, and 27 to barley. Clover, hemp, and turnips together were sown on 33 a. The flax seed was evidently supplied from the north, brought in by Samuel Clark, a local linencloth maker. (fn. 411)
Cultivation was still on a three-year system of two ploughings and fallow, and until after the turn of the century wheat was followed by beans and then by either flax or turnips and clover. (fn. 412) In 1786 wheat was grown in ten fields evenly spaced through the parish, beans in five fields, peas only in Chapel field, Lent grain only in Hayes End field, flax in Stratton Pound field. Pinson and South Compton fields were entirely fallow, Church Path and Drayton South fields were partly under flax and partly fallow. A similar rotation was used on the three fields of Wigborough. (fn. 413) In contrast to this traditional pattern, John Willy, a local farmer, won a gold medal for seed-drilling turnips in 1765. (fn. 414)
Open-field farming was rapidly abandoned in the early 19th century. Already in 1786 Burns Gore field on the Lopen boundary and Drayton Little field had virtually disappeared, yet Hams field (107 a.), the largest field, still had 10 separate furlongs divided into 83 strips. Inclosure began in 1804 with Petherton mead, where about 80 a. were divided into 35 parts, mostly allotted to John Baker Edmonds. (fn. 415) The remaining open-field arable was abandoned in 1847, though by that time much more had been inclosed, and the apparent multiplicity of fields is explained by the survival of isolated furlongs. (fn. 416)
The same period of reorganization witnessed the rise of a number of individual farmers. The family of J. B. Edmonds (d. 1848) had been in the parish since the 1570s, and by the 1660s were settled at Moor. (fn. 417) He himself began his spectacular purchases with the capital manor in 1792, followed by South Harp manor in 1807, Hele farm by 1820, and the remainder of the former rectory lands in 1822. (fn. 418) By 1833 he owned just over 547 a. including Hayes End farm, where the large barn and granary that he built survive. (fn. 419) Edmonds gave evidence to the Select Committee on the Depressed State of Agriculture in 1821. (fn. 420) His son and namesake only continued as a practising farmer until 1851. Much of his land then passed to J. W. Peters (d. 1858). (fn. 421) Peters began his piecemeal purchases by 1834, and with the help of exchanges arranged as part of the inclosure award in 1847 built up a large estate based on Bridge House and later on Yeabridge House. (fn. 422) Two other prominent farmers and owners in the later 19th century were William Burchall Peren of Compton House (d. 1884) and James England (d. 1895) of Tarampa House (in 1974 the Square House), Palmer Street. Peren owned some 80 a. and leased a further 150 a. (fn. 423) His accounts and diaries suggest a model farmer. (fn. 424) In 1879, for example, he made a cash profit of nearly £1,086 but when his estate was put up for sale in 1884, during the depression, it found no buyers, but went for £9,565 in the following year. (fn. 425) His stock included 160 sheep and 20 lambs, 30 steers and heifers, and 23 horses. (fn. 426) James England, landowner rather than farmer, amassed c. 560 a. beginning in the 1850s but buying mostly in the 1880s. (fn. 427) The Blakes of Bridge House, successors to the Easons of Bridge, had a similar property based at Drayton. (fn. 428)
Tenant farms varied in size in the 1850s. Hele and Compton were the largest each with 300 a. and 30 labourers. They were followed by ones in Palmer Street (224 a. with 10 men) and Wigborough (220 a. with 11 men, 8 boys, and 2 women). There were 2 other farms in the parish with over 100 a. and 8 with 50 a. and over. (fn. 429) Dairying was not important, only 7 adults being involved in 1851. By 1905 grassland occupied slightly over half the parish. (fn. 430) As in the previous century wartime demand for flax stimulated growth in the early 20th century, and a factory was in production at Drayton until 1931. (fn. 431) By the 1960s arable cultivation had diversified; the production of sugar beet and coarse and salad vegetables was then included, though market gardening had in fact been started by 1872. (fn. 432) In addition to cider apples, perry pears and black currants were cultivated, for the first time, in 1965, (fn. 433) and flowers and oil seed rape were among the minor crops in 1974. (fn. 434) In 1965 18 dairy herds produced up to 1,500 gallons a day, of which nearly half was used for cheese. There were then 2 permanent arable flocks. (fn. 435)
The cost of maintaining the poor during the 18th century naturally fluctuated, but a gradual rise is as usual discernible. In 1700 the cost was £76, and in 1734 £146, the number then relieved regularly being about 20 and the same number having extraordinary relief. (fn. 436) The costs rose rapidly at the end of the century, and in the most critical year, 1819, the rate levied was £1,417. (fn. 437) During the 1820s the level was always above £700 and sometimes above £800; in the spring of 1827 81 people were being permanently relieved and 24 occasionally. (fn. 438) Between 1830 and 1834 the cost was always over £800 and twice over £900, and in 1836 there were 76 regular paupers in the parish. (fn. 439) J. B. Edmonds in 1821 admitted that despite nearly full agricultural employment he felt obliged to grow hemp for the benefit of the poor, and that in bad years rather than 'letting them run about idle' he had sent 40 and more at a time to quarry stone, the loss to the parish made up out of his own pocket. (fn. 440) From 1817 a church organization, the Mother and Infants Friend Society, attempted to provide relief, and in the depressed 1860s a soup kitchen was established, dispensing 4,541 quarts between November 1860 and March 1861. (fn. 441) In 1867 there were bread riots. (fn. 442)
In 1831 264 families were engaged in agriculture and 101 in manufacturing and handcrafts. (fn. 443) By 1851 the most widespread industry was gloving, employing 434 women and children. (fn. 444) By 1871 Richard Southcombe had established a gloving factory at Watergore, which in 1965 had 16 employees. (fn. 445) A smaller factory was in production in Hele Lane in 1965. (fn. 446) The manufacture of sacking, canvas, and sailcloth involved nearly 50 people in 1851, much of the business being in the hands of Simeon Hebditch. (fn. 447) The daily conveyance from the Crown inn to Bridport, running in 1859, was probably connected with this trade. (fn. 448) Rope and twine were made at Watergore in the 1850s and 1860s, and leather knicker-bockers and gaiters in the town in the 1860s. (fn. 449) Two manufacturers of bricks and tiles were in business in 1861; one ceased c. 1889, the other soon after 1902. (fn. 450) By 1902 the Hebditch family had started to make appliances for poultry breeders, a business they later transferred to Martock. (fn. 451)
As a commercial centre South Petherton grew steadily after the 1830s. Stuckey's Bank established a branch in 1836, and by the 1850s there were a number of shops, including 8 in the market-place and others in St. James's Street. By 1859 there were at least 20, and although later in the century the number declined, there were 22 in 1965. (fn. 452) Among the professional men in the 1850s were an auctioneer, a printer and bookbinder, 2 surgeons, and 2 solicitors. One of the law firms, begun by John Toller c. 1749, was in the 1850s headed by John Toller Nicholetts, holder of numerous offices in the town and district. Nicholetts became under-sheriff for Somerset for the first time in 1847, and since 1861 his successors have continued to hold the office. (fn. 453)
Market and fair.
