A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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Stogumber is a large, roughly triangular, parish stretching 7 km. in each direction in the valley between the Quantocks and the Brendons. (fn. 1) The name Stogumber, introduced by the early 13th century, (fn. 2) implies ownership of a place named Stoke by a lord of whom no post-Conquest trace has been found. The Domesday name, Warverdinestoch, (fn. 3) perhaps includes a variant of the same name, indicating a preConquest owner called Warver (perhaps Warner) or Gomer. The boundaries between Stogumber and its neighbours on all sides suggest the earlier existence of a larger unit reaching as far east as the Quantock ridgeway and embracing the later parishes of Bicknoller and Crowcombe in the east, Elworthy in the south, Monksilver in the west, and Sampford Brett in the north. Ecclesiastical links between the wealthy church of Stogumber, its chapel of Bicknoller, and the churches of Monksilver and Elworthy suggest the existence of a minster at Stogumber. (fn. 4) Bicknoller, while still technically a chapelry, had achieved effective independence by the end of the Middle Ages. (fn. 5) Halsway was transferred to Bicknoller and Lower Weacombe to Sampford Brett in 1885, a small area was joined with Elworthy in 1886, and the small detached parts of Sampford Brett and Monksilver in Stogumber were in 1883 and 1884 absorbed. The civil parish thereafter measured 2,165 ha. (5,349 a.). (fn. 6)
Most of the parish lies on land rising gently westwards from the Doniford stream which marks its eastern boundary. In the west, between Monksilver and Elworthy, the land reaches 229 m. at Ashbeer, falls steeply into a valley which includes the settlements of Combe Sydenham and Culcombe, and then rises again steeply up an irregular valley into the Brendons, reaching 381 m. (fn. 7) The higher, western half of the parish lies on slate, giving way to Lower Sandstone, conglomerate, and marls towards the eastern boundary, with gravel along the valleys. In the extreme north around Capton and Vellow are pebble beds and Upper Sandstone. (fn. 8) Stone was quarried at Capton and Vellow, and also near the southern boundary at Coleford Water. Lime was burnt at Kingswood, beside the Doniford stream. (fn. 9) A general mining lease was granted in 1757 for exploration at Boarpath, on the heath land in the extreme south-east corner of the parish, but no trace of workings has been found. (fn. 10)
The earliest settlements in the parish were established largely beside streams which crossed the valley floor and fed the Doniford stream. Stogumber and its dependent settlement Preston (priest tun) were presumably pre-Conquest in origin, and both lie above the same stream flowing north to Vellow. Hartrow, Vexford, Coleford, and Embelle, on a network of streams further south, were all recorded in the mid 11th century, together with Halsway on the Quantock scarp, Combe Sydenham in a valley to the west, and Capton (fn. 11) on high ground overlooking the coastal plain in the north, where there are traces of possible Iron Age occupation. (fn. 12) Place names such as Curdon, associated with a so-called Iron Age camp known in 1578 as 'dead man's burial', (fn. 13) Catford, and Escott suggest the early development of secondary settlements.
By the 13th century the more marginal land was being settled or cultivated at Boarpath and Yeaw in the south-east, at Cheddermarsh and Carslake near the Doniford stream, and on the higher ground at Goodley, on the Brendon slopes above Combe, and Rowdon, the 'rough hill', an extension of the old farm at Capton. (fn. 14) Further settlements appeared in the latter Middle Ages including Rexton, near the southern border, by the late 14th century, (fn. 15) Fenne (later Downside) and Culcombe on the Brendon slopes by the mid 15th century, (fn. 16) and Kingswood and Northam perhaps later. (fn. 17) Lower Weacombe was recorded in the 16th century. (fn. 18) Cottages were built on the edge of Charlwood common, south of Vellow; there were 3 in 1556, 12 in 1619, and more in the 1630s, the last adjoining Vellow hamlet, the remainder perhaps beside the road between Vellow and Stogumber village at Kingswood. (fn. 19)
Most of the secondary settlements survive only as isolated farmsteads, or groups of two or three farms, but a few are substantial hamlets. Goodley and Hartrow are deserted, the former a single ruined building in forest land, the latter an isolated mansion near a hamlet which survived into the late 16th century. (fn. 20) Halsway and Combe Sydenham evolved as mansions with attendant cottages. Vellow, part of the Trevelyan family holding, has the appearance of an estate village of the 19th century, while Capton is virtually unchanged from the 1840s and includes cottages dating from the 16th century. Preston, which had eight farms in 1791, (fn. 21) was reduced to two farms and some cottages by 1979. Stogumber village lies principally on a slope where three roads converge to cross a stream. The church stands on a prominent site beside the middle of these roads, south of the market place, with the medieval vicarage house on its west and the probable former capital messuage of the rectory on the south-east. The former rectory estate, the lands of the probable Saxon minster, seems to have been concentrated in the area north and east of the church. The village expanded southeast of the church to Zinch (sentes, thorns) in the medieval period, (fn. 22) and later south-west across the stream. New building in the 1970s was again concentrated at Zinch.
There are references to open arable fields at the principal settlements in the parish. Furlongs or strips survived at Rowdon in the early 14th century, (fn. 23) at Carslake in the early 18th century, (fn. 24) and at Over Vexford, Rexton, and south of Stogumber village towards Preston in the 19th. (fn. 25) There were considerable areas of common pasture. Charlwood, shared between tenants of Rowdon and Cheddermarsh, was reduced to 30 a. because of cottage encroachment by 1724, (fn. 26) and was inclosed between 1796 and 1840. (fn. 27) Heathfield, on the south-eastern edge of the parish, was shared between Embelle, Boarpath, and Rexton. Emmel Heathfield was inclosed and known as New Marsh by 1636, (fn. 28) Rexton's share was called Rexton Gorths or Gorse by 1801. (fn. 29) Both areas were under woodland and furze in 1979. In the 16th century tenants of a farm in Elworthy had rights to pasture sheep on Hartrow Hill. (fn. 30) Capton tenants had pasture on Capton Down, (fn. 31) part of which was inclosed by the 17th century, (fn. 32) the rest by 1796. (fn. 33) The tenants of Halsway manor had common pasture over 200 a. on Quantock Hill or Higher Halsway Common, (fn. 34) an area which remained open in 1979.
Place and field names suggest extensive ancient woodland, notably in the northern half of the parish, but reference to the name Vellow (felly, meadow in newly-cultivated land) (fn. 35) by 1307 (fn. 36) and common pasture at Charlwood by 1523 (fn. 37) indicate medieval clearance. Woodland 4 furlongs by 2 furlongs and a further 71 a. were recorded in Domesday. (fn. 38) By 1840 there were 280 a. of wood, and a similar extent was recorded in 1905. (fn. 39) In 1976 there were over 300 a. of woodland. (fn. 40)
A park was recorded at Rowdon in 1307 and 1442, (fn. 41) and there were probably others on the rectory manor (fn. 42) and at Hartrow in the 16th century. (fn. 43) A park was established at Combe Sydenham by the 17th century (fn. 44) and in 1911 it had 13 a. stocked with red and fallow deer. (fn. 45) A new park was mentioned at Hartrow in 1816. (fn. 46)
In the late 17th century there were two main routes through the parish, both of which presumably had medieval origins. The route from Bridgwater to Barnstaple, (fn. 47) following part of the southern boundary of the parish and probably also forming part of the Saxon 'herpath' from beyond the Quantocks to the Brendon ridgeway, (fn. 48) forded a stream at Coleford Water, an 11th-century crossing place, (fn. 49) and proceeded through Hartrow to the parish boundary. The second route, from Taunton and Crowcombe, passed through Stogumber village towards Watchet and Minehead, a route probably used by the military authorities in 1686. (fn. 50) Minor routes within the parish linked the many hamlets and farms, creating a network of lanes into Stogumber village and two parallel routes, one in the east along the Doniford stream, the other under the ridge above Hartrow through Ashbeer and Combe Cross to Stream in St. Decumans and thence to Watchet. In 1765 the Ashbeer route as far south as Hartrow Gate, west of Hartrow House, was adopted by the Minehead Turnpike trust, (fn. 51) and in 1778 the Taunton trust extended its routes from Lydeard St. Lawrence to the same place. (fn. 52) The Ashbeer route was abandoned in 1806 when the turnpike road was made through Combe Sydenham to Monksilver and beyond, (fn. 53) and the highways through the Hartrow estate were subsequently closed in 1816 and 1863. (fn. 54) The new road from Crowcombe through Bicknoller to Williton in 1807 further reduced the traffic through Stogumber, leaving the village isolated from main routes. (fn. 55)
There was a 'drinkhouse' at Vellow in 1619, (fn. 56) and probably another on the Minehead road in 1631. (fn. 57) An alehouse was suppressed in 1641, (fn. 58) but others survived; in 1656 it was ordered that no more alehouses in the parish should be licensed. (fn. 59) The Red Lion was established as an inn by 1668, the Swan by 1680, and the Ram or Black Ram by 1684, (fn. 60) giving a total of 29 beds and room for 15 horses in 1686. (fn. 61) There were three other inns or alehouses in the village in the 18th century: the Wine Hoop was established by 1723, (fn. 62) the White Horse by 1748, (fn. 63) and the Dragon by 1752. (fn. 64) There were also three inns on the developing Taunton-Minehead route: the Black Dog at Higher Ashbeer by 1729, (fn. 65) the Fleur de Luce at Combe Cross by 1759, (fn. 66) and the Rose and Crown at Coleford Water by 1800. (fn. 67) By 1755 there were five licensed alehouses in the parish, (fn. 68) but only three survived by 1800: the Swan and the White Horse in the village, and the Rose and Crown at Coleford Water. The last closed c. 1840. (fn. 69) The Swan closed c. 1912 (fn. 70) and only the White Horse survived in 1979, having been extended in the 19th century to include the former market house and a skittle alley dated 1868.
