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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Alwig held DURSTON, later known as Durston Hall, (fn. 1) in 1066, and Roger Arundel held it in 1086. (fn. 2) The overlordship descended in the barony of Poorstock (Dors.) and on the death of Gerbert de Percy in 1179 Durston formed part of the barony which passed to Gerbert's daughter Sibyl and thence to the FitzPayn family. (fn. 3) Robert, Lord FitzPayn (d. 1315), was overlord in 1284-5 (fn. 4) and his son, also Robert (d. 1354), in 1337. (fn. 5) The overlordship descended like the castle and manor of Stogursey (fn. 6) to Henry Algernon Percy, earl of Northumberland (d. 1527), who was overlord in 1503. (fn. 7) In 1604 Durston was said to be held of James Clarke as of his manor of Cheddon Fitzpaine, (fn. 8) a manor also formerly held by the families of FitzPayn and Percy. (fn. 9)
An undertenant, Richard, held Durston in 1086. (fn. 10) William of Erleigh possessed the manor by 1177, (fn. 11) possibly in succession to his father John of Erleigh, who had received the hundred and manor of North Petherton in Henry I's reign. (fn. 12) Ownership descended in the Erleigh family like North Petherton manor. On the death of Philip of Erleigh c. 1275 (fn. 13) Philip's widow Rose, later wife of Geoffrey of Wroxhall, (fn. 14) received Durston in dower. (fn. 15) Rose was still alive in 1304-5. (fn. 16) She was succeeded by her son (Sir) John of Erleigh, who died c. 1323, (fn. 17) and by her grandson, also Sir John, who died c. 1337. (fn. 18) John of Erleigh, son of the last, born in 1322 was knighted in 1371 (fn. 19) after service with the Black Prince in Spain, (fn. 20) and died c. 1410. (fn. 21) After John's death the site of the manor of Durston and woods in the park were given by John's widow Isabel to their only daughter Margaret and to her second husband Sir Walter Sandys, (fn. 22) and Sandys was holding a fee in Durston in 1428. (fn. 23) Three years later the manor was held by Isabel, who by 1431 was the widow of Sir John of Rowdon. (fn. 24) She died in 1434, leaving Durston and the remainder of the Erleigh inheritance to Margaret. (fn. 25) Margaret married thirdly Sir William Cheyne, and both she and her husband died in 1443. The heir was Margaret's son Thomas Seymour, the issue of her first marriage. (fn. 26)
Thomas Seymour (knighted by 1456, (fn. 27) d. 1458) was succeeded by his grandson William Seymour, (fn. 28) who was then still under age and was knighted before his death in 1503. (fn. 29) Sir William's daughter Joan, his heir, married William Drury and died in 1517 leaving as her heirs her two cousins, the sons of Sir William's two sisters, John Stawell, son of Anne, and Edward Bampfield, son of Margaret. (fn. 30) Their succession to Durston was subject to a grant for lives made by Sir William to Catherine Winsor and her son Henry. (fn. 31) Edward Bampfield died in 1528 (fn. 32) and was followed in turn by his sons John (d. 1532) and Richard (d. 1594). (fn. 33) Richard's son Amias sold his estate in 1598 to Sir John Stawell, who as grandson of Sir William Seymour's nephew John Stawell (d. 1541) had inherited the other half of the manor, subject to the life interest of Catherine Tyndale, possibly the Catherine Winsor of 1517. (fn. 34) Sir John Stawell died in 1604. (fn. 35) His grandson and heir, also John (later Sir John Stawell, K.B.), succeeded as a minor. (fn. 36) He suffered forfeiture after the Civil War and the manor was sold to Henry Cheeke in 1652. (fn. 37) Sir John, who recovered his land, died in 1662 and was followed by his two sons, first George (d. 1669) and then Ralph Stawell (cr. Baron Stawell 1683). Ralph's son John, Lord Stawell, died in 1692, (fn. 38) heavily in debt. (fn. 39) The