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Parker 

Ancient History of Bridgwater 
and its Neighboui4iood 




THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 






R THE ANCIENT § 

i 

i Wutox^ of ir%&iato, 'f 

I a 

2 AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD; 7 

i i 

T) ALSO POEMS CONNECTED THEREWITH, i 

t 

I BV 

GEORGE PARKER. (^ 




A superior Ldilion, u-itk Photograph of St. Mary's Church price Is. 



THE ANCIENT 



HISTORY OF BRIDGWATER 



AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD; 



ALSO POEMS CONNECTED THEREWITH. 



BY GEORGE PARKER. 



BKIPGWATER : 
PBINTED AND PUBLISHED BY E. T, PAGE, FORE STREET. 

1877. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/ancienthistoryofOOparkiala 



61 

PREFACE. Bl7Rl 



TT affords pleasure to the Author of this book to find 
that although onl}' a few months have passed since 
its publication, a Second Edition is required, as it seems 
a proof that it has been acceptable to the general 
public. Bridgwater and its neighbourhood the reader 
will find from an examination into its Ancient History, 
have been at certain periods pecvdiarly mixed up with 
the history of our country, indeed events have occured 
which were turning points of great interest and import- 
ance. As efforts have been used to afford literary 
amusement and information, the Second Edition is 
•launched in hope, that it may be borne on the tide of 

success. 

HOPE. 

There's Hope in the darkness, there's Hope in the light, 
There's Hope to the peaceful, there's Hope in the fight. 
There's Hope on the mountain, when whitened with flocks, 
There's Hope on the ocean, when waves dash the rocks, 
There's Hope in the mine, when deprived of Heaven's face. 
There's Hope when the aeronauts vanish in space. 
There's Hope for the sufferer whilst life blood still flow^s, 
There's Hope for the convict, degraded with woes. 
When no glimpse of light or of joy can be seen. 
When care upon care casts its shade on the scene. 
Bear up good Christian, be faithful and true, 
And Hopes out of number will wait upon you. 
It will change the deep shadows that darken your way. 
To the smiles and the blessings, and brightness of day. 



1109877 



THE ANCIENT 

HISTORY OF BRIDGWATER. 

fCTR old town is situated in the heart of Somerset- 
shire. The land around it is peculiarly rich and 
fertile ; the population of the borough at the last census 
exceeded twelve thousand. It has a circuitous river,* 
where the tidal wave flows twice in the day, sometimes 
rushing up with a head of six feet, and at spring tides 
rising often to the height of twenty feet. There is a 
sediment left on the banks of the river, which has 
long been a source of wealth to the merchants, 
and gives considerable employment to the labouring 
people. From this sediment bricks are manufactured, 
which when finished and dried ofi", are of a white colour. 
These bricks are called scouring-bricks : they have been 
improperly, by some, called Bath bricks, which can only 
be accounted for by their being something of the colour 
of Bath stone. They are only made at Bridg- 
water ; they have been found useful for many manufac- 
turing purposes, and are now largely exported. This 
peculiar clay can only be gathered within a mile of the 
town on either side ; if beyond that distance, towards 
the sea, there is in the mixture too much sand, and if 
in the opposite direction too much clay. 

There is a considerable depth of excellent clay in the 
lands around the town, from which are manufactured 
building bricks, tiles and other goods of very superior 
quality. This may be termed the staple trade. Still 
there are many other sources of trade ; quantities of oak 

*Salmon caught in the river Parrett is highly prized for its excel- 
lent flavour ; formerly when the lands bordering on the river were 
undraiued, greater facility was given for the fish to spawn, and the 
river was not so disturbed by vessels as at present, consequently sal- 
mon was so abundant it was sold about 2d. per lb. It is recorded that 
in old indentures of apprenticeship a clause was inserted that the ap- 
prentice should not be obliged to eat salmon more than twice a week. 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 



