A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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The Parish of Old Cleeve, (fn. 1) so called (fn. 2) to distinguish its main settlement from the Cistercian abbey founded in the valley to the south at the end of the 12th century, (fn. 3) occupies a coastal ridge between the Washford and Pill rivers, some 3 km. wide along the shore, and stretches for 9.5 km. south, largely along the western side of the Washford river valley, to the Brendon ridgeway. The parish is irregular in shape, narrowing to 1 km. at Roadwater but widening at its southern end around the hamlet of Leighland, or Leighland Chapel, on an outlier of the Brendons, and spreading some 2 km. along the ridge at its southern boundary, where the land reaches 400 m. The eastern boundary of the ancient parish followed the Washford river for much of its course, with three important exceptions. One was north of the village of Washford, which lies between Old Cleeve village and the abbey, where part of the boundary of Old Cleeve parish projects across the river, apparently following the boundary of an estate described in the 10th century. (fn. 4) The second was the site of the abbey, 1 km. to the south, where a level precinct could be formed only east of the river. (fn. 5) The third exception was a steep-sided combe in the south-east corner of the parish, known in the 16th century as View's End, (fn. 6) which included the hamlet of Chidgley. The area was given to the monks of Cleeve before 1202 and may then have been added to the parish. Part of its boundary was already marked by a ditch dug by the monks. (fn. 7)
The western boundary follows streams and lanes for short distances, but is more often marked by hedges. In the extreme south a band of common land was incorporated into the parish before 1801. (fn. 8) The south-western angle of the boundary is marked by a stone variously known as Fournaked Boys (fn. 9) or as Naked Boys stone, (fn. 10) a name probably deriving from woodland there which had once been attached to the medieval estate of Fernacre. (fn. 11)
The ancient parish was increased in size by the transfer of small parcels from Withycombe in 1882 and 1886 and of parts of Washford (7 houses, 34 people) from St. Decumans in 1882, Doniford or Dorniford (1 house, 3 people) from Monksilver in 1884, and Timwood (1 house, 10 people) from St. Decumans in 1886. (fn. 12) In 1971 the parish measured 2,105 ha. (5,203 a.). (fn. 13)
Between the narrow bands of alluvium and river gravel of the Pill and Washford rivers lies a ridge of marl, rising around Cleeve Hill (85 m.) in the north where it forms along the coast part of a faulted and unstable area of shale, limestone, and clay, the site of extensive Mesolithic activity. (fn. 14) Lime, gypsum, and alabaster have been extracted along the cliffs and bricks and tiles were made at Blue Anchor, in the extreme west. (fn. 15) The alluvium of the Washford river stretches southwards through Lower Roadwater and Roadwater, one branch thereafter reaching the 122 m. contour in the valley below Leighland. From the site of Cleeve Abbey on the alluvium, the underlying rocks change from Upper Sandstone and Pebble Beds with a narrow band of limestone to the slates and siltstones of the Cutcombe Slate Beds and finally, on the Brendon ridge, to the slates and silts of the Sticklepath Slates and the Brendon Hill Beds. (fn. 16) Lime was burned at Roadwater in the 18th and 19th century (fn. 17) and at Golsoncott, over the hill to the north-west, in the 19th, and there was a slate quarry at Glasses, south-west of Roadwater, by 1851. (fn. 18) There was a quarry for tile stones near Leighland in the early 19th century. (fn. 19) Attempts to extract iron ore at Timwood between 1907 and 1909 were abandoned. (fn. 20)
The parish contains 9 villages or hamlets and 14 farmsteads. In the centre of the northern end is Old Cleeve village, an irregular cluster of cottages, many of them thatched and mostly dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, which lie west and south-west from the parish church. Its name perhaps derives from its prominent position on the hillside. One km. north of Old Cleeve village lies Chapel Cleeve, founded in the mid 15th century when the chapel of St. Mary was built there to replace one destroyed in 1452 by a landslip. (fn. 21) On the south side of the chapel was a stone building which served as an inn for pilgrims to the chapel until the dissolution of Cleeve Abbey. (fn. 22) Part of the inn was incorporated into a dwelling which later became Chapel Cleeve Manor. Its ground floor was occupied in 1981 as the Hospice Bar of the Chapel Cleeve Manor Hotel. From the 1930s houses were built west and north of Chapel Cleeve Manor and from the 1950s within its grounds. North-west of Chapel Cleeve a sea-bathing resort was established in the late 18th century known as Cleeve Bay and later as Blue Anchor. (fn. 23)
Washford, 1 km. south-east of Old Cleeve village, appears to have originated as a settlement by a ford mentioned in the 10th century. (fn. 24) It comprises three distinct elements: Lower Washford at the site of the ford, the Hill to the south-east, mentioned before 1221, (fn. 25) which by the 19th century was the largest settlement, and a regular group of houses north of Washford mill which may be the New Street mentioned in 1508, (fn. 26) perhaps established in connexion with the adjoining fulling mills. (fn. 27) The road pattern in the hamlet probably developed from a route across the ford leading north-west along the course of Monks' Path (fn. 28) to Old Cleeve village or south-west to Bilbrook. A branch from the Hill led south-west past the abbey to Roadwater, a course modified at its northern end when the railway was built c. 1856. (fn. 29) The houses in Washford date largely from the 19th century, but Croft Cottage in Lower Washford is medieval in origin. (fn. 30) There was extensive building at Washford in the 1960s and 1970s. Bilbrook, 1.5 km. south-west of Old Cleeve village, is a small hamlet by the Pill river which was established by 1221. (fn. 31)
The Cistercian abbey of Cleeve occupied a site in the 'flowery vale' south of Washford from c. 1198. (fn. 32) Its precinct was bounded on the west by the Washford river and on the north and east by a moat known as the Black Ditch. (fn. 33) It is possible that the moat was the original course of the river. (fn. 34) The surviving buildings comprise ranges on the east and south of a cloister, the west cloister alley, a later farmhouse adjoining the south-west corner of the cloister, and a gatehouse to the north-west between two courts. Only the foundations of the monastic church have survived north of the cloister, and the reredorter to the south-east of the eastern range was being excavated in 1982. The site was taken into the guardianship of the Ministry of Works in 1951. (fn. 35)
South of the abbey is the hamlet of Hungerford, mentioned in 1536, (fn. 36) and the site of the abbey grange called Stout. (fn. 37) Small fields called Stout each side of the road running south-west up the valley represent the medieval Stout Green, towards the southern end of which stood the chapel of St. Pancras. (fn. 38) Substantial remains of the 14th-century building survive in a cottage of the same name, formerly corrupted to Prancard's chapel (fn. 39) or Pranketts. (fn. 40) By the early 16th century the abbey had established two other substantial granges where Bye Farm, north of Washford, and Binham Farm, south of Chapel Cleeve, stand; the main range of Binham Farm was built probably in the late 16th century and the central porch added, with interior decorative plasterwork, in 1624. (fn. 41) Linton, formerly London, west of Old Cleeve village, was mentioned in the 16th century. (fn. 42)