In 1213 King John established or confirmed a weekly market on Thursdays and a fair on Midsummer day as an endowment for the free chapel of St. John. (fn. 454) In 1294 the market was valued at 6s. 8d. (fn. 455) Leland knew South Petherton as a market town, (fn. 456) and in the 1650s it was one of six in the county where the under-sheriff issued warrants on market days. (fn. 457) 'Several' butchers including one from Langport had stalls there at the time, (fn. 458) the shambles standing above drains issuing from the two inns in the north side of the marketplace. (fn. 459) From the 17th century the lord of the manor let the tolls of the market, together with the common oven. (fn. 460) In 1662 the tolls were leased for £6 13s. 4d. to Francis Venicombe, (fn. 461) who with others in 1718 conveyed either the lease or the freehold to Amos Prowse. The property then included a bakehouse, land, the meat market, stallage, and tolls. (fn. 462) By 1839 the market house was held by three women, and in 1843 the market and market house were bought by the charity school trustees from John Nicholetts, either as lord of the manor or as solicitor for the owners. A new market house was then erected on the site of the old, and tolls from butchers between August and December 1843 amounted to £9 7s. Income fell by 1849 partly as a result of the butchers' refusal to pay if they did not actually sell within the market house itself. Business thereafter declined and in 1870 the weights were removed as trading had apparently ceased. The trustees sold the house to John Seward in 1879. (fn. 463)
The market house demolished in 1843 formed the western part of a group of buildings in the marketplace, the remainder being irregular half-timbered cottages and shops. (fn. 464) The new building, erected to the designs of Maurice Davis of Langport, was of one storey with open arcades. It incorporated a lockup and housed the fire engine. (fn. 465) An upper storey was added c. 1889. (fn. 466) In 1911 Robert Blake of Yeabridge demolished the two houses at the east end of the market house and replaced them with a club house and hall in memory of his father William Blake of Bridge 'for the furtherance of the Liberal cause and principles'. (fn. 467) In the 1970s part of the premises were shared between a county library branch and the South Petherton Billiards Club.
The Midsummer fair, held in 1213 apparently on 24 June only, was extended to its eve and morrow in 1252 when it was confirmed to Ralph Daubeney. (fn. 468) In 1294 it was valued, like the market, at 6s. 8d., (fn. 469) and in 1305 at 13s. 4d. (fn. 470) It was extended to six days in 1448. (fn. 471) Later its value declined: in 1701 it was let to George Lock, gentleman, for 6s. 8d. yearly. (fn. 472) The date of the fair changed to 5th July in 1752. (fn. 473) There was still much trade in sheep in the late 18th century, but by the end of the 19th the 'poor little fair' was 'chiefly a matter of history', (fn. 474) though entertainment and sweetmeats were still offered there. (fn. 475) Nominal tolls for standings in the marketplace were levied in the 1930s 'for the sake of keeping up the old tradition'. (fn. 476)
In 1086 there was a mill at South Petherton worth 20s., and probably one at Compton Durville worth 64d. (fn. 477) In 1214 there were certainly two mills, and millers occur throughout the 13th century. (fn. 478) John of the mill held two as of the main manor in 1305, probably the forerunners of the later Joyler's and Moleyns's or North Mills. (fn. 479) A third mill, possibly that worked in the 1280s by Jellan the miller, (fn. 480) stood on the rectory estate and became known as Canons' mill.
Joyler's or Gaylards' mill was conveyed in 1313 with land in South Petherton and Bridge by Nicholas Gaylard, parson of Babcary, to Henry son of Jellan de Moleyns, with successive remainders to John de Moleyns and his son Henry. (fn. 481) The younger Henry had succeeded by 1338 to an estate of c. 50 a. with the mill. (fn. 482) John de Moleyns died in 1387 holding of the Daubeneys two mills, a dovecot, and rents in Petherton and land in Bridge, Drayton, and Little Lopen. Nicholas, a minor, was his heir to the mills. (fn. 483) The two mills were specified in 1388 as 'Jeylynesmulle' and 'Northmulle'. (fn. 484) They passed to Nicholas when he came of age in 1404, together with a holding of c. 70 a. (fn. 485) Nicholas died in 1429 (fn. 486) and his son or more likely his grandson, John in 1497. The property was then described as the manors of 'Yayleris' and Gawbridge, the former comprising two mills and 36 a. of land held of the Daubeneys. (fn. 487) John's heir was his uncle Richard. (fn. 488) By 1531 both mills and the land had come to William Moleyns, who settled the 'manor' of Joylers and other property on his wife Anne. (fn. 489) After William's death in 1553 Anne married John Dauncye of Mackney (Berks.), and they together granted Joylers mill and small parcels of land first to John Walrond and in 1563 to James Ayshe of South Petherton. (fn. 490) To this in 1568 were added further lands including the dovecot near the mill. (fn. 491) The mill then descended, like the manor of Hele, to J. B. Edmonds and then to J. W. Peters, who sold it to William Blake. (fn. 492) The owner in 1975 was Mr. W. S. Blake.
Clemence, wife of John Moleyns (d. 1387), was assigned as dower part of a house attached to Joyler's mill. Her share was defined as 'all the chambers above and below, and a little chapel to the east end of the hall ... and a third of the kitchen at the east end as far as the partition', together with part of the farm complex, and the fishery there. (fn. 493) The present buildings, comprising mill and mill-house, are of the 19th century; the mill contains an undershot wheel and a small turbine which drove three stones and supplementary dressing machinery. The wheel was driven from a leat constructed from the Parrett, but the mill now appears isolated, the leat having been filled in. Milling ceased c. 1930. (fn. 494)
The second mill, called 'Moleynsmyll' in the early 16th century, (fn. 495) passed on William Moleyns's death in 1553 to his son Anthony. (fn. 496) In 1572 Anthony conveyed or confirmed it to William Northover, (fn. 497) whose successor James sold it to Emanuel Sandys of Kingsbury in 1612. (fn. 498) His son Francis Sandys, of South Perrott (Dors.), held it in 1659 when it was described as a water-grist-mill called 'Northmills'. It was then let to Stephen England of Middle Lambrook. (fn. 499) In 1699 his son, also Stephen, of East Lambrook, conveyed his interest in the remainder of his father's lease to William Phelips of Preston Plucknett in trust for Elizabeth Cabell, owner of Hele manor. The property passed with that manor to J. B. Edmonds, having been let for much of the 18th century to the Gould family. (fn. 500) In 1826 it comprised a dwelling-house, bakehouse, two grist mills, bolting mill, and stable. (fn. 501) By 1840 the property was owned and occupied by Joseph Bandfield; a John Bandfield was miller of 'North Street mill' in 1861. (fn. 502) Milling continued until after the Second World War. (fn. 503) The property was known in the 1970s as Shutler's mill after the last miller.
