A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1992.
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MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
Merlsuain held WEMBDON in 1066; Walter of Douai held it in 1086. (fn. 1) The overlordship seems to have passed by the late 12th century to William Brewer (d. 1226), (fn. 2) and then through one of William's daughters, Alice, wife of Reynold Mohun (d. 1213), to Reynold's son Reynold (d. 1258). From William Mohun of Ottery Mohun (Devon), the younger Reynold's son by his second wife, it passed to William's daughter Eleanor, wife of John de Carru. In 1329 the overlord was John and Eleanor's son John, and the manor was held as of Ottery Mohun manor. (fn. 3) In 1487 and 1616 it was said to be held as of North Petherton manor. (fn. 4)
A mesne lordship was ascribed in 1284–5, 1303, and 1329 to Richard de Grenville (d. by 1327), possibly a descendant of William Brewer whose granddaughter Isabel Pagnell married Eustace de Grenville. (fn. 5) Theobald Grenville succeeded his father Henry as mesne lord in 1327, (fn. 6) but no later record of the lordship has been found. (fn. 7)
Walter of Douai's tenant in 1086 was Ludo. (fn. 8) Jordan of Wembdon, his son John the parson, and Jordan's granddaughter Sarah were successive owners of land in Wembdon which Sarah granted to William Brewer. (fn. 9) In 1268 William Testard had land in Wembdon, and in 1284–5 he held the manor as 2/3 knight's fee. (fn. 10) Robert Testard held ½ fee in 1303 and 1316 but was dead by 1346. (fn. 11) The manor passed, possibly with Clayhill in Cannington, to Thomas Michell before 1428, (fn. 12) and Walter Michell died in 1487 in possession of the manor. (fn. 13) Thereafter it descended with East Chilton manor in Durleigh, (fn. 14) and in the earlier 17th century was said to comprise land in Wembdon, Cannington, Durleigh, and Stogursey. (fn. 15) A settlement of 1753 divided the manor between eight beneficiaries, (fn. 16) one of whom, Richard Gould, paid land tax on the estate until 1790 or later. (fn. 17) The Revd. David Reynell, husband of another beneficiary, was described as lord of Wembdon manor in 1838, (fn. 18) but by 1841 he had only 7 a. in the parish. (fn. 19) No further reference to the manor has been found.
Thomas Michell (d. 1539), lord of the manor, owned a house called Perry Court, (fn. 20) which was the capital messuage in the earlier 17th century. (fn. 21) By 1753 it was occupied by a tenant. It was offered for sale with c. 98 a. in 1773 and Jonas Coles, then tenant, was owner in 1777; from him it passed c. 1806 to Richard Morley. In 1816 it was held of Morley by Thomas Gulliford and Benjamin Jennings Marshall, (fn. 22) and they occupied it in 1841. (fn. 23) It was occupied by Marshall's two sons in 1851 with 20 a. of land. (fn. 24)
In 1269 Robert Coker, described as chief lord of a fee in Wembdon, (fn. 25) perhaps held what was later called COKERS. He may have been succeeded by William Coker. (fn. 26) Matthew Coker was a substantial taxpayer in Wembdon tithing in 1327 (fn. 27) and in 1343 Richard Coker established his claim to c. 120 a. in Wembdon, Chilton, and Bridgwater. (fn. 28) William Coker of Wembdon was referred to in 1348. (fn. 29) James, son and heir of William, had a burgage in Bridgwater in 1362, (fn. 30) and Matthew and probably another James Coker were owners of land in Wembdon in 1407. (fn. 31) Matthew was still alive in 1412. (fn. 32) By 1464 a large and scattered estate including land in Wembdon had come to Margaret, daughter and heir of John Coker and wife of Sir Reynold Stourton. (fn. 33) Margaret died in 1489 owning an estate called Wembdon manor, said to be held of Robert Testard; her heir was John Seymour, son of a daughter of John Coker's brother Robert. (fn. 34) The descent thereafter has not been traced until 1664 when the owner, Gregory Hockmore, also lord of the principal manor of Wembdon, leased to William Clarke of Sandford the capital messuage called Cokers and a farm of 120 a. (fn. 35) The farm continued to descend with Wembdon manor, and from the mid 18th century was let to Samuel Sealy. Richard Gould paid land tax on it in 1781 and 1794, but by the following year it had passed to John Cridland. (fn. 36) The farm was later sold and divided, and in 1841 comprised 67 a. (fn. 37) By 1866 it was known as Cokehurst farm, (fn. 38) and later as Cokerhurst farm.
