Stringston: Manors and other estates

Pages 172-175

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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In 1066 Alwig Banneson had 1 hide at Stringston and 2 hides in Alfoxton and Dyche. All that land was held in 1086 by Alfred d'Epaignes, and of Alfred by Ranulph, (fn. 1) probably Ranulph of Stringston; (fn. 2) by then a further ½ hide, held in 1066 by Bristive, had been added to the hide in Stringston and may perhaps be identified as the detached part of the parish near Perry Mill. Another hide in Stringston, held in 1066 by Siward and in 1086 by Roger de Courcelles and of Roger by one William, has not been traced later and was presumably absorbed in the main estate. (fn. 3) Alfred d'Epaignes' overlordship descended like Nether Stowey manor to the Columbers family. Alfoxton was held by Philip de Columbers in 1166, (fn. 4) and Alfoxton and Stringston were still held of the honor or manor of Nether Stowey in the early 17th century. (fn. 5)

From Ranulph the undertenancy of STRINGSTON apparently descended in the earlier 12th century to Adam of Stringston, who was probably also known as Adam de Conteville and whose daughter Aubrey married successively Hugh Thurlac of Stringston and Hugh Fichet. (fn. 6) Hugh Fichet held a fee in Stringston in 1166 and was still alive in 1201. (fn. 7) Aubrey's son and heir Sir William Fichet was still alive in 1245 (fn. 8) but by 1249 (fn. 9) had probably been succeeded by another William, who held ½ fee there in 1284-5. (fn. 10) William, son and heir of the last and probably of Merridge in Spaxton, held ½ fee in 1303. (fn. 11) William, his son and heir, was mentioned in 1314-15. (fn. 12) In 1324-5 he granted Stringston manor and the advowson of the living to (Sir) Simon Furneaux, heir to Kilve manor. (fn. 13)

From Sir Simon (d. 1358) (fn. 14) the manor passed with Kilve to his daughter Elizabeth Blount and her daughter Alice Stafford, later Stury (d. 1414). When the estate was divided in 1421 Stringston was assigned to Joan, great-greatgranddaughter of Simon's sister Hawise, and her husband Robert Greyndour (d. 1443). (fn. 15) Joan, who married Sir John Barre as her second husband, died in 1485, when her heir at Stringston was William Strode of Somerton. (fn. 16)

William Strode died in 1499 leaving his manor for life to a younger son, John, subject to the life interest of his widow Alice (d. 1517). (fn. 17) Stringston apparently descended to John's nephew John Strode, to that John's son Robert (d. 1559), to Robert's son John (d. 1581), (fn. 18) and to John's son Sir Robert, who died in 1616 leaving the manor to his brother Sir John Strode (d. 1642). (fn. 19) Sir John's son, also Sir John (d. 1679), was followed in succession by three of his children, William (d. 1706), Thomas (d. 1718), and Anne (d. 1731). (fn. 20) Anne died unmarried and was succeeded by George Strode, Sir John's newphew. George died childless in 1753 and his brother Thomas also childless in 1764. The heir was Sir John Oglander, Bt., of Nunwell (I.W.), son of Sir John Strode's daughter Elizabeth. (fn. 21) Sir John Oglander was succeeded in 1767 by his son Sir William (d. 1806) and Sir William by his son, also Sir William (d. 1852), whose son Sir Henry after prolonged negotiations sold the manor and lordship with Stringston farm to Sir Alexander Hood in 1867. (fn. 22) The manor thereafter descended with the Fairfield estates to Elizabeth, Lady Gass, owner in 1986. (fn. 23)

The capital messuage was let for lives in 1398-9 and 1433-4. (fn. 24) It continued to be let in the 16th century, though in the 17th the tenant was a member of the Strode family. (fn. 25) Stringston Farm dates from the later 18th century.

