A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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The ancient parish of Chipstable lay on the southern slopes of the Brendons 4 km. west of Wiveliscombe. (fn. 1) It was in two parts, both treated below. The main part of the parish, roughly rectangular in shape, measured 2 km. from east to west and 3.5 km. from north to south. A detached area some 2.5 km. north of the northern boundary, beyond Huish Champflower and reaching to the Brendon ridgeway, included East Withy and Chitcombe farms. (fn. 2) In 1881 the total area was 2,252 a. (fn. 3) In 1884 the detached area was added to Huish Champflower, reducing the parish to 1,936 a. (fn. 4) In 1933 Raddington was joined with Chipstable to form the civil parish of Chipstable, giving a total area of 1,398 ha. (3,454 a.). (fn. 5)
The parish occupies land which falls from 338 m. on Heydon Hill in the north-west to c. 120 m. in the extreme south-east, on slates, siltstones, and sandstones of the Pilton and Pickwell Down beds. (fn. 6) Its western boundary with Raddington is marked largely by the wide Old Way. (fn. 7) The River Tone marks the eastern boundary, its narrow, steep-sided valley heavily wooded in the north, but widening sufficiently further south for the establishment of two farmsteads and the straggling hamlet of Waterrow at two crossing places. From Waterrow another valley runs north-west across the parish to Chipstable village, at the 250 m. contour. The south end of the parish includes a shallow valley beyond the abrupt southern slope of Biballs Hill.
Chipstable village comprises the church, former and present rectory houses, former school, two farms, and a few cottages. Waterrow is the name given from the mid 19th century to scattered settlements in the Tone valley formerly called East and West Skirdall or Skirdle, which became the largest settlement. (fn. 8) Cottages at Elms Green, south of Chipstable village, and at Bulland were mentioned in the mid 19th century. (fn. 9) Farms are spread widely through the rest of the parish: Chitcombe and East Withy were established by 1306, (fn. 10) Withycombe, Trowell, Severidges, and Above Church by 1327, (fn. 11) and Pinkhouse by 1451. (fn. 12) Trowell Farm is a 15th-century long house with linenfold panelling similar to work at Muchelney Abbey. (fn. 13) Furze and heath were found, probably near the Chipstable-Raddington boundary, in the 1440s. (fn. 14) There were areas of common pasture on Heydon (264 a.), Lydon (32 a.), and Biballs (14 a.) hills until they were inclosed in 1837, (fn. 15) but no common arable fields have been traced. Field names and shapes indicate a park on the demesne in a watered valley in the centre of the parish. (fn. 16) Woodland on Heydon Hill and elsewhere was established in the 1830s by John Stone, lord of the manor, and was then 'abounding with black and other game'. (fn. 17)
From 1786 the turnpike road from Wiveliscombe to Bampton (Devon) entered the parish over Yeo Bridge (fn. 18) and from Waterrow climbed Biballs and Shute hills before descending into Raddington. (fn. 19) The route was improved c. 1824, entering Waterrow further south over Biballs Bridge and curving southwards into the valley below Shute Hill. (fn. 20) The same valley was the route of the Devon and Somerset railway, opened in 1873, which entered the parish over Waterrow viaduct. (fn. 21) Venn Cross station, partly in Chipstable and partly in Clayhanger (Devon), was closed with the line in 1966. (fn. 22)
The Travellers' Rest inn, immediately north of Biballs Bridge, was established in 1819, and continued until 1851 or later. (fn. 23) The Rock House inn, later the Rock inn, also at Waterrow and in 1840 a private house and smithy, (fn. 24) had become an inn by 1851. (fn. 25) It was still open in 1982.
A total of 56 people signed the Protestation in 1642. (fn. 26) There were 301 people in the parish in 1801. After a fall to 288 in 1811, the total rose each decade, reaching 395 in 1851. Then began a steady decline, the figure of 420 in 1871 including the families of workmen building the railway. By 1901 the population was 265, and in twenty years it reached 277. In 1931 the total of 335 included the inhabitants of Raddington ecclesiastical parish. In 1971 the population of the civil parish, which included Raddington, had fallen to 273. (fn. 27)
MANOR AND OTHER ESTATES.
