A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1992.
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MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
In 1086 there were nine separate estates held under four lordships.
Alfred d'Epaignes held all of SPAXTON in demesne in 1086 except for 1½ hide occupied by an unnamed knight. (fn. 1) In 1166 Robert Fichet held the fee and in 1227 Hugh Fichet. (fn. 2) The latter or another Hugh died c. 1261-2 and was succeeded by his son Robert (fn. 3) (d. c. 1272) and by his grandson Hugh Fichet, (fn. 4) who held the fee c. 1285 and in 1303. (fn. 5) By 1314 Hugh had been succeeded by his son (Sir) John, (fn. 6) who was followed by his son (Sir) Thomas before 1344. (fn. 7) Sir Thomas was dead by 1367 (fn. 8) and was followed by his son Sir Thomas (d. 1386) (fn. 9) and by his grandson also Thomas Fichet. (fn. 10) Thomas died under age in 1395 when his heir was his sister Isabel, wife of Robert Hill. (fn. 11) Isabel predeceased her husband, who died in 1423 leaving a son John. (fn. 12) John Hill (d. 1434) (fn. 13) was succeeded by his son John who died in 1455 leaving as his heir his daughter Genevieve, wife of Sir William Say. (fn. 14) Genevieve died in 1480, (fn. 15) but her husband occupied the estates until his death in 1529. (fn. 16) The heirs were then the descendants in the female line of John Hill (d. 1434), (fn. 17) half the manor going to John Waldegrave and half being divided between Thomas Hussey, William Clopton, and Ellen, wife of George Babington. (fn. 18) John Waldegrave (d. 1543) acquired Ellen's share and his son Sir Edward (d. 1561) obtained the remaining shares. (fn. 19)
Sir Edward's son Charles succeeded as a minor and died in 1632. (fn. 20) The manor passed in the direct male line to Sir Edward (cr. Bt. 1643, d. 1647), Henry (d. 1658), Charles (d. 1684), Henry (cr. Baron Waldegrave 1686, d. 1689), James (cr. Earl Waldegrave 1729, d. 1741) (fn. 21) and James, who sold Spaxton manor to James Smith. After Smith's death the estate was sold in 1756 to John Perceval, earl of Egmont. (fn. 22) The earl (d. 1770) was followed by his son John (d. 1822) and John's son John, whose estates with the lordship were sold in 1833. (fn. 23) The Spaxton lands were bought by Henry Labouchere and became part of the Quantock estate; (fn. 24) no reference to lordship has been found after 1852. (fn. 25)
Court Place was recorded in the late 14th century, having gardens inside and outside its gates. (fn. 26) Robert Hill appears to have lived at Spaxton and had an oratory there in 1408. (fn. 27) In 1423 the house contained a hall, parlour, principal chamber, and second chamber, (fn. 28) and a kitchen and pigeon house were recorded in 1476. The house was repaired in 1477 and was let by 1493. (fn. 29) By the mid 17th century the capital messuage called Manor House was leased to the Cridland family. (fn. 30) A lease of 1662 included a gatehouse and park and the tenant was obliged to entertain the lord and his officers twice a year. (fn. 31) The house, with dried-up fishponds, the Court Garden, and demesne lands continued to be leased to the Cridlands and their heirs the Burlands until 1737 when it was known as Spaxton Farm, but as early as 1717 the farm was sub-let. (fn. 32) The farm was bought by Somerset county council in 1920. (fn. 33)
Court Farm or Court House is formed by two ranges at right angles. Both have pairs of opposed medieval doorways suggesting cross passages but neither retains any other evidence for an open hall. The north-south range has a large room, which may have been a ground-floor hall, and there is a projection, now housing a staircase, from its western side which has a medieval window at first-floor level. The room to the north also has opposed doorways, both now blocked, and to the north again the room which is at the intersection of the two ranges has a medieval window in its west wall. The east- west range was probably once joined to a building, now a barn, a short distance to the east. Both contain a number of late medieval windows and were originally two-storeyed. The buildings were once more extensive, and it is possible that what remains are ranges of chambers for the estate officials in the later 15th century. (fn. 34)