Of four estates called Perry in 1086 Roger de Courcelles held two. The largest, which four thegns held in parage in 1066 as 1 hide and 1 ferling, (fn. 39) descended as PERRY FICHET with Kilve in the Malet fee, (fn. 40) being held of Enmore manor in the late 14th century for a rent called Maletstorn (fn. 41) and in 1472. (fn. 42) In 1497 it was said to be held of Sir Giles Daubeney as of his manor of South Petherton. (fn. 43)
In 1086 Roger de Courcelles's tenant was Geoffrey de Vautort. (fn. 44) By the late 12th century Richard Fichet held the manor in succession to unnamed ancestors. (fn. 45) Hugh Fichet, Richard's successor at Spaxton, seems to have held Perry in 1251. (fn. 46) The manor descended with Spaxton in the Fichet, Hill, and Waldegrave families. (fn. 47) James Waldegrave, Earl Waldegrave (d. 1763), retained Perry when he sold Spaxton, but his heir, John, Earl Waldegrave, sold it in 1777 to Richard Cridland the elder of Milverton. Cridland was succeeded by his son John (d. 1798) and by his grandson, also John Cridland (d. 1826). In 1862 a third John, son of the last, sold most of the land but not the lordship, together with Sandford farm, to the executors of Mrs. Stuckey, late of Langport. (fn. 48) The estate passed to her son-in-law, the Revd. James Stratton Coles (d. 1872), (fn. 49) and in or before 1878 to William Brice of Bridgwater. The Revd. Edward Henry Brice sold it in 1906 to Miss E. M. Brice (d. 1961). The estate then comprised Grabham's farm, Walronds, and Perry Court. Miss Brice left her land to her two agents, L. H. and C. D. Palmer, and it was conveyed jointly to the daughters of each, Mrs. S. Barnes and Miss E. M. Palmer. The estate was partitioned in 1982, Mrs. Barnes receiving most of the former Perry Fichet land. (fn. 50)
The capital messuage of the manor, held with a farm of c. 46 a. in 1705, was known as Wembdon House. (fn. 51) No reference to the house has been found after 1717. (fn. 52) Its site may have been north of the present Perry Wood Farm.
The second estate of Roger de Courcelles in 1086 had been added to one called 'Ulveronetone' which has not been identified or traced later. The suggestion that 'Ulveronetone' was Waldrons ignores the fact that Waldrons was created only after 1802, and the similarity of detail given for 'Ulveronetone' and the estate called Perry added to it may indicate that the two were in fact the same. (fn. 53) In 1066 'Ulveronetone' was held as 1 hide and 1 ferling by Alwig, Perry as 1 hide by Alweard. (fn. 54) The overlordship descended from Roger de Courcelles in the Malet fee, and was held with Kilve from 1251. (fn. 55)
Roger's tenant in 1086 was one William. (fn. 56) The manor may have been what was later called PERRY FURNEAUX, being held in 1251 with Kilve by Matthew Furneaux. (fn. 57) He or a namesake held it in 1284–5, and it descended with Kilve to Alice Blount (d. 1414), wife first of Sir Richard Stafford and secondly of Sir Richard Stury. (fn. 58) In 1419, as heirs to a quarter of Alice's estate, Ralph Bush and Eleanor his wife sold their interest in Perry Furneaux to John Rogers of Bryanston (Dors.), (fn. 59) but in 1421 a partition assigned Perry, with Stringston, (fn. 60) to Joan, descended from the Furneaux family, and her husband Robert Greyndour (d. 1443). (fn. 61) Joan married secondly Sir John Barre and died in 1485 leaving as her heir William Strode of Somerton. (fn. 62)
The manor descended from William Strode with Stringston to the Oglander family. (fn. 63) Sir Henry Oglander, Bt., died childless in 1874; on his widow Louisa's death in 1894 the manor passed to trustees. (fn. 64) No further trace of it has been found.
