Durleigh: Manors and other estates

Pages 31-33

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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Alsi had in 1066 an estate called DURLEIGH which by 1086 was held as a serjeanty by Ansger the cook. (fn. 1) Ansger's estate was perhaps the land which Geoffrey of Durleigh seems to have held in 1201, (fn. 2) probably in succession to Durand of Durleigh, possibly his father. (fn. 3) Odo of Durleigh may have succeeded Geoffrey; he was later said to have held the vill of the honor of Trowbridge; (fn. 4) and William Longespée (d. 1226), earl of Salisbury, was said to have held it, apparently in succession to Durand, for 20 years. (fn. 5) It is therefore probable that Durleigh formed part of the grant made in 1214 by King John to William Longespée comprising the lands of the knights of Trowbridge honor who had rebelled with Henry de Bohun, earl of Hereford. (fn. 6)

The estate descended like Trowbridge to Margaret, daughter of William Longespée (III) and wife of Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln (d. 1311). Henry was said to hold the manor in 1274 and the capital messuage in 1284-5. (fn. 7) Henry's successor Alice married first Thomas Plantagenet, earl of Lancaster (d. 1322). In 1319 Thomas granted the land, but not the fee, to John de Warenne, earl of Surrey (d. 1347), for his life. (fn. 8) The fee was granted in 1325 by Alice and her second husband Ebles Lestraunge to Hugh le Despenser the younger, who already had the reversion of the land. (fn. 9) At the same time Warenne made over to Despenser his 'foreign court' of Trowbridge and the court of Durleigh. (fn. 10) In 1337, after the Despensers' forfeiture, the Crown granted the reversion of Trowbridge, and presumably its members, after Warenne's death to William de Montagu on his creation as earl of Salisbury. (fn. 11)

Joan de Bar, wife of John de Warenne, acquired a life interest in her husband's estate in 1327 (fn. 12) which in 1348 she leased to Edward, prince of Wales. On Joan's death in 1361 Edward surrendered his lease to William de Montagu, who thus acquired both the land and the fee or foreign court. Durleigh presumably followed the descent of Trowbridge, which was recovered by Blanche, daughter of Henry Plantagenet, duke of Lancaster, and her husband, John of Gaunt, in 1365, and which passed with the Duchy of Lancaster to the Crown. (fn. 13) It is not certain how much land was involved: the Duchy received rents from Durleigh in 1536-7 and a small estate described as in North Bower and Durleigh, probably in the north part of Bridgwater parish, was in 1553 held of the honor of Trowbridge, parcel of the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 14) The estate may by then have been absorbed into West Bower manor, which was known as Bower with Durleigh. (fn. 15)

Two estates called CHILTON in 1086 may have lain partly or wholly in Durleigh. One was held in 1066 by Godric and in 1086 by Ansketil of Roger de Courcelles. The other was held in 1066 by Alwine and in 1086 as a serjeanty by Ansger the cook of the king. (fn. 16) No further trace of either estate has been found until 1208-9 when a rather larger holding comprising land in Chilton and Bower was held by Robert of Chilton, (fn. 17) possibly a successor to Jordan of Chilton. (fn. 18) In 1284-5 another Robert of Chilton was holding ½ fee in Chilton of Hugh Lovel, whose barony of Castle Cary the Lovels held in succession to Walter of Douai. (fn. 19)

Hugh Lovel (d. 1291) was followed by his son Richard, (fn. 20) and Richard in 1351 by his granddaughter Muriel, wife of Sir Nicholas Seymour (d. 1361). Muriel was followed by her son Richard, but no further trace of the overlordship has been found after 1371. (fn. 21)

Robert of Chilton held ½ fee in Chilton in 1284-5 and 1295. (fn. 22) He was said in 1303 to hold ¼ fee. (fn. 23) Another Robert held ¼ fee in 1346. (fn. 24) In 1412 Sir William Besyles held ¼ fee there which in 1431 was shared between John Besyles, Alice Northlode, and John Michell. (fn. 25) The holding, however, had evidently been divided: at least three small estates held of the Seymours had emerged in the 1370s: Joan, widow of John Modesley (d. 1362), Robert de la Mare (d. 1371), who held in right of his wife Joan, and Edward (d. 1372), son of Eleanor Cary, all held land in Chilton and Bower. (fn. 26)