In 1314 John Fichet gave to John Tremenet in fee a farm called SOUTHAM or SOUTH HOLMS, in Spaxton and Aisholt, which was held of Spaxton manor in the 15th century. (fn. 35) John Tremenet's son John had been followed by 1385 by Henry Tremenet or Tremelet. (fn. 36) Henry died c. 1424 and his son John was alive in 1476. (fn. 37) The land may have passed to William Halswell (d. 1606), (fn. 38) but by 1656 had been transferred from another William Halswell to John Cridland and his family, and by 1698 to John Codrington. (fn. 39) Codrington sold it to Richard Musgrave and it descended with Stamfordlands in North Petherton. (fn. 40) Sir James Langham, Bt., sold it in 1795 to William Ford, owner in 1838. (fn. 41) The house, now Holmes Farm, was rebuilt soon after 1711. (fn. 42)
MERRIDGE, held in 1066 by Alwig Banneson, was in 1086 held of Alfred d'Epaignes by Ranulph, probably Ranulph of Stringston. (fn. 43) The overlordship descended with Nether Stowey, and Merridge was held of that honor until the early 17th century. (fn. 44) From Ranulph Merridge probably descended with Stringston to a branch of the Fichet family in the 12th century and later to the Furneaux family. It continued to be held with Stringston and in 142 p was assigned with Perry in Wembdon and Shurton in Stogursey to Robert Greyndour (d. 1443) and his wife Joan. (fn. 45) Joan, who married secondly Sir John Barre, died in 1485, (fn. 46) but by that date Merridge seems to have passed to the Stawells, coheirs of the Furneaux family. (fn. 47) In 1508 Robert Stawell, son of Edward and grandson of Robert (d. 1506), died leaving the manor to his son John, then a minor. (fn. 48) John was succeeded in 1541 (fn. 49) by his grandson (Sir) John. The manor descended with Durston (fn. 50) until 1653 when it was sold to Richard Bovet after forfeiture. (fn. 51) The Stawell family recovered the manor after the Restoration and it continued to descend with Durston until the death of John, Lord Stawell, in 1692. (fn. 52) In 1702 the trustees for the sale of Stawell's estates conveyed the manor to Francis Bennet, who dismembered it. (fn. 53) Bennet left the remnant of the manor, after the death of his wife, to William, Lord Stawell, and his male heirs. William was in possession by 1733 (fn. 54) and was succeeded in 1742 by his brother Edward, Lord Stawell (d. 1755). Edward left Merridge in trust for his daughter Mary, wife of Henry Bilson Legge and later Baroness Stawell. Mary (d. 1780) was succeeded by her son Henry, Lord Stawell, who in 1789 sold the lordship to William Hawker of Poundisford in Pitminster. (fn. 55) In 1790 Hawker agreed to sell it to Sir James Esdaile and others, (fn. 56) probably in trust for Edward Jeffries (d. c. 1812), and Edward's grandson, Edward Jeffries Esdaile. (fn. 57) E. J. Esdaile died in 1867 leaving a son, also Edward Jeffries Esdaile (d. 1881), (fn. 58) whose successor Charles E. J. Esdaile was succeeded c. 1923 (fn. 59) by his son William. The lands were divided and sold in 1924. Lordship and sporting rights were retained by the Esdaile family but the lordship was not recorded later. (fn. 60)
A moated platform at Courtway may be the site of the Fichets' house at Merridge. (fn. 61) A house at Waterpits in Merridge was described as a capital messuage in 1783. It had been sold away from the manor in 1702 but was purchased by Edward Jeffries in 1793. (fn. 62)
QUANTOCK, later QUANTOCK DURBOROUGH, was held in 1066 by Alwig Banneson and in 1086 by Robert of Alfred d'Epaignes. (fn. 63) John Durburgh held it of Spaxton manor in 1328, probably in succession to his father Walter (d. by 1313), (fn. 64) and the land descended in the Durburgh family with Stogursey Hadley manor (fn. 65) until 1384 or later. (fn. 66) By 1412 and probably by 1399 it was held by Sir Thomas Brooke. (fn. 67) Sir Thomas died in 1418 and his widow Joan in 1437. Their son Sir Thomas (d. 1439) (fn. 68) was succeeded by his son Edward, Lord Cobham (d. 1464). Edward probably settled the manor on his daughter Elizabeth for her marriage to Robert Tanfield. Elizabeth (d. 1502) (fn. 69) was followed in turn by her grandson William Tanfield (d. 1529) (fn. 70) and by her great-grandson Francis Tanfield (d. 1558). Francis left two young sons, John and Clement, both of whom probably died childless. Clement's widow Anne was in possession in 1588, (fn. 71) and there is no further reference to lordship. The land had become part of the Enmore estate by 1720 (fn. 72) and some was absorbed into Enmore park.