The mill-house and adjoining bakehouse seem to have been built in the early 19th century in local brick. The mill, in an earlier building, is also probably of 19th-century date, succeeding one installed by 'that ingenious millwright Mr. Thomas Apley' c. 1778. His works included two pairs of stones, capable of working more than 100 bushels of wheat in a week. (fn. 504)
By 1334 there was a mill on the rectory estate. (fn. 505) It passed to the Crown at the Dissolution and in 1546 was let to John Colthurst of London by the name of Canon mill. (fn. 506) Like the rest of the rectory lands it was leased in 1510 to Elizabeth Burt, in 1552 to William Treasorer, and then in 1554 to Thomas Reve and Giles Isham. (fn. 507) In 1563 it passed to William Raven and hence as part of the manor of Hele, to the Ayshes. (fn. 508) It was described in 1699 as Came alias Cannons mill, (fn. 509) and probably went out of use in the 18th century. The site of the mill seems to have been south of the church, where a field called Little Mill Orchard occurs in 1840. (fn. 510)
There are no medieval court rolls for the capital manor of South Petherton. Extents of the Daubeney manor in 1291–2 and 1293–4 refer only to the courts of the hundred, possibly implying that a distinction between manor and hundred courts was not then made, though two separate items of court perquisites were entered in an extent of 1305. (fn. 511) By 1386 a distinction was made between the foreign court of the hundred and the intrinsecum court with view of frankpledge. (fn. 512) In the 16th century the manor court of South Petherton seems to have been attended by tithingmen from Barrington, South Harp, and Chillington. (fn. 513)
Court books survive for 1618–19, 1633–9, and 1661–1841, and there is a copy of court roll for 1598. (fn. 514) In the early 17th century the manor court was held irregularly, but normally at least once each month, usually described as 'manor court' or 'court', though in January, April, and September usually 'court leet and view of frankpledge'. The term 'court baron' was not confined to sessions devoted exclusively to admissions and surrenders. After 1661 the frequency was greatly reduced, and from 1673 meetings became annual, held in September or October and described as 'court leet, view of frankpledge, and manor court'.
Apart from the usual business of tenancy surrenders and general farming matters there were less common presentments about the lack of a cucking stool and bows and arrows in 1619, or the illegal use of a bowling alley in the same year. During the early 17th century emphasis was placed on licences to tenants to live off their holdings and on their failure to use the common oven. Orders about farming continued into the early 19th century, relating largely to common rights; the last admission of a tenant occurred in 1783. Thereafter the business of the court was confined to the appointment of officers. The last was recorded in 1841.
The earliest officer was the bailiff, either of manor or hundred, who occurs in 1280. (fn. 515) By the early 17th century the only officers were a constable and a tithingman, appointed at the Michaelmas court. By 1633 there were two grass haywards. A separate tithingman for Compton Durville was chosen in 1634. The grass haywards were in the 1660s appointed annually in April, and each tenant had to pay them 1d. an acre on St. Luke's day (18 Oct.) in the grain fields. A bailiff again emerges in the 1660s. In 1673 the tithings of Compton Durville and South Petherton each had a hayward, and in 1674 each tithing had a tithingman, a hayward, and two grass haywards. In 1684 a committee of four freeholders was set up to supervise the common grazing and to oversee the work of the hayward. Two bailiffs occur from 1685, six grass haywards, and a 'general' hayward for the two tithings in 1688, but usually thereafter there were only two for South Petherton alone, and only one from 1803. The term 'common grass hayward' was in use later for the 'general' hayward. Most of these offices were held in rotation in respect of holdings; by the end of the 18th century the constable was chosen once in five years from Compton Durville, and that tithing contributed one fifth of his expenses yearly. In the early 19th century most offices were held by deputy, and for many years between 1815 and 1841 the office of grass hayward was held by John Baker Edmonds, lord of the manor, or by his son of the same name.
After the sale of the manor-house in 1540 courts were probably held first in a house known since the 19th century as the Court House. In the 18th century the meeting-place of the manor court seems to have been the Crown inn. (fn. 516)
By 1334 courts were held for the rectory manor. (fn. 517) At the beginning of the 16th century there were usually courts leet for Michaelmas and Hockday each year, and rolls have survived for 1513–14 and 1531. (fn. 518) A halmote court met on the same day. Business included presentments for excessive tolls and the sale of bad goods as well as for repairs to buildings, breach of the peace, and control of strays. Courts were held at least until 1564. (fn. 519)
Extracts or rolls for the manor court of Stratton survive for 1461–3, 1520–3, and 1529–33. (fn. 520) Much of the business was with farming practice and the repair of roads, though in the mid 15th century there were also pleas between tenants for trespass and debt. Courts were held roughly twice a year and their orders were executed by a hayward and a tithingman, chosen annually at the Michaelmas court. In 1530 the manor possessed a common brewhouse, then out of repair.
There are no court rolls for the manor of South Harp, though copy extracts from courts baron for South Harp survive for 1647 and for the combined estate of South Harp and Chillington for 1692 and for South Harp alone for 1700. (fn. 521)
The parish in the 16th century was divided between the tithings of South Petherton, South Harp, and Stratton. (fn. 522) Compton Durville seems to have emerged as a separate tithing by 1634. (fn. 523) In the 19th century South Harp tithing was also known as Lower Stratton. (fn. 524) By the mid 17th century four overseers were in effectual control of poor-relief in the parish, which was divided into ten collecting areas. The rate itself was occasionally supplemented by interest on small loans and bequests, and was paid in cash or clothing both to regular recipients and to those in temporary distress. House repairs and rent, doctors' bills, and apprenticeship premiums were regular charges, with such irregular payments as the repair of the cucking stool and pillory in 1658, the repair of the watch house in 1660, or the provision of badges in 1696. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries patients were sent to infirmaries in Bristol and Bath, and in 1794 172 children were inoculated. (fn. 525)
General policy decisions were made by 'the men of the town' in the late 17th century or at a 'general meeting' of the parish. The poor-relief accounts, by the early 18th century compiled separately by each overseer, were normally signed by the vicar, constable, two churchwardens, and a variable number of inhabitants, by the 1730s a total of fewer than ten people. By the end of the century the vestry or 'parish meeting' was even more reduced in numbers, and a 'public vestry' in the 1820s was often attended by little more than a dozen people. By the 1840s the numbers began to rise again as the vestry took on wider interests. A salaried clerk was appointed in 1737. (fn. 526) The wardens themselves before 1719 were chosen, one for the town and the other for the parish. From that date one was nominated by the minister, the other by the vestry. (fn. 527) In 1792 the vestry 'disavowed the indulgence' of allowing the vicar to appoint a warden unless he or his curate personally attended the Easter vestry. (fn. 528)
By the 1820s the vestry had taken control of the distribution of most charity income in the parish, and they had appointed a salaried 'perpetual or acting overseer and vestry clerk'. After the transfer of the parish to the Yeovil poor-law union in 1836 the vestry continued active, raising money in the 1840s for pauper emigration and appointing surveyors of highways. In 1865 the streets were lit with gas and a committee of nuisance was set up. A burial board was formed in 1867 and a cemetery was laid out with a lodge and two chapels, designed by J. M. Allen. (fn. 529) After some attempts to provide adequate water for the fire engine in 1868, and other drainage problems, a sewage committee was appointed in 1869. In 1876 a new drainage scheme was proposed but was voted down two years later 'considering the healthy state of the parish'. During the 1880s the prominent questions were the Guardians' antagonism to outdoor relief, the poor standard of footways in the parish, and the state of the Round well.