In 1352 Sir Thomas Fichet was pardoned for burning the house of Simon Furneaux at Perry. (fn. 65) The manor house and some land were let both by Alice Stury and, in 1443–4, by Joan Greyndour. (fn. 66) The house was again let in the 16th century. (fn. 67) In the 17th and 18th centuries the capital messuage was known variously as the Farm, Perryfurneaux Manor, and Wembdon Farm. (fn. 68) Wembdon Manor Farmhouse is a large building of the 18th century considerably alterated in the 19th.
A third manor of PERRY, held in 1066 by Ordgar as rather more than ½ hide and in 1086, apparently as a serjeanty, by John the usher whose tenant was one Robert, may have been the land later known as Cheslade or Chislett. (fn. 69) In 1251–2 Walter of Cheslade held 1½ virgate in Cheslade which was said to have been alienated from the serjeanty of Pignes, in Chilton Trinity, in the reign of Henry II. (fn. 70) That land may have been the estate of more than 1 virgate in which Robert had succeeded his father Warner by 1201. (fn. 71) Another Walter of Cheslade sold a larger estate in Cheslade to Simon Michell in 1307, (fn. 72) and Walter Michell died in 1487 holding CHESLADE manor of Nicholas Bluet as of North Petherton manor. Walter was succeeded by his son William, (fn. 73) but no further trace of the estate has been found.
Another estate at Cheslade was settled by Henry Brent on Robert and Clarice Brent in 1318. (fn. 74) John Brent, great-grandson of Robert, held land there in 1412 which in 1417 was called CHESLADE manor when it was settled on John's daughter Joan, wife of John Trethek. (fn. 75) Tenements there held of Nicholas Bluet descended to Robert Brent, grandson of John Brent, which on Robert's death in 1508 passed to his son, also John. (fn. 76) Richard Brent (d. 1570), grandson of the last John, settled Cheslade and other lands in 1552 on Thomas Broughton of Sandford, on the proposed marriage of Richard's daughter and heir, Anne, with Broughton's heir. (fn. 77) The marriage did not take place but Broughton seems to have retained Cheslade, which descended on his death in 1579 to his son Robert. (fn. 78) Described as Cheslade farm, the estate passed with Sandford manor (fn. 79) until 1682 when William Clarke sold it to John Trenchard. Two years later Trenchard sold it to Richard Musgrave (d. c. 1686) of Nettlecombe, (fn. 80) and the farm then descended with Stamfordlands in North Petherton to Richard's son George (d. 1721) and to his grandson, also George Musgrave (d. 1724). (fn. 81) Mary, widow of the last George, held it in 1737 (fn. 82) and it passed from their son George (d. 1742) to his son Thomas (d. 1766). Thomas's sister and heir Juliana married Sir James Langham (d. 1795), on whose death it was sold (fn. 83) to Edward Gore. Edward (d. 1801) was followed by his second son, the Revd. Charles Gore (d. 1841), and Charles by his eldest son Montagu (d. unmarried 1864). (fn. 84) Thereafter the estate seems to have been divided and absorbed into neighbouring farms.
A fourth manor of Perry, held in 1066 as ½ hide by Wulfric and in 1086 by Roger Arundel with one Ralph as his tenant, (fn. 87) may have been what became WEST PERRY manor, so called by 1487 when it was held by Walter Michell. (fn. 88) The manor descended in the Michell family with East Chilton in Durleigh to Sir Bartholomew Michell (d. 1616). Presumably thereafter it became part of the Hockmores' estate, (fn. 89) and its lands became merged with those of Wembdon manor around Perry Green.
