Enmore: Economic history

Pages 41-42

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



Three of the four Domesday estates, all called Lexworthy, seem to have occupied the valley at the eastern end of the parish; they accounted for more than two thirds of the cultivated area and for most of the recorded population. Together the four holdings comprised 10 ploughlands but there were only 9 teams. Demesne and tenant estates on the Lexworthy holdings were of equal size. Only 8 a. of meadow were recorded, all at Lexworthy, and 6 cattle and 5 pigs there were the only stock mentioned. There were 8 servi. (fn. 1) A serf on Enmore manor was manumitted c. 1381. (fn. 2)

The quality of the 16th-century buildings at Tirelands and Stone Hall suggests agricultural prosperity in the later 16th century. The wealthiest farmers in the 17th century appear to have concentrated on livestock: one had a substantial house, grain worth over £100, and cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, and poultry valued at more than £160. (fn. 3) A hop garden was recorded in 1656. (fn. 4) Holdings remained small throughout the later 17th and the 18th century although a few farmers had leases of more than one. During the 1740s some of the larger farms on Enmore manor became freehold but most were bought back by John, earl of Egmont, before 1765. (fn. 5) In the early 19th century Tirelands farm, one of the larger holdings, was a mixed farm which produced for sale wheat, barley, oats, peas, clover seed, onions, broad beans, kidney potatoes, cider, bacon, butter, cheese, and wool. The tenant bred his own cattle and pigs and bought bulls, rams, and horses. He let his own grass and put livestock in one of the parks, possibly Barford as the owner was his landlord. The farmer also bought soap ashes and lime from several kilns. In 1814 and 1815 over 2,000 lb. of cheese were sold and between 1810 and 1820 sales of wool totalled 1,111 fleeces weighing c. 5,000 lb. and over 1,140 lb. of lamb's wool. His flock in 1818 comprised 102 sheep and 62 lambs. It had increased to 218 in 1823 and 389 fleeces weighing over 2,000 lb. and 500 lb. of lamb's wool were sold in 1828 to Fox and Sons of Wellington. (fn. 6) On Lexworthy manor rack renting began in the 1730s and by the 1780s almost the entire estate was let for years. (fn. 7) Small tenants were being evicted on Enmore manor and houses allowed to decay c. 1809. (fn. 8) Rack renting on Enmore manor had been introduced by 1833 but there was only one large farm, Enmore Park farm (133 a.), and the smaller holdings continued to be held on leases for lives. The park had been divided up and was let for grazing. (fn. 9)

After the sale of the Egmont estate the Broadmeads reorganized the farms. At first the park was divided and let, and by 1837 a farm was established which included the former glebe and the land called Quantock Durborough, the whole managed from Quantock, later Castle, farm. (fn. 10) Tirelands had more than doubled in size between 1837 and 1851 and by 1871 there were four holdings in the parish with over 100 a., two with over 200 a. In 1851 Tirelands gave employment to 8 labourers, Quantock farm to 7. (fn. 11) In 1868 housing conditions for labourers in the parish were considered good, women worked at harvest and dug potatoes and turnips, and boys over 12 worked full-time on farms. (fn. 12) In 1871 and 1881 there were 34 farm labourers. (fn. 13)

The titheable land in the parish amounted in 1837 to 341 a. of arable, 567 a. of meadow and pasture, and 65 a. of orchard and garden. (fn. 14) In 1905, after the inclusion of Quantock Durborough and Blaxhold, there were 862 a. of permanent grass, the amount of arable remaining unchanged. (fn. 15) In 1982 grassland still accounted for over 60 per cent of recorded land. (fn. 16)

In 1960 Castle farm, the largest in the parish, specialized in pedigree beef cattle and among the farm buildings was a 70-ton granary with a diesel driven mill. (fn. 17) There were three dairy farms in 1982, and at least 1,051 sheep. Wheat, barley, and fodder crops accounted for most of the arable. (fn. 18)

Woodland provided grazing for pigs in the later 13th century and timber was sold. (fn. 19) In 1813 nursery trees for sale included larch, Scotch spruce, silver fir, and Balm of Gilead. (fn. 20)

There were four mills at Lexworthy in 1086, and the rent was paid in iron. (fn. 21) During the 13th century both William Malet and William of Lexworthy appear to have had mills at Lexworthy and Malet gave Richard Furnell of Lexworthy priority at his mill in return for being allowed a watercourse through Richard's land. (fn. 22) In 1696 two mills were recorded at Lexworthy, one probably on Trokes farm and the other, called Cutters, probably on the northern boundary stream. (fn. 23) Neither mill was recorded again. Methuens or Prowses mill existed by 1767. It belonged to Sir Charles Kemeys-Tynte but was not included in his manor of Lexworthy. Prowses mill was kept by the Collard family from 1782 or earlier until its closure, probably just before 1914. (fn. 24) The mill house survived in 1987 as Mill Farm, south-west of Enmore village, but the machinery, including an iron overshot wheel probably driving two pairs of stones, has been removed. (fn. 25)

In 1401 Baldwin Malet obtained a grant of a Monday market and a two-day fair at Midsummer, (fn. 26) but there is no evidence that either was ever held.

