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.
Three tenants in chief had land in Over Stowey in 1086, Alfred d'Epaignes, lord of Stowey, William de Falaise, lord of Stogursey, and William de Mohun, lord of Dunster.
Alfred d'Epaignes held STOWEY in 1086 in succession to Earl Harold. (fn. 1) His lands, including Over Stowey and Plainsfield and extending both sides of the Quantocks, (fn. 2) may have centred on the castle at Over Stowey, the only one known on his estate. Later the honor centred on the new castle at Nether Stowey and took its name. (fn. 3) Alfred and his immediate successors seem to have divided and subinfeudated the estate.
PLAINSFIELD, which had been held in 1066 by Edred, was occupied in 1086 by Hugh d'Epaignes under Alfred. (fn. 4) It was held of Nether Stowey honor until that was forfeited to the Crown in 1497, (fn. 5) and was held of the Crown from then until 1627 or later, in that year as of the manor of Hampton Court. (fn. 6)
Richard son of Ralph held ½ fee at Plainsfield in 1166. (fn. 7) In 1262 Walter of Plainsfield was probably owner (fn. 8) and by 1285 had been succeeded by Adam de Chandos, probably also known as Adam of Plainsfield. (fn. 9) In 1300 Adam de Chandos settled the manor on himself for life with remainder to William de Chandos, son of Adam the elder. (fn. 10) Adam held the estate in 1303, (fn. 11) William in 1304, (fn. 12) and Adam de Chandos, possibly a third, between 1310 and 1318. (fn. 13) Another William Chandos held the manor in 1346 (fn. 14) and by 1393 had been succeeded by Joan Trowe, daughter of William Chandos. (fn. 15) Joan's son Thomas Trowe seems to have been in possession by 1402, although his mother may still have been alive. (fn. 16) Thomas continued in possession until 1431 or later (fn. 17) but by 1447 had been succeeded by John Trowe. (fn. 18)
In 1489-90 the manor was settled on Hugh Trowe and Elizabeth Malet, widow of Thomas Ashley, probably for their marriage. (fn. 19) Elizabeth survived her husband but died in 1493, when her husband's brother Thomas was heir. (fn. 20) Thomas was involved in the rebellion of 1497 against Henry VII and was attainted in 1504. Plainsfield manor was granted to Sir John Williams in 1506, (fn. 21) and on his death two years later it passed to his son Reginald, then a minor. (fn. 22) Reginald died in 1559 leaving sons John (d. 1560), Nicholas, and Richard. (fn. 23) Nicholas and Richard both died in 1568 without male issue and the manor reverted to the Crown. (fn. 24)
By 1601 Humphrey Blake (d. 1620), whose family had been tenants of the demesne probably from the mid 16th century, had acquired the manor. (fn. 25) Humphrey's son Humphrey and their kinsman Robert Blake (d. 1627) seem to have shared the estate. Robert left a son, also Robert, a minor, (fn. 26) but in 1639 (fn. 27) the manor was held by the younger Humphrey's son or grandson, also Humphrey, who was succeeded in 1665 (fn. 28) by his son John. (fn. 29) John Blake died in 1695 and his son, also John, in 1704. (fn. 30) A third John Blake, son of the last, by his will of 1722 left the manor in trust for his nephew John Rich. John Rich by will dated 1747 gave Plainsfield to his brother Nathaniel who with his wife Joan sold the manor in 1761 to John Perceval, earl of Egmont (d. 1770). (fn. 31) The manor thereafter descended like Enmore; the lordship was not, however, mentioned in the sale of the estate in 1833. (fn. 32)
John Trowe was licensed to have an oratory in his house at Plainsfield in 1447, (fn. 33) and in 1511 the buildings there included the chapel house, pigeon house, and gatehouse. (fn. 34) The house was leased to the tenant of the demesne in 1571. (fn. 35) Plainsfield Court, in 1986 called Plainsfield Court Farm, dates probably from the 17th century and formerly included plaster work dated 1663. (fn. 36) There appear to have been considerable alterations and additions between 1833 and 1887, including the building of a large south wing. (fn. 37)