In what became Wembdon parish Roger Arundel also held Sandford and Sydenham in 1086. Aethelweard had held Sandford as a little more than 1 hide in 1066, and Roger's tenant in 1086 was Ralph, perhaps he who held Roger's estate at Perry. (fn. 90) The overlordship descended with the barony of Poorstock (Dors.) (fn. 91) and the manor of Rodway in Cannington to the Fitzpayn family, and thence to the earls of Northumberland, of whom it was held until 1631 or later. (fn. 92)
In 1236 Geoffrey de la Rode held a fee at SANDFORD, in 1482 called SAMPFORD BICKFOLD. (fn. 93) In 1280 and 1284–5 Henry of Bickfold held 1 knight's fee in Sandford, part of which was subinfeudated to John of Bickfold. (fn. 94) In 1303 John of Bickfold and Roger of Bickfold held Sandford as ½ knight's fee of Robert Fitzpayn, the tenant in chief; Roger was one of the lords in 1316, and Maud of Bickfold was one of the main taxpayers in Sandford in 1327. (fn. 95) John of Bickfold had an interest in a manor called Bickfold which William Sambrook and his wife settled in reversion on their daughter Richard in 1371. (fn. 96) In 1428 and 1431 Thomas Sambrook of Bickfold and Edward Culliford of Sandford held ½ knight's fee formerly held by John and Roger of Bickfold. (fn. 97)
In 1435 Alexander Hody, possibly acting as a trustee, seems to have acquired the reversion of land in Sandford, Wembdon, and Bridgwater in which Edward Culliford, William Paulet of Melcombe, and William Broughton and his wife Elizabeth had interests, (fn. 98) but Edward Culliford alone was described as lord in 1442–3. (fn. 99) By 1472 John Broughton held Sandford manor. He was succeeded in 1492 by his son also John. (fn. 100) John (d. 1529) was followed by his son Thomas (d. 1579) and Thomas by his son Robert (d. 1631). (fn. 101)
Robert Broughton was succeeded by his elder daughter Jane, wife of James Clarke, on whom the manor, Cheslade farm, and other land had been settled in 1606. (fn. 102) Jane settled the estate in 1636 on her son Robert Clarke (fn. 103) (d c. 1658) whose son William (d. 1688) (fn. 104) in 1687 sold Sandford to the mortgagee Edmund Bourne. (fn. 105)
Bourne died in 1695. (fn. 106) His widow Anne outlived her second husband, Humphrey Steare, and in 1733 sold Sandford, subject to her own life interest, to John Clarke of Salisbury, to whom she leased the manor in 1736. (fn. 107) Clarke (d. 1746) (fn. 108) was succeeded by his son John, and the son by his sister Elizabeth (d. 1781), wife of James Harris (d. 1780). Their son James (cr. Baron Malmesbury 1788, earl of Malmesbury 1800) sold the estate in 1794 to John Cridland of Milverton. (fn. 109) Sandford descended with Perry Fichet (fn. 110) until 1982 when on a partition of the estate Miss E. M. Palmer became sole owner of Sandford. (fn. 111)
Sandford Manor, formerly Sandford Farm, has a T-shaped plan with a long range forming the south front and a broad arm to the north. The entrance is by a porch-like pedimented doorway which is dated 1570 in the east face of the north range. The central position of that doorway and foundations of other buildings to the north suggest that the east front was symmetrical. If so then the service rooms were in the north wing adjacent to a yard which is still partly surrounded by outbuildings. The principal rooms are now in the south range which was built in the later 16th century and has a garderobe turret at its north-west corner. The north range accommodates minor rooms on the ground floor but within its roof fragments of two smoke-blackened timbers are evidence of its former importance as a medieval open hall with a base-cruck central truss. On the first floor there is much late 16th- and early 17th-century panelling, some of which is reset.