Rents for mills paid in iron in 1086 suggest iron making, (fn. 27) and from the mid 15th century iron was imported through Bridgwater, including in 1607 an iron furnace. (fn. 28) There were smithies beside the road at Enmore and Lexworthy in the 19th century. (fn. 29) A clothier was mentioned in the 16th century and a weaver in the mid 17th. (fn. 30) Rack Close near Prowses mill possibly indicates a former fulling mill on the site. (fn. 31) Tanning was practised in the late 17th and the early 18th century; one tanner had a horse mill and leather and bark worth £35 and another had stock valued at £300; his father and brother were also tanners. (fn. 32) Harnessmaking was recorded in 1841 and a saddlery in 1861. (fn. 33) Malting was recorded from the later 17th century. (fn. 34) There was a soapboiler in 1725 and a chairmaker in 1753. (fn. 35) In 1821 only 27 out of 55 families were employed in agriculture. (fn. 36)

In the earlier 20th century a sawmill at Enmore employed 20 men including a smith, a wheelwright, and a carpenter, and produced gates, fences, carts, window frames, and coffins. The firm also sank wells and installed hydraulic rams, built houses and the village hall, acted as undertakers, and later kept a petrol pump. The sawmill closed in the 1950s. (fn. 37)


  • 1. V.C.H. Som. i. 472, 491.
  • 2. Pole MS. 903.
  • 3. S.R.O., DD/SP inventories, 1635, 1640.
  • 4. S.R.S. xxviii. 309.
  • 5. S.R.O., DD/S/BW 5; DD/S/WH 285; DD/NN 3; DD/PC 3.
  • 6. Ibid. D/P/enm 23/1.
  • 7. Ibid. DD/S/WH 221A, 230; DD/X/TCR 4.
  • 8. Paupers and Pigkillers, ed. J. Ayres, 185.
  • 9. S.R.O., DD/VN (H/134); DD/PLE 64.
  • 10. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 11. P.R.O., HO 107/1924; ibid. RG 10/2383.
  • 12. Rep. Com. Employment in Agric. 481-2.
  • 13. P.R.O., RG 10/2383; RG 11/2372.
  • 14. S.R.O., tithe award.
  • 15. Statistics supplied by the then Bd. of Agric., 1905.
  • 16. Min. of Agric., Fisheries, and Food, agric. returns, 1982.
  • 17. S.R.O., DD/EDN 53.
  • 18. Min. of Agric., Fisheries, and Food, agric. returns, 1982.
  • 19. S.R.S. xli. 66; lviii, p. 52; lx, p. 45; S.R.O., DD/S/WH 211.
  • 20. Taunton Courier, 14 Jan. 1813.
  • 21. V.C.H. Som. i. 472, 491.
  • 22. Pole MS. 939, 4450.
  • 23. S.R.O., DD/DP 24/5.
  • 24. Ibid. Q/REI 2/5; ibid. tithe award; Kelly's Dir. Som. (1897-1914).
  • 25. Som. C.C., Sites and Mons. Rec.
  • 26. Cal. Chart. R. 1341-1417, 416.
  • 27. V.C.H. Som. i. 472, 491.
  • 28. S.R.O., D/B/bw 1437, 1439, 1442, 1474, 1491, 1502.
  • 29. Ibid. DD/HWD 19; ibid. tithe award; P.R.O., HO 107/1924.
  • 30. P.R.O., C 1/546, no. 93; S.R.O., DD/X/SR 5.
  • 31. S.R.O., tithe award.
  • 32. Ibid. DD/SP inventories, 1683, 1685; DD/DP 52/14.
  • 33. P.R.O., HO 107/929; RG 9/1622.
  • 34. S.R.O., DD/SP inventory, 1687; DD/PC 6; DD/SAS (C/2645) 24; ibid. tithe award; P.O. Dir. Som. (1861); Kelly's Dir. Som. (1897).
  • 35. S.R.O., DD/NN 3; DD/BR/py 64.
  • 36. Census, 1821.
  • 37. S.R.O., D/P/chlch 3/4/2; Bridgwater Mercury, 20 Mar. 1984.