Somerset IV

Somerset Vol IV
Edited by: 
R.W. Dunning
First Published: 
1 January, 1978

The fourth volume of the history of Somerset contains the histories of the parishes in the three ancient hundreds of Crewkerne, Martock, and South Petherton. Lying near the middle of the southern edge of the county, there are, in all, 21 parishes (including Wambrook, transferred to Somerset from Dorset in 1896), and they range in size from Martock, containing nine separate settlements and over 7,000 acres, to Seavington St. Michael, with less than 300 acres. While agriculture predominates, there is considerable variation between the fertile arable of the Yeovil Sands to the north and the woodlands and pastures around Windwhistle ridge to the south; manufacturing industry, moreover, was represented not only by the works in Mar-tock but also by the making of coarse cloth and rope at Lopen. The three market towns of Crewkerne, Martock, and South Petherton, which give their names to the hundreds, probably all had Saxon minster churches: the name of Misterton parish records its dependence on the minster at Crewkerne. The smaller places also have much historical interest. New interpretations are offered, for example, of the building of Hinton house in Hinton St. George, the seat of the earls Poulett, with a park stretching into neighbouring Dinnington, and of Barrington Court. Other manor-houses featured are Avishays (in Chaffcombe), Cricket St. Thomas, Wayford, and Whitestaunton. Among the many re-markable parish churches not only the larger ones but also the smaller are discussed and illustrated, including those of Chilling-ton, Cudworth, Knowle St. Giles, and Shepton Beauchamp. The people who figure in the parish histories include, besides members of noble families and the landed gentry, humbler people like John Scott the 'orchardist' of Merriott, the followers of Joanna Southcott at Dowlish Wake, and the village carpenter and wheelwright of Seavington St. Mary.