In the narrow central part of the parish Roadwater, formerly Rode, (fn. 43) in the river valley, was the site of a mill by 1243, (fn. 44) and later of a bridge over the Washford river around which a settlement had grown up by the end of the Middle Ages. (fn. 45) The settlement continued to grow northwards, where the valley widens, to form Lower Roadwater. Buildings there are mostly of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, but Oatways at Roadwater survives from the Middle Ages. To the west of Roadwater, occupying high but sheltered positions on the northern edge of the Brendons, the later abbey grange of Croydon and the hamlet of Golsoncott were recorded by 1221, (fn. 46) the first apparently as a habitation, the second suggesting in the last part of its name that it was a pre-Conquest farmstead. (fn. 47)
In the southern end of the parish the hamlet of Leighland had a chapel by 1320. (fn. 48) Stamborough was named in 1298, (fn. 49) and Leigh Barton was a grange of Cleeve Abbey by the 16th century. (fn. 50) Isolated farms lie further south on the slopes of the Brendons. The short-lived industrial village of Brendon Hill, on the Brendon ridge, is mentioned below. (fn. 51)
The Saxon 'herpath' at Washford (fn. 52) presumably continued westwards perhaps to the royal estate of Carhampton or beyond. The known medieval routes in the parish indicate north-south travel. A road called Portway (fn. 53) was probably a route from Watchet to Old Cleeve village, and Clydens Cross, possibly of the 12th century, marks the northern end of a road from there to Lower Washford along Monks' Path. (fn. 54) There was a more direct route from Watchet to Washford and Cleeve Abbey along the Washford river valley beside Kentsford. (fn. 55) Other routes led south up the Brendons: one from Bilbrook up Forches Lane to Croydon, another from Old Cleeve village up Old Cross Hill, climbing to Golsoncott or dropping down into Lower Roadwater. A third route, from Washford, also led to Golsoncott and Croydon. The principal road from Washford southwards, passing Cleeve Abbey, was causewayed between the river crossing at Abbey Bridge, by Washford mill, and Road Bridge at Roadwater. (fn. 56) The road may have continued southwards over the Brendons to Bampton (Devon), for the name Marketpath wood survived in the later 19th century southwest of Comberow Farm. (fn. 57)
By the 18th century the principal routes through the parish included the road between Hungerford, Washford, and Bilbrook which formed part of the road from Taunton and Hartrow Gate to Minehead. It was turnpiked by the Minehead trust in 1765. A second route adopted by the same trust at the same time ran north from Carhampton and over Mouth Bridge or Pill Bridge (built 1676) to Blue Anchor and then east over Cleeve Hill to Watchet. (fn. 58) The same trust extended its control over the road east from Washford to Williton in 1807. (fn. 59) The road from Williton to Bampton, following the parish boundary for a short distance west from Raleigh's Cross, was turnpiked by the Minehead trust in 1765. (fn. 60)
Field names and boundaries indicate former open arable fields north-east and south of Old Cleeve village and north-west of Leighland. There was common grazing on Brendon Hill and between the Pill river and Chapel Cleeve at Cleeve Alders. (fn. 61) A new park was established at Stout by 1507 (fn. 62) and field names indicate others south of Golsoncott and west of Leighland. Woodland, by the mid 19th century amounting to some 300 a., was concentrated in the combes south of Leigh Barton, with copses and smaller woods in the valleys south and south-west of Roadwater. (fn. 63) Trowden wood and the wood called the Castle were established near Washford by 1633. (fn. 64) Further north, woods were planted around the rebuilt Chapel Cleeve Manor in the early 19th century. (fn. 65)
The opening of the Brendon iron mines from 1851 involved the creation of the mining village of Brendon Hill c. 1854. Within a decade there were 60 dwellings, together with shops, a church, and a chapel. (fn. 66) When the mines were closed in 1883 the village quickly contracted, leaving only one terrace, a few cottages, a chapel, and one substantial house by 1887. (fn. 67) The chapel and a few houses survived in 1982. The first part of the railway linking the mines with the coast at Watchet was opened in 1856, and in the following year, when the line reached Comberow, there were stations at Washford and Roadwater and sidings near Torre. The next stage was an incline from Comberow to the summit of the Brendon ridge, on which trucks were pulled by wire ropes. The incline was finished in 1861. The line took passengers as well as iron ore, and it survived the closure of the mines until 1898, and was revived with the mines between 1907 and 1910. (fn. 68)
A second line, following the mineral railway up the Washford river valley to Washford, was built in 1874 to serve Minehead, and a station was built on the west side of Washford. Known as the West Somerset Railway, it operated until 1971. In 1976 it was reopened under private enterprise (fn. 69) and continued in 1982.
A house called the Blue Anchor, probably an inn, stood 'on the strand' beside the coast road from Watchet to Minehead by 1678. (fn. 70) It continued in use until c. 1860. (fn. 71) There were at least five other inns in the parish by 1736, one of which was in Roadwater. (fn. 72) They included the White Horse at Hungerford, established by 1730, (fn. 73) and the Four Bells, later the Red Lion (17418), and finally the Bell (from 1749), in Old Cleeve village opposite the old school, which survived until the early 19th century and later was rebuilt as a smithy. (fn. 74) The Valiant Soldier in Roadwater was so named by 1770, (fn. 75) and like the White Horse was in business in 1981. The New Inn, also at Roadwater, was open by 1809 and continued until the late 1920s. (fn. 76) In the 1840s there was an inn at Leighland which survived for at least a decade (fn. 77) and by 1851 another was open at Washford, perhaps that known in 1852 as the Royal Oak and in the 1860s as the Wheatsheaf. (fn. 78) The Roadwater inn, using that name in 1939 but in business by 1923, was closed in the early 1970s. (fn. 79)
The appearance of the railway and the development of the holiday industry brought hotels and guests houses to the parish. The Railway Hotel was built by Washford station by 1875. By 1861 the Blue Anchor Family Hotel was built near the Blue Anchor inn and presumably took over its business. Soon afterwards the Cleeve Bay inn was established, providing 'excellent accommodation'. (fn. 80) Another lodging house, known as Whitehall, near Old Cleeve village, was in business by 1883, and in the 1920s Vale House above Roadwater offered accommodation to holiday makers. By the 1930s more boarding and guest houses had opened, (fn. 81) and by 1981 there were two hotels (fn. 82) and a guest house at Bilbrook, beside the Minehead road, and Chapel Cleeve Manor had become an hotel. A camping ground established in Blue Anchor in the 1930s (fn. 83) was the beginning of a large-scale holiday development for caravans and tents which occupies, with ancillary shops and restaurants, much of the land running for more than a kilometre along the promenade into Carhampton parish. There was a caravan park at Warren Bay, east of Blue Anchor, in 1982.
In 1563 there were 74 households in Old Cleeve tithing and 21 in Leighland. (fn. 86) There were 323 adults paying the subsidy in 1667. (fn. 87) In 1801 the population was 1,040. It rose to 1,550 by 1851 and, notwithstanding the creation of the mining settlement at Brendon Hill, decreased slightly to 1,529 in 1861 and rose only to 1,689 by 1871. After 1881 the closure of the iron workings brought a rapid fall, to 1,307 by 1901. (fn. 88) Thereafter growth in the next decade was followed by contraction, but there was some significant expansion in the 1920s and after two decades of stability the population was 1,677 in 1971. (fn. 89)
J. W. North (18421924), painter, lived for short periods at Bilbrook and Stamborough in the 1870s. (fn. 90) R. W. Macbeth (18481910), artist and etcher, lived at Bilbrook in the 1880s and 1890s, (fn. 91) and Hubert (later Sir Hubert von) Herkomer (18491914), painter and teacher, lived at Lodge House from 1892 until after 1897. (fn. 92) James Vickery (18331910), a lesser known artist, was born in the parish. (fn. 93)
