A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 9, Glastonbury and Street. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2006.
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The early town and later borough occupied only a small part of the total acreage of the parish. Outside its boundaries lay an extensive rural area comprising agricultural land, parks and woodland, in the midst of which were a number of early settlements. Glastonbury Tor, the site of the earliest structures on the promontory as a whole, seems to have been in more or less continuous occupation by a religious community from the 5th or 6th century. By the 12th, it was the site of a chapel, a famous landmark which was the scene of a fair in the middle ages and of the execution of Richard Whiting, the last abbot of Glastonbury, and two of his monks in 1539. (fn. 1) At the westernmost end of the promontory, Beckery 'island' was also probably part of the core estate from a very early period. It bears an Irish place-name, Becc-Ériu, rendered Parva Hibernia in Latin sources of the 12th century and meaning 'Little Ireland'. (fn. 2) Another early medieval religious site, it had an important mill by the 13th century. (fn. 3) Nearby, at the southern edge of the parish, Northover, mentioned in 1451, was briefly the site of a mill in the early 16th century, and of five farms by the mid 19th. (fn. 4) In the east, Edgarley, a hamlet which gave its name to a medieval tithing, included a chapel in the middle ages and later a group of farms. (fn. 5) In the far east and west of the parish, at their parks at Norwood and Sharpham, the late medieval abbots had modest lodges, both later farms, while from a relatively early date there were also farms in the east at Havyatt and Wick. (fn. 6)
MANOR AND OTHER ESTATES
In 1086 that part of Glastonbury abbey's estate centred on the town (vill) of Glastonbury comprised an area of 12 hides with which were associated the islands of Meare, Panborough, and Andersey lying in the marshes some distance to the north or north-west. (fn. 7) Meare island subsequently became the centre of a separate estate and parish, and Panborough, later in Wedmore, was part of Meare manor in the 14th century. (fn. 8) Andersey, later known as Nyland, was a pre-Conquest addition to the original estate. (fn. 9) Its history in the Middle Ages is obscure, but its manor and rectory were administered as a separate estate in 1538–9 (fn. 10) and the claim that it was part of the parish of Glastonbury in 1630 was refuted on the grounds that it formerly had a chapel with baptism and burial rights. (fn. 11) It was regarded, with its adjoining tithing of Batcombe, as an independent parish in Glastonbury Twelve Hides hundred in 1841, (fn. 12) and in 1933 was added to Cheddar parish. (fn. 13)
Glastonbury manor, evidently coterminous with the parish, came during the Middle Ages to be divided for administrative reasons and later for reasons of ownership. By 1189 its core was the town and that land immediately surrounding it including its arable fields on the hills to the east. Further east was that part known as extra hagietam, beyond Havyatt, which had its own manorial courts by the later 14th century and came to form the chapelry and later parish of West Pennard. (fn. 14) Two smaller estates were formed for particular administrative reasons. Beckery manor, west of the town, was that part of the abbey demesne in Glastonbury exclusively supporting the office of prior of the monastery; it was re-absorbed into the general abbey lands after the Dissolution. Similarly, the rectory estate had been assigned to the abbey sacrist by 1291 and after the Dissolution was given to the bishops of Bath and Wells. The three parks of Norwood, beyond the hills to the east, Sharpham in the far west, and Wirral, immediately to the south-west of the town, were created during the Middle Ages, the first two becoming separate holdings after the Dissolution while the third continued to be part of the abbey demesnes. Glastonbury Tor was part of that same demesne estate until the late 18th century.
In 1086 the core estate of Glastonbury was the abbey's 12-hide holding. (fn. 15) By 1189 some of that estate was in the hands of tenants in fee who held both within the town and also outside; (fn. 16) other tenements in the manor were occupied by hereditary servants of the abbey, holding by charter so long as their duties were carried out. The servants, numbering between 17 and 23 in the period 1189–1203, included porters, butler, baker, goldsmith, and cooks, the office of one of the last dating from the 10th century. The hereditary holdings were extinguished during the 13th and 14th centuries, (fn. 17) and were subsumed into the abbey estate, part of which belonged to the community as a whole and part to departments within it.
At the Dissolution the lordship or manor of Glastonbury was retained by the Crown although much of the land was at first leased and subsequently sold, subject to Crown rent. The manor and the abbey site formed the largest holdings in the parish. (fn. 18) In 1617 the manor was granted to Sir Francis Bacon and other trustees for the benefit of Charles, prince of Wales. (fn. 19) In 1628 the fee farm was purchased by trustees who in 1651 were authorized to sell to Roger Hill. It then comprised rents totalling £240 0s. 0¼d. (fn. 20) Hill was still in possession in 1656 but by 1713 it was owned by John Morris, by 1753 until 1763 or later by Humphrey Sturt, by 1799–1800 by Richard Messiter, in the earlier 19th century by Edmund Batten, and in 1837 by Richard Bevington and Devereux Bowly. (fn. 21)
In 1634 the manor lands, until then nominally in Crown possession but subject to long leases, were divided, 2/7 each being assigned to Sir James Cambell and Thomas Some, and 1/7 each to William Strode, Basil Nichol, and John Childe. In 1647 Strode acquired the Childe share and in 1650 Cambell and Strode apparently the Nichol share although Thomas Nicholls (d. c. 1755) claimed a share which he devised to his three daughters. (fn. 22) In 1652 Cambell and Strode were described as fee farmers of Glastonbury and Edgarley manors. (fn. 23)
Sir James Cambell was granting leases of his half share of the manor between 1653 and 1656, each tenement being arbitrarily divided into two equal parts, (fn. 24) but in 1657 he and William Strode arranged a more rational partition of the whole estate. (fn. 25) Cambell's share was settled on two of his three daughters, thus creating the interests of the Corbett and Owen families which continued until 1699. (fn. 26) Cambell himself died in 1659 and was followed successively by his sons James (d. 1660) and John (cr. Bt. 1661, d. 1662). John was followed by his uncle Thomas (cr. Bt. 1664, d. 1665) and by Thomas's sons Thomas (d. 1668) and Henry (d. 1699). (fn. 27) Henry's mortgaged estate was put up for sale in 1696 (fn. 28) and by 1701 the Cambell 4/7 and the Corbet and Owen 3/7 of half the manor had passed to a relative by marriage, William Coward, sergeant at law and recorder of Wells. (fn. 29) Coward died in 1705 and was succeeded by his son, also William, (fn. 30) and he by 1730 by his only daughter Bridget, wife of the Hon. George Hamilton of Wells. (fn. 31) Hamilton's heavily-mortgaged estate was twice put up for sale in 1759 (fn. 32) and was evidently divided between creditors, among whom was Sir Abraham Elton whose grandfather and namesake had advanced money on part of the estate in 1708. (fn. 33)