In 1455 William Dodesham bought a substantial amount of land from Thomas Hall, William Besyles, and William's wife Agnes which included property described as in East Chilton, (fn. 27) presumably Chilton village and so called in distinction from West Chilton or Chilton Trivet. It probably included some or all of the former Chilton manor, but by 1487 was known as EAST CHILTON manor and was said to be held as of North Petherton manor. Dodesham died in 1480 when his heir was his niece Agnes, wife of Walter Michell (d. 1487). (fn. 28) Walter Michell was followed in succession by three sons, William, John (d. 1492), (fn. 29) and Thomas (d. 1503). (fn. 30) Thomas Michell, son of the last, in 1539 murdered both his wife and her sister and then committed suicide. (fn. 31) Richard Michell, his son and heir, died in 1563 leaving the manor, then called simply Chilton, to his son Tristram. (fn. 32) Tristram died in 1574 and was succeeded by his brother Bartholomew, later knighted. On the latter's death in 1616 his heirs were his two daughters, Jane, wife of William Hockmore (d. 1626), of Buckland Baron (Devon), and Frances, wife of Alexander Popham. (fn. 33)

William Hockmore died in 1626 in possession of Chilton manor and the manors of North Bower, Chilton Trivet in Cannington, Wembdon, and West Stretcholt in Pawlett. (fn. 34) His heir was his son Gregory, then under age. (fn. 35) Gregory was still alive in 1676 (fn. 36) and had been succeeded by 1680 by William Hockmore. (fn. 37) William was dead by 1714 when his estate was shared between his three daughters, Mary, wife of Brent Reynell Spiller (d. 1736), Honor, wife of David or Davidge Gould, and Jane Palmer, widow, later wife of William Pitt. (fn. 38) Samuel Pitt, only son of Jane, died without issue c. 1737, and by 1753 the estate was shared between Mary and Elizabeth Reynell, daughters of Mary, who had taken the name Reynell, and the six children of Honor and Davidge Gould. By 1791 Mary Reynell had devised her share to her nephew Henry Reynell, (fn. 39) who by 1801 seems to have become the sole owner. (fn. 40) He died in 1842 leaving a daughter Caroline, whose husband, the Revd. David Williams, took the name and arms of Reynell. David Reynell was the owner of North Bower, East Chilton, and Wembdon manors in 1839. (fn. 41)

By 1857 the estate had passed through a distant cousin of Caroline Reynell, Sir Thomas Reynell, Bt. (d. 1848), to Sir Thomas's widow Elizabeth (d. 1856) and to Elizabeth's son by her first marriage, Arthur John Pack, who took the name Reynell in 1857. (fn. 42) Arthur Denis Henry Heber Reynell-Pack succeeded his father in 1860 and sold the estate, then amounting to over 520 a. of land in Durleigh, Bridgwater, Chilton, Cossington, and Weston Zoyland, in 1911, when the property was divided. The part in Durleigh parish included Manor Farm immediately north-west of Chilton Trinity church. (fn. 43)

In 1066 Godric held REXWORTHY. In 1086 Robert was tenant there of Roger de Courcelles. (fn. 44) In 1499 Rexworthy was held of the Crown, presumably in right of the Duchy of Lancaster, as of Durleigh manor. In 1423 Thomas Plush held land there of East Postridge manor in Aisholt in succession to Richard Rexworthy, and Margaret Plush, widow of William Harding, died holding the manor in 1499. Margaret's heirs were her daughters Joan, Agnes, and Joan. (fn. 45) In the 16th century the estate passed to the Malet family. Sir Hugh Trevanion (d. 1561-2) held it for life in right of his second wife Anne, widow of Baldwin Malet (d. 1533), the reversionary interest belonging to Baldwin's son John Malet (d. c. 1570) of Wolleigh in Beaford (Devon). John Malet transferred his interest to his brother Thomas. (fn. 46)

In 1738 Rexworthy farm was occupied and probably owned by Thomas Trego, who was succeeded in 1753 by John Trego. Members of the Holcombe family held it between 1757 and 1795, and they were followed by John Gooding. (fn. 47) Richard Gooding was owner and occupier in 1839, and W. B. Broadmead of Enmore owned it in 1909. (fn. 48)

Land in Everley belonged to Athelney abbey in the earlier 12th century. (fn. 49) Richard Wasun of Bridgwater acquired a messuage and land there in 1256 (fn. 50) which passed to a family called Everley. (fn. 51) At his death in 1461 Sir Alexander Hody held EVERLEY manor of Athelney abbey in right of his wife Margaret, the heir of John Coker. (fn. 52) Margaret still held it at her death in 1489, and tenants in the parish owed suit to the Hody family at Gothelney in 1540-1. (fn. 53) Fields east of Durleigh Farm were called Great Everley and Everley Orchard in 1839. (fn. 54)

