A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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Nettlecombe parish occupies a ridge, called Raleigh's Down in the 18th century, (fn. 1) in the northeastern part of the Brendons, within the bounds of the Exmoor National Park. It is irregular in shape. It stretches just over 3 km. from the Washford river at Roadwater in the west to the hamlet of Woodford, in the next valley to the east, and measures more than 6 km. from Torre hamlet in the north to Holcombe water on the high ground of the Brendon ridgeway in the south, where the boundary was confirmed after disputes in 1505. (fn. 2) Much of the parish lies above the 152 m. contour, and reaches 358 m. on the ridgeway. The land is nearly all steeply sloping, especially on the west above the Washford river. A detached part of Nettlecombe in Warmoor was transferred to St. Decumans in 1882. The ancient parish absorbed the detached areas of St. Decumans at Lower Hayne and Kingsdown in 1883, to give a total area of 1,243 ha. (3,073 a.). (fn. 3)
The parish lies mostly on slate, with small areas of pebble beds, sandstone, and limestone in the north and west, and alluvium along the valley between Woodford and Yard. (fn. 4) There was a quarry at Woodadvent, above the Washford river, in the 15th century (fn. 5) and others at Beggearn Huish, Colton, Woodford, Holcombe Water, Yard, and Rocky Lane near Torre in the 19th century. (fn. 6) In 1838 there were limekilns at Clitsome, Yea, and Woodavent farms. (fn. 7) Iron ore was mined in the 19th century. (fn. 8)
Nettlecombe village and its associated green (fn. 9) lay near the church and manor house in a sheltered valley on the eastern side of the parish, but its precise site has not been located. The village was removed in the course of improvements to the park: the poorhouse was replaced by one at Woodford c. 1780, (fn. 10) exchanges of glebe were made in 1790, (fn. 11) and the former rectory house was pulled down c. 1797. The village had been completely removed by 1800, (fn. 12) the tenants thereafter living mostly in the estate village of Woodford, just beyond the park gate, or elsewhere in the parish. Beggearn Huish, Woodadvent, and Lodhuish (later represented by Huish Barton) were Domesday settlements. (fn. 13) Woodford, Yard, and Torre had emerged as hamlets or farms by the 14th century, and grew in the 18th and 19th centuries when Nettlecombe village disappeared. (fn. 14) Colton was in existence by 1327, (fn. 15) and in 1515 comprised six tenements, but it seems to have become a single farm in the 19th century. (fn. 16) Woodadvent was similarly reduced by 1838. Roadside cottages were built before 1838 at Vemplett's Cross, Egypt, and Fair Cross, on the road from Woodadvent to Watchet. (fn. 17)
No evidence of common arable fields has been found, but common pasture on the Brendons, with small areas occasionally under plough, survived until 1778. Between 1780 and 1796 the area was inclosed, partly to be divided into small fields for grazing or arable, the rest shared between Colton and Holcombe Water farms as large tracts of rough grazing. (fn. 18)
A park north-east of the manor house was mentioned in 1532, and measured 80 a. in 1556. (fn. 19) A second park, south of the house, was created by Sir John Trevelyan (d. 1755), probably because the old park was low-lying and more suited to meadow than to pasture. (fn. 20) It was extended by his successors to cover c. 185 a. (fn. 21) Part of the park was landscaped by John Veitch in 1792. (fn. 22) There were evidently small parks at Woodadvent and between Slade and Yea farms beside the Washford river. (fn. 23)
In 1086 there were 50 a. of wood at Nettlecombe. (fn. 24) Timber from the park was regularly sold for shipbuilding, church repairs, and other purposes during the 19th century, and was shipped out of Watchet in 1591 to build a market house in Cornwall. (fn. 25) Sir John Trevelyan (d. 1846) had thousands of trees planted in the parish, including elm, larch, acacia, and black poplar, and in 1838 there were c. 175 a. of woodland. (fn. 26) In 1905 there were 177 a. of woodland and plantations. (fn. 27)
The Taunton-Minehead road enters the parish at Woodford and the Bampton-Watchet road at Nettlecombe Lodge, the two joining at Fair Cross where they leave the parish. Both roads were turnpiked by the Minehead trust in 1765. (fn. 28) In addition the Brendon ridgeway, turnpiked by the Wiveliscombe trust in 1806, forms part of the southern boundary of the parish. (fn. 29) The farms and settlements of the western part of the parish are linked by narrow lanes running between high banks. Most of these lanes derive their names from the farms or hamlets they serve, but the road from Fair Cross to Vemplett's Cross was known as Coal Carriers road in 1858. (fn. 30) The lane from Woodadvent to Nettlecombe church was known as Liche Way in the 15th century. (fn. 31) In 1734 Sir John Trevelyan (d. 1755) obtained permission to enclose part of a highway to Nettlecombe church and provide an alternative route. (fn. 32) A road through the park from the lodge to the church was closed by 1838 and may have been the road which the earl of Egremont declared he would assist Sir John Trevelyan (d. 1846) to keep private in 1841. (fn. 33)
Raleigh's Cross, on the Brendon ridgeway, was said to have been built originally as a landmark for travellers near a dangerous bog north of the road. It marked the junction of five ways, only four of which remain, and it was mentioned as a marker in a view of the Nettlecombe manor boundary in 1425–6. (fn. 34) The cross was moved across the road on the orders of Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan (d. 1879) to mark the boundary between the land of Trevelyan in Nettlecombe and of Carew in Clatworthy. (fn. 35) All that remains of the cross is a polygonal stump set in a square base beside the western entrance to the Raleigh's Cross Hotel.