In 1623 people were presented for playing bowls and tennis in the churchyard on Sunday, (fn. 71) and in 1840 an orchard at Capton farm was called the Skittle Alley. (fn. 72) A Stogumber and Crowcombe friendly society existed between 1803 and 1822. (fn. 73) In 1828 the Stogumber Union Society was formed; it met monthly in the club room at the White Horse and held an annual feast. (fn. 74) In 1873 the society had 52 members. (fn. 75)
There were 133 households in the parish in 1563 (fn. 76) and 339 men signed the Protestation in 1641. (fn. 77) In 1801 the population was 1,285 and rose to 1,456 in 1851 after which it declined. There was a fall from 1,242 in 1871 to 1,098 in 1891 and to 898 in 1901. By 1961 the population of the civil parish was only 568 but it rose slightly to 617 in 1971. (fn. 78)
There was some resistance to ship money in Stogumber in 1637. (fn. 79) In September 1642 royalists were quartered in the village on their way to Minehead. (fn. 80) Several local people suffered for their loyalty to the king, including Francis Dodington of Combe Sydenham, whose estates were confiscated, and Hugh Gore, Crown purveyor and servant of the duke of York. (fn. 81) In 1685 three men were hanged at Stogumber for their part in the Monmouth rebellion. (fn. 82)
Robert Dashwood of Stogumber (d. 1610) founded a family which produced two lines of baronets and several aldermen of London. Among his grandsons, born in Stogumber, were George (1617–82), brewer and alderman of London, John (1620–83), alderman of London, and Francis (1603–83). (fn. 83) Isaac Gilling, Presbyterian minister and author, and schoolmaster at Newton Abbot (Devon) was born in Stogumber c. 1662. Floyer Sydenham of Combe Sydenham (1710–87), barrister and scholar, published a translation of Plato. (fn. 84) The cricketer Jack White, captain of the Somerset team 1927–31 and of England 1929, was born in Stogumber. (fn. 85)
In 1632 Richard Tucker of Stogumber and a man from Brompton Ralph bought an estate in New Somersetshire which they called Stogummer (now Falmouth, Maine, U.S.A.). (fn. 86)
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
There were nine separate estates in Stogumber recorded in Domesday. The Crown had 1 hide at Capton in demesne, one of the king's clerks had the estate of the church, reckoned as 2 hides, Roger de Courcelles had a total of 2 7/16 hides in Coleford, Embelle, Halsway, and Vexford, and William de Mohun had 2 hides at Hartrow and Combe, later Combe Sydenham. (fn. 87) The recorded total of land (fn. 88) and the position of the known holdings suggests the exclusion from Domesday of a large area in the centre of the parish including Preston, possibly a large part of an estate which had supported the probable minster at Stogumber before the Conquest, an estate which later became the two distinct manors of Stogumber Rectory and Stogumber.
The 2 hides belonging to the church were held in 1066 by Alvric and in 1086 by the king's clerk Richer de Andelys or Richer of Stoke. (fn. 89) While the advowson apparently descended in the Andelys family, (fn. 90) the land presumably supported successive rectors until the death or cession of the last rector between 1276 and 1291. (fn. 91) Thereafter the chapter of Wells appropriated the estate, (fn. 92) to which more land in Bicknoller was added in 1330 by grant of Hamelin de Godele. (fn. 93) The estate, known as the manor of STOGUMBER RECTORY or STOGUMBER GODELEY RECTORY, (fn. 94) was held by the chapter until 1857, when it was transferred to the Ecclesiastical (later Church) Commissioners. The estate was farmed to individual members of the chapter between 1302 and 1332 (fn. 95) but later to laymen. Richard Hartrow was farmer by 1452, (fn. 96) followed in 1514 by Richard Biccombe of Crowcombe, (fn. 97) and then by members of the Hill family. (fn. 98) The Saffins and then the Sydenhams were lessees in the 17th century, (fn. 99) and Sir Philip Sydenham sold his interest to George Musgrave in 1711. (fn. 100) The Sanford family were lessees from 1751 until 1865 or later. (fn. 101) Part of the holding, amounting to c. 110 a. in 1840, was sold by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to Langley St. Albyn in 1868. (fn. 102) No later reference to the manor has been found.
Hall Place, later Hall Farm, was probably the site of the capital messuage of the manor. The buildings included a dovecot by 1439, (fn. 103) and the construction of a barn was ordered in 1506. (fn. 104) In 1650 the barn was a stone building of nine bays with a thatched roof. (fn. 105) The present barn, on the south-eastern edge of the churchyard, is of seven bays with a jointed cruck roof, and probably dates from the later 17th century.
The estate held by the Andelys family in the later 13th century and probably part of the land of the former minster can be traced with certainty only from Robert de Andelys who held STOGUMBER in 1284–5. (fn. 106) It seems likely, however, that Robert was successor to Walter de Andelys, who was in possession of the advowson of Stogumber in 1214, (fn. 107) to John de Andelys from whom several men held land in 1225, (fn. 108) and to Walter de Andelys, son of John, (fn. 109) who had land in Stogumber and the advowson in 1259. (fn. 110)
In 1284–5 Robert de Andelys held Stogumber of Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, who was tenant in chief (fn. 111) in right of his wife Margaret. Their daughter Alice, countess of Lincoln and Salisbury and widow of Thomas earl of Lancaster, granted her lordship of Stogumber to Hugh le Despenser, earl of Winchester, who also acquired her lordship of Trowbridge (Wilts.). (fn. 112) Stogumber was said to be held of the lordship of Trowbridge in 1352 (fn. 113) and 1468. (fn. 114)
John de Andelys held ½ fee in Stogumber of the earl of Lincoln in 1303. In 1316 an estate called Doniford and Stogumber was attributed to four men who may have been trustees. In 1346 John Durburgh held the ½ fee in Stogumber which John de Andelys had held, (fn. 115) and at his death in 1352 had an estate in Stogumber and Preston. His son Sir Hugh (fn. 116) held the estate and was succeeded between 1372 and 1378 (fn. 117) by his son James. (fn. 118) In 1393 the manor was held by John Dunster (d. by 1396). John Rivers, Dunster's heir, (fn. 119) sold it in 1396, subject to a life interest of Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Dodington, to Simon and Henry Sydenham, sons of Richard Sydenham of Combe Sydenham. (fn. 120) Simon, later bishop of Chichester, and his brother Henry, may have been in possession by 1417. (fn. 121) Henry died before 1427 and Simon in 1438. Simon's heir was his nephew John (d. 1468). (fn. 122) The manor then descended like Combe Sydenham until 1557 when it passed to John (d. before 1617), brother of Sir George Sydenham of Combe Sydenham. John was succeeded by his son, also John (d. 1625), (fn. 123) whose sons John and Ralph conveyed the manor to John Boys and his son John in 1626. (fn. 124)
John Boys, probably the younger, was dead by 1656. (fn. 125) By 1708 half the estate was owned by John Doble, (fn. 126) and he or a namesake were in possession in 1739. (fn. 127) By 1749 Doble had been succeeded by Joseph Ware, (fn. 128) and by 1770 by John Doble Ware. (fn. 129) The other half of the estate was probably held by the Treble family between 1717 and 1786 or later, (fn. 130) and both parts may have come to Thomas Cridland (d. 1789) and his grandson Thomas Cridland Luxton (d. 1844). Luxton's estate passed to his sister Frances (d. 1862), wife of Langley St. Albyn, and then to her two daughters, Anne, wife of Birt Jenner, and Caroline (d. 1870) wife of William Wait. Anne's son, Birt St. Albyn Jenner, mortgaged his reversionary share in 1882 and in 1895 William White took over the mortgage, having already acquired the other share from Caroline's five daughters. (fn. 131) Part of the Stogumber manor estate, comprising 724 a. of land scattered widely in the parish, was sold in 1896. Marwood Notley of Combe Sydenham bought most of the estate, but no later reference to the manor has been found.