St. John's hospital, Bridgwater, held what was called DURLEIGH manor c. 1480. (fn. 55) Following the dissolution of the hospital in 1539 the Crown sold the estate in 1543 to John Smythe of Bristol. (fn. 56) John was succeeded in 1556 by his son Hugh, then of Long Ashton, and Hugh in 1580 by his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Edward Morgan. (fn. 57) Edward settled the manor in 1596 on his son William, who survived until 1634 leaving a son, another Edward Morgan. (fn. 58) In 1635 Edward sold the manor to Warwick Fownes, and in 1638 Thomas Fownes died in possession. (fn. 59) Thomas's heir was his grandson and namesake. (fn. 60)

Charles Brune of Plumber in Lidlinch (Dors.) succeeded Thomas Fownes in 1746. (fn. 61) He was succeeded in 1770 by his nephew Charles Pleydell Brune. The latter was followed by his nephew the Revd. Charles Prideaux (1760- 1833), who took the additional name of Brune in 1799. (fn. 62) The Revd. Charles Prideaux-Brune was followed in the direct male line by Charles (1790-1875), Charles Glynn (1821-1907), and Charles Robert (1848-1936), the last of whom sold Durleigh in 1913 to Sidney Denning, owner until c. 1970. (fn. 63)

Durleigh Farm, standing south-east of Durleigh churchyard, is a square, symmetrical stone building of the later 18th century, adjoining the stock yards and buildings of the later 19th century.

St. John's hospital, Bridgwater, by 1535 also owned the RECTORY estate, comprising the tithes of the parish. (fn. 64) The Crown in 1542 leased the rectory to John Bourchier, earl of Bath. It was sublet to William Blanchflower and later to Humphrey Colles. (fn. 65) In 1556 Alexander Popham of Huntworth in North Petherton owned the rectory which he devised to his son (Sir) John Popham (d. 1607), but a Crown grant was made, probably in error, to Thomas Wood and Thomas Fare in 1560. (fn. 66) Sir John held the rectory c. 1594 and his son Sir Francis seems to have occupied it by 1603, the outcome of a settlement made in 1590. (fn. 67)

The rectory descended in the direct male line from Sir Francis (d. 1644) to Alexander (d. 1669), Sir Francis (d. 1674), and Alexander (d. 1705). Alexander was succeeded by his father's brother, also Alexander, and that Alexander by his son Francis (d. 1735). (fn. 68) Francis's son Edward Popham, who let the estate to Philip Baker of Bridgwater in 1746, sold it in 1775 to Dr. John Dunning of Bridgwater, who married Baker's daughter Susanna. John died in 1821 and Susanna in 1824, when the rectory passed under her will to Wyndham Goodden (d. 1839). Wyndham's widow Mary held it until her death in 1844 and was succeeded by her son John, who in 1845 sold the tithe rent charge to Robert Gooding. (fn. 69) Robert Gooding was succeeded in 1854 by his great-nephew William Gooding (d. 1902) and William by his son William Forbes Gooding of Durleigh Elms, (fn. 70) who held the rent charge in 1909. (fn. 71)

Land in the parish was held of manors in other parishes, namely Puriton in 1561, (fn. 72) West Bower or Bower de la Mare in Bridgwater in the 17th century, (fn. 73) and Chipley in Langford Budville in 1839. (fn. 74)