In 1658 beer was being sold illegally in the parish. (fn. 36) An alehouse was recorded in 1661. (fn. 37) The inn at Yard was first mentioned in 1736 and by the end of the century it was known as the Hare and Hounds. (fn. 38) By 1822 a different building was used for the inn, following a change in the line of the road, (fn. 39) and in 1838 it formed part of the buildings at Yard Farm. The Trevelyan Arms at Yard was mentioned in 1840, (fn. 40) but no later record of a public house in the parish has been found. The Temperance Hall at Roadwater was built c. 1877 by Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan, who encouraged temperance meetings in Nettlecombe Park and on Brendon Hill in the 1850s and 1860s attended by as many as 1,500 people. (fn. 41) The hall was a private house in 1980. There was a friendly society in Nettlecombe from 1807 until 1829 or later. The Nettlecombe Union and Friendly Society met at the Hare and Hounds inn or at Yard mill once a month, and held an annual feast on Whit Tuesday. In 1828 there were 180 members. (fn. 42)
There were at least 120 adult males in the parish in 1641. (fn. 43) The population during most of the 19th century was over 300 and reached a peak of 372 in 1821, but between 1871 and 1891 the total fell from 344 to 259, possibly caused partly by the closure of the iron mines. By 1961 the population had fallen still further to 201, but an increase in the next decade raised the figure to 247 in 1971. (fn. 44)
William Musgrave (d. 1721), physician and antiquary, was the youngest son of Richard Musgrave of Nettlecombe. He lived at Exeter and attended the Trevelyan family. He wrote several treatises on arthritis and four volumes of Antiquitates BrittannoBelgicae. (fn. 45)
NETTLECOMBE was held by Godwin son of Harold in 1066 and by the Crown in demesne in 1086. (fn. 46) By the 12th century it was held of the manor of Hampstead Marshall (Berks.), with which it remained until the end of the 14th century. (fn. 47) Between 1440 and 1563 the overlordship was said to belong to the heirs of Robert FitzPayn. (fn. 48)
No record of a terre tenancy has been found before the late 12th century when Henry II confirmed a grant of Nettlecombe made by John Marshall to Hugh de Ralegh. (fn. 49) Hugh appears to have had no son and gave the estate to his nephew Warin de Ralegh. Warin died before 1199 and was succeeded by his son Sir Warin who died before 1246. (fn. 50) Sir Warin de Ralegh, son of Sir Warin, died before 1280 and was followed by Sir Simon de Ralegh (d. c. 1284), probably his brother. (fn. 51) Simon was followed by his son John (d. before 1293) and then by Sir Simon de Ralegh (d. c. 1304), son or brother of John, who received a grant of free warren on his demesne at Nettlecombe in 1304. By this date Rowdon manor in Stogumber was held with this manor and the two were generally administered as a single unit known as the manor of NETTLECOMBE AND ROWDON. (fn. 52) Sir Simon's successor was probably his second son John de Ralegh (d. 1340). John was succeeded by his son Sir John (d. 1372), (fn. 53) and Sir John by his eldest son John (d. c. 1403), and then by another son, Simon de Ralegh. (fn. 54) Simon died childless in 1440 and his heir was Thomas Whalesborough (d. 1481), son of his sister Joan. (fn. 55) Thomas's son Edmund died in his father's lifetime and the estates descended to Edmund's sister Elizabeth who had married John Trevelyan of Trevelyan in St. Veep (Cornw.). (fn. 56)
From John Trevelyan (d. 1492) the manor descended in the direct male line through Sir John (d. 1521), John (d. 1546), (fn. 57) John (d. 1563), and John (d. 1577) to John Trevelyan (d. 1623). (fn. 58) The last named was succeeded by his grandson George Trevelyan, a minor. (fn. 59) George compounded for his estates during the Interregnum and died in 1653. (fn. 60) His son George, created a baronet in 1661, (fn. 61) died in 1672 leaving a son John only a few months old. (fn. 62) John Trevelyan, M.P. for Somerset 1695–8 and 1701, died in 1755 when his heir was his son, Sir George Trevelyan. (fn. 63) Sir George died in 1768, and the manor passed to his son Sir John (d. 1828), M.P. for Somerset 1780–96. John's son Sir John (d. 1846) succeeded in turn, and was followed by his own son, the naturalist Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan. (fn. 64) Sir Walter died in 1879 without issue and his nephew Arthur Trevelyan (d. 1891) inherited the estates and title. Sir Arthur had five daughters but no son and the inheritance passed to Walter (later Sir Walter) John Trevelyan, a cousin. Sir Walter (d. 1931) left Nettlecombe to his daughter Joan (d. 1943), wife of Garnet Wolseley (d. 1967). (fn. 65) Joan's son John Wolseley was the owner in 1980.
