Chilton Trinity: Economic history

Pages 254-256

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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The four Domesday holdings which seem to have later formed the parish of Chilton Trinity gelded together for 2 hides. The largest, Pignes, accounted for more than half the assessment; it had 2 ploughteams, one each on the ½ hide of demesne and on the ½ hide of demesne of the priest there. There were 2 teams at Huntstile, one on the ½ virgate of demesne, the other worked by 3 villani and 4 bordars. A single team at Beere was shared with the tenants. There was meadow at Pignes (5 a.), Idstock (20 a.), and Beere (6 a.), and 10 a. of pasture at Huntstile. Sheep were recorded at Pignes (33), Idstock (20), and Beere (5), pigs at Pignes (16), Beere (5), and Huntstile (4), and 'beasts' at Pignes (14), Beere (4), and Idstock (3). In total the value of the estates had increased, but Pignes had fallen by a quarter and Huntstile had doubled. (fn. 1)

In 1325 the Huntstile demesne seems to have comprised the capital messuage, a dovecot, 1 a. of garden, ½ a. of meadow, and 6 a. of wood and pasture but no arable. Ten villeins and 4 cottars paid rent for the remainder of the land. (fn. 2) In 1359 the dower share of the whole estate was described as a messuage, a carucate of 40 a., 6 a. of meadow, 6 a. of wood, and 10s. rent. (fn. 3) Pignes in 1325 was a single manor with 180 a. of demesne arable and 2 a. of meadow, the remainder being let to tenants in fee, 5 other free tenants, and 11 villeins who paid quarterly rents. Labour service was valued at 11s. (fn. 4) In 1359 the same estate comprised 449 a. of arable, 6 a. of meadow, and 12d. rent, but was then worth only 66s. 8d. because of flooding, (fn. 5) and in 1373 it was said to comprise only 100 a. of pasture. (fn. 6)

About 1525 the adjoining estates of Idstock and Beere measured just over 300 a., divided almost equally between arable and pasture. Most of the demesne pasture was shared among 13 of the 16 holdings at will or for lives, the largest of which was the capital messuage of Beere with a farm of 119 a., mostly arable. (fn. 7) In 1557 the capital messuage of each estate was let and the income derived from rents of customary tenants and from a few leaseholders. (fn. 8)

By the 17th century the greater part of the parish was under grass. John Hill (d. 1669) grew wheat, barley, and beans besides hay, but his stock included 67 sheep, 7 bullocks, 7 cows, and 6 yearlings all grazing in the marsh, and there were 142 cheeses in his house. John Page of Huntstile (d. 1671), with more arable than most, had 3 yoke of oxen and quantities of wheat, barley, and peas, but he also possessed 7 cows, 6 young stock, and 84 sheep, and had in his house 80 lb. butter and c. 8 cwt. of cheese. Bartholomew Thorne (d. 1640), evidently a much less prosperous farmer, had rother cattle worth £23, 32 sheep, 2 pigs, and 2 mares, and among dead stock 'old corn', wool, and cheese. (fn. 9)

By 1715 the estate at Idstock and Beere had been divided between three farms, Beere (190 a.), Edbrook (78 a.), and Idstock (40 a.), (fn. 10) the second beginning as a small holding in the 16th century and known alternatively as East Brook. (fn. 11) Improvements recently made in 1715 included a new orchard at Edbrook and a new barn at Idstock. Beere already had a new stable for 10 to 12 horses. From the earlier 18th century the three farms were let for terms of 7, 14, or 21 years. (fn. 12) Chilton common or Wildmarsh was divided and allotted in 1802. (fn. 13)

About 1840 grassland accounted for about two thirds of the parish. The principal landowners were Margaretta Michel (587 a.), owner of Pignes manor including Chilton and Hawker's farms; the Merchant Venturers of Bristol (304 a.), administrators of Colston's Hospital and owners of Idstock and Beere; Sir Charles Tynte (224 a.), owner of Huntstile; and John Cridland (71 a.). (fn. 14) In 1905, after its boundaries had been changed, the parish comprised 990 a. of grassland and 15¼ a. of arable. (fn. 15) On Huntstile farm Thomas Danger was noted c. 1850 for having over ten years improved the production of turnips and other green crops by using a drill and a horse hoe. (fn. 16) Dairymen and cowkeepers were in business by the later 19th century, and by 1914 the county council had established a cheese school at Hawker's farm. (fn. 17) In 1910 the parish had nine farms, and the same number was returned in 1982, three of which were specialist dairy farms. (fn. 18)

There was a mill at Beere in 1086. (fn. 19) It was apparently still in use in 1707, (fn. 20) but no longer by the mid 19th century when only its site was known. (fn. 21) The mill was driven by the brook flowing from Fiddington.

There was a shop in the parish in 1875, a carpenter and a market gardener in 1894, and a haulier in 1897. By 1902 the Somerset Trading Co. had begun (fn. 22) the manufacture of bricks and by 1909 Major & Co. Ltd. were involved in clay extraction. (fn. 23) By 1923 Majors still rented a clay pit and the Somerset Trading Co. had a brickyard producing bricks, tiles, and field drainpipes which occupied over 35 a. By 1926 the area had increased to 55 a. (fn. 24) The firm built a large tile factory east of the village in 1930, and by 1939 was the only business there. The factory closed in 1968 (fn. 25) and in 1987 was occupied by various small manufacturers.


  • 1. V.C.H. Som. i. 471, 485, 487, 520-1
  • 2. P.R.O., C 134/90, no. 1.
  • 3. Cal. Inq. p.m. x, p. 397.
  • 4. P.R.O., C 134/90, no. 1.
  • 5. Cal. Inq. p.m x, p. 397.
  • 6. Ibid. xiv, p. 142.
  • 7. P.R.O., E 315/385, ff. 83v.-86v.
  • 8. B.L. Harl. 607, f. 21.
  • 9. S.R.O., DD/SP inventories, 1669/72, 1674/31, 1640/57.
  • 10. Ibid. DD/MVB 46.
  • 11. Ibid. 35, 46.
  • 12. Ibid. 32-3, 35.
  • 13. Ibid. Q/RDe 29.
  • 14. Ibid. Chilton Trinity and Idstock tithe awards.
  • 15. Statistics supplied by the then Bd. of Agric. 1905.
  • 16. T. D. Acland and W. Sturge, Farming of Som. (1851), 33-4, 41 n.
  • 17. P.O. Dir. Som. (1875); Kelly's Dir. Som. (1883 and later edns.); S.R.O., DD/S/FA 11 (1868).
  • 18. Kelly's Dir. Som. (1910); Min. of Agric., Fisheries, and Food, agric. returns, 1982.
  • 19. V.C.H. Som. i. 471.
  • 20. S.R.O., DD/MVB 1.
  • 21. Ibid. Idstock tithe award.
  • 22. P.O. Dir. Som. (1875); Kelly's Dir. Som. (1894, 1897, 1902).
  • 23. S.R.O., D/R/bw 15/3/7.
  • 24. Ibid. 16/6/1.
  • 25. Ibid. 22/1/20; inf. from Mr. Brian Murless, Taunton.