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
Cleeve formed part of the estate of Earl Godwin and T.R.E. was held by Earl Harold. It was held by the Crown in demesne in 1086. (fn. 94) Before 1102 it had probably been granted to Robert FitzGerold, when it included an estate known as Lege, identified as Leighland. (fn. 95) Robert's land descended to his nephew William de Roumare (cr. earl of Lincoln c. 1141), who had died by 1161. William was followed by his grandson, William de Roumare (d. c. 1198). (fn. 96) Between 1186 and 1191 William gave all his land of Cleeve for the establishment of a Cistercian monastery which was colonized from Revesby (Lincs.) in 1198. (fn. 97) At or soon after its foundation Cleeve Abbey received the holdings of Hubert de Burgh, grantee of much Roumare land, (fn. 98) and estates at Croydon, Golsoncott, Bilbrook, and the Hill at Washford, which had formerly been held by the Benniworth family, retainers of the Roumares from Benniworth (Lincs.), all presumably once part of Robert FitzGerold's estate. (fn. 99) The complete holding, later known as the manor of OLD CLEEVE, (fn. 100) continued in the possession of the monks until the surrender of the abbey in 1536. (fn. 101)
The manor was granted by the Crown in 1538 to Robert Radcliffe, earl of Sussex (d. 1542), in tail male, and in 1542 to him and his wife Mary, later wife of Henry FitzAlan, earl of Arundel, subject to the leases granted in 1537 to Anthony Busterd of the abbey site and lands, and the chapel of St. Mary. (fn. 102) The countess of Arundel was succeeded in 1557 by her son Sir John Radcliffe. (fn. 103) Sir John was still in possession in 1567 and probably in 1572, when the reversion was granted to Thomas Radcliffe, earl of Sussex (d. 1583), Sir John's nephew. (fn. 104) Thomas was succeeded by his brother Henry, earl of Sussex, who held the manor by 1592. (fn. 105) Henry died in the following year and his heir, Robert Radcliffe, in 1602 sold it to Thomas (later Sir Thomas) Stewkeley of Marsh (Som.) and Hinton Ampner (Hants). (fn. 106)
Sir Thomas Stewkeley died in 1639 and his son Sir Hugh (cr. Bt. 1627) in 1642. Sir Hugh's son, also Sir Hugh, died in 1719 without male issue, (fn. 107) and after a suit in Chancery his widow Mary, later wife of Thomas Foley, Lord Foley of Kidderminster, sold the estate to Thomas Musgrave of Nettlecombe in 1723. (fn. 108) Musgrave died shortly afterwards, leaving the manor to his great-nephew George Musgrave (d. 1724) and others in trust for George's son, also George. George Musgrave the younger succeeded to the estate between 1735 and 1739, but died in 1742, and was followed in succession by his son Thomas (d. 1766) and his daughter Juliana, married in 1767 to Sir James Langham, Bt. (fn. 109) Lady Langham offered the estate for sale to James Fownes Luttrell in 1799, but it was sold in the following year to Edmund Trowbridge Halliday of Bishop's Lydeard. (fn. 110)
Edmund Halliday died c. 1813 and was followed by his son John (d. 1826) and by his grandson, also John Halliday (181697). (fn. 111) In 1870 George Fownes Luttrell bought part of the land (fn. 112) which seems to have descended with the Dunster estates until 1949, but G. S. Lysaght is said, probably in view of his ownership of Chapel Cleeve Manor from 1912, to have been lord of the manor. (fn. 113)
The dwelling house which was adapted from buildings on the abbey site after the surrender, presumably including the abbot's lodgings, came to be known as the mansion or capital messuage of the manor. (fn. 114) It was occupied by a succession of tenant farmers. The farmhouse was handed over with the abbey ruins to the Ministry of Works in 1951, but the house itself is not open to the public. (fn. 115)
A new house, incorporating at its north-east corner the remains of the medieval inn formerly serving St. Mary's chapel at Chapel Cleeve, was designed by Richard Carver and built between 1818 and 1823. It is in the Tudor style and had a symmetrical front of five bays with a central octagonal entrance hall flanked by reception rooms leading to a top-lit staircase. There was an octagonal tower to the west. (fn. 116) In 191314 the house was extended westwards in a similar style. The new interiors were fitted with oak panelling, richly decorated ceilings by Bankart, and an old overmantel from a house in Taunton. The grounds were planted with yew hedges and walks. (fn. 117) After the death of G. S. Lysaght in 1951 (fn. 118) parts of the grounds were sold for building sites and the mansion itself later became an hotel.
The lords of WASHFORD were owed services in the late 13th century, (fn. 119) but their identity has not been discovered. A house, land, and rent in Washford were held of Cleeve Abbey as knight's fee before 1359 evidently by Hugh of Bawdrip, lord of Bawdrip manor, for his widow Orange had dower there until 1366 or later. (fn. 120) John of Bawdrip had succeeded Hugh by 1359, (fn. 121) but before 1362 granted his estate there in fee to Sir John Combe (d. 1362), receiving it back for life. Early in 1365 Sir John's son, John, a minor, attempted to take possession of the estate, but Bawdrip continued to hold his life interest until later in the same year when he granted it to William Style. Style remained in possession until 1368 when Sir John's widow and executrix, Margaret, gained entry. (fn. 122) Later record of the son John has not been found, but Margaret apparently married Thomas Beaupyne (d. by 1404) and as his widow granted the estate to William Wroughton and his wife Margaret. (fn. 123) Wroughton died in 1408 (fn. 124) and his widow later married John Blaket and received a quitclaim from the abbot and convent of Cleeve, apparently to cancel a grant to them made in 1366. (fn. 125) From 1421 Blaket held Margaret's estate by the curtesy of England, (fn. 126) and was later knighted. By 1440 the estate had passed to John Wroughton of Broad Hinton (Wilts.), (fn. 127) grandson of William Wroughton. (fn. 128) John died in 1496 holding what was described as Washford manor. (fn. 129)
Sir Christopher Wroughton (d. 1515), son of John, was followed by his grandson William Wroughton, a minor. (fn. 130) In 1542 William sold the manor, with lands in St. Decumans parish, to John Wyndham, together with the reversion of his mother's dower. (fn. 131) The manor then descended in the Wyndham family like Williton manor, (fn. 132) and was held by G. C. Wyndham of Orchard Wyndham at his death in 1982. The Wyndham estate at Washford included land formerly belonging to Taunton Priory, bought from Crown agents in 1545, (fn. 133) together with other former monastic land acquired in 1611. (fn. 134)
The capital messuage was known as the Farm or Washford Farm from the 16th century. (fn. 135) In 1573 it was let by John Wyndham to his youngest son Charles, who was in the service of the earl of Sussex. (fn. 136)
The grange of LEIGH, later known as Leigh Barton, was part of the original grant by William de Roumare to Cleeve Abbey, (fn. 137) and was let by the abbot from 1527 to John Sydenham for 99 years. (fn. 138) John died in 1547, (fn. 139) and was succeeded by his son, also John. The latter's widow Ursula (d. 1608), who in 1596 assigned a third of her estate to John Trevelyan of Nettlecombe, (fn. 140) gave a similar share to her kinsman Robert Poyntz before 1606. (fn. 141) Poyntz was in possession of Leigh, apparently in fee, by the time of his death in 1611, and it then passed to his son Giles, a minor. (fn. 142) The estate was confiscated in 1649 but Giles had recovered possession by his death in 1666. (fn. 143) Clement Poyntz, son of Giles, died unmarried in 1685 leaving Leigh to his mother Prudence. (fn. 144) She died in 1691 and was succeeded by her kinsman Robert Rowe of Kingston in Staverton (Devon). (fn. 145) The Rowe family held the land for nearly a century, Robert being succeeded on his death c. 1745 by his son John (d. 1787). Israel Noke, owner by 1787, was followed by members of the James family. (fn. 146) In 1982 Leigh Barton farm was owned by Mr. P. E. White.