Nettlecombe Court, (fn. 66) standing in its park close beside the parish church, is a complex house of red sandstone with Ham stone dressings. In 1525 a hall, eleven chambers, and five service rooms were mentioned in an inventory. (fn. 67) The oldest part of the house seems to be the south-east range, containing the hall and screens passage. The present hall, which was built in 1599 and still has its decorated plaster ceiling and overmantel, (fn. 68) narrows at the screens passage, an indication that it preserves there the width of an earlier building on the site, probably the hall which John Sydenham built of stone with a tiled roof under the terms of his lease of 1532. Sydenham's hall was to be built 'as the old hall now is' and of almost the same dimensions, (fn. 69) implying that the old hall, too, was in the same position, and not on the site of the kitchen range, which lies at right angles to the northeast end of the present hall. (fn. 70)
The kitchen range, which has a three-roomed plan, contained re-used medieval doorway mouldings, probably indicating, like the re-used mouldings in the range north-east of the kitchen range, the existence of a medieval service range and service court on the site.
The house as reconstructed by John Trevelyan c. 1600 probably had two courts, although that behind the hall and south-west of the kitchen range may not have been closed on the north-west. The twostoreyed porch to the screens passage lay close to the centre of the south-east front; the hall was between it and a three-storeyed parlour wing forming a southwest range. There was probably a staircase in the angle between the back door of the screens passage and the kitchen chimney stack.
George Trevelyan added the small three-storeyed block behind the hall fireplace c. 1641. The ground and first floor rooms of that block have elaborate plasterwork. Soon after he came of age in 1691 Sir John Trevelyan began to improve the principal rooms. Between 1703 and 1707 (fn. 71) he altered the southwest range from three to two storeys and built a new staircase to serve the upper floor. He also panelled the hall and redecorated the rooms on the main front, beyond the screens passage, which had presumably been part of the service court. The alterations were probably completed by 1710 but the further room in the south-west range was still unfinished in 1749 and the staircase was not given its rococo decoration until 1753. (fn. 72) Sir John Trevelyan (d. 1828) completed the decoration of the south-west range in 1787–8, almost certainly replanning the interior. (fn. 73)
The kitchen court was reconstructed and much of the exterior was stuccoed to give it a uniform 'Tudor Gothic' appearance by Sir John Trevelyan (d. 1846). (fn. 74) The stable block, which stands north of the house, is dated 1792, and contains original 18th-century stable fittings and late 19th-century loose boxes. Further north lay extensive kitchen gardens including a range of terraced greenhouses. The park was landscaped in 1792. (fn. 75)
In 1963 Nettlecombe Court was the home of the preparatory department of St. Audries School for girls, West Quantoxhead. (fn. 76) Since 1967 the house has been used as the Leonard Wills Field Studies Centre.
An estate called Oda, later Woodadvent, was exempt from geld in 1084 and does not appear in the Domesday survey. (fn. 77) In 1284 WOOD or WOODADVENT was held of Compton Dundon, like Kilve manor, and it remained in that overlordship until the end of the 16th century or later. (fn. 78)
In 1284 Robert Avenant held ½ fee at Woodadvent, probably as successor to Thomas Avenant (fl. 1242–3), and possibly as son of Thomas Avenant (fl. 1271–2). (fn. 79) The Avenants probably held the estate in succession to the Wood family, Robert son of Hugh of Woodadvent having held adjoining land c. 1200. (fn. 80) Richard Avenant held the fee in 1287. (fn. 81) At the beginning of the 14th century Woodadvent was held by William Burghland with unnamed coheirs, and in 1327 by Thomas FitzUrse, who is said to have married Alice, daughter of Robert Avenant. (fn. 82) In 1335 Woodadvent was settled by Thomas FitzUrse on John de Ralegh and his three younger sons in reversion. The sons died without issue and Woodadvent reverted to John's eldest son, Sir John de Ralegh, and descended with Nettlecombe manor. (fn. 83)
A house at Woodadvent is referred to as the manor place in 1523. In 1619, described as a farm, it comprised a higher and lower hall, two entries, kitchen, buttery, six upper rooms, and several outbuildings. (fn. 84) The house and farm were rebuilt by Sir John Trevelyan (d. 1828). (fn. 85)
Huish, later Beggearn Huish, was held in 1066 by Merlesuain and in 1086 by Ralph Pagnell with Ralph de Reuilly as his undertenant. (fn. 86) It descended with Pagnell's manor of East Quantoxhead and was held of that manor until the 17th century or later. (fn. 87) In 1310–11 Andrew Luttrell granted the terre tenancy, presumably by way of confirmation, to Lucy, widow of Thomas de Raleigh of Devon, his wife's cousin. (fn. 88) It probably descended through William de Raleigh (d. c. 1325) and his son Thomas to John de Raleigh who in 1362 held the estate, then described as the manor of BEGGEARN HUISH or HUISH GAUNT. (fn. 89) John died in 1376 and his daughter and heir Thomasia held the manor until her death in 1402 when her heir was her son John by her first husband, Sir John Chichester. (fn. 90) John Chichester succeeded c. 1406 and held the manor until his death in 1437. (fn. 91) He was followed by his son Richard (d. 1498) and then by his great-grandson John Chichester (d. 1536). (fn. 92) John was succeeded by his grandson Sir John Chichester (d. 1568) and Sir John by his son of the same name who died in 1586. The last Sir John was followed by his son Sir Robert who conveyed the manor to Richard Burton in 1604. (fn. 93)