The manor of CAPTON was held in 1066 by Earl Harold and in 1086 was royal demesne. (fn. 132) It was occupied by the Raleghs of Nettlecombe by the late 13th century and the two estates may have been linked much earlier. By the 1280s the Raleghs' land extended south from Capton and the estate was thereafter known as the manor of ROWDON. (fn. 133) The manor descended like Nettlecombe manor in the Ralegh and Trevelyan families, but has not been found referred to as a manor after 1823. (fn. 134)
An estate called COMBE was held in 1066 by Ailmer, and in 1086 by Turgis of William de Mohun. (fn. 137) It was later regarded as held of Bicknoller manor, and Reynold Mohun was recorded as overlord in the 13th century. (fn. 138) Usually described as a capital messuage, but occasionally as a manor, it was known from the late 14th century as COMBE SYDENHAM. (fn. 139)
Richard of Combe was probably occupier of the land c. 1240 (fn. 140) and William of Combe was mentioned in 1325. (fn. 141) In 1367 Nicholas Orchard may have held an estate called Combe Allen, which was sold in the same year to Richard Sydenham, justice of Common Pleas. (fn. 142) Richard Sydenham died in 1403 and was succeeded by his son Henry (d. before 1427) and Henry by his son John (d. 1468). (fn. 143) The estate was held by John's widow Joan (d. 1472). (fn. 144) Their grandson John Sydenham (d. 1542) settled it on his son Henry (d. c. 1519) and Henry's wife Eleanor (d. 1539). In 1544, after John's death, it was said that Eleanor had an interest in the estate. (fn. 145) John was succeeded by his son Sir John (d. 1557) who devised Combe Sydenham to his son Sir George (d. 1597). (fn. 146) Sir George was followed by his only surviving child Elizabeth, wife of Sir William Courtenay, and on her death in 1598 by his nephew Sir John Sydenham (d. 1625). (fn. 147) Sir John was succeeded by his son John (d. 1627). The latter's son Sir John Sydenham, Bt., died in 1643 before attaining his majority and was succeeded by his son John Posthumous Sydenham. (fn. 148) Sir John's mother Alice, who married Sir Francis Dodington, occupied Combe Sydenham from 1627 (fn. 149) until its confiscation in or before 1651. (fn. 150) In 1653 Combe Sydenham was bought by John Ware, (fn. 151) but was later restored to Sir John Posthumous Sydenham (d. 1696). (fn. 152) In 1693 Sir John sold the entire estate to George Musgrave (fn. 153) (d. 1721) and it passed in the direct male line to George (d. 1724), George (d. 1742), and Thomas. (fn. 154) In 1765, the year before he died, Thomas Musgrave gave Combe Sydenham to his sister Juliana, who later married Sir James Langham, Bt. (fn. 155) In 1796, after her husband's death, Juliana sold the estate to George Notley of Chillington. (fn. 156) In 1800 part of Combe Sydenham was settled on Mary Marwood before her marriage to George Notley. Mary died in 1829 leaving her share to her husband. (fn. 157) The estate descended with the neighbouring manor of Monksilver in the Notley family until the death of Marwood Notley in 1903 (fn. 158) when it passed to his youngest son Marwood (d. c. 1958). Marwood's daughter sold the estate to E. C. Campbell-Voullaire c. 1958. (fn. 159) The owner in 1979 was Mr. W. A. C. Theed.
Combe Sydenham Hall lies in a valley bottom, on a narrow site between the Elworthy-Monksilver road and a stream. Fragments incorporated in the west wing of the present building, including remains of a medieval tiled floor, suggest that by the early 16th century it was of substantial size and quality. Sir George Sydenham, whose initials and the date 1580 appear on the porch, remodelled the house and was probably responsible for extending it to enclose a roughly square court on the north side of the hall range. Further work was carried out, probably by Sir Francis Dodington in the 1630s or 1640s, by which time there were large stair turrets in the southern angles of the court. The south front contained a ground-floor hall and principal chambers, with perhaps a gallery at attic level, while other principal rooms were on the first floor of the west front. By the early 19th century the north and most of the east range of the court had been demolished. (fn. 160) The west range was then partly refitted, a new staircase being put into the base of the western tower, and the roofs and most of the windows renewed. New stables and coach house were built north-east of the house.
By the early 16th century there was a walled yard a short distance south from the house; it had an embattled gateway on the east side and a gatehouse range with central gateway surmounted by a tower on the north. The south side of the gatehouse tower was reconstructed during the 20th century and much of the yard boundary wall was removed.
HARTROW was held in 1066 by Ulwold and in 1086 by Roger de Lisieux of William de Mohun, in whose honor of Dunster it remained until 1627 or later. (fn. 161) In 1194 Richard de Lisieux's heir was under age, (fn. 162) and in 1198 Alexander de Lisieux, (fn. 163) who was alive in 1202, (fn. 164) paid relief on his father's land. By 1243 Richard Vynar owned the estate, (fn. 165) and he or a namesake, in occupation in 1280, was apparently dead by 1284. (fn. 166) Richard de Windsor claimed to hold a fee at Hartrow in 1285. (fn. 167) William Hartrow was holding the fee by 1330, and in 1395 Robert, son of Walter Hartrow (fl. 1346–66). (fn. 168) Robert died in 1402 and in 1406 the fee was held by Joan Hartrow, probably Robert's second wife or daughter. (fn. 169) In 1422 William Crocker and his wife Joan, possibly the Joan of 1406, conveyed the estate to Richard Hartrow who was active locally in 1462. (fn. 170) In 1475 John Sydenham of Orchard held the fee at Hartrow and by 1499 his son John was in possession. (fn. 171) The younger John died in 1521 and the manor passed to his grandson, also John Sydenham. (fn. 172)
John Sydenham died in 1526 and in the following year an estate known as Hartrow and Doniford manor was divided between his two sisters and their husbands, John (later Sir John) Wyndham and Thomas Bridges. Almost immediately Wyndham and Sir John Sydenham of Combe jointly bought Bridges's share. (fn. 173) Sydenham died in 1557 leaving his quarter share to his son, also John. (fn. 174) Wyndham sold his three quarters in 1559 to Joan Sweeting, widow, who shortly afterwards married William Lacey. (fn. 175) Lacey bought the remaining share from John Sydenham in 1563. (fn. 176)
William Lacey was succeeded in 1607 by his son, also William. (fn. 177) William the younger died in 1641 when his heir was his grandson, William Lacey. (fn. 178) William died in 1690 and Hartrow passed with Elworthy manor to his eldest son, also William Lacey. (fn. 179) It descended with Elworthy until 1799 when Bickham Escott left it to his three daughters. They shared as tenants in common until 1811 when Mary, wife of Thomas Sweet Escott, took Hartrow. (fn. 180) After a family dispute in 1854 Mary leased the estate to her granddaughter, Anna Sweet Escott. Anna succeeded on her grandmother's death two years later, (fn. 181) and died in 1872, when her heir was her cousin, the Revd. William Sweet Escott (d. 1913). William's son, the Revd. W. S. Sweet Escott, sold the property in 1914 to his cousin, the Revd. E. H. Sweet Escott, (fn. 182) who left the house c. 1936; the land was later bought by Mr. C. Thomas and farmed from Higher Vexford. (fn. 183)
A house at Hartrow was said to have been built c. 1580 by William Lacey, and fragments may be incorporated in a late 18th-century wing on the northwestern side of the present house. (fn. 184) South of the wing is a hall, said to have been built in 1817. About 1830 the main part of the house was replaced by a building with symmetrical elevations on the south and east and an open court to the north. Gothick additions were made in the 19th century, when fittings and decorations in medieval styles were introduced into the great hall, then converted for use as a chapel.