The vestry, led in the 1860s and 1870s by such outstanding local figures as the vicar, Henry Bond, William Blake, John Toller Nicholetts, F. G. N. Wellington, and James Patten Daniel, also played a prominent part in the establishment of a School Board and in the support for the Volunteer Fire Brigade. In 1890 the vestry had an active allotments committee. In 1895, after the formation of a parish council, all the charities of the parish were passed to it for administration. (fn. 530) Further land was purchased for allotments in 1910 and recreation fields were established first in 1897. Property at Hayes End was used from 1898 until 1917, and the present field, given by Miss Florence Blake in 1931, was extended in 1946. (fn. 531)
A parish fire engine, cared for by the sexton by 1778, (fn. 532) was normally kept in the south porch of the church. By 1823 there was another engine at Stratton. Both were sold in 1865, and a new machine was purchased by subscription for the newlyformed Volunteer Fire Brigade who received annual grants from the vestry. In 1903 the Parish Council took over the brigade, but transferred control to Yeovil R.D.C. in 1939.
At least from 1710 the parish began the policy of acquiring houses in return for relief, the first being at Yeabridge. (fn. 533) By 1783 a workhouse was established in Pitway which remained open until 1836, when the parish joined the Yeovil poor-law union. In 1841 the vestry agreed to sell it and apply the proceeds to pauper emigration. (fn. 534)
There was a watch house on Petherton Bridge in 1660 (fn. 535) and a parish lock-up by the churchyard gate in the 19th century. The lock-up was removed in 1843 and another was incorporated in the newlybuilt market house. (fn. 536) In 1886 it was proposed to use the lock-up exclusively for the fire brigade. Three years later the plan to alter the market house involved the provision of a fire-engine house so that the lock-up could be used for the parish committee of local justices of the peace. (fn. 537)
South Petherton hospital was built in 1938 as an isolation hospital for the South Somerset area. In 1976 it had 59 beds for general cases. (fn. 538)
The presence of Alviet the priest holding a substantial estate in South Petherton T.R.E. and in 1086, and the subsequent appearance of several chapels dependent upon South Petherton church, is strong evidence that the church originated as a Saxon minster. (fn. 539) The church may have formed part of an abortive grant by King Stephen 1143 X 1154 when 'Perretona' and North Curry were given to Wells cathedral. (fn. 540) Late in 1181 or early in 1182 Henry II gave the church to the canons of Bruton in exchange for their church of Witham, and it remained in their possession until the Dissolution. (fn. 541)
A vicarage was ordained in the time of Archbishop Pecham (1279–92), but the patronage remained in the hands of the canons. (fn. 542) In 1542 advowson and tithes passed to the newly-created chapter of Bristol, (fn. 543) which remained patron until 1941, when its rights were transferred to the chapter of Wells. (fn. 544) Roger Hunt of London presented by grant of the Bristol chapter in 1554, Robert Millerd in 1617, the Lord Protector in 1654, and the Crown in 1660. (fn. 545)
Under the ordination the vicar received what he had when instituted, namely all offerings at the altar of the mother church and all small tithes, except tithes of mills and offerings of wax at the Purification which were the perquisites of the sacristan of Bruton priory. (fn. 546) The vicarage was valued in 1291 at £6 13s. 4d. (fn. 547) By 1535 some rearrangement of income had taken place, the vicar receiving a small amount of tithes of wool and lambs, and an annual pension from St. John's free chapel in addition to personal tithes and casuals, amounting to £24 net. (fn. 548) By the mid 17th century this figure had risen to £80, though it fell in the 1650s and was subject to augmentation. (fn. 549) About 1668 the benefice was still worth only £50. (fn. 550) By 1831 the net value was £475. (fn. 551)
The tithe income of the vicarage in 1535 amounted to £4 from wool and lambs and £19 9s. 9d. from personal tithes and casuals. (fn. 552) By 1634 the sources of tithe were more closely defined: from hemp, flax, cabbages, carrots, and other garden produce; apples, pears, and other orchard fruit; hops, honey, wool, lambs, pigs, and pigeons; payments by strangers for pasturing cattle in the parish, and personal offerings. (fn. 553)
There was no glebe attached to the vicarage during the Middle Ages, and no house was expressly assigned. By 1626 the vicar claimed two gardens and an orchard adjoining the vicarage house, and in 1634 the area was c. 2 a. (fn. 554) In 1738 James Harcourt, vicar 1729–38, gave his successors just over an acre of land adjoining the vicarage grounds. (fn. 555) Harcourt's successor, John Castleman, acquired a house and 1½ a. in West Street in 1753. (fn. 556) By 1839 the glebe amounted to just over 4 a. comprising the churchyard and the grounds of the vicarage house. (fn. 557)
In 1626 the vicarage house was of five bays, described as 'four field or couple of housing, sufficiently repaired'. (fn. 558) It was extended, if not rebuilt, in the 18th century, and part seems to have stood on pillars. (fn. 559) It was thought in 1815 to be 'very fit' provided the incumbent did not have a large family. (fn. 560) In 1841 it was replaced by a much larger house, built by Maurice Davis the younger for Henry Bond at a cost of over £1,670. (fn. 561) It may incorporate parts of the older house in the rear, and includes three shields in stone taken from the rectory barn. (fn. 562) Outbuildings included a stable block, stores, and a piggery. A new vicarage house in one corner of the grounds was completed in 1975.