Richard died in 1607 and his son and successor Nathaniel died without issue in 1632. Nathaniel's wife Julian (d. 1639) remarried and had a daughter, Eleanor Hobbes. (fn. 94) In 1656 the manor was probably held by trustees. (fn. 95) Richard Burton, great nephew of Richard Burton, and Eleanor Hobbes died without issue. In 1661 Richard's sister Martha Saddler and Anne, wife of Richard Mayfield, conveyed the manor in reversion to Aldred Seaman. (fn. 96) In 1666 Mary Thorne, aunt by marriage to Eleanor Hobbes, conveyed her interest to John Pratt of Thurloxton. (fn. 97) Seaman and Pratt mortgaged the manor in 1667 and in 1672 Pratt released his interest to Seaman. (fn. 98) Aldred Seaman and his son Aldred conveyed the manor to Lucy Luttrell in trust for Francis Luttrell of Dunster in 1679. (fn. 99) The manor was mortgaged to Sir William Wyndham in 1682 and after the death of Francis Luttrell, a debtor, in 1690 it was forfeited to Wyndham in whose family it descended like Orchard Wyndham to George Colville Wyndham (d. 1982). In 1980 it was the property of George's elder son William Wadham Wyndham. (fn. 100)
Another estate called Huish, later Lodhuish, was held in 1066 by Ulfgar and in 1086 by Roger de Courcelles with Bertram as his undertenant. (fn. 101) From Roger the lordship descended to the lords of Compton Dundon manor from which Lodhuish was held until the 15th century. (fn. 102) A mesne lordship was held by the lords of Kilve manor, (fn. 103) from whom in 1284 and 1286 Geoffrey of Huish held Lodhuish as terre tenant. (fn. 104) Geoffrey was probably succeeded by John of Lodhuish (fl. 1286–1334), who had licences for an oratory there in 1318 and 1334. (fn. 105) His successors were probably Geoffrey of Lodhuish (fl. 1342–51) and John of Lodhuish (fl. 1418). (fn. 106) In 1434 the manor of LODHUISH was held by Joan Huish, (fn. 107) but it came into the hands of the Hill family, probably by 1442, and was in the possession of Cecily Keriell, widow of John Hill, when she died in 1472. (fn. 108) The heir was her granddaughter Genevieve (d. 1480), wife of Sir William Say (d. 1529). They had no surviving issue and Lodhuish came into the possession of one of their heirs, John Waldegrave (d. 1543). (fn. 109) John was succeeded by his son Sir Edward (d. 1561), M.P. for Somerset 1554, by Edward's son Charles (d. 1632), and by Charles's son Sir Edward (d. 1647). In 1648 Lodhuish was settled on Sir Edward's son Sir Henry for life. (fn. 110) On Sir Henry's death in 1658 Lodhuish passed to his brother Sir Charles (d. 1684). Henry, Lord Waldegrave (d. 1689), succeeded his father Sir Charles and was followed by his son James, Lord Waldegrave. (fn. 111) James sold Lodhuish to Sir John Trevelyan in 1714 (fn. 112) and it descended in the Trevelyan family with Nettlecombe manor.
Huish Barton is probably in origin a 16th-century house but it was largely rebuilt and extended northwards in the 17th century. In 1647 the tenant was required to spend £100 on repairs. (fn. 113) The north wing comprises a first-floor chamber of five bays with attics and basement. Over a fireplace is a plaster panel bearing the date 1698 and the monogram of the Musgraves who occupied the house for most of the 17th century. Among the adjoining farm buildings is a barn probably of the late 17th or early 18th century. (fn. 114)
In 1086 the estates at Nettlecombe, Lodhuish, and Beggearn Huish together measured 5 hides, with land for 20 ploughs; 15/8 hide and 5 ploughs were in demesne. The demesnes were worked by 9 serfs, and 27 villeins and 12 bordars worked the remainder with 11 ploughs. There were 21 a. of meadow, 230 a. of pasture, and 50 a. of wood. The estate probably at Woodadvent may have measured ½ hide. Apart from a riding horse at Nettlecombe the only estate livestock recorded was at Beggearn Huish which had 1 horse, 2 cattle, 1 pig, and 30 sheep. (fn. 115)
Beggearn Huish, Lodhuish, and Woodadvent continued as separate estates throughout the Middle Ages. Only from Nettlecombe and Rowdon manor is there information about medieval agriculture, and it is not always possible to distinguish what relates exclusively to Nettlecombe parish since Rowdon lay in Stogumber. By the late 14th century most services had been commuted, but in 1390 there were boonworkers on the Nettlecombe demesne who received two sheep carcasses for food, and chevage was still paid by one man in 1401. (fn. 116) Cash rents, which accounted for about a third of manorial income in the early 1380s, grew with the inclusion of cash payments for commuted services and new rents, and by 1400 amounted to over two thirds of the whole income. (fn. 117)