and elm timber grown in our neighbourhood are from 
time to time exported. There are floating-docks, where 
vessels of large size can discharge their cargoes, so that 
a considerable foreign, as well as coasting trade is carried 
on — the coal trade especially. There is a line of com- 
munication from the docks to the Bristol and Exeter 
Railway, giving great facility to trade transactions. 
The public buildings and shops are of a superior de- 
scription. The general market-day is held on Wednes- 
day ; there is also a provision market on Saturday. 
Both in corn and cattle a large business is transacted. 
The houses that have been built within a few years in 
the south-east and west of the town are proofs of the 
general prosperity. At the mouth of the river Parrot 
lies Burnham, about eight miles from Bridgwater. It 
is a watering place, fast improving, celebrated for its 
invigorating Atlantic breezes and splendid beach. It 
is now to be reached by rail, and when its health- giving 
powers are better known it will no doubt be more and 
more frequented. The land around Bridgwater is, as I 
have stated, very rich and fertile, especially the grazing 
land. There is one large space of ground, containing 
about one thousand acres, in a ring fence, formerly held 
by the Powlett family, now by Lord de Mauley, which is, 
I understand, let at from £5 to £6 per acre. It is called 
Pawlett Hams. This property once belonged to the 
celebrated John of Gaunt. He, it is said, bequeathed 
it by a will of a peculiarly quaint description. It ran 

thus : — 

" I, John of Gaunt, do give and grant, 
From me and mine to thee and thine, 
All that portion of land, 
Known by the name of Pawlett Hams." 

Some of the heaviest Christmas oxen shown at 
Smithfield market are grazed on these lands. 

The farms in the neighbourhood, many of them vei 
large, are held by wealthy agriciilturists. There are 
also smaU farmers, holding very respectable positions^B 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 



indeed, the inhabitants of the town of Bridgwater are 
much blessed by a kind Providence in having such 
sources of supply around them. 

Our neighbourhood is honoured by having been mixed 
up with the history of Alfred the Great. He laid the 
foundation of all England's power. Before his time 
the towns in England were scarcely worthy of the name. 

In giving an account of the historical matters we 
must not omit one of the most important events of the 
kingdom, about the year 880, as upon its issue the 
liberty and happiness of its people rested. Alfred, or 
iElfred, the Grreat King of England, was indebted to 
the protection afforded him by a herdsman and his wife 
in the Isle of -35thingley, now known as Athelney, 
which lies about seven miles from Bridgwater. Tradi- 
tion says that when Alfred first came to Athelney he 
was set by the gude wife to watch a cake by the fire 
while she went to feed the pigs, and on her return he 
received a scolding for having neglected his charge. At 
length he made himself known, and built a fort for the 
security of himself and family and a few faithful ser- 
vants who repaired thither to him. When he had been 
about a year in this retreat, having been informed that 
some of his subjects had attacked a great army of the 
Danes, killed their chief, and taken their magical stan- 
dard, he issued letters giving notice where he was, and 
inviting the nobility to come and consult with him. 
Much importance was attached to the fact of the magical 
standard being taken, as the Danes were very super- 
stitious. This banner, Sir Thomas Spelman says, had 
on it the image of a raven, magically wrought by the 
three sisters of Hinguar and Hubba, having been begun 
and finished in a single noontide, on purpose for their 
expedition, in revenge of their father's (Lodebrook's) 
murder. It was believed by the Danes to have been 
charmed with great fatality. It is pretended that being 
carried in battle, it would seem to clap its wings and 



6 The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 

make as if it would fly when victory was imminent ; but 
on the approach of a mishap would hang down and not 
move. Before Alfred and his nobility came to a final 
determination as to their proceedings, he, putting on 
the habit of a harper, went into the enemy's camps, 
where, without suspicion, h.e was readily admitted, and 
had the honour to play before their princes. Having 
thus acquired great knowledge of their situation, he 
returned in secresy to the nobility at Athelney, whom 
he ordered to their respective homes, there to draw 
together each man as large a force as he could, and 
upon a day appointed, there was to be a great ga- 
thering at a point named. This afi'air was transacted so 
secretly and expeditiously that in a little time the king 
at the head of an army approached the Danes before 
they had the least intelligence of his design. Alfred, 
taking advantage of their surprise and terror, fell upon 
and totally defeated them at ^thendune, now Edington. 
Those who escaped fled to a neighbouring castle, where 
they were soon besieged and obliged to surrender at dis- 
cretion. So decisive was the battle that the Danes de- 
livered him hostages and covenants to depart out of his 
dominions, and that their king should be baptized, which 
was accomplished. King Alfred receiving their king, 
(Guthrum) at the font, named him Edelstane. Divers 
others of the Danish nobility, to the number of 30, came 
up at the same time and were baptized, on whom Kin« 
Alfred bestowed many gifts. To speak in the praise dj 
so noble a prince as Alfred requires much eloquence 
It is said Guthrum was baptized in Aller Church, nea 
Langport. 