Celric held CHIPSTABLE in 1066, but by 1086 he had been succeeded by the monks of Muchelney. (fn. 28) The monks remained in possession until their house was surrendered to the Crown in 1538, (fn. 29) the manor having in the mid 15th century been assigned to the monastic cook. (fn. 30) The Crown almost immediately sold the manor to Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford, (fn. 31) who sold it later in the same year to Roger (later Sir Roger) Bluet of Greenham in Stawley. (fn. 32) The Bluets were said to hold of the Crown in chief in 1615. (fn. 33)
Sir Roger Bluet, alive in 1548, (fn. 34) was followed by his son John (d. 1584) (fn. 35) and by John's son Richard (d. 1615). Richard was succeeded by his grandson John Bluet, a minor. (fn. 36) John died in 1634, when his four surviving daughters, the oldest aged nine, shared the estate. (fn. 37) Much of the land was sold from the 1680s onwards, but quarter shares in the chief rents of the ancient freeholds of the manor and the church house were retained by the descendants of some of the Bluet daughters until the mid 18th century. (fn. 38)
Anne, the eldest daughter of John Bluet, married Cadwallader Jones of Greenham before 1652. (fn. 39) Her son, also Cadwallader, had succeeded to his mother's estate by 1687, (fn. 40) and John Jones of Burlescombe (Devon) retained a share of the chief rents until 1715, when he sold them to the rector of Chipstable, Simon Richards. (fn. 41) John Bluet's second daughter, Mary, married first Sir James Stonehouse and in 1659 John (later Sir John) Lenthall of Besselsleigh (Berks., now Oxon.). (fn. 42) William Lenthall (d. 1686), (fn. 43) son of Mary, was followed by his son John. John sold most of his property in Chipstable in 1706 and 1707, his share of the manor passing in 1706 to Miles Corbett of Lyons Inn, London. (fn. 44) Before 1743 the share had been acquired by David Yea of Oakhampton in Wiveliscombe, who in that year sold it to Simon Richards. (fn. 45)
John Bluet's third daughter, Dorothy, married Henry Wallop of Farleigh Wallop (Hants). Their son John (d. 1694) was succeeded first by his elder son Bluet (d. 1707) and then by his younger son John (cr. Baron Wallop and Vct. Lymington 1720, and earl of Portsmouth 1743). (fn. 46) Lord Lymington sold his share of the demesne, Chipstable farm, to David Yea in 1726, (fn. 47) but retained his share of the chief rents, the church house, and other land until 1742, when he sold his estate to Gregory Jeane of Bradford on Tone. In the following year Jeane sold his share of the chief rents and the church house to Simon Richards. (fn. 48)
John Bluet's fourth daughter, Susan, married John Basset of Heanton Punchardon (Devon). Their son John (d. 1686) was succeeded by his son, also John (d. 1721). John Basset was followed by his son Francis John, who in 1739 conveyed his share of the chief rents and the church house to Simon Richards. (fn. 49)
By 1743, therefore, Simon Richards was in possession of the chief rents of the former manor, and of other former manorial demesne holdings including the church house. His estate, known as the manor or reputed manor, passed on his death in 1751 to his brother Richard, and then to Richard's nephew Simon Richards (d. 1804), rector from 1784. The manor was settled on Simon and his wife Anne in 1782 and was conveyed by Anne to her son, Simon Slocombe Richards, when he became rector in 1809. Richards sold the manor to John Carige of Wiveliscombe in 1815, and in 1818 it passed to Charles Templer of Honiton (Devon), curate 1818–28 and lessee of the glebe and tithes. (fn. 50) Templer sold the manor in 1827 to John Stone; and Stone, then living in Bath, sold it in 1839 to Arthur Capel of Stroud (Glos.). (fn. 51)
Arthur Capel died in 1889 and was succeeded by his son Arthur (d. 1931) and then by his grandson, Air Vice Marshal Arthur John Capel. On the latter's death in 1979 the estate passed to his daughter, Mrs. Anne Deshon. (fn. 52)
Chipstable farm, based on the capital messuage of the manor, was divided like the manor into four parts. By 1687 at least one quarter was let to the Langdon family, and passed to George Musgrave (d. 1721) of Nettlecombe under a lease of 1698. (fn. 53) George's second son, Dr. Richard Musgrave of Dulverton, (fn. 54) held three shares of the farm by 1726, but in the same year a reversionary lease to David Yea of Oakhampton began his family's connexion with the farm which continued until 1802. (fn. 55) In 1726 Richard Musgrave reserved the hall, parlour, and buttery, and the rooms over them, together with a garden and stable. (fn. 56) The house was described as newly built in 1802. (fn. 57)
Between 1827 and 1838 John Stone, as lord of the manor, built a house called Bulland Lodge in the north-east corner of the parish on part of his farm of Withycombe. (fn. 58) Surrounded by gardens and woodland, with lodges, coach houses, and stables, the house was described as 'very eligible and peculiarly beautiful'. It was extended to designs by Richard Carver c. 1840. (fn. 59) The house was occupied by the Capel family until 1980.
