Durleigh: Economic history

Pages 33-34

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 the largest estate, called Durleigh, was assessed at 2¾ virgates but in 1086 had land for 3 ploughteams: the demesne had 1¾ virgate with 1 team and the tenants, enumerated as 4 villani, 2 bordars, and 3 servi, had the rest of the land and 2 teams. The three other Domesday estates which may be assigned to Durleigh, Rexworthy and two called Chilton, however, had land for 1 team, 1¾ virgate of demesne, and a bordar as a tenant, while Ansger's estate called Chilton had land for 1 team, ¾ virgate of demesne with 1 team and a servus, and a villanus with ¾ virgate and ½ team; on that estate 3 cows, 14 a. of meadow, and 5 a. of pasture were recorded. Rexworthy had land for ½ team and 2 bordars as tenants. Two of the estates had woodland, 20 a. at Durleigh and 6 a. at Rexworthy. (fn. 1)

In the later Middle Ages some substantial estates were created in and around Durleigh. In 1444 Richard Walshawe, for example, held over 200 a. in Durleigh, Wembdon, Bridgwater, and elsewhere, (fn. 2) and in 1461 Sir Alexander Hody's holding, partly his own inheritance and purchase, partly the inheritance of his wife, included Everley manor and the tenancy of Durleigh mill, the manors of West Bower in Bridgwater and Wembdon, mills in Spaxton, and scattered lands in Chilton, Enmore, Goathurst, Bridgwater, North Petherton, and beyond. (fn. 3) St. John's hospital, Bridgwater, had a demesne farm at Durleigh, the nucleus of Durleigh farm, and rents in Chilton marsh and Wembdon. (fn. 4) A copyhold farm at Chilton, part of the manor of Bower with Durleigh, in 1540 centred on an empty toft, with 12½ a. of arable in three fields, 2½ a. of meadow in separate yardlands said to be 'between the doles', and common pasture on Chilton moor. (fn. 5)

Small-scale farming is implied by 17th-century inventories, the largest, that of John Woodland (d. 1693), including 15 sheep and lambs, 3 cows, 1 heifer and 2 calves, 1 pig, and 8 a. of corn. (fn. 6) In 1666 tithes were payable for cows, heifers, calves, lambs, piglets, and colts, fleece, stored fruit, cider, hops, corn, honey, and wax. (fn. 7) In the 18th century there was some consolidation of farms, and by 1794 the Tyntes had five formerly separate tenements west of Durleigh village, (fn. 8) although holdings around Chilton remained fragmented. (fn. 9)

By 1839 Durleigh farm measured nearly 223 a., followed in size by the Tyntes' 191 a. north, east, and south of West Bower. Rexworthy farm was 79 a. and the Gooding family's lands at Durleigh Elms 63 a. Groomhouse (46 a.) and Chilton (42 a.) were the only two consolidated holdings at Chilton. In the whole parish there were 536 a. of meadow and pasture, 313 a. of arable, and 36 a. of orchards. (fn. 10) In 1905, after boundary changes, there were 647 a. of grass and 354 a. of arable. (fn. 11) The loss of land near Chilton and along Enmore Road for house building and the creation of Durleigh reservoir c. 1938 left Durleigh and Rexworthy farms as the principal farms in the ancient parish. In 1982 there were within the altered parish parts of six farms, one specializing in dairying, another in cattle rearing. (fn. 12)

Durleigh mill was recorded in 1461 (fn. 13) when it formed part of Sir Alexander Hody's holding in Wembdon. By 1540 it had passed to the Seymours and was held with West Bower. (fn. 14) In 1553 the Crown sold it to Nicholas Halswell of Goathurst (fn. 15) and it descended in the Halswell and Tynte families. (fn. 16) The mill, standing north-west of Durleigh church and driven by the Durleigh brook, seems to have continued in operation until c. 1936 when the construction of the reservoir began. (fn. 17) Some of the buildings survive below the dam at no. 8 Durleigh.

Two isolated fields beside the Parrett at Crowpill, between Bridgwater and Chilton, were occupied in 1839, one as a brickyard by John Browne & Co., the other as a timber yard. (fn. 18) By 1886 the Crowpill Brick and Tile works there included a kiln and a jetty, (fn. 19) but the yard was no longer in operation by 1930. (fn. 20)


  • 1. V.C.H. Som. i. 485, 521.
  • 2. S.R.S. xxii. 107, 148.
  • 3. P.R.O., C 140/4, no. 34.
  • 4. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 207-8.
  • 5. Longleat House, Seymour Papers, XII, rental (1540), f. 13v.
  • 6. S.R.O., DD/SP inventory, 1693/9.
  • 7. Ibid. D/P/durl 3/2/1.
  • 8. Ibid. 4/1/1.
  • 9. Ibid. DD/X/ROBN 1; DD/BR/py 60.
  • 10. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 11. Statistics supplied by the then Bd. of Agric., 1905.
  • 12. Min. of Agric., Fisheries, and Food, agric. returns, 1982.
  • 13. P.R.O., C 140/4, no. 34.
  • 14. Hist. MSS. Com. 58, Bath, iv, p. 339; below, Bridgwater, manors.
  • 15. Cal. Pat. 1553, 54-8.
  • 16. Below, Goathurst, manors.
  • 17. Kelly's Dir. Som. (1935).
  • 18. S.R.O., tithe award, nos. 254-5.
  • 19. O.S. Map 6", Som. L. SE. (1886 edn.).
  • 20. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Som. L. 13 (1930 edn.).