family estates, including both Durston and St. Michaelchurch, (fn. 40) were evidently sold, both passing to the Seymour family, perhaps through purchase by Alexander Popham and descent to his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Francis Seymour. (fn. 41) Henry Seymour (d. 1805), son of Francis and Elizabeth, both of whom died in 1761, was lord of St. Michaelchurch by 1762 (fn. 42) and of Durston by 1792. (fn. 43) Henry Seymour was succeeded by his son Henry (d. 1849) and then by his grandson Henry Danby Seymour (d. 1877), who sold the land, then amounting to 447 a. in the parish, in 1873 to Edward Portman, Viscount Portman. (fn. 44) The sale did not include the lordship of the manor, and Alfred Seymour (d. 1888), brother of Henry Danby Seymour, still owned land in the parish in 1888. Alfred Seymour was succeeded by his daughter Jane Margaret, who was still alive in 1914. (fn. 45) The Portman estate was divided and sold in 1930. (fn. 46)
The manor house at Durston was regularly occupied by the Erleigh family in the 14th century, (fn. 47) and its kitchen and oxhouse were repaired in 1328-9. (fn. 48) The present house, known as Lodge Farm by the mid 18th century, (fn. 49) stands on the north side of the church. It includes an open hall under a smoke-blackened wagon roof of thirty-one trusses, a two-storeyed porch leading to a cross entry at its lower end, and a solar over service rooms in a cross wing beyond the entry. There are traceried and transomed windows in solar and porch. Dates at both ends of the 15th century have been suggested. (fn. 50)
In or after 1170, and probably before 1176, William of Erleigh gave all his land at Buckland, Durston chapel, and land and churches elsewhere for the foundation of a house of Augustinian canons at Buckland. The canons were dispersed before c. 1180 and possession of the house and land was given to the Hospitallers to provide for a convent where all the sisters of the order were to be placed. The order also established a preceptory there, later endowed with a farm at Cogload, (fn. 51) but the sisters received endowments distinct from those of the preceptory, and some of the preceptory's land and income was assigned to them. (fn. 52) The grant to both the canons and the Hospitallers was in free alms, (fn. 53) but in 1304 Buckland was said to be part of 2 fees held by the Hospitallers of Edmund Mortimer. (fn. 54) The same two fees were claimed by successive earls of March until 1425 or later. (fn. 55) The claim may have been made in respect of land held by the preceptory. No preceptor was appointed after 1433, and after 1500 the sisters are thought to have become Augustinian. (fn. 56)
The preceptory, with manors in Devon, was leased from 1501 for 30 years to John Verney of Fairfield, (fn. 57) and the lease passed in 1506 to his younger sons John and George. (fn. 58) They were followed by Edmund Mill of Wells and his wife Anne in 1508 and by Henry Thornton of Curry Mallet in 1516. (fn. 59) Thornton's lease for 40 years was renewed in 1521. (fn. 60) He died in 1533 leaving his interest to his son-in-law Thomas Tynberry under the name of the farm and commandery of Buckland. (fn. 61) In 1539 the Hospitallers leased the same to William Hawley or Halley, Tynberry's son-in-law, for a term of 50 years (fn. 62) and on the dissolution of the order in 1540 Hawley became the Crown tenant. (fn. 63) In 1545 he and Alexander Popham bought the estate, then described as the manor and late preceptory of BUCKLAND PRIORS, with other former Hospitaller property. (fn. 64) The estate was conveyed solely to Hawley later in the year (fn. 65) and by 1548 he held just over 300 a. there. (fn. 66)