Alfoxton may, like Stringston, have passed from the Domesday undertenant, Ranulph, to Adam de Conteville, since in 1201 Richard de Conteville had a claim to land there and was later thought to have released his rights to William son of Jordan. (fn. 26) William had ½ fee in Alfoxton in 1166 and may have been known as William of Alfoxton. (fn. 27) John of Alfoxton was recorded in 1275-6, (fn. 28) and in 1311 he or a namesake settled his estate at Alfoxton on himself and his wife Maud and his issue, with contingent remainders to Richard of Birland. (fn. 29) John died c. 1332. In 1342 Richard settled the manor on his brother Thomas and on Thomas's sons William and John, (fn. 30) and in 1347 Thomas settled it on himself and his wife Joan, with reversion to William and his wife Alice in tail. The heir of William and Alice may have been Christine, wife of William Cornu, who had established ownership by 1374. William Cornu was dead by 1383 and Christine married Edward Brightley, and she is said to have settled Alfoxton in 1385-6 on James Ayshe of Chagford (Devon). The Ayshe family remained in possession until 1419-20 when John Ayshe sold it to Richard Popham of Porlock. (fn. 31)

Richard Popham's daughter and heir Joan married first John Sydenham (d. 1464) and second John St. Albyn of Parracombe (Devon). Joan died in 1499 and in 1503 her estates were divided, Alfoxton passing to John St. Albyn, possibly her grandson. (fn. 32) That John, described as of Chilton Trivet having married Elizabeth Trivet, was still in possession in 1507. (fn. 33) His son, also John (d. c. 1540), was followed by John's son George, (fn. 34) and George by his son John (d. 1601) and his grandson Lancelot (d. 1624). (fn. 35) John (d. c. 1652), son of Lancelot, (fn. 36) was succeeded in turn by two of his sons, John (d. 1708) and Lancelot (d. c. 1709). John, son of Lancelot, died in 1723 and was followed by his sons John (d. 1744) and Lancelot (d. 1745). The last, of Nether Stowey, was followed by his sons John (d. 1768) and the Revd. Lancelot (d. 1791). (fn. 37)

Lancelot St. Albyn died without issue, and for a long time the estate was let. (fn. 38) In 1806 his heir, his great-nephew Langley Gravenor, came of age and took the name St. Albyn. (fn. 39) Langley died in 1874, and on the death of his elder son Lancelot in 1878 Alfoxton passed to Lancelot's widow Jane (d. 1891) for her life, with remainder to his elder sister Anne, wife successively of Birt Jenner (d. 1863) and William Prichard (d. 1888). Anne was succeeded in 1905 by her son Birt St. Albyn Jenner. After his death without children in 1924 Birt's widow made over the estate to his nephew John Lancelot Brereton (d. 1973). Much of the estate was sold in 1920 but the house, park, and woods were retained, the house being let to a succession of tenants and becoming a private hotel in 1930. Between 1939 and 1946 it was occupied by Wellington House preparatory school from Westgate-on-Sea (Kent), and then reverted for use first as an hotel and until 1958 as a Christian Endeavour holiday home. The house and c. 55 a. of land were sold by the Brereton trustees in 1958, and since that date the house has been an hotel. The remaining parts of the estate in the parish were sold in 1978 and 1981. (fn. 40)

Alfoxton Park hotel, standing on a prominent site with extensive views northwards across the Bristol Channel, is a large house of two storeys, cellars, and attics. It comprises a south range of seven bays, with a three-bayed pediment and central Tuscan porch of the early 18th century, and to the north a parallel range built probably before 1797-8 when the house comprised nine lodging rooms, three parlours, and a hall. (fn. 41) A 'most superb room' was said to have been lately built and furnished in 1810. (fn. 42)

In King John's reign one William, perhaps son of Jordan, granted land in Dyche and 'Lymmbery' to John of Alfoxton. (fn. 43) It had presumably been part of the 2 hides in Alfoxton recorded in Domesday. (fn. 44) In 1500 John St. Albyn held a manor called LYMBER or Lymbards which in 1503 comprised land in Burton in Stogursey, Dodington, Holford, and Stringston. (fn. 45) It was merged with Alfoxton manor by the earlier 18th century, and in the 19th the name was confined to two fields in Dodington parish, between Dodington village and Dyche and adjoining both Holford and Stringston parishes. (fn. 46)