John Wodeman, absent for study for seven years from 1395 and again in 1401 'for some time', (fn. 563) resigned the benefice and was awarded a pension in 1429. He was succeeded by John Petherton, a theologian, who, while he held South Petherton, was also rector of Hornblotton and vicar of Cheddar. (fn. 564) Of the three other graduate clergy of the century, Thomas Harrys was the most distinguished, holding administrative posts in the diocese as official of the archdeacon of Taunton by 1476 and as vicar-general in 1490 and 1493. (fn. 565)
In 1525 the patronage was temporarily ceded to trustees in order that William Gilbert, abbot of Bruton and bishop of Mayo, could be appointed vicar. (fn. 566) The appointment of Henry Bankes as vicar in 1554 suggests that his predecessor had been removed for failing to conform with the new regime. Bankes himself was in 1561 in the Fleet prison for a debt to a London mercer. (fn. 567) Thomas Seager, vicar by 1569, was by 1612 'old and diseased and not able to travel' and so failed to go on the annual perambulation of the parish. (fn. 568) His successor, Robert Marks, vicar from 1617, also held Merriott from 1626. Although reported in 1623 for being 'often and much' absent, he claimed that he employed the curates of Lopen and Seavington when he was away. (fn. 569) Marks, an Oxford D.D. and a Royalist, was accused in 1643 of conspiring to let Prince Rupert into Bristol and of acting as a messenger for the king. He was imprisoned and deprived of his livings and of his large private income. (fn. 570) The parish was served on his removal first by Edward Bennett in 1646 and then by Benjamin Dukes between 1654 and 1660. (fn. 571) Marks himself died in 1657, and at the Restoration the Crown presented his son William to the vicarage. (fn. 572)
From the time of William Marks until 1936 most vicars had close connexions with Bristol and several held office in the cathedral. (fn. 573) During the 18th century several were absentee pluralists: Thomas Godard, vicar 1777–89, lived at Long Ashton, was vicar of Clevedon, and served as curate of Wraxall and Bourton; Francis Simpson, vicar 1813–27, lived at Tarrant Gunville (Dors.). (fn. 574) John Castleman, vicar 1738–61, was more active in parish affairs, and was accused of Anabaptism for baptising two children who had already undergone the rite at the hands of a Dissenting minister. (fn. 575)
Among the assistant curates who cared for the parish in the 18th century, the most noted was Thomas Coke, D.C.L., curate 1772–7, who was removed from office as a result of his enthusiasm, and subsequently became a leading Methodist. (fn. 576)
Endowments of lamps, obits, and a fraternity, and bequests of vestments and possession of a silvergilt pyx suggest a prosperous church in the early 16th century. (fn. 577) By 1547, however, the new rectors, the chapter of Bristol, had failed to maintain the chancel, and there was no Bible. (fn. 578) Neither had the statue of Christ been removed, and the vicar was not preaching sermons as required. (fn. 579) There were, nevertheless, as many as 480 communicants, including those at Lopen and Chillington. (fn. 580) With the return of the old regime in 1554, the impropriators were required to find two tapers for the high altar, and it was reported that the Lord's Prayer and the Commandments had not been read in the vulgar tongue since Christmas. (fn. 581)
In 1636 the leads of the chancel were reported in decay, and the discovery of an ancient leaden coffin in the church led to its appropriation for the purpose.
A dispute ensued in which one of the churchwardens failed to do penance for his offence, a case which involved a petition to Archbishop Laud and the intervention of Bishop Piers and the Court of Arches. (fn. 582)
James Harcourt augmented the glebe in 1738 on condition that his successors catechized weekly and read prayers on Wednesdays, Fridays, and saints' days. (fn. 583) By 1776 there were usually between 70 and 90 communicants. (fn. 584) The enthusiasm which resulted in the removal of Thomas Coke as curate in 1777 seems to have shown itself in more frequent celebrations attended by strangers as well as parishioners. Seven celebrations were usual at the end of the 18th century. (fn. 585) By 1815 two services with sermons were held each Sunday, only 'occasionally' taken by the vicar; and by 1827 there were also prayers on Wednesdays. (fn. 586) On Census Sunday 1851 the general morning congregation was 237 with 211 Sundayschool pupils, and the afternoon attendance was 403 people with 237 pupils. (fn. 587) Three services a Sunday were reported in 1870, when there was both a resident vicar and a curate, with monthly celebrations of the Holy Communion. (fn. 588) In 1876 a weekly celebration was instituted with a 'double service' on Wednesdays and Fridays and both Morning and Evening Prayer on saints' days. Two years later daily Morning Prayer was started. A surpliced choir occurs in 1882. (fn. 589) A mission room was opened at Stratton in 1905, (fn. 590) and a chapel in Compton Durville Manor was licensed in 1927. (fn. 591)
There was a church house on the rectory estate, leased to John Brett, by 1531. (fn. 592) A church or parish house was held by the churchwardens from South Harp manor in 1650, but in 1654 it was said to be in ruins and the rent to be eight years in arrear. (fn. 593)
There was a light of Our Lady by 1503 and a High Cross light by 1538. (fn. 594) Four acres of land partly in Seavington St. Michael, given for the support of lamps and lights, passed into lay hands in 1549. (fn. 595) Our Lady candlestick is referred to in 1538 and a brotherhood of Our Lady then and in the previous year. (fn. 596)
A chantry of Our Lady was established by 1305, its endowment of ½ virgate and 2 a. held as part of the Daubeney estate. At the same date the estate supported a chaplain and two clerks. (fn. 597) In 1364 2 houses and 80 a. in South Petherton and Barrington were given by Ralph and Catherine Daubeney for a chantry before the altar of St. Catherine. (fn. 598) By 1382 the first was established in the Lady chapel in the south aisle, the second at a chapel in the north aisle. (fn. 599) By 1532 there appears to have been only one chantry, since only one chantry priest occurs in the parish, though there was also a stipendiary chaplain. (fn. 600) By 1548 there was certainly only one chantry, then newly established by Henry Daubeney, earl of Bridgwater, worth £6 13s. 4d. (fn. 601)
The church of ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL is a large building of rubble and ashlar and has a chancel, central tower with transepts, and aisled nave with north and south porches. (fn. 602) Parts of the walling of the western end of the chancel are of the 12th century, but there is no other evidence in situ of the form of the church at that time. This is largely the result of a major rebuilding in the later 13th and earlier 14th centuries. The chancel was extended eastwards, the tower and transepts rebuilt, and the nave, which was of similar length to the existing one of four bays, was aisled and given a south porch, the corbels and a carved panel of Sagittarius and the lion moved from an earlier doorway. The south transept and the nave were almost completely rebuilt in the 15th century when the north porch was added, and lesser works of the period included a new east window and the heightening of the central tower.