William Hawley died in 1567 and was followed in turn by his sons Henry (d. 1573) and Gabriel or Geoffrey (d. 1603), and by his grandson Sir Henry Hawley, son of his third son Francis. (fn. 67) Sir Henry died in 1623 having added the site of the dissolved priory and its demesnes by purchase from Edward Rogers in 1608. (fn. 68)
The priory surrendered in 1539 (fn. 69) and the site and demesnes were let to farm to (Sir) Edward Rogers. (fn. 70) Rogers also leased former priory land in North Petherton. (fn. 71) In 1542 he took a Crown lease of the priory site and over 150 a. adjoining for 21 years. (fn. 72) Edward's grandson Edward Rogers sold the 'site, circuit, and curtilage' of the priory to Sir Henry Hawley in 1608. (fn. 73)
Hawley died in 1623 when his heir was his son, also Henry. (fn. 74) Henry Hawley was succeeded in 1628 by his brother Francis (cr. Bt. 1644, Baron Hawley 1645), who died in 1684 leaving his grandson, also Francis Hawley, as his heir. (fn. 75) Francis, Lord Hawley, sold his heavily mortgaged estate of Buckland to James Baker of Culmstock (Devon), clothier, in 1711 and Baker's widow Sarah and his son Christopher in 1725-6 sold it to George Parker of Boringdon (Devon). (fn. 76)
George Parker (d. 1743) was followed by his son John (d. 1768) and by his grandson, also John Parker (cr. Baron Boringdon 1784, d. 1788). (fn. 77) Thomas Gray of Earl's Court (Mdx.), a jeweller, acquired Buckland in 1809-10 (fn. 78) and died in 1820. (fn. 79) He was succeeded by his son Robert, resident rector of Sunderland (co. Dur.), who also held the living of Durston at his death in 1838. (fn. 80) Arthur Gray, then a minor and later ordained, succeeded his father in the manor (fn. 81) and sold the estate between 1860 and 1867 to Edward Portman, Baron Portman (cr. Vct. Portman 1873, d. 1888). (fn. 82) On the purchase of the Durston estate in 1873 (fn. 83) the Portman family became owners of almost the entire parish. (fn. 84) Buckland farm, representing the former manor of Buckland, was sold to the tenant, Mr. G. R. Norman, by Edward Portman, Viscount Portman, in 1930. (fn. 85)
The conventual buildings at Buckland comprised two distinct parts, the nuns' church and living quarters and the church and domestic buildings of the preceptory. (fn. 86) The Augustinian canons had built a church by c. 1180 dedicated to St. Mary and St. Nicholas. (fn. 87) This came to be known as the greater church, in contrast to the chapel of the preceptory which stood with other buildings on its north side. (fn. 88) By the early 15th century, and probably since the change of ownership in the late 12th century, the nuns' church was dedicated to St. Mary and St. John or to St. John alone. (fn. 89) By 1506 there was an altar called the cross altar (fn. 90) whose two chaplains were supported by the farmer of the preceptory. (fn. 91) The site was surrounded by 'pleasure grounds', orchards, and gardens. (fn. 92) The preceptory chapel had by 1272 a light of St. Nicholas, (fn. 93) and by 1338 other buildings included a court or manor house, a bakehouse, a dovecot, and gardens. (fn. 94)
By 1675 Lord Hawley occupied a substantial house on the site. (fn. 95) It was remembered as having a wainscotted hall 'large enough to turn a coach and horses in'. The building was demolished c. 1800 together with an adjacent chapel which contained monuments 'with figures of men and arms' and a bellcot. (fn. 96) The chapel was still in use in 1798. (fn. 97) Buckland Farm, a plain house of three storeys, was built on made-up ground on or near the previous buildings presumably for Thomas Gray (d. 1820). Gravestones, probably from the nuns' burial ground, were discovered in 1836 several feet beneath the kitchen garden. (fn. 98) The present farm buildings incorporate a medieval buttressed wall, but otherwise date from the later 19th century.