The demesne farms at Nettlecombe and Rowdon were evidently worked together, sharing two ploughmen, two drovers, two shepherds, a reaper, a cowherd, a neatherd, and a dairy maid. During the last two decades of the 14th century the area under plough on the demesne varied from under 100 a. to over 200 a., and during the same period pasture on the Brendons in Nettlecombe parish was let on short leases for tillage. (fn. 118) The Nettlecombe demesne produced most of the rye and oats on the manor, oats accounting for about half the total in any one year, and producing cash sales reaching in 1386–7 a quarter of the manor's income excluding rents. (fn. 119) Up to 13 a. of waterleets lay at Nettlecombe where vetches and grain were sown. (fn. 120)
Stock on Nettlecombe barton at Michaelmas 1380 comprised 15 oxen, 37 young cattle, 4 horses, 59 pigs, and 34 sheep. (fn. 121) Twenty years later the whole manor employed a few more oxen, some of which had come from Wales, and the sheep flock had increased to 219. (fn. 122) The sheep flock had been much larger in 1373–4 when over 200 fleeces of wether wool, a large quantity of fleece wool, and 24 lb. of lambs' wool were sold. Three inspectors of carcasses employed on the manor in 1385 suggest widespread grazing both on the Brendons in Nettlecombe and on the high ground at Capton in Stogumber. (fn. 123)
Tenant farmers were paying in the 16th century to till land on the Brendons, (fn. 124) but sheep were still pastured there, both by outsiders and by local men. (fn. 125) The demesne estate at Nettlecombe was exploited and improved by John Trevelyan (d. 1623). Stock both from the village and from Clatworthy, Wiveliscombe, Stogumber, and Monksilver was allowed to graze in the park in return for cash rents, (fn. 126) and fruit trees were planted in the orchards. (fn. 127) The home farm supported horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, geese, turkeys, and ducks. (fn. 128) During the 1590s the dairy produced 4 gall. of butter a week in early summer as well as cheese. (fn. 129) Oats, followed by barley and rye, were the main arable crops in the early 17th century. (fn. 130)
By the end of the 17th century the barton at Nettlecombe employed as many as fourteen shearers, some indication of the size of the flock. (fn. 131) Common grazing still played an important part in the economy; there were 700 a. belonging to the manor in 1619, and by custom tenants at Colton, Chidgley, and Nettlecombe pastured as many sheep and cattle on the Brendons as they could winter on their own land. They might also each till an acre there. (fn. 132) In 1721 a Nettlecombe tenant kept two flocks, one described as 'the small hill sheep'. (fn. 133)
By the early 18th century the Trevelyans possessed all estates in the parish except Beggearn Huish, which was split into several large freeholds, later known as Clitsome, Torre, and Slade. (fn. 134) Woodadvent, virtually a single farm, had been absorbed into Nettlecombe manor by 1598 (fn. 135) and Lodhuish, later Huish Barton, another single farm, was acquired in 1714. (fn. 136) Within Nettlecombe manor itself there was a substantial leasehold farm at Yard, but most of the land belonged to the home farm. The annual value of Nettlecombe, Rowdon, and Woodadvent together was £2,452 8s. 10d. in 1773, of which just under half came from rack rents. (fn. 137) Farming of the home estate, not easily distinguished in surviving accounts from other family holdings, involved 15 labourers in 1753 with 17 shearers. (fn. 138) In the autumn of 1755 the stock at Nettlecombe included 19 horses, 1 bull, 14 plough cattle, 23 cows and young cattle, 297 sheep, and 29 pigs. There were also 20 a. of barley, 622 bu. of wheat, and 990 bu. of white and grey peas. (fn. 139) Recorded business in 1789 illustrates the range of activity: purchases of stock, including heifers from Stogumber fair, ewes and lambs, white clover, and rye seed; sales of corn, skins, bark, and game; wages for shearing, mowing, lifting potatoes, and picking apples; payments for collecting holly and whitethorn berries, beechnuts, and acorns. (fn. 140) In 1791 36 hogsheads of cider were made and in 1798 stock-keeping in the park produced c. £300. (fn. 141) In 1803 wheat, barley, and oats were grown at Huish Barton. (fn. 142)
By 1838 there were five farms over 250 a. in the parish, all on the Trevelyan estate. On the Brendons Colton farm (540 a.) and Holcombe Water (330 a.) had both been taken largely from the common land there between 1780 and 1796. (fn. 143) On the lower ground were Nettlecombe Barton (428 a.), Huish Barton (397 a.), and Woodadvent (278 a.). The largest farm at Beggearn Huish was 142 a., with smaller holdings at Yard (102 a.), Clitsome, Berryman's, and Torre (50 a.–100 a.). More than half the tithable area was under arable, with 370 a. of poor sheep pasture on the Brendons, and 349 a. of meadow and pasture. There were 430 a. of tithe-free land including woodland. (fn. 144)
Sir John Trevelyan (d. 1828) recorded that when he took over the Nettlecombe estate in 1768 the buildings were in a bad state of repair, including the farmhouse at Woodadvent which he rebuilt. (fn. 145) Cottages were provided for the bailiff, gardener, and gamekeeper, and pairs of cottages were built on the farms. (fn. 146) In 1821 there were 66 families, of whom 54 were engaged in agriculture, living in 59 houses. (fn. 147) There were 68 labourers recorded on nine farms in 1851, (fn. 148) and in the 1860s there were complaints that large numbers of workers came from outside the parish and threatened to overburden the poor rate. (fn. 149) By 1905 permanent grassland (1,137 a.) had increased in relation to arable (1,010 a.). (fn. 150) By 1976 less than a third of the land was under plough, but the size of holdings had not changed significantly from the 1830s, two farms having over 200 ha. (494 a.) and seven over 50 ha. (123 a.). One farm specialized in dairying and another in cereals, but most raised livestock. (fn. 151)