In 1384 Sir Hugh Durburgh gave rents and reversions to William Taillour of Dunster. (fn. 73) The estate came to be called Little Quantock, and by 1476 it had been acquired by William Dodesham. (fn. 74) In 1560 it was held by one of his heirs, Joan Coombe, and from her passed to the Halswell family. They held it until 1754 (fn. 75) when it was sold to John Perceval, earl of Egmont, and was absorbed into the Enmore estate. (fn. 76) A small holding at Quantock Durborough formed part of Williton Hadley manor by 1542 (fn. 77) and descended like that manor in the Wyndham family. Before 1763 Charles Wyndham, earl of Egremont (d. 1763), sold it to the earl of Egmont. (fn. 78) There is no record of a manor house at Quantock Durborough.
Estan held an estate called RADLET in 1066, and in 1086 Herbert held it of Alfred d'Epaignes. (fn. 79) A small holding described as at Tuxwell could be the same estate. It was held with Alfoxton manor in Stringston in 1310 and was still so held in 1499. (fn. 80) It has not been traced further.
PIGHTLEY, later known as PIGHTLEY MALET, was held in 1066 by Aelmer and in 1086 of Roger de Courcelles by Geoffrey de Vautort. (fn. 81) It probably descended with Enmore manor until the death of John Malet in 1656, (fn. 82) and may then have been divided. One part continued with Enmore manor until 1833 (fn. 83) but some land had passed to Robert Kidner by 1720 (fn. 84) and to Andrew Guy before 1766, (fn. 85) after which it was probably absorbed into the Barford holding in Enmore. (fn. 86)
Godric held an estate called RADLET in 1066 which Robert held of Roger de Courcelles in 1086. (fn. 87) It may have been that estate which Margaret de la Tour held in 1308 and in which Hugh of Kilve and William Colne or Kilve had interests later in the 14th century. (fn. 88) The de la Tour family in 1346 made over their rights to Henry Halswell and John of Somerton, (fn. 89) both of whom already had a life interest in other Halswell family lands there. (fn. 90) In 1390 Joan Luttrell acquired an estate at Radlet from John Roche which had formerly been held by Isabel, wife of John Haddecombe. (fn. 91) After a series of grants for life Richard Luttrell secured the reversion in 1430, (fn. 92) and the property descended in the Luttrell family with Over Vexford in Stogumber, together with land held of Stogursey Hadley manor there, (fn. 93) until 1551, when it was probably sold to George Sydenham and descended as part of Tuxwell and Radlet. (fn. 94)
Two thegns held in 1066 an estate called STOCKLAND, probably in Stogursey and Spaxton, which Ansketil held of Roger de Courcelles in 1086 and which probably included the later STOCKLAND LOVEL manor. (fn. 95) From the 17th century the estate was known as FARM. Stockland, part of Nether Stowey honor in 1166, (fn. 96) was held of the king in chief between 1285 and 1303 (fn. 97) and by 1342 was shared between the Trivets' manor of Otterhampton, Stockland Bristol manor, and Stogursey priory. (fn. 98) The Crown assumed overlordship after the forfeiture of James Tuchet, Lord Audley, lord of Nether Stowey, in 1497. (fn. 99) Thereafter overlordship of the whole estate was no longer mentioned, but some land there was claimed as part of Dunster honor in 1625. (fn. 100)
In 1166 William Lovel held the fee. (fn. 101) By the mid 13th century it had probably passed to William de Columbers of Stockland (fl. 1254), (fn. 102) almost certainly a younger son of Maud de Chandos and Philip de Columbers of Nether Stowey. William (d. by 1262) (fn. 103) was succeeded by his son Philip. (fn. 104) Philip died probably c. 1279 and William, possibly his son, was dead by 1280. (fn. 105) Although Philip had a grandson Hugh de Vautort, (fn. 106) Stockland Lovel passed c. 1280 to Philip's cousin John de Columbers, lord of Nether Stowey. (fn. 107)