Two estates at Vexford were held in 1066 by Domne and Brismar and in 1086 by Alric and Roger as part of the fee of Roger de Courcelles. (fn. 185) The overlordship has not been traced later, except that in 1493 Over Vexford was said to be held of the heir of Geoffrey Luttrell of Irnham (Lincs.). (fn. 186) In the late 12th century an estate at Vexford was given by Henry Lovesgift to the Hospitallers of Buckland in Durston, (fn. 187) no further trace of whose ownership has been discovered. William Franklin of Over Vexford, recorded in 1242–3, (fn. 188) was followed by one of the same name, mentioned as of Vexford in 1279. (fn. 189) The latter conveyed to Richard de la Roche in 1309 land which passed in 1318 to Richard's son Simon as the manor of OVER VEXFORD. Simon was still alive in 1320. (fn. 190) John Roche held Vexford in 1381, (fn. 191) and he or a namesake in 1392 conveyed to John Luttrell (d. 1403) in trust lands there and elsewhere in the parish. (fn. 192) John (later Sir John) Luttrell (d. 1430) had an interest in land at Over Vexford by 1418, (fn. 193) and he conveyed the reversion of the manor after his own death to Thomas and Joan Trow. Thomas and Joan granted the manor in 1431 to Richard Luttrell, and on Richard's death trustees settled it in 1453 on James (later Sir James) Luttrell. (fn. 194)
Sir James Luttrell's estates, confiscated in 1462, were granted in the following year to Sir William Herbert, and were retained by him until his death in 1469. (fn. 195) During that period claims to ownership were made by John Roche, illegitimate son of John Roche (fl. 1392). (fn. 196) Sir James Luttrell's widow Elizabeth, later wife of Humphrey Audley, regained her first husband's estates in 1475 (fn. 197) and died in 1493. (fn. 198) She was succeeded by her son Hugh Luttrell (d. 1521), and the manor then descended like Kilton manor until 1709, when Alexander Luttrell sold Over Vexford to Sir William Wyndham. (fn. 199) It thereafter descended like Orchard Wyndham until 1864, when it was bought by Anna Sweet Escott and added to the Hartrow estates. (fn. 200)
Luke Lovesgift occupied land at Vexford in the late 12th century. (fn. 201) A man of the same name held land at Lower Vexford in 1242–3. (fn. 202) Either may have been the Luke of Vexford who previously held land which by 1291 was owned by Barlinch Priory. (fn. 203) The estate passed to the Crown at the dissolution of the priory in 1536 (fn. 204) and as the manor of VEXFORD it was sold to Sir William Stourton in 1544. (fn. 205) In the same year Stourton sold it to John Sweeting (d. 1550) and his son John. (fn. 206) John the younger died in 1556 leaving a son, also John, a minor. (fn. 207) In 1623 John Sweeting settled his estate on his son John, a London clothmaker, who died in the same year leaving his kinsman John Vellacot as his heir. (fn. 208)
Ownership has not been traced thereafter until 1784 when the holding was divided: by 1791 part was held by the Revd. Simon Richards, part by Thomas Slocombe of Tirhill in Bishop's Lydeard. (fn. 209) Richards's son, the Revd. Simon Slocombe Richards, appears to have held the whole estate by 1840. (fn. 210) He died in 1853 and was succeeded by his grandson John Simon Richards; in 1859 John sold the estate to Langley St. Albyn. In 1871 St. Albyn gave it to his grandson Birt St. Albyn Jenner and it was sold with Stogumber manor. (fn. 211)
In 1086 Roger de Courcelles held HALSWAY with Alric, the owner in 1066, as his undertenant. (fn. 212) Like Kilve manor the estate was held of the barony of Compton Dundon, having passed through the Malet, Avenel, and Beauchamp families. The overlordship was last recorded in 1535. (fn. 213) Thomas of Halsway held a fee in 1166. (fn. 214) Matthew de Furneaux and Nicholas Avenel were in dispute over Halsway wood in 1243, when the latter denied selling it to Thomas of Halsway. (fn. 215) Thomas's son, Thomas, certainly occupied Halsway c. 1275, and in 1284–5 the vill was held by John of Halsway, the younger Thomas's son. John died before 1295, (fn. 216) and in 1303 John of Penbrigg was returned as a holder of ½ fee in Halsway and Coleford. (fn. 217) John's eventual heir was Joan, daughter of Thomas Halsway (fl. 1297), possibly John's brother. She married Peter Stradling (d. before 1314), of Berne (later Switzerland), and their son Sir Edward (fn. 218) did homage for Halsway manor, a 'great' knight's fee, in 1337. (fn. 219) The manor descended from Sir Edward (d. c. 1363) in the direct male line to Sir Edward (d. 1394), Sir William (d. c. 1407), Sir Edward (d. 1453) who married Joan, daughter of Henry Beaufort, later bishop of Winchester and cardinal, Henry (d. 1476), Thomas (d. 1480), Edward (d. 1535), (fn. 220) Thomas (d. 1571), and Edward (d. 1602). Sir John Stradling (d. 1637), kinsman of the last, was the next owner, but his widow Elizabeth, her son Edward, and Edward's wife Mary sold the manor and other lands to James Cade of Wilton, Taunton, in 1637. (fn. 221)
James Cade (d. 1640) was followed by his son James (d. 1655). (fn. 222) The latter's son, also James (d. 1702), was followed by his son, another James Cade (d. c. 1741). In 1733 Cade sold part of the estate to Richard Hembrow of Bicknoller, and by the time of his death most of his property was either sold or heavily mortaged. (fn. 223) He was succeeded by his fifth son Charles (d. 1775) and then by another son, Nathaniel, a Bristol joiner. In 1787 Nathaniel sold the manor to William Snow of Porlock, one of the main creditors. (fn. 224) Snow held it until 1806 or later (fn. 225) but by 1817 it was owned by Mary Stoate of Porlock. In 1829 she left Halsway in trust for James Crang, lessee since 1817. (fn. 226) Crang (d. 1846) was succeeded by his son James (d. 1847), and the younger James by his son, also James Crang. (fn. 227) In 1875 the estate was bought from Crang by Charles Rowcliffe (d. 1877), of Cagley Court, in Sampford Brett. Rowcliffe was succeeded by his brother William, and William in 1900 by his son, also William. (fn. 228) William Rowcliffe sold the estate in 1914; the house passed through several hands until 1965 when it was bought by the English Folk Dance and Song Society. In 1979 it was used by the Society as a residential study centre. (fn. 229)
A medieval house, which included a chapel by 1415, (fn. 230) survived into the 19th century, and parts may remain in the much altered fabric. The house in the early 19th century had battlemented porches, probably of the 16th century, at both ends of the principal south-west front in addition to a similar porch close to the centre and a large lateral chimney stack in the hall. (fn. 231) Charles Rowcliffe after 1875 demolished and rebuilt at least some of the original work, and enlarged the house to the north and north-east in a 16th-century style. The interior was extensively altered between 1924 and 1938 by the then owner W. N. Mitchell and woodwork was introduced from elsewhere: the hall panelling and other features from Cock's House, Quay Side, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the hall mantelpiece from the Albright-Hussey family of Shropshire, and the dining-room panelling from Standish Hall (Lancs.). (fn. 232) A stone gateway, since demolished, bearing crests with griffin supports was the subject of a painting by Frederick Walker. (fn. 233)
COLEFORD was held by Alric in 1066 and he continued to hold it, like Halsway, under Roger de Courcelles in 1086. (fn. 234) It formed part of the Halsway fee until 1428, (fn. 235) but has not been traced thereafter.