In 1606 a tanner bought bark from 10 a. of wood from Sir John Trevelyan for £10 and two dressed hides. (fn. 152) A weaver was at work in the parish in the same period, (fn. 153) and in 1669 a woodworker had a workshop with tools and a sawpit. (fn. 154) In 1689 a Nettlecombe gunsmith was employed to repair guttering at Bicknoller church. (fn. 155)
Iron ore deposits were found in the parish at Fair Cross and Beggearn Huish in 1843 and a mine was opened at Beggearn Huish then. (fn. 156) Mining was, however, concentrated at Colton, just north of the Brendon ridgeway, where possible 18th-century workings were found in the 1860s. In 1859 the Trevelyans leased mining rights at Colton pits in return for a minimum rent of £50 and a charge of 1s. for every ton of ore. (fn. 157) A new adit was opened by the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron, and Coal Co. in 1865. In 1881 the Colton mine was worked on five levels, but the ore was still carried by horse and cart to Brendon Hill. The mines were closed in 1882 but reopened by the Somerset Mineral Syndicate in 1907. (fn. 158) A light railway was then constructed to carry ore to the mineral railway at Brendon Hill, and an incline with boiler and winding engine was installed to carry ore from Galloping Bottom up to the new line. A steam pump enabled working at lower levels and over 2,000 tons were mined in 1908, but a slump in the steel industry led to closure of the mines in 1909. (fn. 159)
There was a mill at Beggearn Huish in 1086. (fn. 160) There is no further record of the mill, which may have been on the Washford river. Corneford mill was mentioned in the 13th century in connexion with an estate at Slade but its site is unknown. (fn. 161) The mill at Yard, belonging to Nettlecombe manor, was perhaps the Hurd mill recorded as in need of repairs in 1373; Yard mill was mentioned in 1374–5, and in 1379–80 materials were purchased for its repair. (fn. 162) In 1381–2 it was farmed (fn. 163) but it was in hand in 1398–9. (fn. 164) The mill was let in 1755. (fn. 165) In 1872 the miller was also a corn, seed, and coal merchant. (fn. 166) Milling ceased after 1910 (fn. 167) but the mill and its overshot wheel and machinery, including stones, survived in 1980.
In 1838 there were blade mills at Yard and on the Washford river on the site later occupied by the Temperance Hall; (fn. 168) the ruins of the former survived in 1980.
About 1225 Beggearn Huish and Lodhuish together formed one tithing but Maurice de Gaunt joined Beggearn Huish to the tithing of East Quantoxhead. (fn. 169) In the 17th century Beggearn Huish, Lodhuish, Nettlecombe, and Woodadvent were each a separate tithing. (fn. 170) By the 19th century Woodadvent and Nettlecombe tithings had been combined. (fn. 171)
Court rolls and books for Nettlecombe and Rowdon manor survive with a few gaps for the periods 1369–1449, 1476–1688, and 1759–67. (fn. 172) In 1276 Warin de Ralegh had gallows and assize of bread and of ale in Nettlecombe manor, (fn. 173) and in 1532 stocks were provided by the manor court. (fn. 174) There were three and occasionally four courts a year from the 14th to the 16th century, and during the 17th century courts met four times a year, two being views of frankpledge. (fn. 175) In the early 18th century courts were held in the church house. (fn. 176)
In the 14th century there were three inspectors of carcasses, one for Nettlecombe and two for Rowdon, four reeves, and a tithingman. By the early 15th century there were three reeves and a rent collector. (fn. 177) Later in the century only one reeve was appointed. (fn. 178) The court elected a constable, tithingman, and reeve during the 16th to 18th centuries. (fn. 179)
The court rolls of Woodadvent manor survive intermittently between 1380 and 1647. Courts met twice a year at Hocktide and Michaelmas. By the 16th century the bailiff of Nettlecombe manor was also responsible for Woodadvent. (fn. 180) Only one court roll, of 1682, is known for Beggearn Huish manor; a few rolls survive for the period 1594–1605 for Lodhuish. (fn. 181)
From the early 16th century there were two churchwardens, whose accounts survive for the period 1507–1617 and from 1705. (fn. 182) The wardens were helped in the 16th century by people called the four men, presumably sidesmen. (fn. 183) In the 18th century churchwardens and overseers were elected according to a rota of property. (fn. 184) A vestry had been formed by 1756. (fn. 185)
There were four overseers of the poor by 1641 and until 1660, and then two. (fn. 186) The poorhouse, probably the former church house, was said to have been demolished c. 1780 when the paupers were moved to Woodford, (fn. 187) where a poorhouse given by Sir John Trevelyan (d. 1828) already stood. (fn. 188) It was divided into two-roomed cottages in 1834, the inmates paying rent to the overseers according to their means. In 1841 the house was sold. (fn. 189)