The manor descended with Nether Stowey until the attainder of Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset, in 1552 (fn. 108) when it was granted to Thomas Dannet. (fn. 109) Thomas died in 1569 leaving a son, also Thomas, (fn. 110) who in 1584 conveyed the manor to John Walker and his wife Elizabeth. (fn. 111) They sold in 1586 to William Syms (fn. 112) and Syms in turn to Robert Burgoyne in 1591. (fn. 113) Burgoyne is said to have sold the estate, possibly in 1596, to Henry Hensley who died in 1623 leaving a son John. (fn. 114) Despite claims by the Bowyer and Walker families, (fn. 115) John Hensley leased Stockland Lovel to Robert Everard (d. 1663), (fn. 116) whose widow Joan (d. c. 1687) held the estate for life and whose brother Henry (d. c. 1679) appears to have purchased the freehold. The estate, called Farm, passed to Henry's cousin John Everard (d. 1696). (fn. 117) John was succeeded by his son Robert (d. 1726) whose wife, Susanna, was lady of Nether Stowey manor. Farm and the lordship again descended with Nether Stowey until 1832. (fn. 118) In that year the manor was sold to Daniel Fripp of Bristol, who in 1861 sold it to the Merchant Venturers of Bristol. (fn. 119) There is no further reference to the lordship. In 1919 the Merchant Venturers sold Farm to Isaac Hill who was succeeded in 1930 by his sons Froude and Clifford. Michael, son of Froude, and his wife Lavinia took over the business in 1967 and were owners in 1987. (fn. 120)
The capital messuage was named Bockham or Byckhams in the 16th century after tenants, (fn. 121) in the 17th and 18th centuries simply as Farm, (fn. 122) in the 19th as Stockland Lovel farm, (fn. 123) and in the 20th as Farm Estate. It is a late-medieval house of five bays with an open hall and service room occupying four bays and an inner room with a chamber over the eastern bay beyond the hall. In the later 16th century a cross passage was formed, and probably the porch was added on the north side. In the 17th century a rear wing was built north of the east end to provide a parlour and stair. A contemporary extension at the west end comprised a room in line with the original house and a second rear wing, including a large room with three ovens, probably a brewhouse, and a dairy with cheese and flour chambers above. By 1696 the chamber over the hall had been decorated with a painted representation of the firmament. The parlour ceiling has 'particularly rich' decorative plasterwork of the 17th century. (fn. 124) North of the house are the remains of a formal walled garden.
Two farms, Coultings and Wrenmore, were part of Stockland Lovel manor in the 16th century. Robert Tuxwell held COULTINGS in 1507 and John Tuxwell by 1513. (fn. 125) John Tuxwell, possibly son of the last, died in 1565 and his son, also John, in 1566. Alice, widow of the first, retained possession until her death in 1608 and was followed by her granddaughter Mary (d. 1641), who was succeeded in turn by her sons Francis (d. by 1666) and Joseph Cox. (fn. 126) Joseph sold the farm to William Prowse in 1666, and Mrs. Prowse was in possession in 1720. (fn. 127) Thomas Prowse (d. 1767) was followed by his son George and in 1770 by his daughter Mary. (fn. 128) The farm thereafter passed through several hands until part was acquired in 1865 by the Merchant Venturers of Bristol. (fn. 129)
Coultings Farm, where a small farmhouse survives, was described as a capital messuage in 1666 and 1794. (fn. 130) One of the barns may be of the 16th century.
