A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 8, Warminster, Westbury and Whorwellsdown Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1965.
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EAST Coulston lies about 4½ miles east of Westbury. The parish is long and narrow, extending about 4½ miles from north to south, while its width before 1934 nowhere exceeded ½ mile. (fn. 1) In that year a strip of varying width running the whole length of the western boundary of the parish was transferred from Edington to East Coulston. (fn. 2) This more than doubled the size of the latter, from 875 to 1,988 a. (fn. 3) The northern part of the parish is flat and well watered, rising from below 175 ft. at the boundary with Bulkington to about 250 ft. near the village. It lies on the Kimmeridge clay belt of north-west Wiltshire, and is mainly meadow and pasture. The village stands on outcrops of Upper Greensand and Gault. South of the village the ground rises sharply up the northern edge of Salisbury Plain to over 700 ft. on Coulston Hill. The southern 2/3 of the parish is all chalk downland, between 500 and 700 ft. above sea level. There is a considerable area of arable land on the northern edge of the Plain, and more arable on the greensand near the village. (fn. 4) The southern part of the parish is included in the military training district centred on Imber. (fn. 5)
The secondary road from Westbury to West Lavington crosses the parish south of the village, which is connected to it by two minor roads. These unite in the village and continue north-westward to Marston. A road in this direction was in use in 1712 (fn. 6) and still existed in 1773, (fn. 7) but seems to have fallen out of use by the 19th century. It was re-made in 1899. (fn. 8) There was a road northward to Keevil in the 16th century, but it was alleged in Mary's reign that Aldhelm Lambe had stopped it up. (fn. 9) The old slowcoach road from Bath to Salisbury crosses the parish on Coulston Hill, but was not in 1959 passable except for farm vehicles. (fn. 10) The main railway line between Westbury and Lavington passes north of the village; the nearest station is Lavington, three miles to the east.
The village is built round irregular spurs of higher ground which project northward from the Plain. Before 1934 the western part lay in the tithing of West Coulston in Edington. The boundary passed through Baynton House, and for some way along the centre of the road in the village, so that the Bell Inn, the former school, and the Baptist Chapel were all in Edington parish. In the village the houses are well scattered. The part formerly known as West Coulston lies along the road from Westbury. The former Bell Inn, closed c. 1955, is a timber-framed building. A timber-framed house of the early 17th century with two gables to the front stands at the corner of the lane up to Baynton House. It has been converted into two cottages, of which one was derelict in 1963. Southward lies a road on which stand the former school and the former chapel. Manor Cottage is a timberframed building with a thatched roof, probably of the 17th century. Another road leads eastward towards the church. On it stands Coulston House and the former rectory. Baynton House stands in extensive grounds between the church and the main road. There are isolated farms at Stokes Marsh and Brickfield in the north, and Coulston Hill, Baynton Hill, and Tinhead Hill on the downs.
In 1676 there were apparently 62 adults in the parish. (fn. 11) In 1783 it was said that it contained only nine houses, six of which were cottages. (fn. 12) The population of the parish increased from 90 in 1801 to 133 in 1871, but thereafter decreased until it was 78 in 1931. In 1951, after the addition of territory from Edington, it was 155. (fn. 13)
Mary Delany (1700–1788), friend of Swift and Fanny Burney, was born at Coulston. She was the daughter of Bernard Granville, a younger brother of George Granville, Baron Lansdown (d. 1735), and her autobiography and correspondence have been published. (fn. 14)
It has been suggested that when King Edgar gave Edington to Romsey Abbey in 968, the eastern boundary of the granted lands coincided with that of East Coulston rather than that of Edington, so that both parishes were included. (fn. 15) If this was so, part of the property must have passed out of the abbey's possession by 1086, for a fivehide manor in Coulston was then held by Brietric. (fn. 16) This manor, like the rest of Brictric's possessions, was in the hands of Edward of Salisbury by the early 12th century, and formed part of the lands later known as the honor of Trowbridge, given by Edward to Humphrey de Bohun (II). It descended in the Bohun family in the same way as Trowbridge (fn. 17) until 1229, when Humphrey de Bohun (V), Earl of Hereford, and Ela, Countess of Salisbury, agreed to a division of the honor. Coulston was still held in demesne, and was divided by this bargain; Humphrey took 2/3, including the manor house, and Ela the remaining ⅓ and the advowson. (fn. 18) Ela's ⅓ descended as did Trowbridge to Henry of Bolingbroke, (fn. 19) son of John of Gaunt, who obtained possession of the other part of Coulston by his marriage to Mary, daughter and heir of Humphrey de Bohun (X), Earl of Hereford (d. 1373). (fn. 20) On Henry's accession to the throne in 1399 the overlordship merged in the Crown as parcel of the Duchy of Lancaster.