There were five medieval freeholds on the manor. One, later identified as Halsdown farm, was held in 1461 by Henry Perys, probably in succession to the Brooke family, Lords Cobham, who held in 1448. (fn. 60) George Stewkeley (d. 1494), of Marsh in Dunster, was holding it by 1490, and was succeeded by his son Peter, then a minor. (fn. 61) Peter's son Hugh (d. 1585) was followed by Hugh's son Sir Thomas (d. 1639). Sir Thomas's son Hugh (cr. Bt. 1627) died in 1642, and was followed by his son, also Hugh, who died without male heirs in 1719. (fn. 62) The rent for Halsdown was still recorded in Sir Hugh's name in 1741, (fn. 63) but it was not claimed later.
Chitcombe and East Withy were freeholds by 1324. (fn. 64) The Dyke family held a freehold by 1461, probably in succession to Thomas Bratton, (fn. 65) which was identified as East Withy farm by 1637. (fn. 66) The freehold descended in the Dyke family to Elizabeth (d. 1752) daughter of Thomas Dyke, who married Sir Thomas Acland, Bt. Their son John Dyke Acland (d. 1778) was succeeded by his son, also John, who was named as a freeholder in 1782. (fn. 67) The freehold continued in the family, passing through the marriage of Elizabeth Dyke Acland with Henry George Herbert, Lord Porchester, later earl of Carnarvon, to the Herbert family. It was sold by the 4th earl of Carnarvon c. 1886. (fn. 68)
John Sydenham held a freehold by 1448 which may be identified as half of Bovey farm in 1741. (fn. 69) The chief rent was said in 1782 to be payable by the Revd. Alexander Webber. (fn. 70) The fifth medieval freehold, described in 1741 as at Sedgebarrow, (fn. 71) was held by Robert Tanfield from 1460 and by 1637 was occupied by John Talbot. (fn. 72) Men of that name were owners until 1741, (fn. 73) but by 1782 the rent was owed by Thomas Wright. (fn. 74) The estate has not been located. Sir John Davie of Bittescombe in Upton was charged with a chief rent in 1782 for land called Monkton meadow in succession to James Welsh, who had held it in 1715. (fn. 75) It may be the land held with Bittescombe manor in 1554. (fn. 76)
Chipstable gelded for 2½ hides in 1086 but there were 6 ploughteams, of which 1 was in demesne with 2 serfs, and 5 were worked by 16 villeins and 2 bordars. There was only ½ a. of meadow, but 100 a. of pasture; and woodland measured ½ league long by 2 furlongs broad. (fn. 77) The release in 1461 of a freeholder occupying customary land from the obligation to plough for 1 day, make hay for 2 days, and thatch the lord's barn (fn. 78) may indicate the dispersal of the former demesne farm. Certainly by 1535 the monks of Muchelney had let their land in Chipstable, and rents produced £11 16s. 4½d. (fn. 79) At Severidges Farm, the centre of a holding of c. 60 a. of land in 1399, (fn. 80) the presence in the 16th century of a corn-drying kiln and a curing chamber suggests mixed farming. (fn. 81) By 1543 part of the common pasture on Heydon Hill was being cultivated. (fn. 82) Nevertheless pasturage and particularly sheep farming appear to have been more important than arable farming. Pasture held in severalty and straying sheep were recorded in the 15th century. (fn. 83) In 1535 the rector's tithes of wool and lambs were valued at £4 18s., compared with the £5 11s. from all other tithes. (fn. 84) In 1643 a tenant farmer at Hilland had sheep valued at £17 10s., wool valued at £1 6s., and only 5 cattle; Thomas Sedgeborrow (d. 1642) had sheep valued at £79, wool at £22, and cattle at £39, compared with corn at £75; Gregory Robbins (d. 1683), a carpenter, had 70 sheep and lambs representing a quarter of the value of his entire possessions. (fn. 85)