WRENMORE belonged to Thomas Courtenay, earl of Devon, at the time of his death in 1461, and it seems to have passed to his brother Henry. Henry was attained and executed in 1467 and the land, which passed to the Crown, was granted in 1470 to John Lambard. (fn. 131) Edward Courtenay, a distant relative of the last earl, was restored to the family estates and title in 1485 and was holding Wrenmore at the time of his death in 1509. (fn. 132) His grandson Henry, earl of Devon (cr. marquess of Exeter 1525), was attainted in 1538 and executed in 1539. His estates reverted to the Crown, and Wrenmore seems to have passed to Sir Thomas Moyle of Eastwell (Kent), a prominent government official. (fn. 133) He was succeeded at Wrenmore by his daughter Katharine, wife of Sir Thomas Finch, also of Eastwell. (fn. 134) In 1561 Finch sold it to John Kaynes of Compton Pauncefoot, (fn. 135) who in turn sold it to John Kene of Spaxton in 1566. Kene died in 1580 and his son, another John, sold it in the following year to John Bowyer, who already held other interests in the manor, including Bonson Wood farm. (fn. 136)
John Bowyer was succeeded in 1599 by his son Edmund. (fn. 137) The holding descended with the manor of Moorland in North Petherton (fn. 138) in the Bowyer family until 1707, when it was transferred to Edward Colston, who leased it back to Edmund Bowyer in 1709. (fn. 139) In 1723 Colston's executors recovered the estate following legal proceedings, (fn. 140) and it was thereafter considered part of the holding of the Merchant Venturers of Bristol. (fn. 141)
Beorhtric's holding at TUXWELL in 1086 had been held in 1066 by Godwin. (fn. 142) Its descent has not been traced between the 11th century and the 14th, but in 1372 some land there and at Moorland was held by Sir Thomas Fichet of the duchy of Lancaster, presumably as part of Trowbridge honor. (fn. 143) Robert Hill held it at his death in 1423 as of the duchy manor of Durleigh. (fn. 144)
A second estate at TUXWELL, later known as EAST TUXWELL, (fn. 145) was held in 1066 by Estan, who also held land at Radlet, and in 1086 by Hugh of Roger Arundel. (fn. 146) The overlordship descended with that of Huish Champflower to Henry de Newburgh, and in 1276 passed to Queen Eleanor, (fn. 147) although Robert de Newburgh disputed the Crown's claim in 1326. (fn. 148) The overlordship has not been traced thereafter. The estate may have been held with Huish Champflower by the Champflower family as mesne lords, and from them passed to the FitzJames family: in 1361 it was held of John FitzJames as of his manor of Wyke Champflower. (fn. 149) The FitzJameses retained an interest in the estate until 1552 or later. (fn. 150)
Before 1291 John FitzGeoffrey was succeeded as terre tenant by his son William. (fn. 151) William's successor was probably Gilbert or Gibon of Edington. (fn. 152) Gilbert's son, also Gilbert, died in 1361 when his heir was his brother Thomas. (fn. 153) Family disputes followed, (fn. 154) and ownership of Tuxwell has not been traced until 1461 when Tuxwell manor was held by Alexander Hody, (fn. 155) possibly in right of his wife Margaret, daughter and heir of John Coker, whose ancestor Richard Coker had held land in the parish in 1328. (fn. 156) The estate passed, with Moorland manor in North Petherton, to Sir John Seymour, and from him to his son Edward, duke of Somerset. (fn. 157) On the duke's attainder and execution in 1552 his son John claimed the manor as the inheritance of his mother, the duke's first wife. (fn. 158) The subsequent dispute may have caused the estate to be divided, parts being added later to Tuxwell cum Radlet.