EMBELLE was held in 1066 by Ulgar and under Roger de Courcelles by Alric in 1086. (fn. 236) By 1424 it formed part of Thorncombe manor in Bicknoller, and so remained probably until the 17th century. (fn. 237) It thereafter descended as a freehold estate called Embelle farm. (fn. 238)
By 1280 a holding at REXTON was regarded as three separate freeholds of Woodadvent manor in Nettlecombe. (fn. 239) It was still so held in 1619. (fn. 240) Each part descended separately, one from James Luttrell in 1453 becoming part of Over Vexford, (fn. 241) one from the Gilbert family of Woolavington in the 15th century and Erasmus Pym in 1556 to the Laceys of Hartrow by 1619, (fn. 242) and one from the Sydenhams to the Wyndhams by 1556. (fn. 243) By 1841 the second and third parts were owned by Daniel Blommart of Willet in Elworthy. (fn. 244)
Three houses survive at Rexton, the most southerly, known as Rexton Farm Cottage, dating from the 16th century. A hall and slightly later kitchen survive. In 1980 the house was under extensive restoration and a screen south of the hall and remains of crucks had been removed. (fn. 245)
In 1294–5 an estate at Boarpath was granted by Robert of Tetton to Simon of Crowcombe. (fn. 246) It descended like Crowcombe Biccombe manor, (fn. 247) and in 1615, when it included New Marsh and common on Heathfield, it was described as the manor of BOARPATH. (fn. 248) It continued to be held with Crowcombe into the 20th century. (fn. 249)
In 1460 an estate at CHEDDERMARSH was settled on John and Joan Sydenham by William Gore. (fn. 250) After Joan's death in 1498 it passed to her son John Sydenham (d. 1521). (fn. 251) John's son John died a minor in 1526 leaving two sisters one of whom married John (later Sir John) Wyndham. Wyndham purchased the other sister's share in 1529, and the holding descended like Orchard Wyndham. (fn. 252) By 1610 Sir John's grandson, Sir John Wyndham, had added to this estate lands at Escott, Cottiford, and Combe Cross, formerly all in Thorncombe manor, Bicknoller, (fn. 253) creating an estate sometimes known as Stogumber manor. (fn. 254) In 1804 Cheddermarsh and Escott were given to Sir John Trevelyan as part of an exchange, but Combe Cross was retained to form part of the Wyndhams' estate of Stogumber and Over Vexford in 1851. (fn. 255)
Nine estates in Stogumber were mentioned in 1086, their recorded size suggesting that at least a third of the later parish was not under cultivation. Capton was the largest estate, with land for 5 ploughs, followed by Hartrow and the church estate with 4 ploughlands each, and Halsway and Combe with 3 each; the remaining estates were smaller. Halsway had 400 a. of pasture, presumably on the Quantocks, and Hartrow 100 a., but Combe, with the Brendons rising behind it, was credited with only 50 a. The two holdings at Vexford had 51 a. of woodland between them, and Combe had wood measuring 4 furlongs by 2 furlongs. Capton, Coleford, Combe, Halsway, Hartrow, and Vexford supported sheep. (fn. 256)
By the end of the 13th century more intensive exploitation of the land had produced several small freeholds and led to the extension of the Domesday estate at Capton. Holdings at Boarpath and Yeaw, probably carved from the less fertile land in the south-east, were mentioned in 1269, (fn. 257) and the former was held with Crowcombe Biccombe manor from 1294–5. (fn. 258) Carslake, perhaps once part of neighbouring Over Vexford, belonged to the Bolevill family by 1274. (fn. 259) Goodley, on the Brendon slopes above Combe and a property of the Templars before their suppression in 1312, was evidently another settlement on less productive land, but it still survived as a hamlet in 1597. (fn. 260)
The extension of Capton manor in the north was the work of the Ralegh family of Nettlecombe. By the 1280s the farm centre had moved south from Capton to Rowdon. (fn. 261) Ancient woodland south-east of Capton was cleared around Vellow before 1307, (fn. 262) and new acquisitions were made by the Raleghs at Maderknoll and Curdon, between Vellow and the Doniford stream, in 1293 and at Cottiford, a little further north, in 1316. (fn. 263)
By 1307 Rowdon manor was being improved by regular marling, and customary services included not only making hay and the harvest in the fields but carting duties from the Brendons when corn was sown there, and maintenance of earth banks, taking grain to 'Baghtrip' (?Bawdrip), Watchet, and Dunster, and bringing herring and salt from Lyme (Dors.) and Exeter. (fn. 264)
By the end of the 14th century Rowdon and Nettlecombe were administered as a single farm. The granary at Rowdon, stocked with barley, oats, rye, wheat, and malt, indicated where most of the arable of the manor of Nettlecombe and Rowdon lay, but there were cowhouses and a slaughterhouse suggesting both dairying and stock raising. (fn. 265) Tenants at Curdon supplied both plough shares and shoes for ploughteams until the early 15th century. (fn. 266) Higher Vexford Farm and Yeaw Farm, both built as farmhouses by the 16th century, indicate continued economic activity on both prime and marginal land.
By the 16th century the Trevelyan estate covered as much as a third of the parish, and included further land at Vellow acquired in 1520. (fn. 267) More was to be added at Togford, formerly part of Stogumber manor, in the early 18th century. (fn. 268) Separate farms at Rowdon and Vellow Wood had emerged by the 16th century and the former was let in 1598 to Robert Dashwood, a member of a family which engrossed holdings on the estate. (fn. 269) The Dashwoods lived at Vellow Wood, which they held by 1612, for c. 150 years. (fn. 270) Elsewhere on the estate after 1659 Charlwood common, shared between the tenants of Rowdon and Cheddermarsh, was no longer broken for tillage for three years in every ten. (fn. 271) By 1724 only rights for Cheddermarsh tenants survived on the 30-a. common, and it was said to be insufficient for stocking with sheep seven in every ten years. Sir John Trevelyan then hoped to buy out the rights and let the whole for a substantial rack rent. (fn. 272) The common, however, survived until after 1796. (fn. 273) The Trevelyans also established water meadows at Curdon in the 17th century and at Togford in the 18th. (fn. 274)
In 1641, of the 29 taxpayers in Halsway tithing only 12 paid tax of 5s. or less but in Stogumber tithing 34 out of 44 taxpayers paid 5s. or less, suggesting a large number of small holdings in the centre of the parish. (fn. 275) Elsewhere in the parish several small freehold farms can be traced. The two 19th-century farms at Lower Weacombe probably originated in the 16th-century holdings of the Dodington and Saffin families. (fn. 276) The Slocombes held an estate at Carslake from 1551 (fn. 277) until 1679 when they sold it to John Carew of Crowcombe. (fn. 278) Before 1619 the Slocombes had added c. 50 a. at Houndwell to their estate. (fn. 279) Northam comprised a capital messuage and 140 a. in 1662; by 1782 the holding had been enlarged to include land in Kingswood, Houndhill, and Carslake. (fn. 280) The break-up of the Halsway estate in the 18th century led to the creation of freehold farms including Cusdon's, held by the Hembrow family in the 18th and 19th centuries, Paradise, and Little Halsway. (fn. 281)
Several 17th-century farmers had goods worth over £100. One woman left oxen worth £30, cattle and pigs, 64 cheeses, and 4 gallons of butter. Another woman, whose inventory totalled over £350, kept cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, and poultry in addition to growing corn. A wealthy yeoman in 1640 had a library full of books, a small armoury, and corn worth £30. (fn. 282) In 1731 one farmer's goods were worth c. £750 and included a cased clock and virginals. (fn. 283) Wheat and barley seem to have been the principal crops; flax was grown on a small scale from 1665, (fn. 284) and hops and apples were produced at Vellow. (fn. 285)
During the 19th century there was a move to larger farms and several pairs of farms were formed, such as Hartrow and Higher Vexford, Embelle and Whitemoor, and Wood and Lower Preston. (fn. 286) Some farmhouses were improved in the 17th and 18th centuries. Yeaw Farm was enlarged in the 17th and the early 19th century and Higher Vexford Farm received a substantial addition in the 18th century including a new staircase and principal rooms.