The farmhouse is of the 19th century, but at the rear are the remains of a chapel, and an annexe, dated 1627, which provided accommodation for the chaplain of the Catholic Poyntz family. (fn. 147)
The RECTORY of Old Cleeve, comprising the patronage and the great tithes of the parish, was acquired by the Crown at the Dissolution. From 1563 the rectory and tithes, but not the patronage, were leased to George Sydenham. (fn. 148) Nicholas Hilliard, probably the miniature painter, was given a reversionary interest to date from 1586, (fn. 149) but before he took possession the estate passed to Vincent Goddard and then to Conan Prowse, presumably as undertenants. (fn. 150) Hilliard surrendered his lease to the Crown, and Conan Prowse became owner c. 1607. (fn. 151) In 1608 Prowse sold the estate to Dr. John Layfield (d. 1617), rector of St. Clement Dane's and one of the revisers of the Bible. (fn. 152)
Dr. Layfield's widow Bridget succeeded her husband, and the family held the estate for more than a century. (fn. 153) In 1656 it passed from Dr. Edward Layfield (d. 1680), archdeacon of Essex, to John Layfield, perhaps to avoid confiscation. (fn. 154) It was later owned by Edward's son Dr. Charles Layfield (1649 1715), residentiary canon of Winchester, who by will left the impropriation to the Revd. Benjamin Culme, his nephew by marriage, for life, with the intention that it should pass to the church, presumably to the benefice, or, if his debts were larger than his assets, be sold below its full value to a clergyman. (fn. 155) In 1733 the great tithes, together with an endowment for Leighland, were settled on successive incumbents, subject to Culme's life interest. (fn. 156)
Agriculture. The Domesday estate of Cleeve paid geld for 4 hides, but there was land for 33 ploughs, 24 a. of meadow, woodland measuring 1 league by league, and grazing for at least 300 sheep and 50 she-goats. Only 21 ploughs were recorded. (fn. 157) Most of this estate came into the hands of Cleeve Abbey in the late 12th century, partly by grants of William de Roumare and his retainers, (fn. 158) partly in the form of gifts of small parcels situated on the edges of the estate. The grant by Robert, son of Hugh of Woodadvent, added land near Hayne beyond the ditch which the monks had dug, and included pasture in Woodadvent for 300 sheep, 60 cattle, and 60 pigs. (fn. 159) Another grant comprised a fishery on the border with Withycombe. (fn. 160) Small additions were made to the estate in the parish until the end of the 13th century. (fn. 161) By the earlier 16th century most of the abbey's lands were divided between five granges, Stout, Croydon, Leigh Barton, Bye, and Binham, (fn. 162) with small holdings in each of the scattered hamlets of the parish. (fn. 163)
Cash rents had been introduced on the estate by 1367, (fn. 164) and a manumission was made in 1383, (fn. 165) but services were still demanded in 1510 when a cottager requesting the addition of his son's life in a lease offered as a fine seven days' ploughing, and the son promised a cash fine and d. for hundred wite. A much larger holding, at Linton, was at the same date subject to hundred wite, heriots, the supply of reed, and hoeing for one day and reaping for two. (fn. 166) The abbey's financial difficulties (fn. 167) may have prompted the leasing of granges, hitherto kept in hand. The park at Stout grange was let by 1507, (fn. 168) and before 1517 Croydon grange was let to the Prowse family. In the latter year the tenants took a lease of the 172a. farm with 24 a. of wood and the tithes for the low rent of 4 17s. and the obligation to provide dinner and supper once each autumn for the abbot and his retinue. (fn. 169) The grange of Bye was divided, and in 1526 new tenants took a lease for two lives of some of its land in succession to a tenant at will, subject to twice-yearly suit of court and mill suit at Washford. (fn. 170) In 1532 John Underhay, a Taunton clothier, (fn. 171) took an 80-year lease of land at Kentsford and pasture for 60 sheep at Bye and of 60 a. and tithes at Shortmarsh, for the first 20 years at a rent of a grain of wheat and thereafter for 26s. 8d. a year. (fn. 172)
Leigh Barton remained a single holding, let on a 99-year lease from 1527, rent free for the first 14 years. (fn. 173) Binham grange was divided into at least five parts in the period 15335, each let for 61 years. (fn. 174) Land and the mills at Washford were let on favourable terms to members of the family of the last abbot. (fn. 175) The abbey's evident need for cash led it to mortgage its flock of 1,200 sheep. (fn. 176)
In 1536 the gross income of the abbey from lands in the parish amounted to 190 18s. 6d., comprising 102 12s. 6d. from the former granges, mills, and other land let to farm, together with manorial profits, the whole described as the manor of Old Cleeve, 16 13s. 4d. from the rectory, and 72 2s. 8d. from 632 a. of demesne in hand and other profits including 20 from offerings at St. Mary's chapel. The net value was 166 1s. 2d. (fn. 177) The abbey estate was taken over by the Crown in September 1536. (fn. 178) The fragmentation of the estate under long leases, involving the tithes as well as the land, (fn. 179) was partially reversed under Henry, earl of Sussex, who in effect reconstituted the grange at Binham for Robert Boteler, one of his retainers, in 1592, making a farm of 152 a., to which was added a renewed lease of the site of the abbey and Stout grange comprising c. 104 a. (fn. 180) The remaining lands in the parish were by 1642 in divided occupation. The lord of Old Cleeve manor, Sir Hugh Stewkeley, then held the former Boteler farms, but the largest owner-occupier was Giles Poyntz of Leigh, with the former grange of Leigh and all tithes south of Road Bridge. (fn. 181) By the 1680s Stewkeley's holding comprised the abbey site and Stout farm, and much of the land lying north of Old Cleeve village, between the former granges of Binham and Bye, the whole amounting in 16856 to 732 a. (fn. 182) Other substantial holdings included the Wyndham estate of Washford, with small holdings in Roadwater, based on the 80-a. Washford farm (fn. 183) and later to be augmented by the farm attached to Stamborough House; (fn. 184) the Speed family holding at Bye farm; (fn. 185) the Churchey farm at Stamborough; (fn. 186) and the Prowse farm at Croydon, converted from leasehold to freehold by the sale to George Prowse in 1600. (fn. 187)
In the northern part of the parish, fields such as Watchet Hill close (123 a.) (fn. 188) near the coast and Highbecks (100 a.) (fn. 189) north-west of Washford may have taken the place of medieval open fields when grange farming was established, and by the late 16th century there were traces of only two 'furlong' names. (fn. 190) Considerable areas of arable survived, 160 a. being leased with Croydon grange in 1517. (fn. 191) In Golsoncott, Roadwater, Bilbrook, Stout, and Washford together 385 a. were under crops in 1588, of which 50 a. were under oats and the rest under wheat, rye, barley, beans, and peas. (fn. 192) In the northern part of the parish in 1608 there was about twice as much land under wheat as under either oats or barley. (fn. 193)
Traces of common grazing were still apparent in the 17th century. Land called Cleeve Alders, beside the Pill river west of Chapel Cleeve, was subject to common rights, and lessees could take as many alders and willows each year as a man could cut in a day. (fn. 194) Rights to take fuel from there continued until 1730 (fn. 195) or later and rights to pasture until 1794. (fn. 196) There was also shared woodland, and areas of furze attached to Binham in the 16th century may have been common in origin. (fn. 197) Townings mead at Washford may also have been common. (fn. 198) The lease of the main farm at Washford in 1631 included a small meadow and the use of water to improve it when not needed for an adjoining meadow. (fn. 199)
The payment of heriots survived in 1721, and suit to Washford mill remained a feature of Old Cleeve manor, but short leases and husbandry clauses were introduced for Abbey farm by 1700. That farm was then let for 7 years for 23, but no more than 140 a. was to be ploughed in any year, and no more than four grain crops, one being peas, was permitted. (fn. 200) The rent remained constant during the earlier 18th century. (fn. 201)
The purchase of the manor in 1721 was keenly contested between Edward Stawell and Thomas Musgrave. It then comprised 23 copyhold and 45 leasehold tenancies. Quit rents were worth 37 18s. 10d. and the main holding, the Abbey farm and the former Stout grange, was let for 230 a year. The whole estate comprised 625 a. of tithe-free former abbey demesne (fn. 202) and a farm at Chapel Cleeve which had been bought from the Layfield family by 1684. (fn. 203) The Musgraves continued the policy of purchase, adding land at Bilbrook in 1724 (fn. 204) and both parts of Binham in 1763. (fn. 205) By 1794 eight farms had been established covering a total of 1,276 a., (fn. 206) including Abbey farm which comprised 569 a. based on the former abbey buildings with 'every conveniency suitable to a large farm'. (fn. 207) There were four more farms of over 100 a. in the north. In the south the largest farm was still Leigh Barton, with extensive tracts of woodland, the Trevelyans' farm at Golsoncott, and smaller units at Croydon, Lodge, Stamborough, and Comberow. (fn. 208) Husbandry clauses in leases of farms on Old Cleeve manor required the strict application of dung or lime, Welsh lime being needed in half the quantities of the inferior English. Turnips, tares, or peas were to be grown before dressing, and no more than two successive crops of grain or beans were permitted. (fn. 209)
Amalgamation of scattered holdings by the Hallidays (fn. 210) and the purchase of small pieces of hill land by the Trevelyans (fn. 211) was part of a pattern of consolidation, particularly in the south, which by 1838 had made Leigh Barton the largest holding in the parish with 784 a., and had created a new farming unit at Hungerford out of the divided Abbey farm. By that date Old Cleeve farm measured 220 a., and twelve other units measured 100 a. or more. (fn. 212) By 1851 the farmer at Leigh Barton employed 24 men, women, and boys. At Bye farm (160 a.) there were 13 labourers, at Chidgley (200 a.) and Binham (246 a.) 10 each, and at Old Cleeve farm (216 a.) 9 men. (fn. 213)
The parish was almost equally divided between grassland and arable in the 1830s, (fn. 214) a balance which was virtually unchanged in 1980. Sheep were kept on the farms on the Brendons in the early 19th century, and a lambing shed was built at Chidgley. (fn. 215) A man living at Washford drove sheep from there to Bristol in the 1820s and 1830s. (fn. 216) Oxbow makers active in Old Cleeve until the 1850s or later indicates the continued use of oxen in the district. (fn. 217) The presence of a corn factor at Washford by 1838 and the establishment of the cattle market there by the 1890s (fn. 218) were in part because of good communications, and in part because of the produce of the parish. Corn growing and dairying were the main farming activities of the 1970s when there were still twelve farms of over 50 ha. (fn. 219)
Trade and industry.