The Strode share, sometimes described as half the manor, presumably passed on the death of William Strode in 1666 to his son William (d. 1695) and to his grandson, also William. (fn. 34) In 1713 the last sold to Peter Berry (d. 1727), of Wilton, Taunton, half the manor or reputed manor of Glaston alias Glastonbury with certain exceptions. (fn. 35) Berry's son, also Peter, a maltster, sold in 1749 to William Reeve of Bristol. (fn. 36) Reeve was declared bankrupt in 1773 and his estate, described as half the manor, was bought in 1775 by Henry Burgum of Bristol. (fn. 37) Burgum in the same year mortgaged it to William Miller (fn. 38) who in 1783 was himself declared bankrupt. George Miller, brother of William and by then the mortgagee, seems to have sold in 1785 to John Brooke. (fn. 39) John Brown of Edgarley, probably successor to Joseph Brown who held a substantial part of the Strode estate by 1766, (fn. 40) had acquired the lordship by 1789 and was followed by his son Charles. Lordship passed, probably by way of mortgage, to Thomas Hunt (d. 1797) and Mary Flower Watts (d. 1810). Thomas's son Henry, known as the Orator and eventual heir of both, died in 1835. Two years later the estate was divided and offered for sale by Hunt's executor and heir, his son Henry. Lordship was offered with an orchard and the site of the former manor house. (fn. 41) In 1838 'all those or that manor or manors or reputed manor or manors or lordship or lordships of Glaston: otherwise Glastonbury and Edgarley otherwise Edgarly', together with the hundred of Glastonbury Twelve Hides were conveyed to William Benjamin Naish, a local solicitor. In 1861 Naish sold the same estate to his partner James John Rocke (d. 1869) from whom it passed jointly to Rocke's daughters Emily Susannah and Eliza Mary, later wife of Douglas Hamilton McLean. Miss Rocke died in 1946 leaving her estate to her sister; Mrs. McLean died in 1963 leaving the lordship, with the exception of fishing rights, to her solicitor G. H. Harland. (fn. 42) Mr. Harland died in 1987 and his widow held the lordship in 1998. (fn. 43)
In 1775 the conveyance of the former Strode share of the manor included the capital messuage, then standing on the east side of Northload Street at its northern end. (fn. 44) It was demolished in 1836. (fn. 45) It was a symmetrical threebay building, of two storeys with attics, probably of the 17th century. (fn. 46) A house at Edgarley was described in 1836 as having been a manor house but had been pulled down fifty years earlier. It had included a large hall called King Edgar's Kitchen. (fn. 47)
The site and demesnes of the abbey were leased in separate units after the Dissolution but subsequently came together first in the hands of Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset, and later under Sir Peter Carew, the earls of Sussex, and the Cavendishes. (fn. 48) In 1541 Thomas Aleyn and his wife Elizabeth, already assignees of a lease from the abbey of some 160 a., received a 21-year Crown lease of the same. (fn. 49) In 1544 Nicholas Speke was granted a 21-year lease of some 440 a. of land, a small amount of which was already let. (fn. 50) In 1547 Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset, acquired the reversion of the two leases and in addition a lease of the abbey precinct. (fn. 51) After his temporary disgrace Somerset returned to power in 1550 and his reversionary lease was converted to a grant in fee of all former abbey lands in Glastonbury, although in practice only Speke lost his lease. (fn. 52) Somerset granted leases of the abbey site, Wirral park, and demesne lands (fn. 53) which survived his own attainder and death in 1552 although the Crown resumed administration of the estate (fn. 54) and granted a lease of part of the precinct. (fn. 55) In 1559 Sir Peter Carew was granted a reversionary 12-year lease of what Somerset had held, (fn. 56) part of which, the site of the abbey and Wirral park with unspecified land, was in 1572 granted, again in reversion, to Thomas Radcliffe, earl of Sussex, in tail male. (fn. 57) In 1582 the grant was made in fee simple for 1/50 fee. (fn. 58) On the same day the grantee was licensed to alienate some of the land; most was still held by the earl on his death in 1583, (fn. 59) and passed successively to his brother Henry (d. 1593) and to Henry's son Robert. In 1596 Robert sold the estate to William Stone, a London cloth merchant, and in 1599 Stone sold to William Cavendish (cr. Baron Cavendish 1605, earl of Devonshire 1618, d. 1626). (fn. 60)
Ownership descended through successive earls of Devonshire to William Cavendish, great grandson of the first earl, who was created duke of Devonshire in 1694. In 1733 his grandson, the third duke, (fn. 61) conveyed the estate to Thomas Bladen, it is said after losing to him at dice. Bladen died in 1779 and his wife Barbara, who had a life interest, in 1783. The heirs were their daughters Barbara, wife of Henry St. John, and Harriet, wife of William Capel, earl of Essex. They sold the whole estate in 1799 to George Cox and Richard Hart Davis, the latter becoming the sole owner. After negociations from 1806 for Cox to re-purchase, the estate was divided in 1808–9, most of the abbey site passing to John Down, that part including the Abbot's Kitchen to J. J. Rocke, and farms to Aaron Moody. (fn. 62) Down (d. 1829) (fn. 63) sold the site to John Fry Reeves in 1825 and Reeves in 1852 to Henry Danby Seymour. In 1862 Seymour sold to James Austin (d. 1896) whose son Stanley in 1907 sold to (Sir) Ernest Jardine, acting on behalf of the Church of England. Trustees continued to administer the estate, with other property, in 2000. (fn. 64)
The demesne farm buildings on the southern edge of the abbey precinct comprised in the earlier 14th century a thatched barn, a granary, an oxshed, and a gatehouse with a chamber for the bailiff over the entry. (fn. 65) In the earlier 16th century there were also a pigstye, dovecot, and slaughterhouse. (fn. 66) The barn and its immediate site had become part of the rectory estate by 1623 (fn. 67) and since the later 18th century formed part of Actis, later Abbey, farm, part of the rectory which had passed from the Prat family to John Fry Reeves by 1850, when it was offered for sale for conversion to a place of worship. (fn. 68) It was bought with the abbey estate in 1853 by Henry Danby Seymour. (fn. 69) Ownership thereafter descended with the abbey site but it was retained by (Sir) Ernest Jardine in 1908. He held it until 1940 when it was sold to the tenants, Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Mapstone. In 1974 Mrs. Mapstone, having sold most of the farm land for housing, gave the 19th-century farmhouse and associated buildings, together with the medieval barn, to Somerset County Council (fn. 70) to house a rural life museum. (fn. 71)
The seven-bay barn, 93 ft. long and 33 ft. 9 in. wide with opposing porches, is not especially large but is of very high architectural quality. It is built of freestone, incorporating traceried openings and figurative carved panels. The roof, covered in stone slates, is related to roofs of other buildings belonging to Glastonbury abbey. It has two tiers of crucks; each cruck has a lower, raised base cruck, reinforced by arched braces, carrying a tie beam which supports an upper cruck. (fn. 72) The oak timbers were apparently felled in 1334–42. (fn. 73) The style of the decorative elements, which includes panels with symbols of the Evangelists, accord with that date.