From the later 17th century the established tenant farms were converted to freeholds, although the process was prolonged because of the division of the manor. The Surrage family, for instance, bought the freehold of one quarter of Trowell farm in 1687, but did not acquire the last quarter until 1739. (fn. 86) The freehold of Bulham, later Bulland, was similarly acquired by the Hellings family in four stages between 1701 and 1739. (fn. 87) By 1741 all but three small farms and a few cottages had been converted to freeholds. (fn. 88)
Sub-leases for terms of years were already established practice before the conversion to freeholds had been completed. Three parts of Chipstable farm were let from 1727 for 21 years, with covenants to prevent more than two successive arable crops, ploughing pasture less than six years old, and cutting clover and trefoil before it was three years old. Part of the former park was then under flax. (fn. 89) A rent of 6d. an acre was payable for ploughing the commons. (fn. 90) By 1806 oats was the largest corn crop, a dairy was established at East Shutt, and bullocks were raised at East Withy. (fn. 91) In 1810 the farmer at East Withy had a flock of 100 sheep. (fn. 92)
By 1796 there were 20 farms in the parish, ranging from Chipstable farm (207 a.) and East Withy (154 a.) to a holding of 20 a., more than half measuring over 50 a. Sir William Yea held both Chipstable farm and Halsdown. (fn. 93) By 1803 the former was divided into six units. (fn. 94) There were 14 farms of over 50 a. in 1840, including the 257 a. of new inclosures on Heydon Hill, then owned by Arthur Capel, part of which was later to become North Combe farm. (fn. 95) By 1851 consolidation of farms in the south part of the parish had resulted in a holding of 340 a. at West Bovey and other increases at Wadhams and Trowell. (fn. 96) The Capels acquired Wadhams, Marshes, and Millbeer farms in the 1890s (fn. 97) to build up a substantial estate in the north-east quarter of the parish, based in the 1980s at Withycombe farm.
In 1840 there were an estimated 1,030 a. of pasture, 800 a. of arable, and 112a. of wood. (fn. 98) In 1905, excluding East Withy and Chitcombe, there were 1,130 a. of grassland, 537 a. of arable, and 203 a. of wood. (fn. 99) In 1976 four fifths of the civil parish of Chipstable, including Raddington, were under grass; there were ten dairy farms and five farms specializing in cattle and sheep. (fn. 100)
Two clothiers in the parish were accused of illegal trade practices in 1631. (fn. 101) A fuller was living in Chipstable between 1824 and 1827. (fn. 102) Two smithies and several workshops were established near the turnpike road at Waterrow by 1840, (fn. 103) and a tradition of agricultural machinery manufacture, begun by 1823 in the person of a share maker, (fn. 104) was continued with a machine maker in 1851. (fn. 105) The firm of W. H. Pool and Sons at Waterrow, founded by Henry Pool, carpenter, in 1847, were patentees of a calf feeder in the 1870s, and sold a wide range of farming machinery. A. J. Pool (d. 1957), who continued the business and made oil engines, was also a professional photographer. (fn. 106) In the later 19th century there were several shops at Waterrow, by that time the largest settlement in the parish. (fn. 107)
There was a mill at East Withy, on the border with Huish Champflower, before 1187, (fn. 108) but no further trace of it has been found. A tenant was released from his obligation to procure a millstone for the lord in 1461. (fn. 109) There were said to be two mills on the manor by 1538, (fn. 110) and there were two in 1637 and 1647, one a corn mill, the other a fulling mill. (fn. 111) The former, known as Bullworthy's after the tenant in 1652, (fn. 112) was occupied by Roger Bishop in 1721 and by John Rossiter in 1766, (fn. 113) and was owned and occupied by Bishop Stone in 1840. (fn. 114) The mill, known as Manor mill, stood north of Waterrow, and remained in use until c. 1908. (fn. 115) It was driven by a long leat which was diverted from the River Tone at Yeo Bridge. (fn. 116) A second mill stood in 1840 in the centre of Waterrow. (fn. 117) It has not been traced later.