Weaving and fulling were established in the parish by 1243 (fn. 220) and there was a fulling mill, probably at Washford. A merchant mentioned in 1296 (fn. 221) may have been concerned in the cloth trade. Cloth manufacture was probably most significant in the 17th century, involving three generations of the prosperous Bickham family (fn. 222) and at least seven other clothiers, a dyer, and weavers in the second half of the century. (fn. 223) At least two clothiers had business connexions in Taunton and Cullompton (Devon). (fn. 224) There is some evidence of contraction in the 18th century, but the Winter family of Roadwater continued to produce cloth, probably at Leighland, in 1815. (fn. 225) The fulling mill at Washford, whose tenant in the early 18th century had links with a Gloucestershire clothier, (fn. 226) continued in use until the 1840s. (fn. 227)
Seaweed, collected from the foreshore by the mid 16th century, (fn. 228) was still burnt and exported to Bristol for making bottles in the mid 19th century. (fn. 229) Laver was also collected and boiled in commercial quantities in the 1820s and 1830s. (fn. 230) By the 1830s bricks were being made at Blue Anchor, (fn. 231) a tannery was established at Linton, (fn. 232) and lime kilns were in operation in several places. (fn. 233) Increasing economic activity before the appearance of the railway is evident from the coal merchant established at Blue Anchor, where boats had occasionally discharged since the early 18th century, (fn. 234) the shops at Bilbrook, Old Cleeve, Leighland, and Roadwater, and the cabinet maker at Washford. (fn. 235) The iron-mining settlement at Brendon Hill, with a warehouse and two shops, (fn. 236) and the railways which linked the mines to Watchet stimulated business in the parish and provided considerable employment. Cleeve Bay, later known as Blue Anchor, was an established holiday resort by the 1860s, (fn. 237) but much of the increased activity was connected with agriculture and was made possible by improved transport. By 1883, for example, John Gooding of Warren farm had established himself as a cement and manure manufacturer. By 1889 John Wood and Sons at Linton were making gloves and gaiters, and dressing skins, and an engineer and wagon builder was in business at Roadwater. Shops were established in the larger hamlets, most at Washford, including one for stationery and fancy goods, and another for patent medicines. By 1910 there was one shop in Old Cleeve village, thirteen shops and small businesses at Roadwater and Leighland, and six at Washford. Two banks had branches at Washford. (fn. 238) The number of shops fell sharply before the Second World War, and among the small businesses only the sheepskin factory at Linton survived in 1981. In the 1970s ornamental ironwork was made at Roadwater by Harry Horrobin in premises which, from 1978, were occupied by the Singer Instruments Co. Ltd., manufacturers of micromanipulators for making precise measurements in scientific research. (fn. 239) By the late 1930s a camping ground had been established at Blue Anchor, there were guest houses at Bilbrook and Roadwater, and a garage and a filling station had been opened on the increasingly popular holiday route through Washford and Bilbrook to Minehead. (fn. 240)
Market and fairs.
A market on Wednesdays and fairs on St. James' day (25 July) and the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 September) and the three days following each were granted to the monks of Cleeve in 1466. (fn. 241) A field called Fairclose was mentioned in 1510, (fn. 242) but no further reference to the fairs has been found. A site by Washford mill was occupied by shambles in 1522, (fn. 243) and shambles, probably at Chapel Cleeve, were in use in 1536. (fn. 244)
Cattle auctions were held on the first Monday each month by 1894 in a field beside Washford station. (fn. 245) Markets were still held there in the late 1960s, (fn. 246) but the site was occupied by houses in the late 1970s.
There were two mills on the Domesday estate at Cleeve. (fn. 247) By 1243 there were three corn mills, one probably at Washford, and another at Roadwater. (fn. 248) By 1507 there was a mill in Leighland tithing, perhaps the customary mill for tenants of land above Road Bridge. (fn. 249) There were at least three millers on the manor in 15079, (fn. 250) and by 1536 there were four corn mills. (fn. 251)
One of the mills, at Washford, later known as Lower mills or Washford mill, was the customary mill for tenants of the northern part of the manor until 1606 or later. (fn. 252) The mill was let to members of the Dovell family by 1510, (fn. 253) until 1557 when it passed to the Sydenhams. (fn. 254) The Sydenhams still held it in 1669. (fn. 255) It was held by William Rawle from 1745 until 1772. (fn. 256) Grinding continued there until c. 1935. (fn. 257) A water-powered turbine roller was introduced by 1906 (fn. 258) and was still in use in 1981 when the business was part of a milling consortium. (fn. 259)
A mill on the south side of the abbey precinct became the customary mill of the manor in the 17th century (fn. 260) and was held by the tenants of Abbey and Stout farms, who sometimes sublet to millers. (fn. 261) Suit of mill was included in manor leases until 1838, (fn. 262) and milling ceased probably during the First World War. (fn. 263)
Manor mill at Lower Roadwater, perhaps successor to the 13th-century mill, (fn. 264) was the customary mill for the tenants of Leighland until the earlier 17th century, when tenements with mill suit were taken in hand and the mill stream and mill head diverted. (fn. 265) A second mill seems to have been built c. 1620. (fn. 266) One mill, known as Road mill in the 18th century, (fn. 267) continued in use until the First World War. (fn. 268)
There was a corn mill at Leighland in 1672. (fn. 269) It may have been the later Pitt mills, known for a time as Webb's mill, (fn. 270) which continued in use until the later 19th century. (fn. 271) There were also several mills in the immediate vicinity: at Leigh, south of Leigh Barton, by 1814; at Chidgley by 1828; (fn. 272) and below Vale House and at Roadwater by 1838. Chidgley mill had closed by 1838 when Vale House mill was described as a factory. (fn. 273) By 1906 Vale mill and Roadwater mill were in operation together to process manure and seed as well as flour. All four mills probably ceased working during the First World War. (fn. 274)
There was a fulling mill, probably at Washford, by 1243. (fn. 275) Possibly the same mill was mentioned in 1507, (fn. 276) and by 1536 two fulling mills, possibly under one roof, were let by the abbey. (fn. 277) John Sydenham (d. 1627) acquired the mill, (fn. 278) but before 1673 it had passed to Sir Hugh Stewkeley. (fn. 279) It was operated in the earlier 18th century by Richard Woollcott and from 1801 was held by the Gooding family. (fn. 280) By 1861 cloth production had ceased, and the buildings were used for the Goodings' manure and cement business. (fn. 281) Only a fragment of the mill buildings in Willow Grove survived in 1982.