In 1828 three men, including the lessor's son James Notley, became partners in farming Combe Sydenham farm on a 7-year lease from George Notley. James was to invest half the capital needed to stock the 700-a. farm for which the rent was £525 a year. (fn. 287) Arable land in the north of the parish was said to be worth 36s. an acre in 1835 but Sir John Trevelyan let it to his cottagers for 18s. an acre. He was said to be a fair landlord who let his cottages with large gardens at reasonable rents, and there were a number of allotments on the Trevelyan estates. (fn. 288) In 1840 there were 6 holdings of over 200 a.: Vellow Wood, Capton, Escott, and Wood with Lower Preston had between 200 a. and 300 a., the Hartrow and Higher Vexford farm was 358 a., and Combe Sydenham farm was 638 a. There were 12 farms of between 100 a. and 200 a., 12 between 50 a. and 100 a., and 22 between 10 a. and 50 a. (fn. 289) In 1851 the Combe Sydenham farm employed 30 labourers. A total of 92 men worked on 7 farms of over 150 a. and a further 45 on 10 farms with between 50 and 150 a. (fn. 290) After the addition of Over Vexford with a 100 a. during the 1860s the Hartrow estate produced average rents, after deductions, of over £1,000 a year. (fn. 291) As a result of amalgamation and increased prosperity, many farmhouses, including Rowdon and Embelle, were rebuilt during the 19th century while others, like Boarpath, on merged holdings were abandoned.
In 1840 there were 3,727 a. of arable and 1,506 a. of pasture, (fn. 292) and in 1861 the parish produced crops of wheat, barley, beans, mangolds, potatoes, and turnips. (fn. 293) In 1905 arable accounted for 2,570 a., grass 2,247 a., and woodland 265 a. (fn. 294) In 1976 at least 2,085 a. were under grass, 1,626 a. were arable, and 80 a. were under fruit and horticultural crops. (fn. 295) In the west the rough hill pasture on the Combe Sydenham estate was planted with trees in the late 1970s, and the estate was run as commercial woodland. There was also a trout farm on the estate in 1980.
Cloth making was concentrated largely in the hamlets along the Doniford stream and its tributaries where fulling mills were recorded from the 15th century. (fn. 296) There was a fuller at Vexford in 1243. (fn. 297) Weavers, fullers, dyers, and clothiers were prominent in the parish in the 16th and 17th centuries, including members of the Sweeting and Dashwood families. (fn. 298) Individual craftsmen were clearly prosperous. A weaver died in 1636 leaving looms, two reeling machines, cloth, yarn, flock, and wool worth £22. (fn. 299) Another seems to have finished his own cloth, for he owned not only weaving equipment but also two racks, shears, a brass furnace, and a supply of wool and cloth. (fn. 300) There were five fulling mills in the parish between the 15th and 18th centuries, and field names indicate racks at Capton, Stogumber village, Downside, Over Vexford, Lower Vexford, and Northam. (fn. 301) Dyeing was carried out in the 16th century at Vellow and Boarpath, (fn. 302) and later at Carslake. (fn. 303) Three combers in the parish were supplied by a serge weaver from Lydeard St. Lawrence in 1696 with wool already dyed. (fn. 304)
Henry Sweeting (d. 1685) had a shop selling a wide variety of imported cloth and haberdashery as well as tobacco, paper, sugar, canary seed, currants, soap, and glasses. (fn. 305) Other 17th-century and later occupations included tanning at Vellow, (fn. 306) gloving, (fn. 307) hat making, (fn. 308) and malting. (fn. 309) In 1821 out of 243 families 158 were engaged in trade and manufacture. (fn. 310) In 1851 there were a draper and a fellmonger in the parish as well as a milliner, dressmakers, shoemakers, building workers, several retailers, and professional men. Other trades included those of a carrier and a veterinary surgeon. (fn. 311) There was a smithy at Curdon by 1370 (fn. 312) and others at Carslake and Capton in the late 18th and the 19th century. (fn. 313) A blacksmith's shop at Vellow, worked by five smiths in 1851, was converted to a pottery c. 1961. (fn. 314)
A brewery was established south of Stogumber village early in the 19th century using the reputedly medicinal water from a spring called Harry Hill's well. Its product was sold throughout the country. (fn. 315) In 1851 the brewery employed labourers, coopers, a clerk, a manager, and at least one travelling salesman. (fn. 316) Brewing probably ceased c. 1910 but malting continued until 1923 or later. (fn. 317) Most of the buildings were demolished in 1973 but the small mineral water plant was still standing in 1975. (fn. 318)
In 1613 a road from Ashbeer to Stogumber was known as Market Way and in the village there was a shambles from which Sir John Sydenham received 70s. rent in 1614. (fn. 319) Sir John was said to have bought a Saturday market from the Crown in 1615, possibly because an earlier market had lapsed. (fn. 320) There was a clerk of the market in the 1630s and in 1637 the rent was £13. (fn. 321) In the late 17th century the market attracted produce from as far as Kilve and Kilton. (fn. 322) The market was still held in 1861 but was discontinued shortly afterwards. (fn. 323)
The market hall was built north of the church c. 1800 and comprised an arched area below and an assembly room over. (fn. 324) After 1840, (fn. 325) and probably in the 1860s when the market was abandoned, the building was incorporated into the White Horse inn.
From 1615 Sir John Sydenham held two fairs in the village, on the feasts of St. Peter ad Vincula (1 August) and St. Mark (25 April). (fn. 326) Until 1695 the fairs were said to be held from the Crown on a lease for lives (fn. 327) but were later held with Stogumber manor. (fn. 328) The spring fair for cattle continued until after 1861. (fn. 329) Bullocks and sheep were sold at the summer fair, which probably ceased soon after the mid 18th century. (fn. 330)
There were two corn mills in 1086, one at Combe, the other at Hartrow. (fn. 331) The Combe mill was probably working in 1367 (fn. 332) and certainly in 1613. (fn. 333) A new overshot mill was built c. 1794. Grinding had ceased by the 1880s, (fn. 334) but the building remained in 1979. Hartrow mill was not mentioned after 1086 but the name Mill meadow and a pond retained for ornamental purposes in the 19th century suggest the site of a later mill on the estate. (fn. 335)
There were two corn mills at Curdon: (fn. 336) one, mentioned in 1325, served the tenants at Capton, Escott, and Curdon. (fn. 337) Both mills appear to have been in use in 1392 and 1416. (fn. 338) One, held of Rowdon manor and called Curdon mills, was worked until 1840 or later. (fn. 339) It stood on a branch of the Doniford stream and in 1979 was a private house. The other mill was held of Stogumber manor. (fn. 340) That mill still existed in 1796, when it was worked by the Curdon miller, but it had gone out of use as a corn mill by 1840. (fn. 341) A fulling mill was attached to it between 1660 and c. 1778 and it was used as a sawmill in 1872. (fn. 342) Manor mill in Stogumber village, possibly in use by 1389, (fn. 343) was worked until 1889 or later but had probably ceased when the manor estates were sold in 1896. (fn. 344) The building, immediately northwest of the village, was in ruins in 1979, but it appears to have had an overshot wheel. The mill pond could be traced in neighbouring gardens. Kingswood mill was mentioned in 1613. (fn. 345) It went out of use between 1910 and 1914 (fn. 346) and in 1979 was a private house. A corn mill at Northam by 1652 (fn. 347) was still in use in 1848, (fn. 348) but it had ceased milling by 1866. (fn. 349) It stood on the Doniford stream and in 1979 was a private house. There may have been a mill at Escott before 1840. (fn. 350)
There was a fulling mill at Lower Vexford by 1537. (fn. 351) It stood north of the hamlet and was probably driven by the stream running from Willett. (fn. 352) It may have been the fulling mill rated between 1770 and 1806. (fn. 353) There was another in Over Vexford manor in the 16th century, possibly at Northam where a fulling mill was recorded in 1568. (fn. 354) A fulling mill was attached to the Stogumber manor mill at Curdon between 1660 and c. 1778. (fn. 355) The Cockesmill recorded in a Stogumber manor survey of 1613 may be the fulling mill recorded in 1636. (fn. 356) It was in use in 1695 (fn. 357) and may have been the mill near Downside rated in 1770 and 1806, (fn. 358) which had gone by 1840. (fn. 359)
Stogumber (sometimes Preston and Stogumber) and Halsway tithings lay wholly within the parish. (fn. 360) The Trevelyan estates in the north formed part of Nettlecombe tithing, Combe Sydenham and Escott were considered part of Bicknoller tithing, Hartrow and Vexford part of Elworthy tithing, Ashbeer, Boarpath, Carslake, and Yeaw part of Williton tithing, and Rexton part of Woodadvent tithing, which had been absorbed into Nettlecombe tithing by the 19th century. (fn. 361) Kilve and Dunwear tithings were said to include parts of the parish in 1670. (fn. 362)
