Bawdrip: Economic history

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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A P Baggs. M C Siraut, 'Bawdrip: Economic history', A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes), (London, 1992), pp. 188-189. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

A P Baggs. M C Siraut. "Bawdrip: Economic history", in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes), (London, 1992) 188-189. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

Baggs, A P. Siraut, M C. "Bawdrip: Economic history", A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes), (London, 1992). 188-189. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,


There was land for 11 ploughteams on the four estates of Bawdrip, Bradney, Crandon, and Crook in 1086. (fn. 1) Bawdrip, the largest, had a small demesne arable farm for 1 ploughteam and the tenants, numbering 21, had 5 teams for a similar area. There were 100 a. of meadow and 40 a. of pasture. Bradney had 1 team for its 3-virgate demesne and the 7 tenants had 1½ team for their virgate. There were 25 a. of meadow. (fn. 2) Crandon was entirely a demesne holding with ½ team and small amounts of meadow and underwood. (fn. 3) Crook, assessed at 1 ploughland, had a team on its ½ virgate demesne; the 4 bordars had no team but ½ virgate. No other land was recorded. (fn. 4)

By the later 13th century the marshland pastures included 400 a. at Crandon. (fn. 5) In 1480 there were complaints against outsiders for pasturing on Bawdrip moor (fn. 6) and there was a long-running dispute between the tenants of Bawdrip and Bradney manors over the common land along the causeway between Crandon bridge and Bridgwater. (fn. 7) Inclosure of common arable began near Ford c. 1520 (fn. 8) but was elsewhere evidently piecemeal, and there were still traces of open arable strips above Bawdrip village in the early 19th century. (fn. 9)

'Grypes' or baulks were ordered to be built at the ends of furlongs in the open arable fields in 1558 (fn. 10) and part of a field boundary beside a brook was to be hedged, ditched, and planted in 1611. (fn. 11) Tenants let cattle into the common fields before harvest and successive rectors were reminded by the manor court in 1589 that only 20 sheep might be commoned there, (fn. 12) and in 1611 that the fold should have been removed from the corn field before Easter. (fn. 13)

Some holdings were amalgamated in the 17th century and in 1650 at least five houses were said to have been lost and their lands let with other tenements. (fn. 14) Following the sale of the Bawdrip estate c. 1770 the land was improved and although there were few holdings over 50 a. in the later 18th century there were at least nine by 1836 including two over 150 a. (fn. 15) About 130 a. of grassland remaining in common in that part of King's Sedgemoor in Bawdrip parish were allotted in 1795. (fn. 16) Agriculture employed 67 out of 79 families in 1821. (fn. 17) By 1841 there were only 449 a. of arable, 1,195 a. of meadow and pasture, and 60 a. of orchards. A modus for milk as well as for meadow suggests that dairying had been long established. The largest farm was well over 200 a. in extent and there were six over 100 a., but there were still 18 holdings under 25 a. (fn. 18) Three farms measured over 200 a. by 1861 and the five largest farms between them employed 34 labourers. (fn. 19) By 1905 the area of arable had been reduced to 347 a. and grass had correspondingly increased. (fn. 20) A return covering about two thirds of the parish in 1982 showed only 65 ha. (161 a.) of arable, mainly growing wheat but also barley, potatoes, beet, and mangolds. Half the ten holdings returned were under 20 ha. (50 a.) and only one was over 100 ha. (248 a.). (fn. 21)

There was a glover in 1610 (fn. 22) and a Bawdrip man was trading in malt through Bridgwater in 1612. (fn. 23) In the early 19th century a merchant living in Bawdrip owned a Bridgwater-based schooner. (fn. 24) A lime works was established by 1886 in the extreme western tip of the parish adjoining the Downend cement works (fn. 25) and it remained in use until 1973. (fn. 26) Borings for coal, begun in 1909, produced instead a quantity of brine which was processed in a plant built by C. W. M. Greenhill in 1911 as table and industrial salt. In 1914 the business was sold to Salt Union Ltd. which continued working until the 1920s. (fn. 27)

There were mills at Bawdrip and Crandon in 1086 (fn. 28) and in the early 13th century William of Bawdrip granted Robert de la Ford liberty of milling in any of his mills, water or wind. (fn. 29) There was a windmill on Bradney manor in 1324 (fn. 30) and another at Bawdrip in 1552. (fn. 31) The latter was recorded in 1650 but had been dismantled by 1685. (fn. 32) It stood in East field south of the Glastonbury road, probably on land called Moat in 1841. (fn. 33)

Ford watermill was recorded in 1553 (fn. 34) but may be much earlier; William atte Mill witnessed a deed of land at Ford in 1338. (fn. 35) In 1634 it was described as two water grist mills. (fn. 36) It went out of use after 1861. (fn. 37)


  • 1. V.C.H. Som. i. 497, 499, 526.
  • 2. Ibid. 499.
  • 3. Ibid. 526.
  • 4. Ibid. 497.
  • 5. S.R.S. xliv. 267.
  • 6. P.R.O., SC 2/198/2.
  • 7. Ibid. 5, 8-9; ibid. LR 3/123.
  • 8. Ibid. LR 3/123.
  • 9. S.R.O., tithe award.
  • 10. P.R.O., SC 2/198/4.
  • 11. Ibid. 9.
  • 12. Ibid. 8-9.
  • 13. B.L. Add. MS. 15561, f. 115.
  • 14. S.R.O., DD/CH 47.
  • 15. Ibid.; DD/SAS PR 65.
  • 16. Ibid. DD/CH 47; D/RA 1/8/1, 3.
  • 17. Census.
  • 18. S.R.O., tithe award.
  • 19. P.R.O., RG 9/1628.
  • 20. Statistics supplied by the then Bd. of Agric. 1905.
  • 21. Min. of Agric., Fisheries, and Food, agric. returns, 1982.
  • 22. S.R.O., Q/SR 9/23.
  • 23. Ibid. D/B/bw 1497.
  • 24. Ibid. DD/FA 11/1.
  • 25. O.S. Map 6", Som. L. NE. (1886 edn.).
  • 26. Som. C.C., Sites and Mons. Rec.
  • 27. S.R.O., D/PC/baw 3/2/2; Kelly's Dir. Som. (1919, 1923); Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. cxiv. 96-9.
  • 28. V.C.H. Som. i. 499, 526.
  • 29. S.R.O., DD/AH 65/11.
  • 30. Cal. Inq. p.m. vi, p. 290.
  • 31. P.R.O., LR 3/123.
  • 32. S.R.O., DD/CH 47.
  • 33. Ibid.; ibid. tithe award; W. Dugdale, Hist. of Imbanking and Draining (1662), map pp. 110-11.
  • 34. P.R.O., LR 3/123.
  • 35. S.R.O., DD/AH 65/11.
  • 36. B.L. Add. Ch. 71725.
  • 37. P.R.O., RG 9/1628.