In 1086 Old Cleeve was a separate hundred, (fn. 284) one of eleven which by 1327 constituted the hundred of Free Manors. (fn. 285) Courts of the manor were called hundred courts in the early 16th century, when the parish was divided between the tithings of Old Cleeve and Leighland. Sessions were held every three or four weeks, and courts leet at Michaelmas and Easter dealt with business from each tithing separately. A halmote court was also held at Michaelmas 1508. Draft court books covering the period 150713 include a session before the chief steward of the abbey, John Bourchier, Lord Fitzwarren, at Easter 1508. Court officers were two tithingmen, chosen at Michaelmas, a reeve for Leighland, a woodward, aletasters, and two constables. (fn. 286)
By the early 17th century an annual court, held at Michaelmas for Old Cleeve, appointed two constables, a tithingman, and two bread weighers and aletasters. Courts baron were held as necessary for admitting tenants. Court rolls for the periods 1611 24 (fn. 287) and 162538 (fn. 288) include orders for the repair of the butts, the tumbrel or cuckingstool, the crow net, and the pound. The last direct evidence of a court relates to 1654, (fn. 289) but a lease granted in 1838 included the obligation to do suit to both court and mill. (fn. 290)
From the 16th century the tenants of Washford manor owed suit to a manor court there, and records survive from 1562, (fn. 291) 15724, (fn. 292) 15981600, (fn. 293) 1614, (fn. 294) 1634, (fn. 295) 1639, (fn. 296) 1652, and 1684. (fn. 297) No record of officers has been found, but a pound stood in the yard of the capital messuage. (fn. 298) Chidgley lay within the tithing of Woodadvent in Nettlecombe and Rowdon manor in the 16th century. (fn. 299) Presentments relating to tenants in Golsoncott and Roadwater survive for the period 170946 and for 1755. (fn. 300)
By the 1620s the parish had been divided between higher and lower sides. The higher side, administered by the sideman at Leighland, bore a quarter of certain parish charges, such as rent of the church house at Old Cleeve. The sideman was also known as the 'fourthman'. Accounts of sidemen survive for several years between 1621 and 1637 and of their successors, known as chapel wardens, for the period 1660 1706. (fn. 301) By the early 18th century two wardens and four overseers administered the whole parish, but the Leighland accounts were still compiled separately. (fn. 302) The vestry, amounting to a dozen or more members, nominated one of the wardens by 1783. (fn. 303) By the 1730s there were two constables and three highway surveyors. (fn. 304)
Treatment of the poor in the 18th century included not only regular weekly payments and gifts of clothing but also cash to redeem tools, to send children to school, or to board a patient at Wellington for special medical care. (fn. 305) By the 1720s, and probably much earlier, the overseers were renting the church house at Old Cleeve, and it continued to be rented for much of the 18th century. (fn. 306) About 1730 a workhouse was fitted out at Washford, and from 1741 the officer in charge was paid to dispose of the products made there, to serve vestry orders, and to place pauper apprentices. In 1748 a local soap boiler, then in charge of the workhouse, agreed for 200 a year to house, clothe, and feed the paupers, to pay for parish indentures, and to find funeral charges. (fn. 307) Terms were agreed in 1747 by the vestry with a doctor for care of the sick and with a carpenter for pauper coffins. In 1750 cash payments were revived for individual paupers, and in the following year food was also given, but in 17589 a workhouse governor was again given a lump sum to house and feed paupers while in 1759 payment of out-relief by the overseers was deliberately limited. (fn. 308) Grants of food and cash were resumed in the 1780s, and the workhouse continued to be occupied. (fn. 309) When its lease was renewed in 1806 it probably provided only shelter for the poor, but its old name persisted. (fn. 310) The building was still standing in 1839 near the river in Lower Washford, west of the site of the present school. (fn. 311) The parish became part of the Williton poor-law union in 1836, the Williton rural district in 1894, and the West Somerset district in 1974. (fn. 312)
The church of Cleeve was given by Robert FitzGerold to the abbey of Bec-Hellouin (Eure) early in the 12th century. (fn. 313) One of Robert's successors, William de Roumare (II), seems to have ignored the grant, and gave the church to Wells Cathedral between 1189 and 1192. (fn. 314) He himself also presented clerks to the living, but between 1192 and 1197 Bec's claims were recognized, and the abbey was licensed to appropriate the rectory. In 1199 the counter-claim of Wells was met by making the rectory a prebend in the cathedral, to be held by successive abbots of Bec. (fn. 315) Almost immediately Bec leased the prebend to the abbey of Cleeve, which continued to hold it until the Dissolution. (fn. 316) The later descent of the estate is given above. (fn. 317)
A vicarage was ordained c. 1197, and its endowment was increased in 1320. (fn. 318) The benefice, because it had been endowed in 1733 with great tithes, was called a rectory from 1866. (fn. 319) Leighland, which had had a chapel since 1320, became a district chapelry in 1865. (fn. 320) The vicarage of Leighland was united with the rectory of Treborough in 1950, and the livings of Old Cleeve, Leighland, and Treborough were united in 1955. (fn. 321)
The advowson was leased to the convent of Cleeve by Bec, though the Crown presented in 1387 on the grounds that the owner was an alien. (fn. 322) Hugh Stevyne of Stogumber, 'clothman', presented in 1557, (fn. 323) and the Crown on vacancies in 1563, 1572, and 1598. Peter Smithweeke presented in 1608, (fn. 324) but by 1624 the vicar, Edmund Brickenden, had acquired the advowson, and in turn sold it to his curate, John Tratt. (fn. 325) Richard Stockman of Durleigh presented in 1633 and Hugh Jenkins, who succeeded his father as vicar in 1664, was probably presented by his own mother. (fn. 326) The Crown was patron again in 1677, but at the next vacancy in 1698 Elston Whitlock was presented by Charles Sims, clerk. (fn. 327) John Whitlock of Old Cleeve presented Escott Richards in 1705, and in 1713 Charles Mitchell was presented by Thomas Luttrell, M.B., by grant of Elston Whitlock, John Whitlock, and John Jenkins. (fn. 328) At the next vacancy in 1735 the right was disputed between John Jenkins of Hartland (Devon) and Martha Layfield of Studland (Dors.), the latter heir to the patronage as devised by Dr. Charles Layfield (d. 1715). (fn. 329) The Revd. Benjamin Culme, husband of Judith Layfield, was patron in 1740, (fn. 330) but thereafter the patronage was held by or for successive incumbents. James Newton presented himself in 1782, and his trustees acted in 1803 and 1807, in the second year appointing his son William, vicar 180748. (fn. 331) William Newton's widow sold the next presentation in 1848 to the Revd. A. F. Luttrell, (fn. 332) and Luttrell presented in 1851. (fn. 333) Thomas Bedford presented himself in 1858, (fn. 334) the bishop collated by lapse in 1863, (fn. 335) and John Blurton Webb presented both himself in 1865 and his successor in 1873. (fn. 336) William Walter Herringham, rector 18731904, purchased the living for his son, but the latter chose an army career and the advowson passed to Selwyn College, Cambridge, in 1925. (fn. 337) The college has the right to present to the united benefice for two turns out of three. (fn. 338)
The vicarage was worth 7 net in 1535, (fn. 339) and its reputed value was 6 c. 1668. (fn. 340) The endowment was increased by 200 capital in 1724, half provided by the patron, Benjamin Culme, half by Dr. Godolphin, dean of St. Paul's. (fn. 341) The income was much increased by a settlement of 1733. (fn. 342) By 1831 the average income was 466 net. (fn. 343) The tithes and other offerings constituted the whole gross value of the vicarage in 1535, (fn. 344) and comprised all but the corn tithes of the parish, but in 1636 it was said that the lay rector took tithe hay from certain fields. (fn. 345) In 1839 the vicar was awarded a rent charge of 600 15s. in place of both great tithes, which he held under the settlement of 1733, and small tithes. (fn. 346) In 1606 the glebe was limited to a small orchard and a garden. (fn. 347) It amounted to only just over 3 a. in 1839, the area of the vicarage house and garden. (fn. 348)
The vicar in 1320 lived in the house anciently assigned to the incumbent. (fn. 349) John Sym or Symmes, on resigning the living in 1448, was given a chamber he himself had built west of the hall of the vicarage house, with a small garden. (fn. 350) In the 17th century the vicarage buildings included a bakehouse, barn, stable, and dairy. (fn. 351) The house was rebuilt on a large scale on its commanding site probably by James Newton, vicar 17821802. It was replaced by a dwelling on an adjacent site in 1939, (fn. 352) and was known in 1982 as Old Cleeve House.