No court rolls have been found for Stogumber manor but courts were still held in the 17th century. (fn. 363) Court rolls for the rectory manor survive for most of the years between 1469 and 1640 and between 1660 and 1668, and courts normally met twice a year. (fn. 364) In 1681 they were held in the almshouses but during the 19th century they met at Wells solely for the admission of tenants. (fn. 365) No court rolls have been found for Halsway but courts were held by the 14th and until the late 17th century (fn. 366) probably ceasing in the early 18th century. (fn. 367) Courts were held twice a year for Hartrow manor in the 16th century and were still being held in 1759, (fn. 368) but court rolls have been discovered only for the years 1562–3 and 1668. (fn. 369) The courts for Over Vexford manor met twice a year in the 15th century and chose a steward and reeve. (fn. 370) Records survive intermittently from the 14th to the 17th centuries. (fn. 371) The Wyndham estates in Stogumber were administered by a court sitting at Escott, but only one roll for 1636 has been discovered. (fn. 372) Rowdon manor was administered with Nettlecombe manor, (fn. 373) Boarpath with Crowcombe Biccombe, (fn. 374) and Combe Sydenham with Bicknoller manor. (fn. 375)
By the early 17th century two churchwardens and four overseers (fn. 376) were chosen by means of a property rota, half the officers coming from the west side of the parish and half from the east. By 1671 the retiring churchwardens were regularly elected waywardens for the coming year. (fn. 377) A salaried assistant overseer was appointed in 1827, and in 1839 there was a paid highway surveyor. (fn. 378)
A vestry of 13 people met during the late 18th century and supervised the election of parish officers. (fn. 379) A select vestry of 20 people, meeting fortnightly by 1834, had perhaps ceased to meet by 1836 and was ordered to be restored. (fn. 380) The vestry met between 1852 and 1880 at the White Horse but the Easter vestry was held in the church. (fn. 381)
Poor relief in the 17th century included payment for funerals, removals, house rent, nursing, apprenticeships, clothing, shoes, and items of food. (fn. 382) The overseers had contracts with a surgeon (1741) and a carpenter (1749), the latter to make coffins. In 1752 they paid for a wooden leg. (fn. 383)
In 1752 the overseers agreed to pay the product of five poor rates each year to establish and maintain a workhouse. The house opened with 8 people, some of whom were paid for spinning. (fn. 384) In 1769 there were 25 residents including children who were taught at parish expense. (fn. 385) In 1834 the workhouse held 25 people, and a further 3 families lived in other houses owned by the parish. Outdoor relief was paid for the fourth and every subsequent child. During the year 481 people received relief, most of whom were infirm, disabled, or children under 9 years. (fn. 386) The parish became part of the Williton poor-law union in 1836 (fn. 387) and the workhouse had been given up by 1840. (fn. 388) The cottages were retained until 1865. (fn. 389)
Stogumber formed part of Williton rural district from 1894 and in 1974 became part of the West Somerset district. (fn. 390)
The church of Stogumber, known in 1086 as the church of St. Mary of Warverdinestoch, had been supported by a large estate, suggesting that it had been a minster. (fn. 391) The possible extent of the area served by the church may be indicated by renders of grain due to the rectory in the 13th century from Monksilver (fn. 392) and Syndercombe in Clatworthy, the second referred to as churchscot, (fn. 393) and by the payment of tithe to the rectory in 1841 from Willett in Elworthy; (fn. 394) Bicknoller, moreover, remained a chapelry of Stogumber in the early 19th century. (fn. 395) The church and its estate were held by an individual owner in 1066 and by one of the king's clerks, Richer de Andelys, in 1086. Part of that estate formed the later rectory; (fn. 396) a rector was recorded in 1249 (fn. 397) and there was presumably a rectory by 1214 when Walter de Andelys had the advowson. (fn. 398) Another Walter de Andelys gave the advowson in 1259 to William of Bitton, bishop of Bath and Wells (d. 1264), who gave it to the dean and chapter of Wells. Under a licence of 1271 the chapter appropriated the church (fn. 399) between 1274 and 1291, and a vicarage had been ordained by 1291. (fn. 400) The living remained a vicarage in the patronage of the chapter, occasional presentations being made by individual members who farmed the rectory, (fn. 401) until 1977, when it became a curacy-in-charge held with the united benefice of Monksilver with Brompton Ralph and Nettlecombe. (fn. 402)
The vicarage was assessed at £11 13s. 4d. in 1291, more than any other in the area. (fn. 403) It was valued at £18 2s. in 1535, (fn. 404) £80 in c. 1668, (fn. 405) and £239 net by 1831. (fn. 406) The value of the living was augmented to £300 in 1882. (fn. 407) In 1535 tithes of wool and lambs were valued at £9 2s. and personal tithes and casualties were worth £7 13s. 4d. (fn. 408) In 1840 the vicarial tithes were commuted for a tithe rent charge of £325 5s. (fn. 409) The vicarial glebe was valued at £1 6s. 8d. in 1535. (fn. 410) In 1571 the glebe comprised 5 gardens, 2 orchards, and the herbage of the churchyard, and in 1626 and 1840 there were 2 houses, including the vicarage house. (fn. 411)
The former vicarage house, north-west of the church, has a medieval east-west range of three rooms, including a three-bayed former open hall with partially surviving arch-braced roof. In 1736 there were a pantry, parlour, and study with four chambers above. (fn. 412) By that time the hall was ceiled and the fireplace added. A range was built on the west side of the house in the early 19th century.
Hugh Roper, instituted in 1476, was apparently still resident vicar in 1534. (fn. 413) Edward Lokton, vicar from 1536, was deprived in 1554 and replaced by James Bonde, S.T.P., a canon of Wells and later archdeacon of Bath. (fn. 414) Lokton was restored under Elizabeth but he does not seem to have been resident. (fn. 415) Richard Phelps was vicar for 40 years from 1581. Shortly after John Baynham began his 58-year incumbency in 1631 (fn. 416) the puritan Anthony Scrope preached at Stogumber in 1633. (fn. 417) The parish registers include many of Baynham's comments and also entries omitted during the period of civil registration. (fn. 418) A successor commented on his wealth. (fn. 419) Richard Lux, resident vicar 1722–36, had plate and other valuables worth over £20, but his few books were worth less than £2. (fn. 420) John Turner, vicar 1761– 1817 and archdeacon of Taunton 1780–1817, was non-resident because he was principal surrogate to the bishop's court at Wells. His resident curate held two services each Sunday. (fn. 421) The next vicar, James Talman, was resident chaplain at Bromley College (Kent), and his successor, George Trevelyan (vicar 1820–71), was absent because of mental illness. (fn. 422) Trevelyan's brother Edward Otto Trevelyan was resident curate until 1869. (fn. 423)
There were 432 communicants and 15 monthly and festal celebrations in 1842, and 75 people were confirmed in 1844. (fn. 424) In 1851 about 150 people attended morning service and 300 came in the afternoon. In addition the 60 Sunday-school children attended both services. (fn. 425) By 1868 the number of communicants had dropped to 115 but the number of celebrations had risen to 25, and two years later they were held weekly. In 1870 there were two sermons on Sundays. (fn. 426) E. A. Couch, vicar 1908–44, wrote a parish magazine, including notes on parish history, between 1910 and 1940. He set up a branch of the Temperance Movement and Band of Hope, kept a parish library, and held cottage services at Higher Vexford, Lower Vexford, Capton, Rexton, and Halsway. (fn. 427)
A church house was leased to the churchwardens from the rectory manor by the early 14th century. (fn. 428) It was said to have been burned c. 1616, (fn. 429) but it almost certainly survives as the two-storeyed building south of the former vicarage house. It has a jointed cruck roof and contains a large kitchen fireplace with evidence of later brewing activities. The building seems to have been incorporated into the glebe after the fire and to have become a kitchen and stable for the vicarage by 1626. (fn. 430)
In 1505 a stone image of the Holy Trinity was given to the church. (fn. 431) In the 1530s there were lights of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Anthony, St. George, St. Christopher, a 'dead' light, (fn. 432) and a light or statue of St. Michael, (fn. 433) some of which may later have been endowed. (fn. 434) By 1547 there was a rood light (fn. 435) and a fraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, formerly known as the brotherhood of the church. (fn. 436)
The church of ST. MARY, in a prominent position in the centre of the village, is built of sandstone with limestone dressings. It comprises chancel with north and south aisles, aisled nave with porches to north and south, and a south-west tower. The lower stages of the tower and the western bay of the south nave aisle are of the late 13th or early 14th century and, with the possible exception of the east end of the chancel, are all that survived extensive rebuilding and enlargement in the 15th century. The elaborate south chancel aisle, then owned by the Sydenham family, may have been the first addition, followed by the rebuilding of two bays of the south aisle of the nave, the construction of the north nave aisle, the north porch, the rood stair, the Halsway aisle north of the chancel, and the top stage and turret stair of the tower.