A manor of Beckery was included among the demesne lands of the abbey in 1322–3. (fn. 74) The site of Brides or Beckery alias Brides manor was mentioned among the abbey demesne lands in 1539 (fn. 75) and before that date it had formed part of the lands assigned to the prior of the monastery. (fn. 76) The site was leased by the Crown to Nicholas Speke in 1544 (fn. 77) and it passed like other demesnes and the abbey site. (fn. 78) The name survived into the 19th century. (fn. 79)
The hill on which the tower of the chapel of St. Michael (fn. 80) stands forms the centre of one of the open arable fields of Glastonbury manor. (fn. 81) In 1786 a substantial part of the hill, including the tower, which until that date had been part of the share of the manor belonging to the Strodes and their immediate successors, (fn. 82) was bought by Richard Hoare and was conveyed in 1801 by his son Sir Richard Colt Hoare to Lt. Gen. Richard Grenville (d. 1823). (fn. 83) It passed on the death of the general's brother and heir, James, Baron Glastonbury (d. 1825), to their kinsman the Revd. George Neville, who took the additional name of Grenville. (fn. 84) Thereafter ownership descended with Butleigh manor until it was bought as a memorial to T. W. Jex-Blake (d. 1910), former dean of Wells. It was conveyed to the National Trust in 1937. Additional land on the lower slopes of the Tor has been added to the trust's holding. (fn. 85)
Norwood park had been created from inclosed woodland by 1305–6 and had formed a significant part of Glastonbury manor throughout the Middle Ages. (fn. 86) In 1563 Sir Maurice Berkeley acquired a 40-year lease of Norwood or Northwood park in consideration of the surrender of the office of keeper of the park which he had held since 1541. (fn. 87) In 1576 a reversionary lease for 80 years granted by the Crown to William Fisher was subsequently assigned by Fisher to Sir Henry Berkeley, Sir Maurice's son, and by him to his wife. Sir Maurice Berkeley, son of Sir Henry, died in absolute possession in 1617 and was followed by his son (Sir) Charles, then a minor. (fn. 88) Charles (cr. Vct. Fitzhardinge 1665, d. 1668) (fn. 89) granted leases of parts of the estate in 1648 and subsequent years, including 97 a. to Bruton grammar school and 147 a. to William Cradocke (fn. 90) and in 1654 sold 157 a. of land, including some already leased, together with the house known as Norwood Lodge, to Robert Smith, a clothier. John Smith, of Shaw (Wilts.), son of Robert, had a daughter who married Robert Neale. Neale's daughter took the estate in 1795 to her husband Sir Henry Burrard, Bt., later Burrard-Neale. Sir Henry sold part of the land in 1836 to Alexander Baring, Lord Ashburton (d. 1848). (fn. 91) Other parts of the former estate had been sold earlier, including a share held at her death c. 1717 by Meriel Symes which she bequeathed to Exeter college, Oxford, for a scholarship. (fn. 92) Some 50 a. had come c. 1804 into the possession of the Mildmay family of Hazlegrove. (fn. 93) Norwood Park farm by 1747 was owned by Zachary Bayley (d. 1773) of Bowlish, Shepton Mallet, from whose family it passed in 1794 to John Porch. In 1827 William Porch released the estate in fee to the Hon. George Neville Grenville, who still held it in 1849. (fn. 94)
About 1540 the park lodge had limited accommodation, commensurate with its status: a little hall, a buttery, and a kitchen, with four rooms above. (fn. 95) Built of freestone in the late 15th or the early 16th century, it forms the central range of the present triple-pile Norwood Park Farm. The hall and the great chamber above it, both of which have six-panel ceilings with moulded beams and are served by a lateral chimney stack, survive at the east end and extend into a square bay on the gabled east façade. All the east windows are mullioned with two arched lights and the bay has a panel carved with JS and a mitre (for John Selwood, abbot 1456–92). The west end of the range, which has only one compartment on each floor, has probably been curtailed. A timber partition with three door frames may have been moved from the screens passage to its present position on the first floor. The north and south ranges, apparently incorporating some earlier material, have been added since the earlier 19th century. The porch is dated 1910.
Sharpham park had been created c. 1356 and had taken its place as a farming unit in Glastonbury manor. (fn. 96) The 'manor place' built by Abbot Bere in the deer park there, (fn. 97) where Abbot Whiting was examined shortly before his execution in 1539, (fn. 98) was, with the park, in the keeping of Andrew Wadham from 1540 on behalf of the Crown. (fn. 99) The estate, linked with Walton manor, was subsequently part of the large grant made in 1547 in fee farm to Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset (d. 1552), (fn. 100) and like Walton passed eventually to Seymour's son, also Edward, who in 1558 was licensed to grant the fee farm to Sir John Thynne. (fn. 101) Sharpham seems to have been let in the same year to Sir Thomas Dyer (d. 1565). (fn. 102) Dyer's son (Sir) Edward, the poet and courtier, (fn. 103) continued as tenant until 1575 when he received a grant in fee farm from the Crown, the estate to be held of East Greenwich manor for five marks a year. (fn. 104) In 1600 the park measured 500 a. and with the house was let to Gabriel Hawley. (fn. 105)
Sir Edward Dyer died in 1607 (fn. 106) and was succeeded by his nephew Francis Dyer (d. 1615), and Francis by his nephew Edward Dyer. (fn. 107) Their ownership was unsuccessfully challenged by Sir John and Thomas Thynne. (fn. 108) Edward Dyer, whose estate was sequestrated, sold Sharpham in 1659 to Richard Davidge. (fn. 109) By 1672 Katherine Davidge, Richard's widow, was in occupation. (fn. 110) She died in 1712, (fn. 111) possibly without surviving children; her heir was presumably the 'Miss Davidge of Worcester', by whose husband (Sir) Henry Gould (1644–1710) came a son Davidge and a daughter who in 1707 gave birth to Henry Fielding there. From Davidge Gould the estate passed to his fourth son (Sir) Henry (1710–94), justice of the common pleas. The co-heir of the last was his daughter Honora Margaretta (d. 1813) who married Richard Ford William Lambart, earl of Cavan (d. 1837). (fn. 112) Successive earls of Cavan were owners until 1906 or later (fn. 113) but the land was sold before 1923 to the tenant, George Treloggen. (fn. 114) Mrs. Treloggen was owner in 1939, (fn. 115) and the family continued to occupy part of the house and estate until the 1990s. (fn. 116)
About 1540 the lodge at Sharpham comprised a little hall, parlour, chapel, buttery, cellar, and kitchen on the ground floor and eight rooms above. (fn. 117) In 1600 it was described as a mansion, and among associated buildings were a dairy house, brewhouse, stable, and waggon house. (fn. 118) Much of the house is said to have been pulled down in 1799 and a farmhouse formed from its remains, but Sharpham Park House was evidently still standing in 1826, though part of it was then 'destined to be levelled with the ground' and the materials offered for sale. The house then included a chapel range whose gable end incorporated coats of arms or badges of Glastonbury abbey and Abbot Richard Bere. The three-light, mullioned east window of the former chapel contained stained glass until shortly before 1826. (fn. 119) Much was rebuilt in the later 20th century using old materials and with the inspiration of old illustrations, but what may have been the original entrance range is still preserved and includes evidence of a fine first-floor chamber. Shields of arms from the original building are incorporated on the north and south facades.