To the inquiry whence sprung the Somersetshire pec 
pie, we shall find, from the history of the Saxon Englisl 
settlement, that, as far as they are the old Holstein anc 
Sleswick stock, they would have sprung from the "Wes 
Saxons, who landed on the shores of Hampshire, undeij 
the leaders Cerdic and Cynic, in 495, and spread slowly^ 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 7 

through Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset and 
for some years, if not generations, stayed still at the 
rivers Parret, and Upper Axe, which were an understood 
boundary between the Saxon English and the British 
races. In Somersetshire men there is British blood, and 
it is supposed that at Glastonbury, in Somersetshire, the 
first Christian church was erected. 

The first historical notice of Bridgwater is from 
Domesday Book, made in the year ot our Lord 1080, 
and completed in 1086, in the time of "William the Con- 
queror. It is called " Donms Dei," the book being 
deposited in the King's Treasury. In the time 
of Edward the Confessor commissioners were sent into 
every county and shire to ascertain from the inhabi- 
tants, upon oath, the name of each manor and that of 
its owner, also by whom it was held ; the number of hides 
[a), the quantity of wood, of pasture and of meadow 
land ; how many ploughs were in demesne, and how 
many in the tenanted part of it ; how many mills, and 
how many fish-ponds or fisheries belonged to it, with the 
value of the whole together in the time of Edwaid, as 
well as when granted by King William ; and, at the 
time of this survey, also whether it was capable of im- 
provement or being advanced in value. The return 
was to include the tenants of every degree, the quantity 
of land then and formerly held by each of them, the 
number of villeins [h) or slaves, and also the number 
and description of live stock. King Alfred had a roll 
which he called " Domesday" and which referred to the 
time of Ethelrod. In Domesday Book Bridgwater is 
thus described : — " Walter Doway holds Brugie. Merle 
Swain, a Saxon thane, held it at the time of King 

(a) A hide of land was the quantity ploughed with one plough, 
within a year. Some say 80, some 100 acres. 

(h) Villeins, a sort of people in a condition of downright servi- 
tude, used and employed in the most servile work, and belonging, 
both they and their children and effects to the lords of the soil. 



8 The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 

Edward, and it was assessed at the Geld for five hides. 
The arable land was sufficient for ten ploughs — five 
bondmen (c), thirteen villeins, nine bordars {d), five 
cottagers (Cottarii) who have eight ploughs. There is 
a mill (the one now in Bluke-street) which yields five 
shillings annually, and ten acres of meadow, one hun- 
dred acres of coppice wood, and thirty acres of pasture. 
When Walsein received it it was worth 100 shillings — 
now seven pounds. Walse had in demesne two hides of 
land and three ploughs, and the villein tenants three 
hides. Walsein had thirteen neat cattle, seven hogs 
and sixty-one sheep." Walter Doway was a Norman 
knight, of a family which derived their surname from 
the town of Douai in France. Having attended the 
Conqueror to England he was rewarded with numerous 
manors in the counties of Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire and 
Surrey. His chief residence was Bampton, in Devon- 
shire, which was the head of the barony. At his death 
he left issue one son — Robert, who took the surname of 
Bampton or Baunton. Having no male issue he left all 
his estates to Julian, his only daughter, who became the 
wife of William Paganel, a great baron of that time. 
William Paganel was the second son of Ralph Paganel 
Baron of Dudley, in the county of Staiford, son ofFulk 
Paganel, who came into England with William the 
Conqueror. In the 12th Henry II., upon the assess- 
ment for marrying the King's daughter, he certified 
that he held fifteen knight's lees of the old feoffment (<?), 
and half a knight's fee of the new feoffment by his wife, 
Julian de Bampton. He had one son — Fulk Paganel 



(c) Bondmen, who did fealty. They were to be true to theiri 
lord, under whom they held their land, performing services, such aa 
thrashing, drawing water, cutting wood, &c. 

(d) Bordars, or bordelode, a service required of tenants-^that of 
carrying timber out of the woods of the lord to the house. 

(e) Feoffment. From the verb Feoffare, "to give one a feud," 
the gift or grant of any hereditaments to another, — feod or feud is 
defined to be a right. 