While the manor was divided, however, the overlords of each part created mesne estate which remained separate until they were united by the Lambe family in the 16th century. In 1236 William Longespée confirmed a previous grant from his mother, Countess Ela, to Ralph Long, of 'the land of Coulston' in fee. (fn. 21) The exact descent of this holding is not clear, but in 1329 another Ralph Long and Eleanor his wife conveyed property there to Nicholas Chamberlain. (fn. 22) By 1428 it was held by Thomas and Agnes Burton in right of Agnes, (fn. 23) formerly called Chamberlain, (fn. 24) who is also said to have brought her husband lands in Luckington. (fn. 25) She was a widow in 1431, and subsequently married Thomas Tropenell. (fn. 26) Her land in Coulston may have descended to Thomas Burton who was lord of Luckington in 1442. (fn. 27) By the early 16th century this estate had apparently been divided between co-heirs; in 1523 Simon Kirkby of Norton Folgate (Mdx.) sold moieties of the manors of Coulston and Luckington to Sir William Compton of Compton Wynyates (Warws.). (fn. 28) His son Peter died in 1544 leaving a posthumous son Henry. (fn. 29) In 1556 Coulston was still held in dower by Peter's widow, (fn. 30) but Henry Compton did not hold it at his death in 1589. (fn. 31) There is little doubt that it had been sold to the Lambe family, for in 1615 John Lambe died seised of houses and lands called Burton's, (fn. 32) a name which must have referred to the 15th-century owners.
It is possible that some part of the property held of the Countess of Salisbury by the Longs in the 13th century had come to the Lambe family earlier than Burton's. In 1268 Peter Long and Maud his wife acknowledged that a mill and land in Coulston belonged to Nicholas Frankeleyn. (fn. 33) Peter Frankeleyn held land worth £10 there in 1401. (fn. 34) In the reign of Henry VII John Lambe had inherited what were probably the same lands from his kinsman Jenkin Frankeleyn. (fn. 35) Lambe died c. 1501 and was succeeded by his son John who died c. 1514; both were prosperous men. (fn. 36) The younger John's son, Aldhelm, was heavily rated in 1524 and 1545, (fn. 37) and soon afterwards acquired the larger part of the manor as it had been divided in 1229, which had descended as follows.
Humphrey de Bohun (V), who received it, gave it with his daughter Alice on her marriage to Roger, son of Ralph Tony. (fn. 38) Roger died c. 1277 leaving a son Ralph, (fn. 39) who exchanged Coulston with Walter Beauchamp of Alcester (Warws.) for lands elsewhere. (fn. 40) Beauchamp and his wife Alice, who was formerly called Tony, granted the manor to Simon Chamberlain and Elizabeth his wife for their lives in exchange for their manor of Mutton in East Knoyle. (fn. 41) Simon forfeited his land in 1325 because he adhered to Maurice of Berkeley the elder in his rebellion. He died in prison at Gloucester the same year, and the manor was immediately restored to his widow. (fn. 42) She still held it in 1338, when Sir William Beauchamp, second son of Walter and Alice, granted the reversion to Giles, his younger brother and eventual heir. (fn. 43) Giles died in 1361 and was succeeded by his son John, and the manor descended in the Beauchamp family to Richard, Lord Beauchamp of Powick, who died without male issue in 1503. (fn. 44) Before his death he had settled Coulston on his daughter Elizabeth, when she married Robert Willoughby, afterwards Lord Willoughby de Broke (d. 1521). (fn. 45) Elizabeth died in the same year as her father, and after the death of Robert the property fell to the share of Blanche, one of his grand-daughters (children of his son Edward, who predeceased him). (fn. 46)
Blanche, who married Francis Dawtrey of Porchwood (Hants), died without issue, but the manor had been secured to her husband for life in 1539. (fn. 47) In 1545 he assigned his interest to Sir Thomas Moyle of Eastwell (Kent). (fn. 48) The reversion had passed to Blanche's sister Elizabeth, wife of Sir Fulk Greville, and in 1546 she and her husband sold Coulston to William Button of Alton Priors. (fn. 49) He was probably acting on behalf of his son-in-law Aldhelm Lambe, husband of his daughter Ruth, (fn. 50) in whose family it descended.
