Pages 91-92

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 ancient parish, which may have taken its name from the hill on which the church stands, lay in three parts in undulating countryside 4 km. west of Bridgwater. The two largest parts, both irregular in shape, included most of the settlements, and were divided from each other by a narrow strip of Spaxton parish. One included Charlinch hamlet and Gothelney and measured 3 km. from east to west and 1 km. from north to south. The second, to the northwest, included Rowden, Currypool, Padnoller, and Swang, in an area measuring 3 km. from east to west and 1.5 km. from north to south at its widest point. The third, known as Bush, lay south-west beyond Spaxton village, 3 km. from Charlinch church. (fn. 1) The parish contained c. 1,450 a. (587 ha.), all of which was by stages added to Spaxton: in 1882 Bush (95 a., with 2 houses and 6 inhabitants), (fn. 2) in 1933 Currypool (731 a.), (fn. 3) and in 1981 the remainder (624 a.). (fn. 4)

The boundaries of the parish seldom followed natural features. Roads north-west of Bush and south-east of Currypool marked divisions with Spaxton. Currypool lies on gravel in the valley of the Cannington brook, the land rising gently from there south-west towards Rowden, reaching 76 m. and north-west to a spur 76 m. high on marls and Leighland slates dividing it from a second shallow valley. The land rises again to the north above Swang reaching 75 m. Charlinch church is on the western end of a knoll, at a height of 72 m., from which the land falls gently east to Gothelney, in an area of marls, slates, limestone, and gravels. Bush occupies an area of slates, grits, and marls on the steeper, higher, Quantock slopes between 76 m. and 183 m. (fn. 5) Marl digging may account for ponds in the north part of the parish (fn. 6) and there was a quarry at Bush in 1822. (fn. 7)

The settlement pattern of scattered farmsteads had probably been established by 1086 when Charlinch, Currypool, Gothelney, and Swang were in existence. (fn. 8) Padnoller was recorded in 1199. (fn. 9) There is no nucleated village in the parish and the largest settlement was probably Gothelney where in 1837 a group of houses, now reduced to one, lay around the green south of the manor house. Only the rectory house and a cottage adjoin the church. There may also have been a concentration of houses around the junction of Charlinch lane and the road to the church, (fn. 10) and there is a scatter of houses along Charlinch lane, mostly of the 20th century, especially at the western end by Four Forks. The remainder of the parish consists of compact farms with a few roadside cottages. The name Bush may indicate medieval clearance on the hillside. (fn. 11) It has been a single farm since the 17th century, probably in succession to two tenements, Holminbush and Northbarn. (fn. 12) New farm buildings were erected possibly c. 1871. (fn. 13) The name Rowden has not been found before the late 18th century. (fn. 14)

In 1648 and 1649 large numbers of people from Ireland who were relieved by the parish (fn. 15) were probably using the Nether Stowey to Bridgwater road. The road known as Oldway (fn. 16) formed the parish boundary for two short stretches east and south of Currypool, and parts of the two Bridgwater turnpike roads, from Nether Stowey and Four Forks in Spaxton also ran through the parish. All the settlements, however, lie on minor roads. (fn. 17)

No evidence of open-field arable has been found and the pattern of farmsteads surrounded by their fields is probably ancient. There was a park at Currypool, probably by 1327 when Robert the parker was recorded. (fn. 18) In 1569 it was said to be a mile in circumference, (fn. 19) but it appears to have been divided into fields c. 1618 although fallow deer remained in the area after that date. (fn. 20) The field names Lawn, Park ground, and Rail close still in use in 1837 suggest that the park lay west of Currypool Farm. The field names Warren and Park hill at Gothelney suggest a warren and possibly a park there. A small part of Radlet Common lay in the parish but it had been inclosed and was the property of Henry Labouchere in 1837. (fn. 21)

Fifteen acres of wood were recorded in 1086. (fn. 22) Timber at Currypool, including timber in the park, was being felled in the early 17th century, (fn. 23) and the tenant of Currypool in 1689 was required to plant two oak, ash, or elm every year. (fn. 24) Higher Wood, recorded in 1837, may be the site of ancient woodland, and by the same date over 45 a. of plantation and willow had been established at Currypool. (fn. 25) In 1905 41 a. of woodland remained (fn. 26) and some woodland survives near Currypool.

Twenty taxpayers were recorded in 1327 (fn. 27) and 36 houses were charged for or exempted from hearth tax in 1665 and 1670. (fn. 28) In 1791 130 people were said to live in 25 houses, but that probably did not include detached areas. (fn. 29) The population rose between 1801 and 1821 from 183 to 251, fluctuated 1831-91 between 200 and 240, and fell to 158 in 1901. (fn. 30) In 1921 the total was 182 of whom 63 lived in the area transferred to Spaxton in 1933. (fn. 31) The population in the remaining portion of the parish had fallen to 49 in 1981 when the civil parish was abolished. (fn. 32)


  • 1. O.S. Map 1/50,000, sheet 182 (1974 edn.); S.R.O., tithe award; cf. below, map on p. 111. This article was completed in 1987.
  • 2. Census, 1891; the acreage is of the area shown on S.R.O., tithe award, measured on O.S. Map 6", Som. XLIX. SE. (1887 edn.).
  • 3. S.R.O., D/R/bw 16/20/1, giving 740 a.; the correct acreage of the two parts of the parish is given in O.S. Map 6", Som. index (1892 edn.), matching the acreage in Census, 1891.
  • 4. Census, 1981.
  • 5. O.S. Map 1/50,000, sheet 182 (1974 edn.); Geol. Surv. Map 1/50,000, solid and drift, sheet 295 (1985 edn.).
  • 6. O.S. Map 6", Som. XLIX. NE. (1887 edn.).
  • 7. S.R.O., DD/X/OA 1; ibid. tithe award.
  • 8. V.C.H. Som. i. 485, 487.
  • 9. Rot. Cur. Reg. (Rec. Com.), ii. 45.
  • 10. S.R.O., tithe award; Som. C.C., Sites and Mons. Rec.
  • 11. Ekwall, Eng. Place-Names (1960), 75.
  • 12. S.R.O., DD/S/WH 292.
  • 13. P.R.O., RG 10/2379; O.S. Map 6", Som. XLIX. SE. (1887 edn.).
  • 14. S.R.O., Q/RE1 7/3A.
  • 15. Ibid. D/P/chlch 4/1/1.
  • 16. Ibid. DD/PLE 64.
  • 17. J. B. Bentley and B. J. Murless, Som. Roads, i. 25.
  • 18. S.R.S. iii. 40.
  • 19. Ibid. xx. 248.
  • 20. P.R.O., E 134/2 Chas. I/Mich. 2.
  • 21. S.R.O., tithe award.
  • 22. V.C.H. Som. i. 485, 487.
  • 23. P.R.O., E 134/2 Chas. I/Mich. 2; S.R.O., D/P/chlch 4/1/1.
  • 24. S.R.O., DD/SAS HV 23.
  • 25. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 26. Statistics supplied by the then Bd. of Agric., 1905.
  • 27. S.R.S. iii. 140.
  • 28. Dwelly, Hearth Tax, i. 66, 70; ii. 53.
  • 29. Collinson, Hist. Som. i. 241.
  • 30. Census.
  • 31. S.R.O., D/R/bw 16/20/1.
  • 32. Census.