The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 9 

who, in tlie 26 Henry II., paid a thousand marks for 
livery ( /) of the honour of Barapton, his mother's in- 
heritance. The Fulk Paganel having committed some 
great offence which obliged him to seek safety in flight, 
his lands were given to William Bandolph, but he con- 
veyed the lordship of Bridgwater to William de Briwere. 
The baronial family of Briwere had large possessions in 
the counties of Devon and Somerset. Camden, in his 
"Britannia" says that in the reigns of Henry II., 
Eichard I. and John, the family had the surname of 
Briwere because the father of William (presently men- 
tioned) was born on a heath, Latin Bruenuum. The 
family is for the first time mentioned in history in the 
26 Henry II. "William Briwere, the son of Henry 
above mentioned, in consideration of thirty-one marks 
of silver (whereof ten were acquitted for his service, 
and the rest paid in money), purchased ofHawisede 
Ilesham the inheritance of all the lands at Ilesham. 
This "William was in great favour with King Richard I. 
and John. In the reign cf the latter monarch the king 
confirmed him in the inheritance of Bridgwater, which 
he had obtained from Fulk Paganel with the knight's 
fees and the advowson of the Church. He also obtained 
license to enclose his woods and to have free warren 
throughout for hares, partridges and pheasants ; and in 
the following year the king gave him license to build 
three castles — one in Devonshire, another at Bridgwater 
{g), and the third wherever he should think fit. The 
king also granted him at the same time an ample charter 
for his lordship of Bridgwater in the following words : 
" John, by the grace of God, &c., — Know ye that we 
have given and granted, and by this present charter con- 
firmed, to our beloved and faithful "William de Briwere, 

(f) Livery. Formerly great men gave liveries to several who 
were not of their families or servants to engage them in their qxianels. 
This was prohibited by statute Kichard 11. 1 Henry IV. 

(g) Bridgwater Castle stood where the present King's Square is 
built. The ruins of its foundations were visible about 70 years since. 



10 The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 

that Bridgwater sliall be a free borough, and there shall 
be a free market and a fair erery year for eight days, 
commencing on the day of the nativity of St. John, with 
toll, pastage, stallage, and all other liberties and free 
customs to a free borough, and to a market and fair be- 
longing." The charter was witnessed by William Mar- 
shall, Earl of Pembroke, the Earl of Chester, Earl of 
Salisbury, and William de E-upibus, steward of Anjou, 
&c., and dated " by the hand of St. Wellers, Archdeacon 
of Gloucester, at Truro, June 2nd of our reign." In the 
year of the King Henry III., 1216, William de Briwere, 
being made governor of the castle of Lidford, obtained 
a grant from the king of the lands of Maud de Chandos, 
and also the lands of Henry de Columbus, in Woolav- 
ington, and the Sheriff of Somerset was commanded to 
deliver him possession of those lands accordingly. In 
the eighth year of the same king he obtained the ward- 
ship of the heir of Reginald de Mohuu, of Dunster, 
whom he after srards married to one of his daughters. 
In the time of King Richard I. he founded the Abbey 
of St. Saviour's, at Torre, in the county of Devon, and 
in the. 3rd John he began the foundation of the Abbey 
of Dunkeswell, in the same county for Cistercian monks. 
After that he foimded the hospital of St. John {h) 

(lb) The site of St. John's Hospital was at the end of Eastover, 
aaJd in tligging for the foundation of a house near the present Queen's 
Head Inn some years ago was found a stone coffin. The following 
is a list of masters of yt. John's Hospital : — Geoffrey de Mark« 1258; 
H-enry da Stamford, 1.312; John de Walchyn, 1334; Thomas de 
Baddicott, 1340 ; Thomas Pulton, 1422 ; Roger Cory, 1449 ; John 
Holford, 1457 ; Thomas Spencer, 1498 ; Robert Walsh, 1524. 

The word hospital is from the Latin word Iwspes, host, a term of 
mutual relation applied both to a person who lodges and entertains 
another, and to the person being thus lodged. The duty of hospi- 
tality was so necessary in early ages that it was even enforced by 
statutes, and those who neglected the duty were liable to punishment. 

It was the custom when any stranger called and asked for lodg- 
ings for the master of the house and the stranger to each of them 
set a foot on their own side of the threshold and swear they would 
neither of tliem do any harm to the other. 