Aldhelm Lambe's eldest son John died c. 1546 in his father's lifetime, (fn. 51) and the estates passed to his son, another John. He died in 1615 holding three properties in East Coulston, one being the manor of 715 a., one called Burton's of 108 a., and one of 90 a. (fn. 52) It is possible that the largest of these was the Hereford or Beauchamp manor, and that the two smaller ones, having descended respectively through Burton and Frankeleyn, represented the share of the Countess of Salisbury in 1229. John Lambe's son, another John, was knighted before 1623, and died in 1659. Before his death he seems to have left Coulston, (fn. 53) and the estate was in the hands of his eldest son John by 1650. By then it was heavily encumbered by mortgages and John Lambe was forced by fraud, as he alleged, to sell parts of it to discharge them. (fn. 54) He sold the largest part with the manorial rights to his brother William, who had been bred up a merchant. He in turn sold part of the manor to his nephew Francis Godolphin, son of his sister Ruth; it consisted of three or four small copyholds, so that Godolphin could hold courts, and some other lands of small value. Lambe retained the manor house, and Godolphin built himself a new one, worth, as was alleged, only £200. Godolphin died in 1670 leaving his manor of East Coulston to his son William. (fn. 55)
Meanwhile, in 1669 William Lambe had sold the manor house of Coulston, over 100 a. of land, and four more copyholds to Sir Giles Hungerford of Corsham. (fn. 56) In 1678 Francis Godolphin, younger brother of William, sold most of his family's share of Coulston to Edward Hungerford, (fn. 57) from whom it passed like the rest of his estates to his uncle Sir Giles. The two chief parts of the manor were thus re-united. Sir Giles died in 1685, leaving Coulston to his widow Margaret (d. 1711) for her life and then to his daughter Margaret, who married Robert, Lord Lexinton of Aram. (fn. 58) In 1718 Lord Lexinton sold it to Sir Edward des Bouverie of Longford. In 1723 Sir Edward sold it to Sir Jacob des Bouverie, who two years later sold the manor to George Heathcote, all except the manor house and one farm which were sold at the same time to Townsend Andrews. In 1737 Peter Delmé bought both parts, (fn. 59) and Coulston subsequently descended to the families of Smith and Watson-Taylor in the same way as the manor of Erlestoke. (fn. 60)
The manor house of Coulston was presumably that sold by William Lambe to Sir Giles Hungerford in 1669, and occupied in the 18th century by Townsend Andrews. It is said to have stood in a paddock called Lambe's Lawn at the west end of the churchyard. (fn. 61) Foundations have been uncovered there from time to time, and the tradition remains in the village that the Lambes and Godolphins lived very close together. (fn. 62) The house now called Coulston House was occupied by tenant farmers of the estate. It is of two stories and five bays, stuccoed and with a double hipped roof of slate, and dates from c. 1770. Behind is an extensive range of contemporary brick farm buildings.
Even the sale to Sir Giles Hungerford in 1669 left some property in Coulston in the hands of William Lambe, although it must have been small. (fn. 63) It descended in his family to Thomas Lambe, a great-grandson of Sir John, who died a young man in 1741. His heir was his sister Meliora, successively wife of Thomas Polden of Imber and Richard Long of Rood Ashton. It is said to have been sold by her or at her death. (fn. 64)
The Godolphins also retained some property when they sold their part of the manor. It was probably little more than the house which Francis Godolphin had built c. 1658. It was occupied by his daughter Elizabeth, who married her cousin Charles Godolphin. She died without issue in 1726, and by her will founded the Godolphin School at Salisbury. (fn. 65) Her heir was her nephew William Godolphin, who lived at Coulston until his death at a great age in 1781. (fn. 66) He bought a small property, which included Coulston Mill, from Peter Delmé in 1740. (fn. 67)
The house of the Godolphins evidently formed part of that now known as Baynton House. After William Godolphin's death in 1781 it was bought by William Evelyn, who is said to have enlarged what was previously a house 'of very small pretensions'. (fn. 68) In 1796 it was bought by William Long, whose manor house of Baynton in Edington had been destroyed by fire. He also altered it and renamed it Baynton House. (fn. 69) John Long, who inherited his property, lived in it in 1840, (fn. 70) but it subsequently passed to the Watson-Taylors of Erlestoke, from whom it was bought by G. S. H. Pearson c. 1915. (fn. 71) Parts of the house at the back probably date from the first building of c. 1658, and in the hall there is re-used panelling of the same time. The east front of the house was built in the late 18th century; it is of five bays and two stories with a central Doric porch. The south wing is a somewhat later addition.