The rectory of Glastonbury was assigned to the abbey sacrist and in 1291 was valued at £16. (fn. 120) In 1535 it was assessed at £67 15s. 4d. (fn. 121) and from 1539 at £72 when the tithes of West Bradley were included. (fn. 122) In 1548 the whole rectory was granted to William Barlow, bishop of Bath and Wells, (fn. 123) and passed to his successors in the see, except for the period of the Interregnum. (fn. 124) It was farmed during Queen Elizabeth's reign (fn. 125) and during the 18th and the earlier 19th century was held on leases for lives from the bishops by members of the Prat and Rocke families. (fn. 126) Richard Periam Prat and Samuel Prat, then lessees, were declared bankrupt in 1840 and the rectory was put up for sale in lots. It was not sold because of pending tithe commutation but the rent charge, glebe, and chancels of St. John's, St. Benignus's, and West Pennard were bought in 1842 by J. F. Reeves. (fn. 127) Reeves went bankrupt in 1850 and the estate was dispersed three years later. (fn. 128)
In 1086 Glastonbury was assessed at 12 hides, but was said to have land for 30 teams. The demesne farm was just under 10 hides, had 5 teams, and was worked by 17 serfs. Twenty-one villeins and 33 bordars worked a little more than 2 hides. Apart from the arable land there were on the Glastonbury estate 60 a. of meadow, 200 a. of pasture, 20 a. of woodland, 300 a. of underwood, and vineyard measuring 3 'arpents'. The stock on the demesne comprised 5 riding horses, 58 beasts, 20 swine, 20 sheep, and 50 she-goats. The value of the estate had doubled since 1066. (fn. 132)
By 1189 (fn. 133) there was a division between an area known as 'beyond Havyatt', that is the eastern part of Glastonbury manor later known as West Pennard, and the rest. (fn. 134) Tenants by that date were divided between those who held in fee of the abbey, obedientiaries, and abbey servants, and tenants who held for cash rents or services. Two tenants in fee held a total of just over ¾ hide (perhaps 75 a.), the obedientiaries and servants held just over five virgates (perhaps 130 a.). The predominantly agricultural customary holdings, probably 88 in Glastonbury, (fn. 135) were reckoned at just over 13½ virgates in total (perhaps 340 a.); 30 of the tenants were called ferlingers (later ferdellers) holding ¼ virgate, eight were half-virgaters. Cash rents amounted to just over 70s. together with payments variously described as gifts made by 27 tenants, hearthsilver by 13, and church scot by eight tenants. Thirty-three tenants owed a day for stacking hay, 15 of them two or three days for haymaking, and 10 of those usually three days for mowing, but harvest services were evidently subsumed under unspecified works. Thirty-four tenants worked in the vineyard, either digging, pruning, or harvesting, and all but the four grape harvesters also kept the prisons. Individual tenants included two parkers and a park labourer, the keeper of the vineyard, two herewards, four neats, three men working at the barn, one dealing with unpressed wine (meram).
In 1234 only the customary tenants were recorded in detail. (fn. 136) There were then 37 holdings of which three were of ½ virgate, 26 of ferdells (¼ virgates), and two ½ ferdells. Rents comprised 82s. 2d. gable rents, 9s. 6½d. larder rents, 1d. hearthpenny, 17½d. Peter's Pence, and payment of church scot in kind by eight tenants. Gable rents were excused from six labourers and four ploughmen, and labour service from one tenant because he served as bridge-keeper (pontarius). (fn. 137) Haymaking works were expressed in terms of one, two, or three days at each of the processes including stacking in the barn; work in the vineyard similarly in days and tasks including, for four tenants, custody of wine 'on the bank' (super ripam), suggesting its removal by water. Several tenants were expected to do harvest works only if they had oxen, although three half-virgaters owed one day each week for most of the year. Eight tenants were required to drive cattle, five to go with the symbolic offering by the abbey to Wells cathedral known as St. Dunstan's Gift on Easter Monday, (fn. 138) and 24 were to keep the prison. Probably at the same time the duties attached to a particular tenement, formerly held by Robert Malherbe, were enumerated and included a wide range of journeys by water and involvement in fisheries, vineyards, and St. Dunstan's Gift. (fn. 139)
No distinction between holdings within and beyond Havyatt was made in the medieval bailiffs' accounts and the following account of manorial agriculture applies both to Glastonbury and West Pennard. In the year 1257–8, the earliest for which a financial account survives for Glastonbury manor, (fn. 140) the gross income was £45 6s. 5d. of which cash rents amounted to £13 3s. 8d., larder and vineyard rents and Peter's Pence totalled 35s. 7d., and £2 rent for the windmill. By 1305–6 the gross income had risen to £61 3s. 9d., partly through an increase in rents and partly because more land was tenanted. (fn. 141) In 1311–12 the gross income rose sharply, to just over £95, evidently the result of a general rent increase in the previous year to nearly £50; (fn. 142) and by 1335–6 rents reached over £79 out of a total gross income of nearly £107. (fn. 143) Thereafter rents ranged between £76 and £93 until the 1390s and by 1419–20 amounted to £94 out of a total gross income of £136, although in that year arrears amounted to £221. (fn. 144) Between 1428 and 1446 arrears had been cut significantly against a rental which was over £119 by 1446 and over £143 by 1460–1. (fn. 145) Between 1461 and 1463 the basic rental was reduced to nearly £78 and the total gross income from £164 to £115, and both remained roughly at that level until the early 16th century. (fn. 146) In 1515–16 the total gross income was £127 which included increased rent of £4 4s. from the farm of demesne land. (fn. 147)
The demesne arable, on the hilly ground east of the town and initially shared between three fields, was assessed at just under ten hides in 1086. (fn. 148) By the mid 13th century the cultivated area had shrunk by about a half: 191 a. was sown, mostly with wheat, in 1257–8, 264 a. was under the same crop in 1274–5, and as much as 295 a. in 1311–12 when the crop was divided between wheat (154 a.), oats (79 a.), and beans (39 a.). (fn. 149) During the rest of the 14th century between c. 320 a. and c. 400 a. was ploughed, except for 1349–51 when the area was cut by a third, (fn. 150) and in most years as much as two thirds of the ploughed area remained fallow, half of it for a second year. In 1392–3 the sown area was further reduced: 60 a. was let at farm, 75 a. was sown with summer corn, 52 a. was fallow for a single year, 62 a. for a second year, and 91 a. for a third year. (fn. 151) From the 1420s the area ploughed was reduced by one third and by 1470–1 fewer than 80 a. was ploughed, half for wheat and the rest shared evenly between oats, beans, and dredge. All demesne arable, totalling 145 a., was let to farm at some date between 1492 and 1515. (fn. 152)
Demesne grassland expanded in the later 13th century: 119 a. of meadow was cut in 1274–5 but by 1314 the area had more than doubled as the moors were drained. (fn. 153) The area was not recorded after 1344 until 1472–3 when grassland had been reduced to 48 a. Reductions continued until 1515–16 when the remaining 18 a. of demesne meadow was let. (fn. 154)
The changing character of demesne farming is reflected in the farm staff during the period 1274–1492. A moorward or moor-keeper was no longer needed after the marshes were drained and inclosed, but a hayward, to direct haymaking and grazing, was consistently employed throughout; ploughmen worked on demesne arable until the mid 1350s. Oxherds or drovers disappeared by the 1360s but acremen were then introduced, numbering on average between four and five but with exact functions unknown; carters were employed only between 1274 and 1315, shepherds in only six years in the whole period, dairymen or maids before 1315 and in three years between 1419 and 1428.