Ralph Free was appointed vicar in 1460 on condition that he studied for several months and resigned if he failed an examination. (fn. 353) John Dovell, vicar 1520 5, was a member of a prominent local family which included the last abbot of Cleeve. (fn. 354) A succession of curates and 'sundry serving priests that departed within the quarter' cared for the parish early in Elizabeth I's reign after resident vicars under Mary. (fn. 355) Robert Evans, vicar 15981608, was accused in 1603 of administering communion to people kneeling in their seats. (fn. 356) Edmund Brickenden, vicar from 1608, (fn. 357) was resident rector of East Quantoxhead; (fn. 358) John Tratt, his curate, was murdered by four parishioners in 1624. (fn. 359) John Jenkins, vicar from 1633, seems to have been undisturbed during the Interregnum, and was succeeded in 1664 by his son, then still an undergraduate. (fn. 360) There were resident curates in the 1670s and again between 1735 and 1782, (fn. 361) perhaps indicating that the vicars were non-resident.
In 1776 there were 17 communicants. (fn. 362) By 1815 William Newton, resident at Old Cleeve, was also serving as curate of Withycombe, and held one service in his own parish each Sunday, alternately morning and afternoon. (fn. 363) By 1840 two services were held each Sunday, but by 1843 one service was dropped on alternate Sundays. (fn. 364) A wet and stormy day reduced the congregation on Census Sunday 1851 to 283 in the morning and to 406 in the afternoon, including just over 50 Sunday-school children at each service. (fn. 365) A resident rector and a curate served the parish by 1870, and communion was celebrated monthly and on holy days. (fn. 366)
By 1886 a mission church and schoolroom had been built at Lower Roadwater; the church was later known as St. Luke's. (fn. 367) In 1909 another mission church, later dedicated to St. Mary, was built at Washford. (fn. 368) Both were in regular use in 1982.
There were seven lights in the parish church in 1346, (fn. 369) and an endowed light in 1548. (fn. 370) A church house belonging to the manor was rented by the parish in the early 17th century. (fn. 371) It stood at the entrance to the churchyard, and was later used as a poorhouse. (fn. 372) It was rebuilt in 1811 and was used as a school from then until 1855, and subsequently as a parish room. (fn. 373)
The church of ST. ANDREW, so dedicated by 1346, (fn. 374) overlooks the village of Old Cleeve. It comprises a chancel with north organ chamber and vestry, a nave with south transeptal chapel, south aisle, and south porch, and a west tower. Herringbone masonry and a break in the north wall suggest a smaller nave in the 12th century or earlier. The chancel was rebuilt in the 13th century when the south chapel was either added or altered. (fn. 375) The aisle and porch were built in the mid 15th century, and nave and aisle may have been extended westwards early in the 16th century. The tower was probably being built in 1533. (fn. 376) The chancel needed extensive repair in 1563. (fn. 377) Part of the roof remained thatched until 1765 or later. A singing loft was built by 1764. (fn. 378) The chancel was restored c. 1844 (fn. 379) and the organ chamber added in 1885. (fn. 380)
There is a monument of c. 1425 in Beer stone to a civilian, his feet resting on a cat with a rat. (fn. 381) Medieval tiles surround the base of the 15th-century font, and two medieval bench ends are in the panelling behind the altar. The poor box is dated 1634, and the pebbled porch floor 1674. The brass candelabrum by Thomas Bayley of Bridgwater, given in 1770, was regarded in 1870 as 'unsightly' and was removed to the schoolroom. (fn. 382) New communion rails were put up in 1791. (fn. 383) There is glass by Morris and Co., Kempe, Sir Henry Holiday, and Comper, (fn. 384) a brass lectern of 1911 by Omar Ramsden and Alwyn Carr in the Arts and Crafts style, and a tower screen by local artists Rachel Reckitt and James Horrobin c. 1975. (fn. 385) The plate includes a chalice of 1573 by 'I.P.' and a paten of 1639. (fn. 386) There are six bells. (fn. 387) The registers date from 1661. (fn. 388)
The chapel at Leighland existed in 1320, when the vicar of Old Cleeve was charged to read the gospel and to administer holy water and bread there, and to celebrate mass there three times a year. (fn. 389) The vicar paid a chaplain to serve it in 1535. (fn. 390) A curate of Leighland was in the 1570s receiving 3 a year and his board, (fn. 391) presumably from the vicar of Old Cleeve against whom the inhabitants petitioned the bishop in 1668 because he was not paying the curate's stipend. (fn. 392) In 1733 the curacy was endowed by the patron and Queen Anne's Bounty to give a stipend of 30 a year. (fn. 393) By 1831 the benefice was worth 40 net, (fn. 394) and it was augmented in 1847 and 1867. (fn. 395) In 1865 the area of Leighland and Roadwater was created a district chapelry, (fn. 396) and the living came to be known as a vicarage. It was in the patronage of the rector of Old Cleeve. (fn. 397) In 1870 services were said to be maintained largely by voluntary subscriptions, (fn. 398) and in 1905 the living was worth only 94. (fn. 399) It was increased in 19056 partly by a bequest of 500 by Camilla, Lady Somers (d. 1904), daughter of William Newton, formerly vicar of Old Cleeve. (fn. 400) There were further augmentations in 19268, producing a net income of 290 by 1931. (fn. 401) In 1955 the united benefice of Leighland and Treborough, formed in 1950, became part of a united benefice with Old Cleeve. (fn. 402)
The chapel was regarded in 1548 as a chantry, and a small house and some land belonging to it were sold, (fn. 403) but by 1554 a group of inhabitants of Leighland had acquired what was then called the church house, to be used for the profit of the chapel or of the inhabitants. The house was let subject to its use as a church house for a month each year, (fn. 404) and in 1637 it was provided that the tenant be given good notice of the public use of the lower hall, buttery, and chamber above. (fn. 405) The 'chapel chamber' continued to provide an income for the chapel wardens, and was rebuilt in 16834. (fn. 406) In 1847 it was 'dilapidated and decayed'; it was rebuilt and extended in 1877 by C. E. Giles and Robinson of London as a vicarage house. (fn. 407) About 1955 it became a private house. (fn. 408)
Curates from the mid 16th century were not resident, (fn. 409) and one was excommunicated for serving without a licence. (fn. 410) Robert Evans, vicar of Old Cleeve, in 1601 accused of failing to serve the cure, denounced the inhabitants from the pulpit, referring to Leighland as a place 'where an idol hath been'. (fn. 411) In 1776 there were said to be c. 20 communicants. (fn. 412) In 1827 there was a service each Sunday, alternately morning and afternoon. (fn. 413) From 1847 until 1856 the living was held by the rector of Treborough, and in 1851 services were held in each place on alternate Sundays. On Census Sunday there were 153 people at the afternoon service at Leighland, but 80 was the average number attending. (fn. 414) From the late 1850s the incumbent also had care of Roadwater, where he lived. (fn. 415) In 1870 two services were held at Leighland each Sunday. (fn. 416)
The church of ST. GILES, succeeding to the dedication of the medieval chapel, (fn. 417) was built in 18612 by C. E. Giles. (fn. 418) It replaced a late-medieval single-cell building with a western bellcot and a large southern porch which had probably been a tower, its upper part converted to a gabled room perhaps in the 18th century. (fn. 419) The church of 18612 comprises a chancel with north vestry, and a nave with south porch and western bellcot in a plain geometrical style. Medieval tiles, probably from Cleeve Abbey, have been laid around the font. The chalice of 1670 replaced an older one, lost by 1664. (fn. 420) The bell, dated 1758, by Thomas Bayley was replaced by one from the redundant church of Bickenhall in 1981. (fn. 421) Entries relating to Leighland marriages and burials are found in the Old Cleeve parish registers until 1755, when separate registers begin. Baptism registers date from 1784. (fn. 422)
There was a chapel of ST. MARY 'by the sea' in 1320. (fn. 423) The building was damaged in 1398 (fn. 424) and destroyed by a landslip in 1452. It was replaced by a chapel on a new site inland, consecrated, with a small burial ground, in 1455 and apparently rebuilt or extended c. 1466. (fn. 425) At the Dissolution the chapel was let to Anthony Busterd, (fn. 426) and was probably demolished by 1565. (fn. 427) The chapel, a focus of pilgrimage, public ceremony, probate business, and oath taking, (fn. 428) presumably contained the statue of the Virgin brought from the earlier site. (fn. 429) It had four bells. (fn. 430)