At SYDENHAM, which Cypping held as 1 virgate in 1066, Roger Arundel's tenant in 1086 was one William. (fn. 112) By 1280 a fee there was held of the honor of Dunster, and lands and tenements there were still considered part of that honor in 1520. (fn. 113) The manor was said in 1626 to be held of John Bluet, probably as of North Petherton manor. (fn. 114) A mesne lordship was held by Richard de Grenville, mesne lord of Wembdon, in 1284–5 and 1303 (fn. 115) and by John Grenville the younger in 1471. (fn. 116)
Robert Russell had ⅓ of 1/5 knight's fee in Sydenham in 1228 (fn. 117) which in 1242–3 was awarded to his illegitimate son Walter Russell, (fn. 118) also perhaps known as Walter of Sydenham. William son of Walter of Sydenham held land in Wembdon parish in 1268, (fn. 119) and in 1279 Walter and John of Sydenham held 1 knight's fee in Sydenham. (fn. 120) Walter of Sydenham held it in 1284–5, (fn. 121) and he or another of the same name held ½ fee in 1303 and 1316. (fn. 122) Ralph, son and heir of Walter, was mentioned in 1328–9 (fn. 123) and 1332. (fn. 124) In 1346 the heirs of William of Sydenham were said to have held ½ fee there. (fn. 125) Roger Sydenham was lord in 1341–2 (fn. 126) and John Sydenham seems to have succeeded by 1386 and survived until 1402. (fn. 127) Richard Sydenham held 1 knight's fee in 1402–3 and was followed by John Sydenham, lord in 1406–7 and 1410. (fn. 128)
John Sydenham's heir was his sister Joan, wife first of Richard Cave and secondly of Robert Bozun. (fn. 129) Joan and Robert settled the manor in 1417 on Walter Tilley, probably father-in-law of Joan's heir Philip Cave. (fn. 130) In 1428 Robert Bozun, Philip Cave, John Gosse, and Agnes Sydenham shared ½ knight's fee. (fn. 131)
John Sydenham let some land at Sydenham in 1435 (fn. 132) and John Sydenham of Combe Sydenham owed suit to Dunster in respect of his holding there in 1446. (fn. 133) Richard Sydenham of North Petherton had land there c. 1508, (fn. 134) and Sir John Sydenham (d. 1625) was succeeded by his son, also John, (fn. 135) who retained possession until 1665. (fn. 136) No further trace of the family holding there has been found.
The estate of Philip Cave (d. 1471) passed to his son William. (fn. 137) William's son (Sir) John (d. s.p.c. 1529) left a widow Elizabeth (d. in or after 1548), later wife of James Hadley. William Cave's great-grandson (fn. 138) George Perceval seems to have succeeded in 1553–4 (fn. 139) and occupied the estate until his death c. 1600. (fn. 140) His son Richard, who deciphered the coded Spanish invasion plans found in 1586, mortgaged and in 1613 sold Sydenham to William Bull. (fn. 141)
Bull died in 1622 and was followed in turn by his son William (d. 1676), his grandson Henry Bull (d. 1692), and Henry's son Henry (d. 1695). (fn. 142) The last was succeeded by his sister Eleanor (d. c. 1714), wife of George Dodington. George (d. 1720) was succeeded by his nephew George Bubb, later Dodington (cr. Baron Melcombe 1761, d. 1762), and the latter by Richard Grenville, Earl Temple (d. 1779). Richard's nephew and heir, George Grenville (cr. marquess of Buckingham 1784, d. 1813), was succeeded by his son Richard (cr. duke of Buckingham and Chandos 1822). (fn. 143)
Between 1814 and 1823 (fn. 144) part of the estate, known as Little Sydenham, was sold to the Pleydell family of Horsey in Bridgwater. The remainder was offered for sale in 1824, (fn. 145) 1827, (fn. 146) and 1833. (fn. 147) It was eventually sold in 1837 to the Revd. Thomas Frederick Dymock, who in turn sold it in 1847 to Gabriel and Joseph Poole. In 1848 the Pooles conveyed the manor house and c. 10 a. of land to Joseph Boon of Wembdon, while the rest of the estate was divided, part passing to the owners of Hawkers farm in Chilton Trinity. Joseph Boon died in 1894 and the house passed to William Bourchier. Bourchier sold it in 1916 to Col. S. H. Lynn, who sold it to Philip Sturdy in 1921. Sturdy also bought some land in 1927 but in 1935 sold both house and land to British Cellophane Ltd. The house, its grounds, and surrounding fields became part of the growing industrial site. (fn. 148)