Two other holdings, Gugglemoor and Corewell or Currill, were probably part of Dyche in 1086. GUGGLEMOOR, held by Gilbert of the marsh and his sons Henry and William in the mid 13th century, (fn. 47) descended to John Gilbert of Gugglemoor (fl. 1284) and to John's son John of Gugglemoor (fl. 1321). By 1427 the estate had passed to Thomas Gilbert of Exeter, whose daughter married Nicholas Biccombe. The Biccombes are said to have held it in Henry VII's reign. (fn. 48) John St. Albyn was owner by 1592 (fn. 49) and it was still held with Alfoxton in 1839. (fn. 50) COREWELL, partly in Holford parish, (fn. 51) included a farm in Stringston which belonged to John St. Albyn by 1608 (fn. 52) and was still held with Alfoxton in 1724. (fn. 53)

Hugh Fichet and his wife Aubrey gave a virgate of land and its tenants to Taunton priory in the mid 12th century. (fn. 54) The priory's estate, called Kingshill in 1535, still paid chief rent to the lord of Stringston. (fn. 55) Montacute priory had some land in the parish in 1291. (fn. 56) Neither estate has been identified nor traced further. From the 13th century the Verney family acquired rents and land, some associated with Barnsworthy in Dodington, which John Verney of Fairfield in Stogursey sold in 1416. (fn. 57) The land was partitioned in 1519 and part was thereafter known as Coles's tenement. (fn. 58) That holding, with additional lands, remained in the Coles family until 1740 and was bought by (Sir) John (Palmer) Acland in 1791. (fn. 59) Land at Dyche, also formerly held by the Coles family, was owned by Nicholas Palmer of Fairfield by 1699 and descended with the Fairfield estate. (fn. 60) Sir Francis Dodington had a freehold tenement in 1651 which in 1705 comprised a farm of 73 a. at Dyche. (fn. 61) It descended with Dodington manor and in 1786 was owned by George Grenville, marquess of Buckingham (d. 1813). (fn. 62) The farm seems to have been sold before 1827 (fn. 63) and was later absorbed into the Fairfield estate. (fn. 64) George Prior, whose family had been resident at Stringston in 1497 (fn. 65) and were tenants of part of Alfoxton manor in 1567 (fn. 66) and part of the glebe in 1613, (fn. 67) owned the freehold of Prior's farm in 1765. (fn. 68) John Prior owned it in 1839. (fn. 69) The house is a 17th-century building with plaster work bearing the dates 1641 and 1658.