An estate was held by Ralph, his son Hamon, and grandson Hugh de Bonville who in the mid 12th century gave lands to Over Stowey church. (fn. 38) Alice, widow of Hugh de Bonville, in 1220 granted her dower lands in Stowey to St. John's hospital, Bridgwater. (fn. 39) The hospital surrendered in 1539, and its lands in Stowey passed to the Crown. As the manor of OVER STOWEY or FRYRON, later simply FRIARN manor, it was sold to Emmanuel Lucar, a London merchant, in 1544. (fn. 40) Lucar died in 1574 and was succeeded by his son Mark (d. 1600). (fn. 41) Mark's son Emmanuel divided the estate in 1646, selling the manor and some land to Edward Rich the elder and Edward Rich the younger. (fn. 42) Edward Rich the younger died in 1696 (fn. 43) and was followed in turn by his son and grandson both named Thomas Rich. (fn. 44) The manor, together with an estate called Chapel, was held with Hartrow manor in Stogumber until 1758 or later, (fn. 45) but in 1786 the Revd. Henry Ward and his wife Susanna conveyed the manor to John Vernon. (fn. 46) In 1791 Vernon sold it to John James Perceval, earl of Egmont (d. 1822), and it descended with the Egmont estate until 1833 (fn. 47) when it was sold to Henry Labouchere. The lordship was not recorded thereafter. Chapel, meanwhile, had been bought by John Perceval, earl of Egmont, before 1765 (fn. 48) and it too became part of the Quantock estate in 1833.
The capital messuage of the hospital estate was mentioned in 1538-9. (fn. 49) It may have been later known as Chapel House, for it stood beside the former chapel of Adscombe (fn. 50) and was the home of the Rich family in the 17th and early 18th centuries. (fn. 51) It was said to have been dated 1529 and to have contained an oak staircase and mantelpiece, (fn. 52) but it had been demolished by 1887. (fn. 53)
Friarn farm, sold by Emmanuel Lucar to Lewis Sweeting in 1646, (fn. 54) passed from Sweeting and his wife to Edward Coward in 1674 and from Edward to the Revd. Christopher Coward c. 1695. (fn. 55) It descended to Bridget Coward, wife of George Hamilton, but between 1759 and 1765 became part of the Egmont estate. (fn. 56)
Friarn House, recorded in 1660, (fn. 57) was described as a capital messuage in 1730. (fn. 58) It stood probably east of the road from Bincombe to Adscombe, and was demolished before 1833, when Friarn farm was united with Adscombe. (fn. 59)
Soon after the mid 12th century the church and land, which had probably formed part of the d'Epaignes estate, had come into the possession of Hugh de Bonville, in succession to his grandfather Ralph and his father Hamon. (fn. 60) Between c. 1155 and 1189 Hugh gave arable, pasture, and woodland to Over Stowey church, and before 1181 gave the church and more land to Stogursey priory. (fn. 61) The land presumably passed in 1239 with the patronage of the church from the priory to the bishop of Bath and Wells, (fn. 62) and the RECTORY was exchanged in 1326 with St. Mark's hospital, Bristol, for lands elsewhere. The hospital held a house, the great tithes, and most of the former church land, with a share of common pasture, (fn. 63) until 1539; two years later the rectory passed to the mayor and commonalty of Bristol. (fn. 64) The city corporation sold the estate to the tenant in 1840, (fn. 65) and by 1919 it had been absorbed into the Quantock estate. (fn. 66)
Parsonage Farm is a late 16th- or early 17th-century house of cross-passage plan, with one-roomed back wings. A square stair wing projects from the rear wall, lit by a large 17thcentury window, probably reset. The southern room of the main range has a 17th-century moulded plaster overmantel depicting Adam and Eve. In 1816 the front of the house was taken down, (fn. 67) and other alterations at the time included a new staircase and the remodelling of the southern ground-floor room of the main range.