The eastern side of Sydenham Manor, including the tower-like block at its north-east corner, is of the later 15th or earlier 16th century. It probably formed the cross wing to a medieval hall range which lay to the west, served by the pair of two-centred doorways in the main passageway. The hall was probably removed in the earlier 17th century when the house was remodelled, either by the Bull family or by Francis Galhampton, tenant from 1620. (fn. 149) The passageway was extended across a new north range to a two-storeyed porch, which incorporated an earlier doorway bearing the arms probably of Cave and Perceval. (fn. 150)
The south end of the medieval cross wing was also extended west and the ground-floor room was given a moulded plaster ceiling. The staircase in the angle between the north range and the cross wing has turned balusters of the mid 17th century. The house was restored in the 1960s and again in the 1980s, and in 1987 served as a conference and hospitality centre for British Cellophane Ltd. (fn. 151)
In the later 12th or earlier 13th century Robert of Pereton sold to William Brewer (d. 1226) a virgate of land in KIDSBURY held of Jordan of Wembdon for suit of court and a pair of gilt spurs. (fn. 152) The estate was held of Richard de Grenville as of Wembdon in 1303 (fn. 153) and the capital messuage was still held of Wembdon manor in 1627–8. (fn. 154)
In 1234 Roger of Sydenham held 1/50 knight's fee outside Bridgwater of William Brewer, perhaps the land at Kidsbury which Walter of Sydenham held in 1303 and which descended with Sydenham manor until the 15th century. (fn. 155) By 1428 it seems likely that Kidsbury had passed to John Gosse, (fn. 156) and Richard Gosse was living there in 1446. (fn. 157) In 1475–6 William Gosse held land there of Edward Grey, Lord Lisle, (fn. 158) which passed with Haygrove manor to the Seymour family and in 1547 to the Crown. (fn. 159) The Crown sold it to Henry Counsell and Robert Pistor in 1570. (fn. 160)
Hercules Holworthy (d. 1619–20) held the capital messuage called Kidsbury and lands in Chilton, Durleigh, and Wembdon. (fn. 161) His son William died in 1628 (fn. 162) and the estate was divided between his three sisters, the eldest, Mary, later wife of John Were of Halberton (Devon), having the capital messuage and some land from 1639. (fn. 163) She sold them to George Crane of Bridgwater, her tenant, in 1665. (fn. 164) No further trace of the house has been found, but by c. 1640 lands at Kidsbury were owned by the Tynte family. (fn. 165) Lands called 'late Crane' and Kidsbury were held c. 1740 and in 1753 by the Revd. Samuel Lea and until 1803 by Mrs. Lea. (fn. 166)
The RECTORY estate was held by St. John's hospital, Bridgwater, from 1285 until the Dissolution. (fn. 167) In 1535 it was charged with the maintenance of five boys at school in the hospital. (fn. 168) The estate also included land and offerings at Holowell chapel. (fn. 169) The Crown leased it in 1553 to Nicholas Chute, formerly the hospital's tenant, (fn. 170) and sold it in 1560 to Ralph Bosseville. (fn. 171) Bosseville presumably sold it to Nicholas Halswell, who died in possession in 1564. (fn. 172) Robert Halswell, son of Nicholas, died in 1570 and was succeeded by his son Sir Nicholas (d. 1633). Henry Halswell, second son of Sir Nicholas, (fn. 173) sold the rectory, which included 40 a. of land, in 1634 to John Bourne (d. 1656) of Gothelney in Charlinch. His widow Elizabeth (d. 1660) was succeeded by her son Roger (d. 1672–3). Roger's daughter Florence died in 1673 and the eventual heir was Roger's brother Gilbert (d. 1686). Gilbert's son Edmund (fn. 174) (d. 1695) settled the rectory with Sandford manor on his wife Anne. The rectory descended with Sandford; (fn. 175) it included 43 a. in 1754 (fn. 176) and 36 a. in 1823. (fn. 177) John Cridland was in 1841 awarded a rent charge of £200 in lieu of the great tithes. (fn. 178)