After the Civil War John Lambe, who then controlled his father's estates in Coulston, decided to sell parts of them to try to clear mortgages on the rest. Although he tried to sell in the open market, he was forced, as he alleged, by the fraud of his attorney, Robert Beach of West Ashton, to sell to the mortgagers. One property, consisting of meadow and pasture land in the north of the parish, passed in this way to Walter Norborne of Calne. (fn. 72) In the early 18th century it was held by Norborne's daughters and coheirs, Elizabeth, Viscountess Hereford, and Susan, wife of Sir Ralph Hare. Their property then consisted of two houses and some 500 a. of land, much of which lay in West Coulston, and some of which may have once formed part of the manor of Baynton in Edington. In 1709 the tenant was William Tayler, and his family held it as leaseholders until 1797, when George Tayler bought it from the Marquess of Bath. (fn. 73) In 1840 the property in East Coulston consisted of Stokes Marsh Farm of 180 a. (fn. 74) Brickfield Farm was built on it later in the century, and both farms were sold by the Tayler family c. 1945. (fn. 75)
The other property sold by John Lambe consisted of arable land on the 'East Hill' of Coulston and a sheep sleight, amounting to 400 a. in all. It was mortgaged to John Bennett of Steeple Ashton, and was sold at his instance to his son Christopher. (fn. 76) By 1680 it had descended to Christopher's son Thomas. (fn. 77) This farm was probably that now called Coulston Hill Farm, which was called Lambe's Farm in 1773 and 1811. (fn. 78) By 1780 Edward Norris owned it. Richard Norris died c. 1827, and the farm was sold to G. Watson-Taylor. (fn. 79)
In 1086 there was land for four ploughs at Coulston. Half of this was in demesne with 6 serfs, while 5 villeins and 3 bordars held the rest. (fn. 80) The 2/3 of the manor which were allotted to Humphrey de Bohun in 1229 (fn. 81) consisted of a capital messuage, 4½ virgates, 6 cotlands, and 2½ a. of land held by villeins, and a demesne of 146 a. Common meadow lay at Nordmede and Linmede (later Inmead), and common pasture in the marsh (the low ground in the north of the parish) and on the down. (fn. 82) In 1325 the same part of the manor, then leased to Simon Chamberlain, was in the king's hands for six weeks. (fn. 83) During that time pasture for 200 sheep was sold, and more pasture lay in the fallow lands. The pasture of the meadow and the marsh could not be sold because it was common in spring. (fn. 84) During Mary's reign 30 acres of meadow at Long Mead (on the parish boundary east of Brickfield Farm) were inclosed by Aldhelm Lambe, the lord of the manor. Before this the fields of Coulston and Erlestoke had not been separated, and the cattle of the two parishes had common over both fields. (fn. 85)
By the 17th century it is clear that almost all the lower part of the parish was inclosed, and that the only open-field arable lay on the down, with a sheep pasture beyond it to the south. (fn. 86) Stokes Marsh and Coulston Hill Farms both appear as separate freehold farms in the mid-17th century, (fn. 87) while in 1723 the part of Coulston manor which was sold by Sir Edward des Bouverie consisted of two farms, one of them the demesne farm, let at rack rents, and 17 cottages and other small holdings held by copies or leases for lives. (fn. 88) In 1783 dairy farming was the chief occupation of the inhabitants. (fn. 89) By 1800 the whole parish consisted chiefly of three farms. Inclosed meadow and pasture land in the north of the parish, with land in West Coulston, was owned and occupied by George Tayler. (fn. 90) In 1817 the farmhouse of this holding, named Coulston Dairy, lay in West Coulston, east of Baynton Dairy Farm, (fn. 91) but by 1840 it was being farmed from Stokes Marsh Farm. (fn. 92) In 1800 Richard Perret was tenant of the whole of Joshua Smith's estate in East Coulston and also land in West Coulston, (fn. 93) which in 1840 was farmed from the present Coulston House. (fn. 94) In the south of the parish Richard Norris owned and occupied Coulston Hill Farm. (fn. 95) By 1840 Jonathan Grant occupied both Perret's and Norris's farms, farming about 1100 acres in East and West Coulston; this included the whole of what had formerly been the open arable field of the manor on Coulston Hill. (fn. 96) When the Coulston estate was sold in 1914, Coulston Hill Farm was sold as one lot; it contained 334 acres, while only 85 acres were sold with Coulston House. Brickfield Farm was separated from Stokes Marsh Farm in 1919. (fn. 97)
A field east of Brickfield Farm was called Brickfield in 1840, but no workings are shown on the tithe map. (fn. 98) In 1867 (fn. 99) and 1885 (fn. 100) Robert Davis, brick and tile maker, worked in Coulston, no doubt on the same site.