Oxen and bullocks for works and meat were kept at Norwood and were the most consistent features of demesne livestock farming. Oxen numbered c. 50 in the years before 1315, thereafter for a century c. 40. By 1427–8 numbers of cattle had increased rapidly: animals paid as heriots on the deaths of tenants, strays, and transfers from other abbey estates brought in 40 oxen to the existing 74; 42 yearlings had either joined the dairy cows or the oxen, and of the 29 calves, 10 had died of murrain and 2 had been delivered to the monastery. (fn. 155) Total numbers of oxen thereafter averaged 20 until the end of the century but in 1446–7 158 were recorded during the year, presumably because Glastonbury manor was being used as a dispersal centre for sales. (fn. 156)
Such arrangements had been the practice with sheep for nearly a century. A very small flock was recorded in 1257–8 (fn. 157) and in 1344–5 the manor seems to have been used as the collecting point for fleeces, some apparently from Wales. (fn. 158) Between that date and 1351–2 a significant change had been made, and until 1491–2 or later sheep were brought in from all parts of the abbey estate. Most were usually washed and shorn there before sale or distribution to other manors. A shepherd at Glastonbury was employed irregularly and only during shearing. In 1351–2 the shepherd managed the washing and shearing of 245 ewes, (fn. 159) and in 1352–3 was presumably responsible for moving 1,231 sheep of which 543 were shorn. (fn. 160) The total number varied widely from year to year: in 1389–90 when 1,510 were moved through the manor 24 stone of fleeces were produced at shearing; (fn. 161) in 1392–3 the number is not recorded but 26½ stone were sold. (fn. 162) A century later and totals were much lower: 32 lb. in 1489–90 and 12 stone in 1491–2. (fn. 163)
In 1274–5 the dairy at Norwood had a maximum of 34 cows and calves which produced 296 cheeses and 10 stone of butter. (fn. 164) In 1302–3 the total was 311 cheeses and 6 stone of butter from 37 cows and heifers. (fn. 165) Production of cheeses continued at a high level from fewer cows until 1315, but thereafter until the second decade of the 15th century the number of cows was in single figures. The dairy herd reached 69 during the year 1427–8 (fn. 166) but by 1446 until the end of the 15th century the total returned to single figures, perhaps because a new dairy had been established at Sharpham by 1440–1. (fn. 167)
A survey (fn. 168) made in 1517 by order of Abbot Richard Bere omitted most of the property assigned to obedientiaries with the exception of 184 a. of meadow belonging to the cellarer and is thus concerned largely with the abbey's corporate holdings. The demesne farm comprised a barn and other buildings with adjacent closes and 42 a. of meadow, almost certainly then let. Some 140 a. of arable, evidently in process of consolidation and noted as formerly let to four separate tenants, was now also subdivided and held by many tenants, and there was 39 a. of meadow and pasture, similarly let. Inclosed demesne grassland surrounded the arable at Prestmore, Cowbridge, Rowclose, Bryndham, Brodemede, and Corregge, and totalled c. 150 a. To that should be added c. 290 a. of meadow beside Norwood park which included a dairyhouse, a new dairy (formerly associated with the sheepfold), some 57 a. of alders, and nearly 5 a. of osier beds. The three parks were also presumably considered demesne. (fn. 169) Among the tenant holdings were 132 a., mostly arable, described as former demesne.
The survey records 17 freeholdings, mostly urban and amounting to just over 77 a. and a carucate. Six were held by the chamberlain, the almoner, and the churchwardens of St. John's, six by John Marshall, one by the master of Wells almshouse. There were 73 customary tenants living in the town and suburbs, a few in Chilkwell Street and Cart Lane holding small parcels of agricultural land, and together paying rent of over £30, some with larger cash fines but seven still paying two capons each. Scattered inclosed grassland produced nearly £11.
Edgarley tithing, which covered the southern and south-eastern part of the estate, seems to have retained traditional patterns to a greater degree although its tenants were not necessarily resident there, five living in Woodland and two others elsewhere in West Pennard, and others came from Glastonbury's eastern suburbs. Five were described as half-virgaters, whose holdings ranged between 28 a. and 53 a.; probably 19 were ferdellers, one with a holding of 52 a., five more over 40 a., and four over 30 a.; six were half-ferdellers, and probably 14 were cottars. (fn. 170) Thirty-three paid heriots, 13 church scot each in the form of 2½ chickens, 9 owed works of which 3 were unspecified, 2 were commuted for cash, and 4 were still charged with taking the St. Dunstan's Gift to Wells. One of those tenants was also to act as keeper of Tor fair. Three men were described as neifs: one held 4½ a. and was also described as a cottar, one held 7 a., and one 37 a.
The land surveyed comprised some 720 a. of arable then lying in four common fields on the lower slopes east of the town: Tor, (fn. 171) East, West, and Edgarley, of which East and West fields were evidently worked as one. There were nearly 300 a. of meadow beside Norwood park.
In 1535 the total net value of the abbey's estate at Glastonbury was assessed at nearly £340 of which over £260 was assessed rent. Most of the demesne, including the three parks, was also let. (fn. 172) Immediately after the Dissolution in 1539 the king's visitors proposed to sell the cattle, presumably on the small amount of demesne land still retained by the monastery, and to let the pastures, which measured 675 a. (fn. 173) Twenty-one-year leases included one made in 1541 to Thomas Aleyn of the former dairy and sheep farm near Norwood, 90 a. of inclosed grassland, and 72 a. of arable in the common fields; and one in 1544 made to Nicholas Speke was of 535 a. of inclosed grassland. Both leases were acquired by Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset, in 1547 and were regranted to him in 1550 with the addition of the abbey site. (fn. 174) Thereafter, until the end of the 16th century, leases of 21 or 30 years were sold by the Crown, often to royal servants and usually in reversion, the units sometimes representing holdings of former abbey departments. Thus, for instance, Sir Christopher Hatton had a reversionary lease of part of New Close formerly held by the abbey sacrist, and Roger North, Lord North of Kirtling, a reversionary lease of land in Brindham and Edgarley, formerly of the abbey almoner and precentor respectively. (fn. 175) The sales of leases to outsiders forced prices higher than local farmers could afford, (fn. 176) and in 1613 a survey concluded that the manor was 'intolerably defaced and impoverished', first by the alienation of the demesne, and second by the granting of so many leases to foreigners resulting in the neglect of houses within the town. (fn. 177) Arrears on former monastic land rose from £4 in 1608 to nearly £28 in 1612 when the total annual rent amounted to just over £35. (fn. 178)
In the earlier 17th century the former abbey demesne, occupied by the earl of Devonshire, comprised a total of 1,033 a. of which nearly three-quarters was meadow and most of the rest pasture. It included the former Wirral park, divided between fourteen closes, the site of the abbey, and large closes in the south-west of the parish. Just over 30 a. of arable was shared unevenly between Tor, East, and Windmill fields. (fn. 179) Those fields were in open cultivation but some of the strips had been converted to pasture. (fn. 180) All the lands were let, the largest holding that of Alexander Dyer with some 355 a. Thomas Brooke had the abbey site and adjoining land of nearly 50 a. (fn. 181) By 1641 Edward Dyer of Sharpham and Thomas Brooke were the most prosperous landholders in the parish. (fn. 182)