  • 1. V.C.H. Som. i. 512-13.
  • 2. Ibid. 532.
  • 3. Ibid. 487.
  • 4. Red Bk. Exch. (Rolls Ser.), i. 231; V.C.H. Som. v. 193.
  • 5. P.R.O., C 142/652, no. 190; C 142/764, no. 3; S.R.O., DD/AH 11/9; Dors. R.O., D 1. MW/M4, f. 51v.
  • 6. S.R.O., DD/AH 21/2; Pole MS. 2361, 2475.
  • 7. Red Bk. Exch. (Rolls Ser.), i. 231; S.R.S. vi. 18.
  • 8. S.R.S. lxviii, p. 4.
  • 9. S.D.N.Q. vii. 149.
  • 10. Pole MS. 2556; Feud. Aids, iv. 281.
  • 11. Pole MS. 2552; Feud. Aids, iv. 308.
  • 12. Pole MS. 2554.
  • 13. Ibid. 2512, 2537, 2836; Cal. Close, 1323-7, 511; V.C.H. Som. v. 98.
  • 14. Cal. Inq. p.m. x, p. 395; not 1359 as in V.C.H. Som. v. 98.
  • 15. Cal. Close, 1441-7, 177; S.D.N.Q. xvi. 282; V.C.H. Som. v. 98.
  • 16. P.R.O., C 141/5, no. 10; Dors. R.O., D 1. MW/M4, f. 47.
  • 17. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, ii, p. 203; P.R.O., C 142/32, no. 85.
  • 18. P.R.O., C 142/193, no. 67; S.R.S. extra ser. 350-1.
  • 19. J. Hutchins, Hist. Dors. ii. 131 n., 132 n.
  • 20. Dors. R.O., D 279/E4; ibid. D 1. MW/M5; Hutchins, Hist. Dors. ii. 130.
  • 21. Dors. R.O., 438A/T22; S.R.O., DD/AH 11/11; Hutchins, Hist. Dors. ii. 130.
  • 22. S.R.O., DD/AH 1/4; Burke, Land. Gent. (1914), 1421-2.
  • 23. Above, Stogursey, manors.
  • 24. Pole MS. 2557, 2743.
  • 25. Dors. R.O., D 1. MW/M4, f. 49; S.R.O., T/PH/vch 65.
  • 26. Cur. Reg. R. ii. 2; S.R.O., DD/AH 21/2: 18th-cent. notes based on charters at Alfoxton.
  • 27. Red Bk. Exch. (Rolls Ser.), i. 231; Pole MS. 2361-2, 2592.
  • 28. S.R.S. xli. 61.
  • 29. Ibid. xii. 21.
  • 30. S.D.N.Q. vii. 149-50.
  • 31. S.R.S. xvii. 5; S.D.N.Q. vii. 150; S.R.O., DD/AH 21/2.
  • 32. S.R.O., DD/AH 21/2; DD/WY 1/30-1; S.R.S. xvi. 363-5.
  • 33. Devon R.O., DD/4183; S.R.O., DD/AH 11/9; Collinson, Hist. Som. i. 265.
  • 34. P.R.O., C 3/162/57; ibid. C 142/67, no. 113; Collinson, Hist. Som. i. 265.
  • 35. P.R.O., C 142/271, no. 150; C 142/652, no. 190; Som. Wills, ed. Brown, i. 85.
  • 36. S.R.O., DD/AH 11/11.
  • 37. Ibid. D/P/stn 2/1/2-3; Som. Wills, ed. Brown, i. 85-6; M.I.s in Stringston ch.
  • 38. S.R.O., D/P/stn 4/1/1; above, intro.
  • 39. Paupers and Pigkillers, ed. J. Ayres, 93, 197-8; fuller text in S.R.O., T/PH/ay 1.
  • 40. S.R.O., DD/AH 41/10; DD/NA, box 2, abs. of title 1920; Burke, Land. Gent. (1914), 1045; Walford's County Families (1891); inf. from Mrs. M. P. Brereton, Sidmouth; H. Riley, Alfoxden Days (priv. print. n.d.).
  • 41. Collected Letters of Coleridge, ed. Griggs, i. 334.
  • 42. Paupers and Pigkillers, ed. J. Ayres, 197.
  • 43. S.R.O., DD/AH 21/2.
  • 44. Above.
  • 45. Devon R.O., DD/4183; S.R.O., DD/WY 1/30-1.
  • 46. S.R.O., DD/AH 37/32; DD/MDW 21; ibid. Dodington tithe award; V.C.H. Som. v. 3.
  • 47. S.R.O., DD/AH 21/2; Pole MS. 2364.
  • 48. S.R.O., DD/AH 21/2.
  • 49. Ibid. DD/MDW 17.
  • 50. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 51. V.C.H. Som. v. 3.
  • 52. S.R.O., DD/MDW 16.
  • 53. Ibid. 21.
  • 54. Cal. Chart. R. 1327-41, 315; Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 204.
  • 55. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 169.
  • 56. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 204.
  • 57. S.R.O., DD/AH 65/5, 7; 66/15.
  • 58. Ibid. 66/2.
  • 59. Ibid. 11/4.
  • 60. Ibid. 35/19.
  • 61. Ibid. 11/11, 37/23.
  • 62. Ibid. 7/3, 37/23; V.C.H. Som. v. 66.
  • 63. S.R.O., DD/HWD 19; ibid. T/PH/vch 57/2; ibid. tithe award.
  • 64. Ibid. DD/AH 2/6.
  • 65. Fines imposed in 1497, ed. A. J. Howard, 14.
  • 66. S.R.O., T/PH/vch 65.
  • 67. Ibid. D/D/Rg 283.
  • 68. Ibid. D/P/stn 4/1/1.
  • 69. Ibid. tithe award.