PLEABURY was held of East Tuxwell in 1540. (fn. 159) It was sold in 1558 by William Hody to Nicholas Halswell, the owner in 1587. (fn. 160) Pleabury was held by Thomas Trott in 1618 and the adjoining estate of Twinell by Thomas Collard (d. 1654). (fn. 161) By 1658 both estates were held by Thomas Collard's son John, (fn. 162) who was succeeded in 1679 by his son the Revd. Thomas Collard (d. 1691). (fn. 163) In 1720 Pleabury was held jointly by Thomas Graunt, husband of Thomas Collard's eldest daughter Alice, and Francis Wilkins who married her sister Elizabeth, but Twinell was held by a Mr. Collard, probably their cousin John. (fn. 164) Alice (d. 1752) had inherited both estates by 1750 and left Twinell and other lands to her grandson Thomas Graunt and Pleabury to her son Thomas (d. 1753). (fn. 165) Thomas the younger was holding both estates in 1766 and died in 1780, (fn. 166) probably childless, and was succeeded by Thomas Poole, (fn. 167) son of Alice Graunt's daughter Mary. (fn. 168) Thomas (d. 1795) was succeeded by his son Thomas (d. 1837), (fn. 169) whose trustees held Pleabury and Twinell in 1838. (fn. 170) It was later absorbed into the Quantock estate. (fn. 171)
A third estate at Tuxwell, later known as WEST TUXWELL manor, was held by Thomas Trowe in 1431 (fn. 172) and until 1506 descended with Plainsfield manor in Over Stowey. (fn. 173) In 1506 it was absorbed into Plainsfield manor, and formed part of the land sold to John Perceval, earl of Egmont, in 1761. The sale included part of TUXWELL CUM RADLET manor, (fn. 174) which included much of East Tuxwell, and passed to George Sydenham from the Seymour family. George conveyed it to Humphrey Blake in 1556 as a holding of the Crown. (fn. 175) Humphrey died in 1558, leaving the estate to his son Robert, but it appears to have passed to another son, John (d. 1571), and to John's brother Thomas. (fn. 176) In 1572 the manor was settled on Thomas, who sold it to his brother Robert in 1577. (fn. 177) Robert Blake died in 1592 and his son William sold the manor in 1602 to John Malet of Enmore. (fn. 178) The manor descended like Enmore until 1833 when Tuxwell and Radlet farms were bought by Henry Labouchere to form part of his Quantock estate. (fn. 179) There is no further reference to the lordship; and after the break-up of the Quantock estate in 1919 Tuxwell was bought by Somerset county council and Radlet by Alfred Gooding. (fn. 180)
In 1412 an estate called EBSLEY was held by Matthew Coker, and it probably passed to Margaret Coker, wife of Alexander Hody. (fn. 181) It descended like East Tuxwell manor, and following the division of the duke of Somerset's estate it had come into the hands of Barnabas Leave by 1602. He also held part of Pleabury, which had also formed part of the Seymour manor of East Tuxwell. (fn. 182) Barnabas was succeeded in 1615 by his son John (d. 1635). John's son John was holding Ebsley in 1658, and a Mrs. Leave was the owner in 1687. By 1720 it was held by John Thomas, (fn. 183) in 1766 by William Rich, and in 1781 by James Rich. (fn. 184) James died in 1815 leaving the farm in trust for Mary and Elizabeth, daughters of his cousin John Rich. (fn. 185) Elizabeth, who survived her sister, died in 1846 leaving her land in trust for William Rich of Ebsley. (fn. 186) It was later part of the Quantock estate and in 1920 Somerset county council sold the farm to the tenant. (fn. 187)
Ebsley Farm, made smaller and remodelled in the 20th century, is a 17th-century house formerly extending further south. There is an 18th-century staircase in the square projection at the rear.
An estate called KEENTHORNE was given before 1498 to maintain a lamp in Cannington church. (fn. 188) It was granted by the Crown in 1550 to Edward Isaake and William Moryce who in the same year sold it to Nicholas Halswell. (fn. 189) It appears to have been held of the duke of Somerset's manor of Tuxwell. (fn. 190) The land descended with Halswell in Goathurst until 1622 when it was sold to Margaret Dodington and descended with her estates in Stogursey until 1638 or later. (fn. 191)