The Ancient Bistory of Bridgicater. 11 



Bridgwater. He also built the Castle and the Haven 
at Bridgwater, and began the structure of the stone 
bridge there, consisting of three great arches, wliich 
was afterwards completed by Sir Thomas Trivett. Wm. 
Briwere, jun., after the example of his father, founded 
in the western part of the town a Priory of Minorites, or 
Grey Friars (called Grey from the colour of the dress 
they wore), which he dedicated to St. Francis, and en- 
dowed with lands. One of the Lords Bettereny and his 
wife were great benefactors to this house, and his heart 
and her body were buried in this chapel. It seems to 
have been built about A.D. 1230. Wm. Briwere, jun., 
died 1232. The site of this Priory was granted in the 
35th Henry the 8th, 1543, to Emmanuel Lukar, a goodly 
dwelling being erected on the spot. The field now 
known by the name of the Friars is the site of the Priory 
in question. It has already been stated that in the 
reign of John, Briwere Ihiilt Bridgwater Castle. Al- 
though ancient historians have spoken of castles as seats 
of oppression, at times their noble owners displayed great 
hospitality, and by the influence they possessed obtained 
for towns privileges from the Crown, which were most 
valuable, and increased their importance in a ma- 
terial degree. The Castle of Bridgwater having 
belonged to such powerful barons, and having been at 
length vested in the crown, was undoubtedly of much 
value to the town. Lord Dawbenny, to whom King 
Henry YII granted fee-farm rent out of the town of 

It was this ceremony that raised so much horror against those who 
violated the right of hospitality, inasmuch as they were looked upon 
as perjured. 

The Hospital of St. John, at Bridgwater, was no doubt a great 
blessing to poor pilgrims on their way to Glastonbury from Devon & 
Cornwall, and it seems the infirm and diseased were most kindly and 
amply provided for. 

Those institutions although not necessary in our days, were known 
in early ages as seats of learning and sacred resting places for all 
who sought in seclusion that peace which the world denied them. 



12 The Ancient Hidovy of Biidgicatcr. 

Bridgwater, and of lands late the property of the Lord 
Zouch and St. Maur, was descended from the noble 
family, D'Albini Brito, whose ancestor, Kobert Todeni, 
was one of the victorious chieftains that accompanied 
William Duke of Normandy into England, and after- 
wards seated himself at Belvoir Castle. The father of 
this Lord Dawbenny was Sir Wm. Dawbenny, Lord of 
the Manor of South Petherton, and he himself was a 
person of great influence with King Henry VIL In 
the 17 Edward IV., 1476, being then one of the esquires 
of the body of the king, he had, in consideration of 
his many services a grant for life of the custody of the 
King's Park, North Petherton, and in the 14th year, 
of the same reign was retained to serve the King in 
Normandy with four men-at-arms and fifty archers. On 
the accession of Richard to the throne, this Giles Daw- 
benny was one of those consulted by Margaret Countess 
of Richmond, mother of Henry VII, on the " bringing 
in" of that prince. After the victory of Bosworth, 
when King Richard was slain and the crown placed on 
the head of his successful competitor. King Henry 
appointed him to be one of his chief councillors, also 
constable of the Castle of Bristol and Master of the 
Mint. He likewise advanced him to the dignity of a 
baron, by the iitle of Lord Dawbenny. In the 19th of 
Henry VII, 1503, he was made constable of the castle 
of Bridgwater, and four years afterwards departed this 
life, and was interred at St. Paul's Chapel, Westminster. 
By his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Arundel, 
of Llanherne, knight, he had issue, Henry, his only son 
and one daughter, Cecily. This son Henry, in the 6th 
of Henry VIII. , 1514, had a special living of all the 
lands of which his father died possessed, and in the 30th 
of the same reign, 1539, was advanced to the title of 
Earl of Bridgwater. He married Catherine, daughter 
of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, but dying without 
issue the title became extinct. From the perusal of the 
life of Lord Dawbenny, it is evident that the time in 