Pasture and wood on Quantock, amounting to a third of the parish, was part of the medieval lordship of Stogursey, and was presumably attached to the Domesday estate of Stogursey which William de Falaise held in 1086. (fn. 68) William granted rights there with Stogursey church to the abbey of Lonlay (Orne) at the beginning of the 12th century. (fn. 69) The tract of land, regarded in the late 16th century as being a quarter share of the royal forest of Quantock, presumably of pre-Conquest date, (fn. 70) descended with the barony of Stogursey and the manor of Wick FitzPayn until 1686 when it was sold to Robert Siderfin, who created QUANTOCK FARM out of some of the former common land. The farm descended like Wick manor, and in 1758 was bought by John Perceval, earl of Egmont (d. 1770). (fn. 71) His grandson sold it with other Egmont estates to Henry Labouchere in 1833. (fn. 72)
Quantock Farm was built probably between 1686 and 1688, and was a three-storeyed, double-pile house of four or five bays, with a forecourt flanked by stables, and a central gateway leading to a tree-lined avenue. (fn. 73) The house was replaced in the late 18th or early 19th century by two nearly identical, double-fronted houses abutting end to end. About 1930 the southern house was encased, heightened, and extended, and in 1987 the two were in single occupation.
ALEY was held by Algar in 1066 and by Garmund of William de Mohun (I) in 1086. (fn. 74) It continued to be held of the barony of Dunster until c. 1520 or later, (fn. 75) but it was also said to be held of the honor of Stogursey, almost certainly in confusion with Aisholt. (fn. 76)
Aley may have been held by William de Curci in 1166. (fn. 77) It was held by Sir William de Reigny (d. 1275) (fn. 78) and his widow Akyna until 1280 or later, (fn. 79) and by 1285 it had passed by Sir William's gift to Robert of Acton, son of Joan, his illegitimate daughter. (fn. 80) By 1303 Robert had been succeeded by Stephen Beaumond (d. 1310), husband of Robert's widow Joan (d. 1308). (fn. 81) Alice, daughter of Stephen and Joan, married John de Bures, who had Aley in 1318 (fn. 82) and 1332. (fn. 83) By 1340, probably following John's death, Aley had been recovered by Richard of Acton, (fn. 84) grandson of Robert (d. c. 1303). (fn. 85) In 1384 Richard settled Aley on himself and his wife Margaret for life, with remainder to Sir Thomas Fichet of Spaxton. (fn. 86) Sir Thomas's son, also Thomas (d. 1395), succeeded to the manor, which descended with Spaxton. (fn. 87) The lordship was not mentioned in the sale of 1833. (fn. 88)
There was no house on the manor in 1275. (fn. 89) A lodge in the park, recorded in the later 15th century, (fn. 90) was standing in 1587 (fn. 91) but not in 1685; a field was called Lodge Court in the late 17th century. (fn. 92) Aley Farm was described as a capital messuage in 1696 and 1721. (fn. 93) The present Aley Farm, on the other side of the lane, is a small 18th-century house which has been reduced in size.
Athelney abbey held land at ADSCOMBE by grant of several people in the mid 13th century including William Fichet and Gillian, wife of Roger de Amaray. (fn. 94) It was held of the Crown c. 1285 (fn. 95) but later partly of Aley manor. (fn. 96) The rents of the estate were assigned to the conventual kitchen. (fn. 97) After the Dissolution, Adscombe was granted with Hamp in Bridgwater to Bristol corporation. (fn. 98) Successive tenants paid fee farm rents to the city probably until the sale of Hamp manor in 1698. The Rich family, tenants by 1655, then became owners, and remained so until 1761 when Nicholas Rich sold it to John Perceval, earl of Egmont (d. 1770). (fn. 99) By 1833, when the Egmont estate was sold, Adscombe had been amalgamated with Chapel and Friarn. (fn. 100)
A holding later known as CROSS may have originated in land given by Alice Childecote to her son Robert in 1438. In 1450 and 1454 Robert Childecote and his son John conveyed their land in the parish to John Capron, clerk. Thomas Capron, John's nephew, in 1478 released the holding to Thomas Tremayle (d. 1508) and Roger Pym. (fn. 101) Philip Tremayle, son of Thomas, sold an estate in Over Stowey, Bincombe, and Adscombe to Baldwin Malet (d. 1533). Baldwin's son John may have held Cross c. 1577, (fn. 102) and it descended to his great-great-grandson Baldwin Malet of St. Audries. In 1692 Baldwin mortgaged the house and land to Thomas Rich, a kinsman of the tenant Samuel Rich; in 1696 on failure to repay the loan he released the property to Samuel. (fn. 103)