There was a mill worth 10s. at Coulston in 1086. (fn. 101) A mill there belonged to Nicholas Frankeleyn in 1268, (fn. 102) and in 1325 a mill belonged to the part of the manor held by Simon Chamberlain. (fn. 103) A water corn-mill was sold by Peter Delmé to William Godolphin in 1740. It evidently lay above the church in what are now the grounds of Baynton House. (fn. 104) It was no doubt demolished by Godolphin or his successors, and its pond may be the origin of the ornamental lake now there. The late 18thcentury farm buildings at Coulston House include a water mill, probably built to replace the old one.
A church at East Coulston is first mentioned in 1214, (fn. 105) but the doorway on the north side of the nave is probably of the late 12th century. At the division of the manor in 1229 the advowson was allotted to Countess Ela, and followed the descent of the overlordship of her part of the manor until it was merged in the Duchy of Lancaster in 1399. (fn. 106) It was then exercised by the sovereign or the Lord Chancellor (fn. 107) with a few exceptions. In 1472 Sir Gilbert Debenham presented and the benefice was described as a vicarage. (fn. 108) In 1565 the rectory and advowson were granted in fee to Roger Langesford and Christopher Marten; (fn. 109) for some reason this grant never took effect, for at the next vacancy in 1569 the queen was still patron. In 1602 she presented because of the minority of William Brouncker, and William himself presented at the next vacancy in 1626. (fn. 110) This was perhaps because the rectory was leased for a term of years. In 1934 the benefice was united to that of Erlestoke, and it was arranged that the Lord Chancellor and the executors of G. S. A. Watson-Taylor should present alternately. (fn. 111) In 1951 the Watson-Taylor turn was transferred to the Diocesan Board of Patronage, (fn. 112) and in 1960 the Lord Chancellor's turn was also transferred to the board in exchange for an alternate interest in the advowson of Hindon with Chicklade and Pertwood. (fn. 113)
The benefice was valued at £5 in 1291, (fn. 114) and at £8 2s. 8d. gross in 1535. (fn. 115) In 1835 the average net income was £168 a year. (fn. 116) In the early 17th century the tithes were let to Gawen Flower of Imber for five years. (fn. 117) They were commuted for £170 in 1840. (fn. 118) The earliest account of the glebe is in a terrier of 1672, when it was estimated at 30½ a. (fn. 119) In 1680 the rector claimed common for 30 sheep in the sheepsleight and fields of a farm on the downs; his sheep were to go with the farm flock and fold the glebe land. (fn. 120) In 1887 there were 31 a. of glebe in Coulston and Steeple Ashton worth £93 a year. (fn. 121)
The church was served by a curate in 1685. (fn. 122) In 1783 the rector was also rector of Great Cheverell, and a curate, who served both churches for him, resided at Cheverell. He held a service at Coulston once each Sunday at about 2 p.m., which the parishioners found convenient because of their occupation with dairying. Most people attended, and the sacrament was adminis tered three times a year. (fn. 123) In 1812 lateness and irregularity of services were complained of. (fn. 124) Since the benefice was united with Erlestoke the rector has lived at that village.