  • 1. V.C.H. Som. i. 521.
  • 2. P.R.O., DL 42/11, ff. 5, 7; Cur. Reg. R. ii. 34; S.R.S. vi. 11; xxv. 81-2.
  • 3. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 121, 137.
  • 4. B.L. Add. Ch. 20418.
  • 5. Feud. Aids, iv. 293; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 121, 137.
  • 6. V.C.H. Wilts. vii. 128.
  • 7. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 121, 137; Feud. Aids, iv. 293.
  • 8. Cal. Pat. 1317-21, 319; R. Somerville, Duchy of Lancaster, i. 337.
  • 9. S.R.S. xii. 122; Cal. Pat. 1324-7, 102; Cal. Chart. R. 1300-26, 450.
  • 10. Cal. Pat. 1327-30, 21.
  • 11. Ibid. 1334-8, 550.
  • 12. Ibid. 1327-30, 21; Somerville, Lancaster, i. 35.
  • 13. Cal. Pat. 1361-4, 131; Somerville, Lancaster, i. 36.
  • 14. P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/3073; Cal. Pat. 1553, 154-8.
  • 15. Below, Bridgwater, manors.
  • 16. V.C.H. Som. i. 485, 521.
  • 17. S.R.S. vi. 25-6.
  • 18. Below, Bridgwater, West Bower manor.
  • 19. Feud. Aids, iv. 278; Sanders, Eng. Baronies, 27.
  • 20. Cal. Inq. p.m. ii, p. 490; Feud. Aids, iv. 300.
  • 21. V.C.H. Som. iv. 134; Cal. Inq. p.m. xiii, pp. 74, 161; P.R.O., SC 6/970/4.
  • 22. Feud. Aids, iv. 278; Cal. Inq. p.m. ii, p. 490.
  • 23. Feud. Aids, iv. 300.
  • 24. Ibid. iv. 345.
  • 25. Ibid. iv. 434; vi. 514.
  • 26. Cal. Inq. p.m. xiii, pp. 19-20, 74, 161; P.R.O., SC 6/970/4.
  • 27. S.R.S. xxii. 119-20.
  • 28. P.R.O., C 140/77, no. 78; Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, i, pp. 114-15.
  • 29. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, i, pp. 318-20.
  • 30. S.R.S. xix. 51.
  • 31. Ibid. xxvii. 216-25.
  • 32. P.R.O., C 142/67, no. 114; C 142/143, no. 25; Som. Wills, ed. Brown, vi. 3.
  • 33. P.R.O., C 142/167, no. 97; C 142/440, no. 89; S.R.O., D/P/can 2/1/1 (1610); Som. Wills, ed. Brown, v. 39; S.R.S. lxvii, p. 178.
  • 34. P.R.O., C 142/440, no. 89.
  • 35. S.R.S. lxvii, pp. 178-9.
  • 36. Hants R.O. 7M54/198.
  • 37. S.R.O., DD/X/OS 4.
  • 38. P.R.O., CP 25(2)/988/13 Anne East.; CP 25(2)/1087/1 Geo. I Trin.; CP 25(2)/1087/4 Geo. I Mich.; Burke, Commoners, iv. 455.
  • 39. Devon R.O. 1148 M/add 1/49, 7/38; S.R.O., DD/SAS (C/59) 24; Burke, Commoners, iv. 455.
  • 40. S.R.O., Q/RDe 29.
  • 41. Burke, Commoners, iv. 455; S.R.O., tithe award.
  • 42. Burke, Land. Gent. (1937), 1734-5.
  • 43. S.R.O., DD/TBL 53.
  • 44. V.C.H. Som. i. 485.
  • 45. P.R.O., SC 2/200/27; Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, iii, pp. 114-15.
  • 46. P.R.O., C 3/127/23; S.R.S. xxi. 17-18; J. L. Vivian, Visit. Cornw. 212, 501.
  • 47. S.R.O., D/P/durl 4/1/1.
  • 48. Ibid. tithe award; ibid. D/R/bw 15/3/9.
  • 49. S.R.S. xiv, pp. 147-8.
  • 50. Ibid. vi. 176-7.
  • 51. Ibid. xi, pp. 171, 222, 294, 412; xiv, p. 148.
  • 52. P.R.O., C 140/4, no. 34.
  • 53. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, i, pp. 266-7; S.R.O., DD/S/WH 65; P.R.O., LR 3/123, f. 13.
  • 54. S.R.O., tithe award.
  • 55. S.R.S. lxx, pp. 58-9.
  • 56. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xviii (1), p. 535.
  • 57. P.R.O., C 142/108, no. 109; C 142/193, no. 87.
  • 58. Ibid. C 142/476, no. 139.
  • 59. Ibid. CP 25(2)/480/11 Chas. I Trin.; S.R.S. lxvii, pp. 113-14.
  • 60. S.R.S. lxvii, pp. 113-14; P.R.O., C 142/486, no. 116.
  • 61. S.R.O., D/P/durl 4/1/1.
  • 62. Hutchins, Hist. Dors. iv. 190; Burke, Land. Gent. (1914), 257.
  • 63. Burke, Land. Gent. (1965), 92-3; inf. from Mr. C. Sellick, Durleigh.
  • 64. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.) i. 208.
  • 65. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvii, p. 704; S.R.O., DD/POt 39.
  • 66. S.R.S. xxi. 181; P.R.O., C 142/303, no. 128; Cal. Pat. 1558-60, 455-6.
  • 67. S.R.O., D/D/Ca 98, 134; P.R.O., C 142/303, no. 128.
  • 68. Burke, Land. Gent. (1914), 1527.
  • 69. S.R.O., DD/DP 38/10.
  • 70. Ibid. D/P/durl 2/1/6; Kelly's Dir. Som. (1906).
  • 71. S.R.O., D/R/bw 15/3/9.
  • 72. Ibid. DD/SF 1026.
  • 73. Ibid. DD/S/WH 121, 211.
  • 74. Ibid. DD/RN 19.