Samuel Rich was succeeded by his son, also Samuel (d. 1765), (fn. 104) and by the latter's sons Thomas (d. 1813) and James (d. 1815). (fn. 105) James left Cross to his kinsman Edmund Rich (d. 1842) who was followed by his son Samuel (d. 1886) and the latter's son, also Samuel (d. 1912). (fn. 106) The farm was later acquired by E. J. Stanley and became part of the Quantock estate. In 1920 it passed with that estate to Somerset county council, the owners in 1986. (fn. 107)
Cross Farm has a 17th-century cross-passage plan and two back wings. The partly walled garden incorporates an 18th-century gazebo. The house appears to have had two southern wings in 1744 which had gone by 1822. (fn. 108)
PEPPERHILL, by the later 16th century including land in Spaxton, (fn. 109) may be traced to a grant of land by Sir Walter of Romsey to Walter le Lyf and his wife Lucy in 1312. (fn. 110) A further grant in 1316 by Robert FitzPayn was described as at Peppestake, a name which persisted until the later 16th century. (fn. 111) By 1614 it was known as Pepperhill. (fn. 112)
Walter le Lyf was dead by 1327. (fn. 113) By the mid 15th century the land was held by Leonard Tilley (fn. 114) and in 1485 by Thomas Tilley. (fn. 115) Thomas died in 1536, (fn. 116) and he was followed by his grandson James Tilley (d. 1557), and James by his son George (d. 1590). (fn. 117) George left two daughters Anne, wife of William Walton, and Elizabeth, later wife of Edward Parham. In 1604 Elizabeth released her share to William Walton. (fn. 118) By 1614 the estate was occupied by Richard Lawrence or Dyer (d. 1641), (fn. 119) and his successor Hugh Lawrence or Dyer (fl. 1683) (fn. 120) was followed by his son John. John may have sold the estate to Edward Rich. (fn. 121) By 1713 Pepperhill was owned by Edward's son Thomas Rich and it descended with Friarn manor. (fn. 122)
The house was a substantial one in 1641 with at least five chambers. (fn. 123) It was rebuilt in 1859 in Tudor style by Henry Clutton for Lord Taunton as a home dairy house for Quantock Lodge. The octagonal dairy had a Minton tile floor and double roof to ensure coolness. (fn. 124)
The earl of Egmont (d. 1770) and his son acquired many of the estates in the parish, which the 4th earl sold in 1833 to Henry Labouchere, later Baron Taunton, who also bought land formerly in Nether Stowey manor in 1838. Labouchere held what was sometimes called the manor of OVER STOWEY or OVER AND NETHER STOWEY, but was usually known as the QUANTOCK estate, with c. 2,800 a. in Over Stowey. (fn. 125) Labouchere was succeeded in 1869 by his daughter Mary (d. 1920), wife of Edward James Stanley. (fn. 126) In 1919 and 1920 the whole estate was sold. Several of the farms were bought by Somerset county council to provide small holdings, and Quantock Lodge, the principal residence, with 2,045 a., (fn. 127) was also bought by the council under the Public Health Act. The building was opened as Quantock Lodge Sanatorium in 1925. (fn. 128) The hospital closed in 1962; Quantock independent school opened there in 1963 (fn. 129) and remained in 1986.
The house, designed in a 'free Tudor style' by Henry Clutton, was started in 1857 and built in stages during the 1860s, mostly of stone quarried on the estate. It has an L-shaped plan, two storeys with attics, and a projecting two-storeyed porch. (fn. 130) It includes a great hall, library, and other rooms in a mixture of Gothic and Tudor styles with tiled floors, coffered and plaster ceilings, and elaborate chimney pieces and overmantels. West of the house a stable block, later partly demolished, was built in 1860. There is a large Gothic gatehouse and lodge on the Nether Stowey road, and outside the parish there are further lodges on an ornamental drive to Spaxton. (fn. 131) Part of the stable block has been demolished, and modern school buildings occupy much of the space between it and the house.