The manor, representing the former tenant holdings of the abbey and surveyed in 1656 for partition, was reckoned at nearly 2,880 a. The largest holding was that of Thomas Talbot who occupied the upper and lower tenements at Wick, later Wick farm. Seven other tenants held between 72 a. and 33 a.; the rest was occupied in smaller parcels. (fn. 183) That estate, too, was predominantly grassland, and barley had to be bought in to make malt. (fn. 184) William Strode, holder of half the manor, was also farmer of the rectory, which included 69 a. of glebe. (fn. 185) Agricultural details are largely unknown, but a drover lived in the parish in 1628, (fn. 186) a man had a flock of 140 sheep in 1652, (fn. 187) deponents in 1672 reported pigs kept at Sharpham when it was uninclosed, and 'divers great dairies of cows . . . and great numbers of sheep and lambs' at Norwood. (fn. 188) A man died in 1684 owning 6 plough oxen, 2 steers, 16 cows including 10 Welsh, and 5 horses. (fn. 189)
A visitor in 1635 remarked on the rich corn land and the 'very spacious, dainty, fruitful meadows', and noted in particular the 'ditches with willows. . . planted in good order'. (fn. 190) Four open arable fields were still in use at the end of the century: Tor, Edgarley, Windmill, and Easton. (fn. 191)
Half of the former abbey manor in 1696–8 comprised 103 separate holdings and included seven farms, six ranging in size between 26 a. and 52 a., half of them in Edgarley tithing, and a seventh at Bovetown, probably Wick farm, let at rack rent for £6 8s. (fn. 192) The other half of the manor when sold in 1713 comprised 122 separate holdings, almost all paying rent of less than 20s. Most were houses in the town, strips of arable in the open fields east of the town, and grassland closes to the north. The largest holding was a farm of 52 a. at Havyatt. (fn. 193)
During the 19th century the area of arable land continued to decline: 1,145 a. was under crop in 1840 but by 1905 only just over 175 a. was recorded. (fn. 194) Nevertheless agriculture was the dominant activity, 362 families being engaged in it out of a total of 690 families in 1821. (fn. 195) In 1801 wheat was recorded on 187 a., potatoes on 148 a., peas and beans on c. 60 a. and the quality and quantity of grain and potatoes was better than in living memory. (fn. 196) In 1840 Sharpham was by far the largest farm with 400 a.; six others measured between 100 a. and 150 a. (fn. 197) About 20 men and 7 boys were employed at Sharpham, 'the centre and seat of farming activity'. (fn. 198) By 1851 there were some 30 farms: 5 at Edgarley, 3 at Havyatt, 2 at Norwood, 8 at Wick, 2 at Bovetown, 5 at Northover, 3 at Northload. Northover farm measured 305 a., Park farm 190 a., Norwood Park farm 170 a., and 8 others over 100 a. (fn. 199) Sharpham remained the largest farming unit throughout the century and by 1891 its equipment included a stationary engine. (fn. 200) Dairying, cheese production, and cattle dealing were in the 1890s at the heart of agriculture in the parish, (fn. 201) and a cider-making plant was under trial. (fn. 202) The local market was said in 1920 to be well supported. (fn. 203) By 1939 28 people described themselves simply as farmers, nine holding more than 150 a., four as dairy farmers, one as farmer and cheese factor. There were two other dairymen and two poultry farmers. Small acreages were worked as market gardens or nurseries. (fn. 204) By the end of the 20th century, when much of the farm land immediately around the town had been absorbed for building, the largest of the dairies had recently been given up.
By 1189 moorland south-east of the town and known as Kennard moor was already in process of reclamation: some 40 a. had been divided into strips, most of 1 a. or ½ a., and located in the 'higher part', the 'lower part towards the south', or the 'third meadow'. (fn. 205) Between 1274–5 and 1314 grassland doubled in area as moors were drained. (fn. 206) In 1517 (fn. 207) the moors were said to measure a total of 3,183 a. of which Hulkmoor and Heathmoor were together 1,073 a. and respectively produced alders and heath. South moor or Aldermoor was said to be 1,040 a. and was used by 'various' abbey tenants of whom those of Butleigh and Street were noted. North moor (640 a.) and Kennard moor (430 a.) were grazed in common; a chace on South moor for Butleigh and Street tenants had been discontinued because of the thickness of alder growth and the marshy nature of the ground. That alder was, however, used for fuel, and in 1531–2 the abbey almoner paid for the cutting and transportation of 1,500 faggots. (fn. 208) By the mid 16th century the alder and willow of South moor or Aldermoor was producing timber for hop poles as well as for fuel (fn. 209) and a later 21-year lease allowed felling at the end of each 7-year term followed by fencing to protect new growth. (fn. 210) A lease of 1584 required the tenant to plant 600 willows within six years of taking the lease and to leave the same number at the end of the 15-year term. (fn. 211) In the 1580s Glastonbury farmers had rights in most of the surrounding moors over a total of nearly 3,000 a. as well as a share of Sedgemoor, although the Crown retained the prey and drift. South moor was then largely planted with alder and thorn. (fn. 212)
By the end of the 16th century the general quality of the moors had deteriorated. Felling had seriously reduced the number of large oak, ash, and elm on Hulkmoor and near Norwood, leaving few but shrouded trees in hedgerows. (fn. 213) In 1613 a survey concluded that the commons and wastes had been overstocked with cattle which subsequently contracted murrain. Inclosure of the commons and allotment of lands to houses within the town was supported by the Crown tenants of Glastonbury but not by people from Butleigh who claimed rights in South moor. (fn. 214) However, a visitor in 1635 remarked on the 'very large, capacious fruitful marshes'. (fn. 215)
Hulkmoor produced oak timber up to 1640, largely for charcoal, and snipe were received as payment for hunting rights. (fn. 216) South moor was let in 1625 to a courtier, James Levington, who claimed that the whole was wood ground, formerly supplying coppiced fuel for the abbey kitchen, and that those claiming grazing rights had caused much destruction to the trees. (fn. 217) In 1631 it was agreed that 250 a. out of c. 1,000 a. of moor should be allotted to Glastonbury tenants to be inclosed and improved, and similar areas allotted to tenants of Butleigh and Street, the rest to be retained by the Crown, which granted a 99-year lease to Levington in 1632–3. The Crown share was temporarily inclosed in 1641, but Levington promised the tenants of Edgarley a separate share of 100 a. Agreement was finally achieved in 1665, by which time the alder and thorns had been removed and the grassland was described as 'new improved'. (fn. 218) There were evidently no further inclosures made in the mid 17th century (fn. 219) and Edgarley commoners continued active in ditching. (fn. 220) William Strode the younger, as part of an agreement in 1665, undertook to improve access to South moor by building a bridge and by digging boundary ditches to mark out that part of the moor within Glastonbury manor. (fn. 221)
Elsewhere around the town in the 1630s there were well over 5,000 a., some like Kennard moor and Glastonbury meadows within the parish, but others like Godney meadows, Hearty moor, and Brindham shared with neighbouring parishes. (fn. 222)
