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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Goathurst parish lies on the northern side of the eastern end of the Quantocks, the main part stretching 3 km. north from Goathurst Down (fn. 1) beside Rooks Castle Farm into the broad, undulating valley west of Bridgwater. (fn. 2) It contained Goathurst village at its centre, Halswell House and park south of the village, and Andersfield hamlet north-west of the village. Two small detached areas each containing a farmstead, Roughmoor Farm and Crossfield Farm, 2 km. north-west of the village, belonging to Goathurst perhaps as a result of intercommoning, were absorbed respectively in 1882 by Aisholt parish and in 1885 by Spaxton. Huntstile, an area of c. 220 a. east of Halswell park and containing 3 houses and 27 inhabitants in 1881, was transferred from Chilton Trinity to Goathurst in 1886. (fn. 3) The civil parish measured 677 ha. (1,673 a.) in 1981. (fn. 4)
The parish boundary is marked on the south by the ridge road between Broomfield and North Petherton, on the east and north partly by streams. Eastwards across the parish flows Cobb's Cross stream, into which two other streams flow from the south. A narrow band of sandstone near the village divides the Morte slate of the Quantock ridge and the Mercia mudstones of the valley. (fn. 5) Both slate and sandstone were quarried, the sandstone in the late 16th century, (fn. 6) and bricks were made north of the village in 1744 and until the earlier 19th century. (fn. 7)
Goathurst, Halswell, and Andersfield were recorded in the 11th century. (fn. 8) None shows traces of open arable fields. Goathurst village, since the earlier 18th century a nucleated settlement along a single street, may earlier have comprised only the church, manor house, rectory house, and a few cottages. The cottages on the north side of the western end of the street were built on land which had earlier been the barton and orchard of Goathurst manor house, and cottages on the south side were also built in the 18th century. (fn. 9) Old Cobb, at the east end of the street, is the only house of medieval origin. The present village street, including a 19thcentury terrace, consists mainly of rendered cottages with a few brick houses.
The mansion house at Halswell and its associated buildings were in multiple occupation in the later 20th century. Andersfield, in 1990 a straggling settlement of brick bungalows divided by a single field from Goathurst village, was in the 1840s a scatter of cottages and a farm along a lane called Andersfield Green. (fn. 10) Andersfield Farm probably dates from the 15th century but was altered in the 16th and 17th. (fn. 11) Two smaller settlements were Frodger, recorded in 1304 (fn. 12) and later represented by Flatgate Cottages, and Oakenford, mentioned in 1327 (fn. 13) and a small hamlet in 1756, (fn. 14) but now a single farm.
Andersfield, Goathurst village, and Oakenford were perhaps linked together by a route running from Enmore and the west to Bridgwater. The road north from the village to Durleigh was made in 1763 in place of a route further south-west. (fn. 15) A route between Rooks Castle and Oakenford through Halswell park was closed in 1809. (fn. 16) A footpath between the same places past Halswell House may mark another route. (fn. 17)
There were 76 a. of woodland recorded in 1086 (fn. 18) and field names suggest that the north part of the parish once contained much woodland. (fn. 19) Also north of Goathurst manor house in the 17th and early 18th centuries were a warren and park. (fn. 20) Halswell manor also had a warren in 1597 and in 1708-9, (fn. 21) which lay immediately south of the village street (fn. 22) and may have formed the nucleus of the park. The park, probably created in the later 17th century, was greatly extended and planted by Sir Charles KemeysTynte from 1740. It measured 30 a. in 1744, (fn. 23) more than doubled in the 1750s, and later in the century was 132 a. (fn. 24) A plantation called the Thicket was created in two sections in 1754 and 1764, part of a wood to the west was established in 1762, and in 1761 the park was extended east into Huntstile. Chestnuts and firs were planted in Huntstile Bottom, in the Thicket, and along Park Lane, between Goathurst village and Huntstile, in 1766, and more were planted on the eastern boundary in 1778. (fn. 25) Within the picturesque setting of wood and undulating parkland Sir Charles introduced temples and other features and dammed streams to create lakes and waterfalls. The buildings in the park included a rotunda and a bridge (1755), the Druid's Temple (1756), the Temple of Harmony (1764), and Robin Hood's House (1765). (fn. 26) By 1756 an avenue of trees led west from the house and a drive was created to Patcombe, in Broomfield. (fn. 27) A second avenue led north to Goathurst village, where a rustic lodge replaced an earlier building c. 1825. (fn. 28) In 1892 the park measured 194 a. and by the early 20th century had increased to 220 a. (fn. 29) Deer were kept in the late 18th century (fn. 30) and both red and fallow deer were there c. 1911. (fn. 31) Since 1945 much of the woodland has been felled and the parkland has been returned to arable cultivation. Several of the temples and other buildings have been damaged or destroyed.
There may have been an alehouse in the parish in 1502 (fn. 32) and a house was licensed during the 17th century, (fn. 33) but there is no later record of a public house in the parish. There was a friendly society called the Goathurst club in the 19th century and a reading room was in use in 1905. (fn. 34)
The population rose from 296 in 1801 to a peak of 349 in 1831, fell sharply between 1841 and 1851 to 303, then declined gradually to 202 in 1931. New building in the later 20th century and the division of Halswell House into flats explained the rise to 280 in 1971; in 1981 238 people were normally resident. (fn. 35)