Fire-reddening over the tower arch is witness to the lights around the rood, removed with the loft and screen in Edward VI's reign. The chancel and north aisle retained their medieval glass until the 17th century, when some was broken by Parliamentary troops in 1644. (fn. 603) There is an effigy considered to be that of Sir Philip Daubeney (d. 1294), (fn. 604) and masonry fragments from a crucifixion, painted figures perhaps from a screen, and parts of a lias altar slab and a Purbeck shaft. In the south transept is a tomb with a monumental brass of Sir Giles Daubeney (d. 1446) and his first wife, together with a separate brass to his second wife (d. 1442). (fn. 605)
An organ was installed c. 1636 but was destroyed in 1644. (fn. 606) It had probably been renewed by 1715. (fn. 607) The present instrument replaced one made in 1834. (fn. 608) There is an oak altar table of 1698.
Extensive restoration began in 1859–60 with the complete reseating of church and galleries and the replacement of pulpit, reading desk, and clerk's desk. The south transept became the vestry room in place of the eastern end of the chancel, which, since 1799, had contained a grate and chimney. The work was carried out by Hicks and Isaacs of Bristol. (fn. 609) The fabric of the chancel was restored by Arthur Blomfield in 1882, the south porch in 1890, and the tower, by J. D. Sedding and H. Wilson, in 1895. (fn. 610) The south transept was restored for use as a chapel in 1923. (fn. 611) Modern additions include the Royal Arms (1955) and figures of St. Peter and St. Paul (1974).
The church has eight bells: (i) and (ii) 1896, Mears and Stainbank; (iii) 1641, William Wiseman; (iv) 1765, Thomas Bilbie; (v) 1713, William Bilbie; (vi) 1919, Llewellins and James; (vii) 1832, W. Jefferies; (viii) 1721, William Bilbie. (fn. 612) The plate includes a cup and cover of 1573 by 'I.P.', a flagon of 1716, and a dish of 1724. (fn. 613) The registers date from 1574, but there are no entries between 1653 and 1660. (fn. 614)
In 1213 King John, then lord of the manor, granted and confirmed the endowment of a perpetual chaplain at the chapel of St. John. The endowment consisted of a weekly market and a fair on Midsummer day. (fn. 615) In 1270 Ralph Daubeney assigned rents from the manor to support services at the chapel, and the chaplain was also given oblations at the chapel from the lord and his free tenants at all times except on the four chief feasts and at Purification, when oblations were given to the vicar. (fn. 616) By 1325 the chaplain held 54½ a., and was described as rector of the free chapel. (fn. 617) By 1535 the gross value of the chapel's endowment was £5 17s. 10d., but it was subject to a pension of 14s. to the vicar of South Petherton and a rent of 2s. to the abbot of Bruton. (fn. 618) By 1548 the net income was £4 16s. 8d. (fn. 619)
At least from 1270 the patronage of the chapel belonged to the Daubeneys, lords of the manor. Queen Joan presented in 1404 during John Daubeney's minority, and again in 1415 during Giles Daubeney's. (fn. 620) Feoffees presented in 1465 and 1467. (fn. 621) The chapel was suppressed in 1548. Its goods included a bell worth 3s. 4d. (fn. 622) The chapel and its lands were granted in 1553 to agents. (fn. 623) From them it was purchased in the same year by Edward Napper of Swyre (Dors.) and Holywell (Oxf.) (d. 1558), who left it with other property to All Souls College, Oxford. (fn. 624) The devise was unsuccessfully disputed by Napper's son William when he came of age in 1575, (fn. 625) and the college retained the property at least until 1860. (fn. 626)
At least two of the rectors, Hugh Foster (1478–90) and Simon Symondes (1533–6), were graduates; Oliver, rector in 1325, and Maurice le Clerk, rector in 1327, were both foreigners. Stephen Forest, rector 1536–9, became vicar of the parish. (fn. 627)
The exact location of the chapel has not been traced, though twice in the 15th century it was said to be near the town. (fn. 628)
In 1934 a Mass centre, served monthly from Yeovil, was opened in Knapp House, South Street. By the Second World War the house proved too small, and services were held instead in the British Legion Hall, and also in Stoke sub Hamdon. In 1961 the church of St. Michael, Lightgate Road, was opened. It was designed by Mr. A. B. Grayson of Wincanton, and is of Ham stone and cedar board, with a glass façade. Services are held each Sunday and on important feasts, and the church is served as part of the parish of Yeovil by the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales. (fn. 629)
Knapp House was in 1974 known as St. Elizabeth's Home for Elderly Ladies.
Edward Bennett, intruded into the vicarage c. 1646–54, returned to the parish in 1663 on the 'earnest invitation' of the parishioners to preach and to keep a school. (fn. 630) By 1672 there were two Presbyterian meeting-places in the parish, in houses in Petherton and South Harp. (fn. 631) The former was probably the successor to Bennett's cause, which was certainly Presbyterian in 1688. (fn. 632) It then had its own minister, though by 1690 its preacher came from Yeovil only fortnightly. (fn. 633) A baptism 'at the meeting house' took place in 1695. (fn. 634) A chapel, later known as the Old Meeting, was built in a garden behind a house on the south side of Palmer Street in 1705, and was licensed in 1706. (fn. 635)
In 1720 the denomination was described as Congregational or Presbyterian in a trust deed, (fn. 636) and in 1748 as Presbyterian, (fn. 637) although it seems likely that Unitarian doctrines were adopted under Henry Rutter, minister ?1726–36. (fn. 638) A second Presbyterian meeting was formed c. 1735 in the house of George Locke who, in 1750, seems to have led the secession of those against the Arianism adopted by James Kirkup, minister 1747–81. The Old Meeting continued under David Richards at least until his death in 1846, and new trustees appointed in the following year to maintain the cause included the Revds. Thomas Toller of Kettering (Northants.) and Henry Toller of Market Harborough (Leics.), and the solicitor John Nicholetts. (fn. 639) Regular services seem to have ceased c. 1843. (fn. 640)
Two groups of seceders, presumably former members of the Old Meeting, were holding services in 1752 at Stratton and in 1753 at Moor. In 1773 a group began to use a converted malthouse, (fn. 641) apparently until 1775, when a chapel was built in Roundwell Street, on the site of the present United Reformed Church Sunday School. The cause continued Presbyterian under Richard Herdsman, a founder of the London Missionary Society, but by 1839 had become Independent. (fn. 642) On Census Sunday 1851 the general morning congregation was 200 and in the afternoon 325, with 117 Sundayschool pupils at each service. The building was then called Roundwell Street Chapel. (fn. 643) A new chapel, built in the Mid-Gothic style with rusticated masonry, at the junction of Roundwell Street and St. James's Street, was opened in 1863. A manse was erected next to it in 1868 in the Early Venetian Gothic style. (fn. 644)