Inclosure was being promoted again by 1708, (fn. 223) and the commonable South moor, Common moor, and Black Acre were inclosed in 1722, (fn. 224) together with New Close, beyond Benedict Street to the west of the town, thus adding some 900 a. to the inclosed grasslands of the parish. (fn. 225) Most of the remaining common land, in Heath moor (996 a.), Hulkmoor (180 a.), and Kennard moor (311 a.), was inclosed in 1783 under an Act of 1778. (fn. 226) The last pieces of common, amounting to only 82 a., were inclosed in 1800. (fn. 227)
Glastonbury abbey had established a park south-west of the town by 1247 (fn. 228) which c. 1301 was known as the park by Madelode and by c. 1343 as Wirral park. (fn. 229) In 1276 and 1284 a total of forty deer was given by the king to stock it. (fn. 230) A second park had been created at Norwood by 1305–6 out of inclosed woodland. (fn. 231) In 1325 100 a. at Norwood, partly covered with oaks, supported cattle and Wirral, measuring 117 a., was partly covered with oak, ash, alder, and hazel and supported 12 beasts. (fn. 232) Shortwood beside Norwood was inclosed by Abbot John de Breynton (abbot 1334–42) and thus increased the woodland associated with the park by 'a large amount'. (fn. 233) By 1517 Norwood had been divided into two parts, totalling 751 a., and on the west side of the park there were closes around two dairies, one of which had been converted from a stock yard. (fn. 234)
John, count of Mortain, before his accession to the throne in 1199, gave woodland at Sharpham to Glastonbury abbey. (fn. 235) The abbey evidently lost possession soon afterwards but it was recovered by Michael of Amesbury, abbot 1235–52, (fn. 236) and Walton tenants paid to graze their cows there. (fn. 237) Woodland was inclosed before c. 1260 (fn. 238) and moor drained so that by the early 14th century small parcels beside the wood were let. (fn. 239) About 1356 a park was formed beside the wood. (fn. 240) During the Middle Ages wood and park were administered as part of Walton, the parker being paid by the manorial reeve. (fn. 241) Claims that wood and park were within Street parish (fn. 242) and that the park was open to tenants of Compton Dundon were successfully refuted. Arbitration on the last point in 1444 confirmed that the park should be inclosed and should have two 'leapgates'. (fn. 243) East and west gates were mentioned in 1515. (fn. 244) Houses were built by the abbots at both Norwood and Sharpham. (fn. 245)
In 1517 Sharpham measured 382 a., of which nearly half was meadow, and supported 440 deer, (fn. 246) and later cattle and geldings. (fn. 247) Small closes within the park were marked out with ditches (fn. 248) and let. (fn. 249) Sales of timber in the later 15th and the earlier 16th century included old willow, faggots, and hardwood. (fn. 250)
In 1535 herbage of Wirral was assessed at 16s. 8d., at Sharpham 53s. 4d., and at Norwood £29 10s. (fn. 251) In 1539 Wirral park pale, in need of repair, measured 1¼ mile; there were 60 a. of woodland, and the grazing was said to be 'very good and fertile', supporting 100 deer. Sharpham pale was 2 miles long, inclosing 'good' meadow and pasture, 200 oaks worth £20 and ash, oak, and maple formerly felled every 14 years worth £60. There were 160 deer. Norwood park was 4 miles round and the 'very good and sweet' herbage supported 800 deer. Within it a wood measured 172 a. last felled twenty years before but normally felled every 16 years. (fn. 252) In 1552 Wirral was said to measure 200 a. of which 60 a. and a great wood were of little value, the whole having 140 deer. (fn. 253) In the following year the keeper of the lodge and park at Sharpham had to maintain 200 deer. (fn. 254) In 1563 the lessee of Norwood park was required to preserve 300 'wildbeasts and deer' for distribution at the Queen's pleasure, and to take timber to repair the lodge and pale. (fn. 255) Four mares were kept there in 1569 and deer still in 1594. (fn. 256) It was disparked in or before 1622. (fn. 257) Sharpham supported two mares in 1569 and three in 1583. (fn. 258) In the earlier 17th century a large amount of timber was felled and burnt for charcoal, (fn. 259) and the area was probably soon afterwards disparked. (fn. 260) Wirral was by 1628 divided between 14 tenants, (fn. 261) and in 1638 comprised nearly 94 a. of meadow. (fn. 262)
Water Mills A mill was built at Beckery, probably in 1281–2. (fn. 263) About 1343 it was described as two mills, and had been let with a reed bed and Wirral park. (fn. 264) By 1351 the mills were let to a baker and a shearer for an increased rent. (fn. 265) The two mills, described as east and west mills in 1460–1, (fn. 266) formed part of the abbey demesne estate and were leased by the Crown after the Dissolution. (fn. 267) A lease of 1579 specified their removal to a 'more convenient' site. (fn. 268) The mills continued to produce flour in the 17th century although the summer water supply was said to have been poor, (fn. 269) and several lessees were in the cloth trade. (fn. 270) In the late 1680s the water supply was said to have been diverted by the construction of dams and the breach of a bank. (fn. 271) In the early 18th century there were two grist mills and a malt mill on the site (fn. 272) and Beckery mill was still in operation until just after the First World War when it was worked as a grist mill by the Baily family. (fn. 273)
Windmills About 1244 there was a windmill in the north, later Windmill, arable field. (fn. 276) There may have been two in 1274–5. (fn. 277) One was still in use in the early 14th century. (fn. 278) A new one was built there in 1389–90 which was in hand in 1419–20. (fn. 279) That or another was in use in 1535 (fn. 280) and still in the 1580s. (fn. 281) The site was perhaps on Stone Down Hill overlooking Norwood. (fn. 282) In 1458–9 a windmill was built in or near Wirral park by two tenants, who bought timber for machinery from Street. (fn. 283) In 1641 another was built on Wearyall Hill in opposition to water mills at Beckery (fn. 284) and a third was there in similar circumstances in the 1680s (fn. 285) and the early 18th century. (fn. 286)
Other Mills A fulling mill was in operation at Beckery in 1365 and 1403–4. (fn. 287) Abbot Bere built a fulling mill in or before 1503 and a house at Northover was described slightly later as formerly a blade mill. (fn. 288) The same description was retained in the 1580s. (fn. 289)
By the end of the 12th century the land south and east of Glastonbury was divided between that which lay within and that which lay beyond Havyatt. (fn. 290) By the mid 13th century courts for the whole area, usually called halimotes but occasionally simply courts, were held twice a year, in Spring and Autumn, and were attended by men representing halimotes in its two parts. (fn. 291) By 1340 those two parts were renamed Edgarley and West Pennard. (fn. 292) A separate halimote for East Street, part of West Pennard, reported from 1367. (fn. 293) From the later 14th century until the later 15th the halimotes met together three or four times a year. (fn. 294) Extracts from sessions in 1530 and 1532 described them as courts or manor courts. (fn. 295)
Business at the halimotes was principally control of grazing, repairs to buildings, cases of trespass, straying animals, and debts among tenants, damage to watercourses and fisheries, changes in tenancies and, from the later 14th century, orders to enquire into neifs. Officers mentioned were haywards, moor keepers, warreners, and bedels, one of the last fined in 1366 for failing to appear with his staff in his hand.