An iron church had been built for the workers at the Brendon Hill iron mines by 1861. (fn. 431) For a while it was served by a full-time minister. (fn. 432) On the closure of the mines in the 1880s it was re-erected in Watchet. (fn. 433)
The Community of the Glorious Ascension occupied a converted barn north-east of Old Cleeve village between 1969 and 1979. (fn. 434)
About 1624 Philip Powell or Morgan, later martyred at Tyburn, became chaplain to the Poyntz family at Leigh Barton. Powell left Leigh c. 1642, and was followed by a succession of priests, usually Benedictines, who regarded Leighland as the centre of a mission in West Somerset. (fn. 435) In 1627 Giles Poyntz built a chapel and an annexe for the priest behind his house. (fn. 436) Giles was one of a group of 8 recusants reported in 1642, (fn. 437) and 12 were presented in 1664. (fn. 438) Prudence Poyntz (d. 1691), Giles's second wife, leaving Leigh to her kinsman Robert Rowe, apparently required that Rowe should either maintain a chaplain in the house or pay him for an agreed number of masses. Should the family fail to keep a chaplain they were to pay 300 to the Benedictine province. (fn. 439) There were resident chaplains at Leigh until 1767, (fn. 440) but thereafter the chapel was used only occasionally. A priest celebrated monthly for five 'reputed papists' in 1776, (fn. 441) and a priest from Dunster was evidently visiting Leigh later in the century. A French migr priest may have used the chapel c. 1808. (fn. 442)
A room in the house of George Giles, probably at Linton, (fn. 443) was licensed in 1792 for use by a group of Methodists. (fn. 444) Meetings were transferred to the Green Dragon at Bilbrook in 1794, (fn. 445) and that house was licensed for worship in 1795. (fn. 446) Services were still held there in 1810. Preaching began at Washford in 1800, (fn. 447) and houses there were licensed in 1803, 1805, and 1806. (fn. 448) A chapel was built in Lower Washford in 1811, and by 1814 the society had 21 members. A new chapel, in the part of St. Decumans parish that was transferred to Old Cleeve in 1882, was opened in 1826, (fn. 449) and was in use in 1982. On Census Sunday 1851 there were afternoon and evening services, with 184 attenders in the afternoon including 44 from the Sunday school and 117 in the evening. Average attendances were 195 in the morning, 250 in the afternoon, and 140 in the evening. (fn. 450) In 1903 there were two services on Sundays and evening meetings on Wednesdays and Fridays. Membership was 58 in 1923, 72 in 1943, and 42 in 1959. (fn. 451)
A house at Roadwater was used by a group of Methodists in 1812, (fn. 452) and in 1814 there were 16 members. A chapel was planned by Wesleyans in 1827, (fn. 453) but in the following year the idea was abandoned because of the presence of Bible Christians there. (fn. 454) Wesleyan services were discontinued in 1842. (fn. 455) The Bible Christians built a chapel near the Valiant Soldierinn in 1841. (fn. 456) Twice enlarged, it was replaced in 1907 but continued to be used as a schoolroom until the early 1930s. (fn. 457) There was a Sunday school of 32 on the morning of Census Sunday 1851, and 31 children joined the congregation of 122 in the afternoon. There were 100 people at the evening service. Average numbers were 140 for a morning service, 170 in the afternoon, and 100 in the evening. (fn. 458) Ebenezer chapel, Roadwater, built in 1907, (fn. 459) was in use in 1982.
Beulah chapel on Brendon Hill was opened by the Bible Christians to serve the Brendon iron workers in 1861 in succession to a preaching room nearby at Beverton in Huish Champflower parish. It fell into disrepair after the closure of the mines but was restored and reopened in 1910, (fn. 460) and regular services were held there in 1982. The Wesleyans used a loft over a stable at Sea View House on Brendon Hill while the mines were working. (fn. 461)
Afternoon open-air services were held by Wesleyans at Bilbrook from 1871 and a room was obtained in 1873. Weekday meetings were held in 1885 but services were discontinued in 1889. Cottage services were resumed two years later, but ceased to be held in 1914. (fn. 462)
By 1730 there was a dame school in the parish, and by 1739 children were also being taught in the workhouse. Payments by the overseers for schooling continued until the 1750s or later and were resumed in the early 19th century. (fn. 463) From 1811 a school was held at the former church house, for a time conducted on Dr. Bell's system. The master also held a free Sunday school, but by 1818 the school, 'not answering as well as it used to do', was forsaken by children from the southern part of the parish in favour of the school at Nettlecombe. (fn. 464)
In 1835 it was one of four schools, one taking 14 infants only, the others a total of 85 children, all supported by parents' payments. (fn. 465) By 1847 66 children attended the church day school, and 112 children on Sundays. The school was then united with the National Society, and was principally supported by the vicar. (fn. 466) In 1855 a new school building was opened at Lower Washford to replace the small room at Old Cleeve. It continued in connexion with the National Society, and in 1903 there were 178 children on the books. The building was also used for evening continuation classes and for Sunday evening services during the winter. (fn. 467) The school, of voluntary controlled status, had 110 pupils in 1950, and pupils were then taken until the age of 13 years. From 1957 infants and juniors only were taken, and from 1971 it was a First School. In 1980 there were 56 pupils on the books. (fn. 468)
There was probably a school at Leighland by 1841. (fn. 469) By 1847 the day and Sunday schools had 44 children on the books, and were supported by subscriptions and school pence. (fn. 470) A free school at Leighland, established by 1861, (fn. 471) was probably new, but it seems not to have survived for long. A new school was built there in 1873 after the curate of Leighland had failed to establish one at Roadwater. (fn. 472) In 1903 it had 87 pupils, and was then partly supported by a voluntary rate. (fn. 473) Average attendance was 63 in 1930, but numbers thereafter fell rapidly. No children over 11 years were taken after 1950, and the school was closed in 1957, when there were only 11 children on the register. (fn. 474)
By 1861 a school was established in the iron church at Brendon Hill for the miners' children. It was supported at first by the mining company, but presumably ceased with the closure of the mines in 1883. (fn. 475)
In 1875 there were, in addition to the schools at Washford, Leighland, and Brendon Hill, an infants' school at Old Cleeve, perhaps housed in the old school buildings, and a Wesleyan school at Washford. (fn. 476) In 1877 a site at Roadwater was given for a National school. That site may have been the origin of the mission church there, for the school building was also to be used for services. (fn. 477) An infants' school was still held in the mission church in 1889, with average attendance of 35 children, but no later record of it has been found. (fn. 478) Evening continuation classes were held at Roadwater between 1909 and 1919. (fn. 479)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
Twenty-eight pnote idclding Lady Radcliffe and John Sydenham, with gifts ranging between 1 and 40, were regarded as parish benefactors, having during the 16th and 17th centuries given sums which the parish retained as stock. (fn. 480) The only precisely known bequests were the interest on 8 given by Ellen Bickham (d. 1646) and her son Aldred (d. 1671), to buy two shifts for two poor women at Easter. (fn. 481) In addition Mary Whitlock (d. 1715) gave the interest on 10 to the second poor at Michaelmas. (fn. 482) Some of the capital of all the gifts was invested in land later known as the parish meadow, and the remainder was lent at interest, the income paid out as 'gift money' at Christmas and Easter. In 1730 nearly 40 people in the lower side of the parish shared 5 12s. 6d., and 1 16s. was paid to 13 at Leighland. (fn. 483) By 1760 holders of capital were not paying interest regularly, but regular payments continued to be made by the overseers until 1796. (fn. 484) Increased rent from the land improved the charity's revenue, and in 1826 it was recommended that doles should be shared according to need, either in clothing or in cash. (fn. 485)
The charity was regulated in 1843 under the name of 'Sydenham alias various charities'. Trustees were then appointed to distribute cash in April or May each year. The total regular income was 16 16s. 6d. In 1896 18 10s. was shared between parents whose children had attended regularly at school, 28 people over 60, 26 widows, and 19 couples over 60. In 1963 just over 26 was shared between 22 widows, 12 married couples, and 13 single people. (fn. 486)