Two surveyors of the highways were appointed in 1660 but in 1691 they and the overseers contracted with a local man to maintain the highways for seven years for a payment of £7 a year, excluding the cost of landslips and fallen trees. (fn. 190) Surveyors' accounts date from 1756, and from 1788 separate accounts were kept for the parish and for turnpike roads. (fn. 191)
Nettlecombe became part of the Williton poorlaw union in 1836 and was in the Williton rural district from 1894. Since 1974 it has been in the West Somerset district. (fn. 192)
There was probably a church in Nettlecombe by the late 12th century. (fn. 193) In 1327 the advowson of the rectory belonged to John de Ralegh and descended with Nettlecombe manor. The representatives of Garnet Wolseley, deceased, were patrons in 1980. (fn. 194) In 1968 Nettlecombe became part of a united benefice with Monksilver and Brompton Ralph, and since 1977 has been held in addition with Stogumber. (fn. 195)
The benefice was valued at £8 in 1291. (fn. 196) In 1535 it was worth £17 6s. 7d. (fn. 197) and its reputed value c. 1668 was £120. (fn. 198) The net income in 1831 was £445. (fn. 199) The tithes were assessed at over £12 6s. 8d. in 1535. (fn. 200) In 1613 moduses were payable on geese, hay, hops, apples, pears, honey, wax, and pigs, and 1d. was due from each garden and on the birth of every calf. Each person making a first communion had to pay 1½d. (fn. 201) In 1838 tithes were commuted for a rent charge of £480. (fn. 202) The glebe was worth 30s. in 1535 (fn. 203) and at the end of the 16th century comprised c. 35 a. In 1613 and 1639 there was slightly more, including two closes in St. Decumans parish. (fn. 204) There were exchanges of glebe with the Trevelyans in 1790, 1797, 1838, and 1866, largely in order to increase the size of the park. (fn. 205) In 1838 the glebe measured over 59 a.; it was sold in 1922. (fn. 206)
In 1577 the parsonage house was said to be in decay. (fn. 207) In 1613 the house had a court with two chambers to the north, a pumphouse, bakehouse, stable, barn, and stall. (fn. 208) By 1724 the house comprised kitchen, hall, parlour, brewhouse, larder, five chambers, nursery, garret, and study. (fn. 209) About 1797 the house was demolished and the site, with neighbouring glebe closes, exchanged for lands and a new parsonage house on the Lawn in Pooke wood south of Nettlecombe park. (fn. 210) The house, later known as Combe, was sold in 1922 and a new house between Woodford and Yard was bought. (fn. 211) After the last resident rector left in 1968 it was sold, and in 1980 was a guest house.
Andrew de Ralegh, rector 1316–27, studied at Oxford on his appointment. (fn. 212) John FitzHide, rector 1449–50, was required to study for four years and present himself to the bishop each year. (fn. 213) George Trevelyan, rector 1502–11, was later chaplain to Henry VIII. (fn. 214) William Cavell, rector 1511–54, also studied at Oxford in his early years as rector and was later a pluralist. (fn. 215) The chantries and numerous lights in the church at the end of Henry VIII's reign and the covert transfer of a medieval chalice to John Trevelyan when the chantries were dissolved contrast with the protestantism suggested in the failure of the wardens to restore the tabernacle and the figures of the rood in 1557. (fn. 216) Baldwin Hill, rector at the time, was living at Tallaton (Devon), and his successor, Henry Slocombe, was also non-resident. (fn. 217) Robert Gay, rector 1631–72, is supposed to have attacked Nettlecombe Court during the civil wars. (fn. 218)
During the 18th century there were resident rectors and both Christopher Haslam (1724–55) and John Rugge (1755–92) married into the Trevelyan family. (fn. 219) George Trevelyan, rector 1792–1827, was archdeacon of Taunton from 1817 until his death in 1827. He was usually resident although he spent part of each winter at Wells. Services at Nettlecombe were held twice on Sundays in the summer and once in winter. (fn. 220) George's brother Walter was rector from 1827 until his death in 1830 and was also a prebendary of Wells. Noel Ellison, rector 1831–51 and son-in-law of Sir John Trevelyan (d. 1846), was a pluralist and Nettlecombe was usually served by curates, two of whom also became Sir John's sonsin-law. By 1843 there were two services on Sundays and communion was celebrated seven or eight times a year. (fn. 221) In 1851 there were two services each Sunday and the average attendance, excluding Sundayschool children, was 100 at the morning service and 70 in the afternoon. (fn. 222) In 1870 there were two services on Sundays and communion was celebrated weekly. (fn. 223) Hugh Willoughby Jermyn, rector 1858–70, later became bishop of Colombo and of Brechin. (fn. 224)
A church house was mentioned in 1519, and was used for church ales and wedding feasts. By 1617 it was let as separate dwellings. (fn. 225) The building was described in 1619 as having three rooms with a loft over. (fn. 226) It was used as a poorhouse by the 18th century. (fn. 227) The house may have been rebuilt, since in the late 18th century it was said to have been of two storeys with an external stone stair. It was demolished when the park was extended over the village site. (fn. 228)