After the dissolution of the abbey, sessions described as manor courts or simply as courts are recorded in 1544–5 and 1557–8 and were concerned with tenancy changes, repair of buildings, and animal husbandry. (fn. 296)
In 1540 a chief steward of the lordship or manor was appointed to administer the former abbey estate both in Glastonbury and beyond. (fn. 297) Courts were evidently retained by the Crown and two royal servants in the 1540s were granted office within and beyond the town and parish, one as bailiff of the lordship of Glastonbury and clerk of the market, the other as surveyor of former abbey lands and concerned with courts and finance. (fn. 298) From 1568 a royal grantee held office both in the Twelve Hides hundred and in the manor, taking profits of markets, fairs, and courts, and having the reversion of the offices of clerk of the market and bailiff and collector of the manors. (fn. 299) A steward of the manor and barony was referred to in 1598 and a deputy bailiff in 1609, both evidently Crown officers. (fn. 300) Before 1613 one Crown lessee kept a court baron called the manor of Glaston, in which he granted leases and reversions. (fn. 301)
Owners of the fee farm from the 1630s kept courts in the town at which copyholds were granted and surrendered. (fn. 302)
The manorial halimote courts were probably held, like all other courts in the abbot's liberty, in a hall in High Street. (fn. 303) That had been replaced by 1503 by a slightly smaller but similar building on an adjoining site. (fn. 304) The building, in 1598 called the town hall or shirehall, was then in poor repair and the prison within it 'in great decay and insufficient'. (fn. 305) In the earlier 17th century it was called the court hall or guildhall, and in the 1630s was used for courts both of hundred and manor but by 1640 had suffered the removal of windows and a door. (fn. 306)
St. John's church had a common seal by 1320 (fn. 307) and accounts of its churchwardens survive from 1366. (fn. 308) St. Benignus's church had its own wardens in the later 15th century, but probably for strictly internal purposes only. (fn. 309) In the early 19th century the wardens of St. John's were concerned solely with rates for repairs and for church property. (fn. 310)
St. John's parish from the Middle Ages seems to have been responsible for the town's water supply. A well or conduit called Fabiansput was mentioned in 1317. (fn. 311) In the 1580s there were three conduit wardens and their plumber assistant whose funds came from the Shrovetide ale. (fn. 312) By the earlier 17th century two conduits, the lower beside the high cross in the market place (fn. 313) and the upper at the junction of High and Lambrook streets, (fn. 314) were repaired by a rate. (fn. 315)
By the earlier 17th century two constables, probably successors to the hundred constables, had become leading members of the administration of the town and parish, (fn. 316) and their successors in the 18th century were two petty constables chosen each year by the town jury. (fn. 317)
By 1641 responsibility for the poor was in the hands of three overseers appointed by St. John's and two by St. Benignus's, (fn. 318) but practice in the next century suggests that administration was based at St. John's and covered the whole parish as a single unit. So, for instance, the town stock accounts were signed by two constables, two wardens, four overseers, and three other parishioners. (fn. 319) A 'public vestry' was first mentioned in 1720 and seems usually to have met in the church house. The number of overseers varied between two and four during the 18th and the early 19th century; a salaried assistant was appointed from 1817. (fn. 320) From the early 18th century regular monthly relief known as the 'calendar' or 'necessity calendar', which was paid to 42 people in 1750, was supplemented by payments for clothing, cash, house rent, medical expenses, pauper apprentices, and regular support for the almshouse inmates, the last from 1765 repaid annually at the royal audit at Bruton. (fn. 321) A select vestry was appointed from 1819 and thereafter numbered no more than twenty members. From 1820 the appointment of a parochial surgeon and apothecary was considered permanent. (fn. 322) The vestry continued to function for that part of the parish outside the borough until 1908. (fn. 323) A soup kitchen was established in 1870 and was replaced in 1883 with a coal club which continued until 1902 with the support of the town council. A penny savings bank was held in the town hall by 1889. Allotment gardens were created in several parts of the parish from 1892. (fn. 324)
No records of highway repairs have survived but in 1762 the vestry approved a highway rate, in 1809 viewed the footway along Chilkwell Street, and in 1821 was negotiating with Shepton Mallet turnpike trust. (fn. 325) By 1826 there was a salaried assistant highway surveyor. (fn. 326) Waywardens remained in office under the vestry until 1871. (fn. 327) From 1815 the vestry nominated collectors of property tax. (fn. 328)
In 1816 the vestry proposed to subsidize labour costs in the parish in anticipation of winter crisis, and in 1821 removed the horsepond when a new reservoir was built at the top of High Street. The appointment of a police officer was not pursued in 1830 but a fire engine was bought before Christmas 1824 which from 1825 was supported by the general rate. Constables were nominated from 1842 to serve outside the borough. In 1843 the churchwardens were included on a committee to discuss with the corporation the erection near the site of the old market cross of a conduit and an ornamental column for gas lights.
A workhouse in High Street, rented by the vestry in 1734, was subject to inspection from 1737 and closed in 1742. In 1768 another was leased in Chilkwell Street and a master and 'proper matron' employed. (fn. 329) In 1818 there were 14 poorhouses on the north side of Bere Lane known as Paupers' Row and six cottages at Hill Head; they were sold in 1838. (fn. 330) St. Benignus's parish had at least three houses which were let by 1816 to the overseers but after 1834 were returned to parish control. (fn. 331)
In 1653 the parishes of St. John's and St. Benignus's were united for purposes of registration, (fn. 332) but from 1660 they were separated although the two were regarded with West Pennard as a single ecclesiastical benefice. (fn. 333) In 1834 the parishes were united for civil purposes and the vestry met as 'the parish of the united parish' although ecclesiastical business of St. John's was recorded in the same book as vestry decisions. (fn. 334) In 1894 the area was divided, that part outside the borough becoming the civil parish of Sharpham. (fn. 335) Glastonbury was part of Wells poor-law union from 1836 and in 1974 became part of Mendip district. Sharpham was part of both Wells poor-law union and Wells rural district from 1894. It lost some territory to Street in 1933 and the rest became part of Mendip district in 1974. (fn. 336)
The vestry met in the church house from 1736 and probably much earlier. (fn. 337) It still met there in 1808. (fn. 338) A vestry room was proposed in 1839 (fn. 339) and authorized in 1863. (fn. 340) Known as the Vestry Hall, it was built in High Street in 1865 to the designs of Frederick Merrick. (fn. 341)
A fragment of the churchwardens' seal survives on a document of 1413. (fn. 342) A drawing of the 18th century shows a circular design with a standing figure of St. John the Baptist under a canopy between slender pillars on a chequered ground holding a head on a charger with the motto 'Signum Commune Baptiste Glastoniensis'. (fn. 343)
CHAPELS AND RELIGIOUS SITES
A religious site on Beckery 'island' included a possible chapel or tomb-shrine in timber of the post-Roman or Anglo-Saxon period, later succeeded by a stone chapel. That building, which had reached its final form by c. 1250, was completely encased by a second chapel at the end of the 13th century and remained in use perhaps until the 15th. (fn. 344) The site, which was associated with St. Bridget from the 12th century, was included in the group of chapels cited in the forged privilege of King Edgar as exempt from the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop. (fn. 345)
A chapel dedicated to St. Dunstan in Edgarley was mentioned in the 1580s and was evidently still standing in 1696–8. (fn. 346) It was later said to have been converted to a barn at the Dissolution. (fn. 347) The foundation may have originated to support a tradition that Dunstan was brought to Glastonbury from Canterbury for burial after the cathedral there had been burnt in 1012. (fn. 348) There were fields at Edgarley named Chapple in 1844. (fn. 349)
There may have been another chapel on Edmund Hill: a piece of arable land named Chapele in 1313–14 presumably gave its name to Chapell furlong in the north field in 1517. The name persisted in the 1580s. (fn. 350)
The earliest religious community, presumably British, dates from the 5th or 6th century, and was succeeded by what appears to have been a small mid to late Anglo-Saxon monastery. (fn. 351) By the 12th century it was the site of the chapel of St. Michael, probably destroyed by earthquake in 1275. Rebuilt by Adam of Sodbury (abbot 1323–34), the chapel has since largely disappeared. The tower, the only part to survive, although now reduced by one stage, was rebuilt in the earlier 15th century, with traceried windows and canopied niches on the west face of its upper three stages. (fn. 352) Tithes and offerings were still payable to the 'parsonage' of the chapel in 1535, (fn. 353) but no later reference has been found. The tower was 'broken down one side' by the 1690s. (fn. 354) It was bought in 1736 by Richard Colt Hoare of Stourhead, who funded repairs and a new parapet. It was acquired as part of the Tor by the National Trust in 1937 (fn. 355) and was repaired in 2003. (fn. 356)