At the end of the 17th century and throughout the 18th licences for other Dissenting meetings were issued, beginning with two in private houses in 1689. (fn. 645) The denominations are largely unknown, though in 1737 there was an Anabaptist meeting. The cause was continued or revived for in 1776 there were said to be 'some' Anabaptists in the parish in contrast to the 'many' Presbyterians. (fn. 646) By 1779 there were also some Independents, using a converted barn at Pitway, relicensed after alterations in 1803. (fn. 647) In 1812, 1816, and 1822 licences were issued for the use of private properties by Independents, the first two clearly involving the same group, the third sponsored by the ministers of Martock and Crewkerne. (fn. 648) By 1839 Independents were said to be using the Old Meeting, but they presumably joined the Roundwell Street meeting c. 1843. In 1851 the minister also had charge of Pound Chapel at South Harp, a small building seating 100, which on Census Sunday had an evening service attended by 50 people. (fn. 649)
Methodism came to the parish in 1753 when two houses in Stratton and one in Petherton were licensed for their use. (fn. 650) The direct influence of Dr. Thomas Coke there seems to have been slight. In 1807 a house was being used by Wesleyans, and was succeeded two years later by a chapel on the west side of North Street. (fn. 651) By 1810 there were 52 members, in 1841 95, and in 1848 84 members and 112 Sundayschool pupils. (fn. 652) On Census Sunday 1851 the general congregation was 280 in the morning and 334 in the evening, with 84 Sunday-school pupils in the morning and 120 in the afternoon. (fn. 653) The building was replaced in 1881 by the Coke Memorial Chapel, on the corner of North and Palmer streets. It is of Ham stone and slate in the early Gothic style, with a south-eastern turret and spire, and multi-gabled side elevations. It has a Sunday School at the rear and a manse, known as Coke Villa, to the west. The manse was sold c. 1970. (fn. 654)
Wesleyans met with less success elsewhere in the parish: they supported a meeting at Stratton in 1822 for one quarter only, another at Compton for a year in 1837–8, and a third at Lower Stratton for two years from 1845. (fn. 655) More successful at Stratton were the Bible Christians, who were also active in Petherton itself. They began with a public collection at Stratton in 1826 and others in Petherton in 1831 and 1832. The Petherton cause began in 1834, and a year later there were nine members and a further 18 on trial. (fn. 656) A chapel, with a gallery, was built at Pitway in 1848–9, and was licensed in 1850. (fn. 657) On Census Sunday 1851 there was Sunday-school in the morning for 46 and services in the afternoon and evening for 163 and 149 respectively. (fn. 658) The chapel was still actively supported in 1861 but closed c. 1884. (fn. 659) The Bible Christian cause was revived at Stratton in 1859, and in 1860 there were 10 members. A chapel called Mount Calvary was built in the following year, (fn. 660) and in 1974 was still in use as part of the Crewkerne Methodist circuit. It is a small stone building in the lancet style and bears the inscription 'Bibile (sic) Christian Chapel 1861'.
Licences to schoolmasters in the parish have been traced from 1575 when William Owseley was permitted to teach boys. (fn. 661) A writing school for boys was licensed under Robert Pytcher in 1586, and one for teaching Latin and English under Thomas Seager, the vicar, in 1592. (fn. 662) Thomas Bainrafe was licensed in 1605 to teach Latin and the articles of religion, though it seems likely that he moved to Martock shortly afterwards. (fn. 663) Edward Bennett, the intruded vicar, returned in 1663 partly to conduct a school. (fn. 664)
Land left to establish a school under the will of William Glanfield of Shepton Beauchamp (d. 1732) was not immediately so used, but a school was apparently open by 1735, (fn. 665) and by 1738 it was supported by offerings made on Sacrament Sundays and by subscriptions. Under the will of Mary Prowse (d. 1737) its income was augmented by the interest on £100 bequeathed to clothe and educate 20 children; in fact boys. Mary's executor paid interest to her trustees until 1748, when just over 6 a. of land was conveyed for the school. (fn. 666) Offerings continued to be given until 1759, some of which were used in 1757 to buy more property. Other benefactions included a legacy of John Lombard, interest on which for three years was paid in 1747.
By 1759 the school lands produced an income of £7 13s. 5d. and £5 15s. 6d. came from subscriptions. The master was paid £10 a year, but no money was spent on clothing between 1758 and 1772, nor after 1813. More land was bought in 1763 and in 1797, the year after subscriptions finally ceased, the income was £20 11s. In 1843 the trustees bought the tolls of the market and the old market house for £200, and by 1850 the normal annual income was £48 10s. (fn. 667)
Under rules drawn up in 1742 the charity was administered by a treasurer and two trustees. Boys were to be chosen on the recommendation of subscribers 'in their turn', and none could be admitted 'till he can read in the Primer'. No schooling was given beyond the age of fourteen and no clothing after thirteen. All boys were required to attend church 'constantly'. The school, held by the parish clerk from 1826 until 1860, (fn. 668) had 20 pupils in 1818 and 1835. (fn. 669)
In 1876 the trustees resolved to sell assets to the value of £1,000 to buy a site for a new boys' school, provided a parish meeting pledged itself to subscribe. (fn. 670) The vestry agreed in 1877 that if the girls' school (see below) became an infants' school, then the parish would support a school for boys and girls, only provided that the management was equally divided between Churchmen and Nonconformists. (fn. 671) This plan was embodied in a Scheme of 1878, and the property of the charity school was sold for £1,378. (fn. 672)
The new school, on Cemetery Road, was opened in 1879. (fn. 673) The governors of the charity school continued to support pupils from their remaining endowment by paying school fees and providing books, despite the voluntary rate's low yield. (fn. 674) In 1893 the charity also extended the master's house. By 1895, however, the voluntary rate proved unreliable, and a School Board was established, to which the charity school governors transferred their interests. (fn. 675) In 1903 the school passed into the control of the county council.