The church, now dedicated to ST. THOMAS À BECKET, was dedicated to St. Andrew at least as early as 1506. (fn. 125) It is last referred to as St. Andrew in 1763, (fn. 126) and first as St. Thomas in 1786. (fn. 127) It consists of a nave with chancel, and transeptal chapel on the north. On the south side of the nave is a blocked doorway of the late 12th century, and the heavily-restored chancel arch was probably of the same period. The chancel was built in the 14th century but rebuilt in 1868, parts of the south windows and the piscina being preserved. The large north chapel was added in the 14th century, and was no doubt the Lady Chapel to which John Lambe left money for repairs in 1501. (fn. 128) There is a piscina on the east jamb of the arch, and a blocked doorway with exterior stoup in the north wall of the chancel. The western door of the nave and most of its windows are of the 17th century. (fn. 129)
In 1501 John Lambe left money at the discretion of his executors to repair the Lady Chapel and the church. (fn. 130) In 1613 John Lambe left £4 for the repair of the church. (fn. 131) Elizabeth Godolphin (d. 1726) left £200 to be laid out in beautifying the chancel, and £80 to provide a yearly payment to a poor widow to keep the chancel clean. (fn. 132) The chancel was relaid with marble in 1728, (fn. 133) no doubt from this bequest, and in 1731 the rector received a velvet carpet for the communion table from Elizabeth Godolphin's executor. (fn. 134) The church was in bad condition in 1812, (fn. 135) and was restored in 1842. (fn. 136) The extent of the work is not known, but apparently included the removal of a transept on the south side which had been built by the Godolphin family to hold a seat. (fn. 137) Patches of brickwork on the exterior walls may date from this time, and the buttresses of the nave and the vestry on the north are probably of a later restoration. The roof of the nave was restored in 1935. (fn. 138) During the incumbency of C. W. Buckley, 1949–62, electric light was installed, the transept was restored and furnished as a chapel, and the church was practically re-roofed. (fn. 139)
Two brass coffin plates which were found in 1856 in a vault outside the south wall are fixed to the south wall inside the church. (fn. 140) Francis Saville Kent, who was murdered at Rode Hill, aged 3 years and 10 months, in 1860, is buried in the churchyard. (fn. 141)
The commissioners of Edward VI noted 2 bells at Coulston in 1553. (fn. 142) Only one, uninscribed, existed in 1959 on a bracket outside the west end of the nave. (fn. 143) No plate was mentioned in 1559. (fn. 144) In 1959 there was a large chalice with cover and paten, hall-marked 1683, given by Rebecca Bennett, and an almsdish hall-marked 1731 and engraved with the arms of Elizabeth Godolphin (d. 1726). (fn. 145) The registers are complete from 1714 except for a gap in baptisms from 1751 to 1754. (fn. 146)
In 1851 a congregation of about 30 Primitive Methodists met in a cottage in East Coulston, and about 40 Baptists in a cottage in West Coulston, where they had been meeting since 1831. (fn. 147) The Baptists were no doubt organized from the chapel at Bratton, of which they were certainly a station by 1868. (fn. 148) A small chapel was built in 1872, but closed in 1937. (fn. 149) In 1963 it was being converted to a private dwelling.
In 1808 about 10 very young children were taught by an old woman, who was paid 2d. a week for each child. (fn. 150) In 1819 there was a day school for 20 girls, but the curate considered that the poor were not desirous of education. (fn. 151) A school was built in West Coulston by Simon Watson-Taylor c. 1855. There was a master's house attached, and the schoolroom, which was described as large and well-ventilated, could be divided into two. In 1859 50–60 pupils of both sexes were taught by a respectable middle-aged master assisted by a sewing mistress. (fn. 152) In 1875 East Coulston and Edington were made a United District and a School Board was formed. (fn. 153) In 1893 average attendance was only 27. An endowment of £4. 3s. 9d. a year was received, but it is not known from whom. (fn. 154) By 1899 the school was closed, (fn. 155) and the children were sent to the one at Tinhead. In 1963 the schoolroom was used as the village hall, and the remainder was a dwelling house.
Apart from the Godolphin charity referred to above, (fn. 156) no charities have been endowed in East Coulston.