Simon de Ralegh (d. 1440) gave land to establish a chantry in the chapel of St. John the Baptist in the parish church. A mortmain licence was granted in 1443 and the first chaplain, formerly rector of Nettlecombe, was appointed in 1453. (fn. 229) The chaplain, who had a house in the parish, celebrated mass daily. (fn. 230) In 1535 the net income was £7 4s. 8d. (fn. 231) and in 1549 the chantry was adequately supplied with plate and vestments. (fn. 232) After suppression its lands were granted to John Bellowe and Edward Streitbury; (fn. 233) the chaplain's house survived until 1768. (fn. 234)
An obit was founded by Simon de Ralegh (d. 1440) and another by Thomas Whalesborough. The latter, with property in Taunton, supported a priest. The estate was still held in 1547, (fn. 235) but is not recorded thereafter. There was a brotherhood of Our Lady by 1507 and lights of the High Cross, St. Nicholas, St. George, St. Anthony, St. Mary Magdalene, All Souls, Our Lady, Our Lady in the chancel, St. John the Baptist, and other lights described as Rood light and Christ light. An image of St. George was mentioned c. 1536. (fn. 236)
The church of the BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, so dedicated by 1440, (fn. 237) is built of local red sandstone and comprises chancel with north chapel and south organ chamber, clerestoried nave with north and south aisles, north porch, and west tower. The 14th-century rib-vaulted recesses in the south aisle contained not only the two surviving Ralegh effigies but also two wooden ones, assumed to be Ralegh wives, which were removed in the 19th century. (fn. 238) The aisle was probably the chapel which in 1440 was dedicated to St. John the Baptist. (fn. 239) Before the south chapel was rebuilt as an aisle the tower was built; it contains a bell of c. 1440. (fn. 240) The Devon style capitals of the south arcade are copied in a different stone in the north arcade, which was formed when that aisle was built c. 1536. (fn. 241) The north chancel chapel of Our Lady and St. George, planned under the will of Sir John Trevelyan (d. 1521), (fn. 242) was being built between 1531 and 1534. (fn. 243)
The stair giving access to the pulpit formerly led to the rood loft, which was taken down in 1529–30 when the north nave wall was being demolished. (fn. 244) The loft was finally taken down in 1562. (fn. 245) The carved font, of East Anglian design, depicts the Seven Sacraments. (fn. 246) There are some bench ends dating from the late 16th century. The floor, paved in the earlier 18th century, includes some medieval titles in the south aisle. There was a singing loft in 1713. (fn. 247)
The church was restored by Richard Carver c. 1820. (fn. 248) More extensive work was done between 1858 and 1870 by C. E. Giles under the guidance of James Babbage, the Trevelyan agent, who claimed that the new clerestory made the church look two centuries older. (fn. 249) The church contains monuments to the Trevelyans and their servants.
The chalice and paten of 1479, the oldest dated church plate in the country, were in 1980 in the St. Nicholas Church Museum, Bristol; the church also possessed a flagon of Charles I's reign until c. 1956, when it was sold to pay for church restoration. (fn. 250) The registers date from 1540 and are complete except for a gap between 1646 and 1653. (fn. 251)
In 1819 a school was established at Yard by the rector, George Trevelyan, which then took 120 poor children. Those whose parents could afford it paid 2d. a week. At the same time a Sunday school was attended by 80 children. (fn. 252) The Sunday school, with an average attendance of 60 children, was still in existence in 1851. (fn. 253) In 1825–6 there were 130 children at the day school. (fn. 254) In 1835, out of a total of 107 at the school, 42 children were paid for by Sir John Trevelyan, his son Walter, and the rector; the rest were paid for by their parents. (fn. 255) The schools were said to be 'going on well' in 1846 when there were 96 children. (fn. 256) The Trevelyans continued their support, and occasional voluntary rates were levied. (fn. 257)
In 1903 Sir Walter John Trevelyan leased the premises to the rector and churchwardens at a peppercorn rent. (fn. 258) There were then 34 children on the books. (fn. 259) In 1931, after the senior pupils were transferred to Washford and Williton, only 29 remained. During the next decade numbers fell still further until in 1945 there were only 5 children on the books and the school was closed. (fn. 260) In 1980 the former school building was shared between a private house and the village hall. The schoolroom and teacher's house were designed by Richard Carver in 1819 for Sir John Trevelyan, (fn. 261) and are of colourwashed rubble with gables and traceried windows.
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
Edward Milborne, rector 1579–1604, gave £10 to set the poor to work, and other bequests of unknown origin provided a further £30 capital. (fn. 262) In 1655 it was decided to use the money for the benefit of the second poor, and distributions of the interest were made until the early 19th century, augmented with blankets given by the Trevelyan family. (fn. 263) Between 1826 and 1894 the capital was held by the Trevelyans, who paid interest which was laid out in clothes by the churchwardens. (fn. 264) The charity has since been lost. (fn. 265)