Court rolls for the manor have survived for nine sessions during the period 1448–51 and for ten sessions between 1459 and 1465. (fn. 118) Courts seem to have been held until the last tenant farms were sold in the mid 18th century. The tenant of the manor house from 1718 had to provide lodging for the steward, his servants, and two horses for two days and two nights twice a year. (fn. 119) In the 15th century the court nominated three or four men for appointment as reeve, and the reeve received the income from some woodland to support himself in office. (fn. 120)
Chipstable tithing was joined with Raddington by 1569. (fn. 121) The parish had two churchwardens and two overseers by 1642. (fn. 122) No records of parochial government have been traced. The overseers repaired the church house in the 18th century and may have used it as a poorhouse. (fn. 123) The parish became part of the Wellington poor-law union in 1836, and was in the Wellington rural district from 1894 and Taunton Deane district, later Borough, from 1974. (fn. 124)
Ownership of the church of Chipstable was confirmed to the monks of Muchelney in 1239. (fn. 125) The benefice remained a sole rectory until 1929, when it was united with Raddington. (fn. 126) From 1967 until 1971 the living was held as a curacy-in-charge with Huish Champflower and Clatworthy, to which it was united in 1971. (fn. 127)
The advowson descended with the manor in the possession of the monks of Muchelney until 1538, but the Crown presented to the living in 1305 and 1463 when the abbacy was vacant. (fn. 128) After the Dissolution the descent of the patronage has not been traced until 1597 when a rector was presented by grant of John Bluet of Greenham. (fn. 129) Both the Crown and another John Bluet presented in 1629 at a single vacancy. (fn. 130) At the next presentation in 1670, after the division of the manor, Cadwallader Jones and his wife Anne appointed a rector. (fn. 131) In 1695 Joseph Wyatt was said to be patron as son and heir of the previous rector, (fn. 132) but in 1707 the presentation was made by Gregory Jeane, appointed for that turn in respect of the Wallop share of the manor. (fn. 133) The advowson was subsequently acquired by Simon Richards, rector 1707–51, and it descended to his son Simon, who was appointed rector by the bishop at his own request in 1751. (fn. 134) The Richards family retained the advowson: Richard Richards, the last rector's uncle, presented in 1781, (fn. 135) John Harvey, as a trustee of Simon Richards of Chipstable, in 1784, (fn. 136) and Anne Richards, Simon's widow, in 1806. (fn. 137) Simon Slocombe Richards was instituted at his own request in 1809. (fn. 138) The advowson passed, probably on the death of S. S. Richards in 1853, (fn. 139) to Charles Dare of North Curry and Samuel Knight Pollard of Taunton, and they presented Dare's son Walter in 1855. (fn. 140) In 1857 the patrons were Charles Dare and John Rendell of Taunton. (fn. 141) By 1875 the advowson had been acquired by the rector, William Nicholetts, and it remained in his family until transferred to the bishop of Bath and Wells in 1937. (fn. 142)
The living was assessed at £11 1s. 6d. net in 1535, (fn. 143) and was said to be worth £80 c. 1668. (fn. 144) The net income was £340 in 1831. (fn. 145) Tithes were assesssed at £10 9s. in 1535, (fn. 146) and a tithe rent charge of £263 16s. was agreed in 1842, including £11 4s. from the newly inclosed commons, £6 from glebe when let, and 8s. from the mills. (fn. 147) The glebe was worth 21s. in 1535. (fn. 148) There were 37 a. in 1571 (fn. 149) and the same amount in 1840, (fn. 150) of which c. 26 a. were sold in 1924. (fn. 151)
In the early 17th century the rectory house was a building of two storeys, having a parlour, hall, kitchen, buttery, and malt house on the ground floor, and chambers including a study above. The house was newly repaired c. 1629. The adjoining farm buildings included a two-storeyed barn. (fn. 152) The house was said to be 'in decent repair for an old house' when occupied by the curate in 1840. (fn. 153) It was rebuilt on a large scale c. 1870, and c. 1967 was sold, to be replaced c. 1975 by a new house to the south. The former rectory house was known in 1982 as the Grange. (fn. 154)