The stone pulpit and font are contemporary with the rebuilding and extension, but the bench ends probably belong to the 16th century. Monuments in the church include the elaborate tomb of Sir George Sydenham (d. 1597) and memorials to successive owners of the Combe Sydenham, Halsway, and Hartrow estates. A west gallery was erected in 1726 because of the 'multitude of persons' attending the church. (fn. 437) During the 19th century the fabric of the church was neglected, (fn. 438) and the lessees of the rectory spent less than £1 a year on repairs in 1849, out of their total tithe receipts of over £740. (fn. 439) The Halsway aisle was also neglected by the owners and was said to have been ruinous in 1873. (fn. 440) The church was restored between 1873 and 1875 by J. D. Sedding. The chancel walls and roof were painted in the style of William Morris by Edward Jones, vicar 1871– 1907. (fn. 441)
There are six bells including one by Thomas Pennington of Exeter dated 1624 and another by Thomas Purdue dated 1687. (fn. 442) The plate includes a chalice of 1615 (fn. 443) and a paten and flagon of 1733. (fn. 444) The registers date from 1559 with gaps 1646–53 and 1712–17. (fn. 445)
There was a chapel at Hartrow, described in the early 18th century as a chapel of ease long since demolished. (fn. 446) It evidently stood on Hartrow Hill, and had been converted to a cottage by 1562. (fn. 447) The chapel was endowed with every third crop from land in Elworthy including Coleford farm, an endowment still paid to the rectory estate in 1801. (fn. 448) Tithes due to the rectory from fields at Willett in Elworthy in 1841 (fn. 449) may represent the same payment.
The chapel of Our Lady Sweetwell at Vellow was licensed for mass and other services in 1542. It adjoined the house of John Hawkins (fn. 450) and was probably served by Hawkin's son John. In his will of 1547 Hawkins the elder provided that if mass was no longer said in the chapel then the furnishings should be bestowed for the good of his soul and the bells should be given to the parish church. (fn. 451) The chapel became part of the adjoining house, but was still known as the chapel of Sweetwell or Vellow as late as the 18th century. (fn. 452) Traces of the chapel remain in Sweetwell Cottage.
Two people were presented for recusancy in 1636. (fn. 453) By 1669 there were two groups of nonconformists. (fn. 454) A Presbyterian meeting house was licensed in 1672 and licences for unspecified congregations were issued in 1704 and 1713. By 1718 there were 170 Presbyterian members, but soon afterwards they seem to have transferred their allegiance to the Baptists. (fn. 455) Baptist preachers and teachers at Stogumber and Dunster had been supported from 1690 by an endowment given by Jane Prowse of Croydon in Old Cleeve. (fn. 456) A congregation was established by 1718. (fn. 457) A chapel was built c. 1726. (fn. 458) There was a resident minister c. 1799. (fn. 459) The chapel seated 200 and attendance on Census Sunday 1851 was 79 in the morning, 74 in the afternoon, and 90 in the evening. (fn. 460) The chapel was rebuilt in 1869 (fn. 461) and was in use in 1979. There is a register of births for the period 1810–36. (fn. 462) The congregation used hymn tunes by Joel Thorne of Stogumber published in Pentecostal Hymns (1906). (fn. 463) In 1792 a room at Carslake was licensed, probably for use by Baptists. (fn. 464)
Houses used by Methodists were licensed in 1753 and 1754. (fn. 465) In 1840 a building in the grounds of Capton House was converted for use as a chapel (fn. 466) and in 1843 Kingswood was taken into the Williton Wesleyan circuit for services on alternate Sundays. (fn. 467) A house was licensed there in 1844, (fn. 468) and a small chapel was built in 1848 but in 1855 it was abandoned. (fn. 469) Methodist services were revived in the 1860s, (fn. 470) possibly at Capton, where services in private houses were held regularly from 1868 until 1916. (fn. 471) Services were held at Vellow in 1886–7. (fn. 472)
A Congregationalist village evangelist held occasional meetings at Rexton and Coleford Water in the late 19th century. (fn. 473)
There was an unlicensed schoolmaster in 1629. (fn. 474) Pauper children were being taught at parish expense in 1769, possibly in the workhouse. (fn. 475) The Baptist minister is said to have established a school in the late 18th century, and it certainly existed in 1803, occupying a building attached to the chapel. (fn. 476) By 1818 it taught 30 boys from the poorer classes. It was supported by voluntary contributions and was said to be 'well watched over'. (fn. 477) In 1840 it was taking both day and boarding pupils, but seems to have closed shortly afterwards. (fn. 478)
A church school was founded c. 1802 and by 1812 had 70 children. (fn. 479) It was said to be badly superintended in 1818, (fn. 480) and in 1825 had 58 children on weekdays and Sundays. (fn. 481) It was succeeded by a National school, founded in 1833, which by 1840 occupied a site near Zinch, and in 1846 had 103 children. (fn. 482) The buildings were enlarged in 1871 and by 1902 there were 5 teachers and 118 children on the books. (fn. 483) Numbers fluctuated over the following decades as neighbouring village schools closed. From 1971 the school became a First School for children in the 5–9 age range, older children travelling to Williton. (fn. 484)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
Sir George Sydenham (d. 1597) gave six cottages for as many poor widows, supported by an annual rent charge of £15 on the Combe Sydenham estate. (fn. 487) In 1910 the owner of the estate was required to nominate the occupants and to pay 1s. a week to each. (fn. 488) In 1939 the houses were sold and interest on the proceeds given to two or three aged widows. (fn. 489) In 1979 the one recipient of the charity was a former employee of the Combe Sydenham estate. (fn. 490) The early 17th-century building, converted to a single dwelling after 1939, stands south-west of the church in the village street.
Cash bequests to the poor of Stogumber, notably by Lady Sydenham (d.?1654), William Lacey (d. 1607), George Trevelyan (d. 1653), John Sweeting (d.?1646), and George Huish, totalling £210, were used in 1658 to buy a rent charge of £10. (fn. 491) John Blake of Lower Weacombe, by will dated 1716, left £100 to provide clothing for the poor. In 1722 the money, together with nearly £200 from other charitable bequests, was used to buy land at Bishop's Lydeard, the income to be used to provide clothing and blankets for the respectable poor who attempted to live independently of the parish. (fn. 492) Both charities, with the addition of a gift of £90 by Mrs. Ann Ling, by will proved 1890, provided for the distribution of £40 a year in clothing and blankets until 1939 or later. (fn. 493) More recent distributions have been made in cash and vouchers. The rent charge bought in 1658 was redeemed in 1975 for £80. (fn. 494)