There was accommodation for 174 boys and an average attendance of 85 in 1893, and by 1903 the average had risen to over a hundred. (fn. 676) There were then 3 teachers, and subjects included 'cottage gardening'. (fn. 677) By 1938 the average attendance was 82; (fn. 678) from 1950, when the seniors were transferred to Stoke sub Hamdon, the school took junior girls and boys, and in 1974 the extended buildings accommodated 142 children. (fn. 679)
Before the move to Cemetery Road the boys' charity school was housed from 1828 in the schoolroom on the east side of the churchyard, built by subscription in that year to house the Church Sunday-school. Much of the cost was borne by Henry Bond, the vicar, and J. B. Edmonds, who also provided the site and the stone. In 1866 the building was extended by Maurice Davis of Langport. (fn. 680)
There was at least one other charity school in 1776 attended by 10 girls. (fn. 681) By 1812 there was a Commercial and Mathematical school in the town, and its master also conducted a Sundayschool for 130 children in the church. Books were suspended at different heights according to the age of the pupils, and the whole enterprise was organized on Lancasterian lines except that the Prayer Book was used. (fn. 682) By 1818 the Sunday-school had only 52 pupils, but a school of industry had been established for girls, principally supported by Dissenters, attended by c. 22 pupils. (fn. 683) The Church Sunday-school had only 45 pupils by 1825, (fn. 684) but ten years later numbers had risen to seventy-three. By that time the Wesleyans had a school for 131 in North Street chapel, the Independents for 100, probably in Roundwell Street, and the Presbyterians for 20, presumably at the Old Meeting in Palmer Street. At the same time there were 4 day schools supported by subscriptions, teaching 91 children. (fn. 685) The Church Sunday-school had since 1828 been housed in the schoolroom in the churchyard which was let on weekdays to the boys' charity school. (fn. 686)
By 1846 the church was supporting 2 day schools for a total of 68 children and 2 Sunday-schools affiliated to the National Society for 268 children. The Sunday-schools had 20 teachers, only 2 of whom were paid, and the teachers and senior children met on Sunday evenings for further study. (fn. 687)
By 1840 there were at least three private schools: a 'Commercial and Classical' boarding school for boys at Hayes End House, conducted by Joseph Billing, a girls' boarding school in Palmer Street, and a girl's day school in Silver Street. (fn. 688) The first two were still open in 1851, when there were 8 other teachers in the parish. (fn. 689) Dr. R. P. Billing's Academy continued until after 1872. (fn. 690) By 1859 there was a dame school in St. James's Street, and by 1872 3 schools in the same street and a ladies' school in Whitehall. In the same year Frederick Adolphy of Palmer Street described himself as a professor of languages. (fn. 691)
By 1859 the schoolroom in the churchyard was being used not only by the charity schoolboys but by a school for girls affiliated to the National Society. A near-by site was acquired and a subscription raised to build a new school for the girls. The architect was Maurice Davis of Langport, and half the cost was borne by the vicar, Henry Bond, and two other subscribers. (fn. 692) In 1878–9 the building was extended to accommodate infants (fn. 693) and, as South Petherton National School, had room in 1893 for 241 children, having then only 182 on the books. (fn. 694) The school retained controlled status in 1903, continuing under the management of the committee which had previously had oversight also of Stratton school. (fn. 695) In 1908 there were 125 girls and 116 infants on the books and a total average attendance of 175 children. Twenty years later there were 202 pupils, with attendance averaging many fewer. (fn. 696) From 1950, when senior pupils were transferred to Stoke sub Hamdon, the school was restricted to infants, junior children going to South Petherton Junior School in Cemetery Road. (fn. 697) In 1953 the school, known as South Petherton C. of E. Infants School, accepted aided status. (fn. 698) In 1974 there were 102 children on the books between the ages of 5 and 7 years. (fn. 699)
In 1870 the vicar, Henry Bond, acquired a cottage in Over Stratton, on the site of which he built a school for infants, apparently opened in 1875. In 1876 it was said to be 'under good influence' and that the children were 'nicely taught'. The management of the school was under the committee of South Petherton National Schools. (fn. 700) The school was always small, having accommodation for only 68, and an average of 36 attended in 1893. (fn. 701) Dwindling numbers caused its closure in 1901. (fn. 702)
Private schools continued in the town towards the end of the 19th century, and included by 1884 a grammar school in Palmer Street under the control of N. G. Fish, at once a teacher of art and science and surveyor and sanitary inspector to the Yeovil poor-law union. (fn. 703) Another private school was conducted in the old schoolroom in the churchyard until 1906. (fn. 704) A night school was held in the boys' school by 1876, (fn. 705) science and art classes at the old schoolroom by 1892, and hygiene and horticulture lectures in the same place until 1897. Cookery and woodwork classes were organized in the early 20th century. (fn. 706)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
By will dated 1670 John Sandys of London, merchant, gave £100 for land, the rent to be distributed to the poor. (fn. 707) In 1681 some 6 a. of land at Hinton in Martock was bought, additional gifts or guarantees being made by Mrs. Ann Sandys and by the vicar and churchwardens to raise the purchase money to £120. Further benefactions, totalling £90, were made between 1706 and 1732 by Hugh Langley, Edmund Anstice, Samuel Gundry, and John Smart, and more land, amounting to just over 8 a., lying in different parts of South Petherton, was purchased in 1742, all producing rents to be distributed to the second poor. (fn. 708)
By 1715–16 the Poor's Ground rent, the income from the Sandys charity land at Martock parish, amounted to £4 10s. a year, a sum which fluctuated but was normally £5 during the earlier 18th century. (fn. 709) By 1800 it had risen to £10, and in 1830 a total of 32 recipients each had 7s. (fn. 710)
The second poor also benefited under the will of Mrs. Mary Prowse (d. 1737), who gave £100 for the maintenance of part of the north aisle of the parish church, any residue to be applied to those not receiving regular parish relief. Land was bought by her executor, Thomas Bowyer, vicar of Martock, although there was insufficient estate for the bequest. Payments were made to 43 people in 1740, 22 in 1764, 32 in 1792, and 55 in 1806. (fn. 711)
By 1828 the total of £26 5s. was in that year shared between three 'classes' of recipients, 36 in the first class receiving each 2 shares, nominally of 20d. but actually 3s. 6d. in total; 50 in the second class had 3 shares each, and 9 in the third class had 4 shares each. The surplus was distributed among 27 other recipients, one of whom was in receipt of a second-class share. In 1838 a new system divided the income between 150 people in sums varying between 2s. 6d. and 6s. Thereafter the sums tended to be larger and the number of recipients smaller, in 1876 only 44 receiving 7s. and 32 having 10s. In 1877 the distribution was made in coal, but this proved unpopular, and in 1878 cash was again given, this time in respect of age, all over 70 years receiving 10s., all over 50 years 7s., and widows and single women over 70 years 5s., a total in that year of 90 people. (fn. 712)
In 1895 the churchwardens agreed to hand over the administration of the Prowse charity to the parish council, provided that nine old recipients should continue to receive their doles and that the north aisle should be repaired. (fn. 713)
In 1879 the governors of the free school assigned some land in trust, the rent to be applied to the 'most poor and needy inhabitants' nominated by the parish officers. The land was sold in 1895 and was added to the Second Poor charities. (fn. 714) In 1952 the South Petherton Second Poor charity had a total income of £52, partly from land and partly from stock. Some of the land was sold in 1953. By 1965 the total income of the charity from rents and dividends was £187, of which £94 10s. was distributed to 63 people, each receiving 30s. (fn. 715)
By 1695 the overseers were distributing the interest on a capital sum of £5 given by Adam Willy to six people. The capital was evidently lent to parishioners and by 1703 payment of interest had become irregular. Distribution seems to have ceased after 1710. (fn. 716)
The William Vile Gift was established under the will of Ellen Rendall Vile of Bristol who gave £300 stock to the vicar and churchwardens by will dated 1943 for the benefit of 'poor and lonely old people'. The income of £11 10s. was so divided in 1974. (fn. 717)