In 1391 John Hayward settled 16 messuages and 21 a. of land in Crosse by Buckland and 3 messuages and 3 a. in Durston on William Frebody and his wife Clemence. (fn. 99) She may have been Clemence, widow of John de Moleyns, a South Petherton miller. (fn. 100) Nicholas Moleyns died in 1429 holding lands at Crosse and Buckland, (fn. 101) and in 1497 John Moleyns died in possession of the manor of CROSSE in Durston, land in North Petherton, and mills in South Petherton and Kingsbury Episcopi, held as of the manor of Durston Hall. John was succeeded by his uncle, Richard Moleyns. (fn. 102) William Moleyns owned Crosse by 1531 and died in 1553 when his heir was his son Anthony. (fn. 103) Anthony died in or before 1590 when his two daughters and coheirs sold the manor and lands in Durston and Lyng to Henry Moleyns. (fn. 104) In 1613 James Arnwood and his wife, Richard Bartholomew and Thomas Knollys, possibly acting as trustees, granted the manor to Robert Waterton. (fn. 105) Waterton settled Crosse on his grandson Robert Blatchford in 1647, (fn. 106) and Robert Blatchford, perhaps his son, still owned it in 1722. (fn. 107) It passed from the Blatchfords to Elizabeth Hascoll, whose son Robert died in 1782 dividing his estate into three parts. Hascoll's Farm in Lower Durston formed part of the estate. (fn. 108)
In 1725 part of Buckland manor, described as the manor of COGLOAD, was purchased by George Parker from Lord Hawley. (fn. 109) By 1752 it was owned by George Baker of Brockenhurst (Hants). (fn. 110) He was still owner in 1767 but by 1781 had been succeeded by John Baker. Both John (fn. 111) and George Baker were described as owners of the manor in 1790, (fn. 112) but thereafter the estate was known as Cogload farm. Anna Wheaton, successively wife of John Kinglake (d. 1809) and Joseph Gatcombe (d. 1820), (fn. 113) owned Cogload farm, which she expanded, from 1784 (fn. 114) until her death in 1847. It passed to Mary Mullins of Goathurst (fn. 115) and later to her son Thomas. On Thomas's death by 1903 the farm and a larger estate at Lyng were sold. (fn. 116)
The Augustinian canons at Buckland were given the chapel of Durston by William of Erleigh. (fn. 117) The Hospitallers, their successors, were instituted as parsons in 1189, (fn. 118) and in 1335 they were recorded as holding the church with the tithes of Cogload. (fn. 119) Among the chaplains supported by the preceptory in 1501 was a chaplain at Durston. (fn. 120) The impropriate rectory was leased by the Hospitallers to William Hawley in 1539 (fn. 121) and descended like Buckland manor. From 1838 a tithe rent charge of £170 was payable to the lord of Buckland manor on land representing Durston manor in the west of the parish and on Cogload in the east. (fn. 122) In 1862 the rent charge was separated from Buckland manor and was transferred by the Revd. Arthur Gray to the incumbent. (fn. 123)
In 1535 the Hospitallers' estate included the rectory of Buckland with the chapel of St. Michaelchurch. The whole, comprising tithes and offerings, was worth 12s. 5d. net. (fn. 124) It was farmed by Edward Rogers by 1538 (fn. 125) and was leased to him by the Crown with the priory site in 1542, (fn. 126) and sold to him and others in 1544. (fn. 127) Rogers's grandson, also Edward Rogers, retained the rectory when he sold his land in Durston parish to Sir Henry Hawley in 1608, (fn. 128) and Sir Francis Rogers was probably still in possession at his death in 1638. (fn. 129) By 1647, however, the tithes of Buckland had come into the hands of Sir Francis Hawley, (fn. 130) lord of Buckland manor, and were subsumed within the manor. By 1838 Buckland manor land was tithe free. (fn. 131)
A cottage and 45 a. of land, belonging by 1529 to St. Andrew's chantry in St. Mary's church, Taunton, (fn. 132) were sold in 1549 to George Payne of Hutton. (fn. 133) In 1620 the land was conveyed by Nicholas Halswell to Sir Henry Hawley of Buckland. (fn. 134)