John de Wamberg, appointed rector in 1326, was at the same time licensed to receive holy orders and to be absent for study. (fn. 155) Master John Petherton, rector 1409–19 and a licensed preacher in the diocese, (fn. 156) was succeeded for a short time by Master John Storthwayt, later a prominent diocesan official. (fn. 157) Nicholas Browne, rector by 1584 and until 1597, let the parsonage to a local farmer with the obligation to find a curate. (fn. 158) There was some neglect in the 1620s, when the rector of Stoke Pero acted as curate. (fn. 159) Rectors seem to have been resident during the 18th century, including three members of the Richards family, who were also lords of the manor and patrons. A fourth member, S. S. Richards, rector from 1809, was absent in 1815 because of illness, (fn. 160) and seems never to have lived in the parish thereafter. He died in 1853. (fn. 161) In 1815 a schoolmaster from Wellington served both Chipstable and Raddington, and held one service in Chipstable each Sunday. (fn. 162)
In 1840 the curate occupied the rectory house and held both morning and afternoon services. (fn. 163) On Census Sunday 1851 the morning congregation totalled 162, including 52 children from the Sunday school; the afternoon congregation was 172 with the same number of children. (fn. 164) William Nicholetts, rector 1857–1901, lived in the parish, rebuilt the church and rectory house, and, according to a churchwarden, visited the sick 'with great delight'. By 1870 he was preaching two sermons each Sunday, and celebrations of communion increased from four to six each year. (fn. 165) Cottage meetings held at Waterrow in the earlier 19th century were resumed in 1854. (fn. 166)
A church house was being leased by the lord of the manor to the churchwardens by 1647. (fn. 167) Quarter shares in the house were bought by the rector from the Bluet heirs in 1715, 1739, and 1743. (fn. 168) The church hall at Waterrow, used for both services and social activities, was designed by A. B. Cottam and built in 1908. (fn. 169)
The church of ALL SAINTS was so dedicated by 1531. (fn. 170) The medieval building, comprising chancel, nave with south aisle and south porch, and west tower, with windows of the 15th and early 16th centuries, (fn. 171) was demolished except for the tower in 1869, and was replaced by a building in the Geometrical style by Benjamin Ferrey. (fn. 172) The old arcade, with angel capitals, and bench ends carved with the Bluet arms, Renaissance heads, and a huntsman, were retained.
Five bells were recast in 1861 and a sixth was added in 1901. (fn. 173) The plate includes a cup of 1792. (fn. 174) The registers date from 1694, but volumes from 1559 were in existence in 1812. (fn. 175)
Cottage meetings organized by Congregationalists from Wiveliscombe were held at Waterrow from 1854 and a Sunday school was established there in 1885. Bethel chapel was built in 1890, and was considered unsectarian in its allegiance. It was in use in 1982. (fn. 176)
There was a schoolmaster in the parish in 1675. (fn. 177) By 1819 there was a school where a few children were taught to read, (fn. 178) and by 1825 there were three day schools and two Sunday schools, with a total of 34 pupils. (fn. 179) No school survived into the next decade, but day schools were re-started in 1830 and 1831, having 22 pupils between them by 1835. A new Sunday school was started in 1833. (fn. 180) A building, comprising a dwelling on the ground floor and a schoolroom above, was conveyed for a school in 1836. (fn. 181) The school was linked with the National Society by 1847 and was supported by subscriptions. In 1847 it had 26 children. (fn. 182) The building continued in use until 1876, and later became a church hall. It was largely rebuilt after a fire c. 1961, (fn. 183) and in 1980 had been converted to a dwelling called the Old School House. The National school was replaced in 1876 by a board school 1 km. south-east of the village opposite Chipstable Farm. (fn. 184) The school, which until the 1930s had over 50 pupils, took juniors only from 1937, and was closed after fire damage in 1956. The children were transferred to Wiveliscombe. (fn. 185)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
Five sums of £5 had been given to the parish by the 1780s for the benefit of the second poor. Two of those sums were given by John Talbot and George Huish at unknown dates; the remainder were bequeathed by John Parrat in 1712, James Surrage in 1716, and John Hellings in 1762. In 1826 the interest of 25s. was being paid at Easter to about twenty people not otherwise relieved. (fn. 186) In 1843 the charities, said to have been distributed in bread, were declared to have been 'lost for many years'. (fn. 187)