The Ancient History of Bridijuaier. l.'j 

which he lived was most unsettled and harassing, and 
that the noblest struggled for power and rank irrespec- 
tive of the sufferings of those who raised them to their 
eminence. Upon the division of the estate of the family 
of Briwere, the castle and manor of Bridgwater fell to 
the eldest sister, Grecia, who was married to Reginald 
Braose, Lord of Brecknock. Reginald iiraose died the 
Cth of Henry III, 1222, leaving issue by the said Grecia, 
William, his son and heir, who was afterwards assassin- 
ated by Llewellyn, Prince of Wales. His eldest daugh- 
ter, Maude, married Roger de Mortimer, to whom the 
castle of Bridgwater fell. One of the Mortimers became 
at length Earl of March, the last of whom married Ann, 
the daughter of Edward, Earl of Stafford, and departed 
this life on the 19th January, 1424, being then about 
24 years of age. He died without issue, whereupon 
Richard, Duke of York, was, by an inquisition, found to 
be next of kin, the lands of the Earl of March, (says Sir 
Wm. Dugdale) were in the counties of England and 
Wales, and were many and great, among them the castle 
and the third part of the borough of Bridgwater, with 
the manors of Haygrove and North Petherton. The 
Duke of York married Cecily, daughter of Ralph Ne- 
ville, Earl of Westmoreland, in 1460, leaving issue 
Edward IV., who inherited his estates. The castle and 
the third part of the manor of Bridgwater, with other 
lands, thus became vested in the Crown. It was at sub- 
sequent periods held by the Queen's Consort of England 
and in this right they had a share in the patronage of 
the Hospital of St. John, which in 1524, was divided 
into three parts, one of which belonged to Catherine, 
Queen of England, and the two other parts to Henry, 
Lord de Dawbenny. King Charles, by letters patent, 
bearing date 11th of July, in the second year of this 
reign, 1625, granted to Sir William Whitmore, and 
George Whitmore, Esq., and their heirs, the manor 
and castle of Bridgwater. The Whitmores sold the 
manor of Bridgwater Castle and manorof Haygrove, &c. 



14 The Ancient Uisfon/ of Bridgwater. 

to Henry Harvey, Esq., of Bridgwater, who bad issue 
two sons, Henry and John. The elder of these two in- 
herited the estate, but having no issue gave it by will, 
dated 1669, to his uncle John in 1790. The head of 
the family was Eobert Harvey, M.D, sometime Fellow 
of Sydne\^ College, Cambridge. The castle was leased 
out by Henry Harvey to Edward Wyndham, the King's 
governor, 1645, being two years before the siege thereof 
by the Parliamentary army under Sir Thomas Fairfax. 

In order to understand the nature of the proceedinga 
in this part of Somersetshire in the year 1645 betweerf 
the Royal and Parliamentary armies, the former com- 
manded by Lord Goring, the latter by Sir Thomas 
Fairfax, it will be necessary to allude to the operations 
which preceded the battle of Langport, more particularly 
as the victory gained at that place by the Parliamentary 
army led to the siege and storming of Bridgwater. 
Lord Clarendon in his history of the rebellion, and 
Sprugge in his history of the actions and successes of 
Sir Thomas Fairfax's army, together with papers pub- 
lished by Parliament, are the principal authorities for 
the relation. About the beginning of July, according 
to Lord Clarendon, Sir Thomas Fairfax entered Somerset- 
shire, which county (with the exception of Taunton, 
which was defended by Blake of Bridgwater) was then 
altogether in the power of the King. Lord Goring, who 
commanded the Royal army, had found it convenient to 
draw his forces from the siege of Taunton, and he ap- 
peared to advance against Sir Thomas Fairfax, as if he 
intended to give him battle. Lord Goring posted his 
army between the rivers about Langport very advan- 
tageously for the defence, having a body of horse and 
foot but little inferior in number to the Parliamentary 
army, although, by great negligence, he had allowed 
his foot soldiers to moulder away before Taunton for 
want of provisions, whilst his horsemen enjoyed plenty 
even to excess. He had been in the vicinity of Lang- 



I 



Tlie Ancient Uislory of Bridgwater. 15 

port but a very few days when the Parliamentary forces, 
at noonday, surprised a detachment of more than 1 ,000 
horse, commanded by General Porter. Although they 
were in a valley, and could have discerned the enemy 
comiagdown the hill at the distance of halt'a mile at leas't 
Fairfax's troops were upon them before the dragoons 
could mount their hors3s, which were grazing in an ad- 
joining field. They were entirely routed, and many of 
them taken prisoners. The next day, notwithstanding all 
advantages of passes and positions, another party of Sir 
Thomas Fairfax's cavalry attacked the whole of the 
Royal array, routed it, and took two pieces of cannon, 
and pursued Lord Goring's soldiers through Langport, 
a town which (says the historian) if it had been well ar- 
ranged, and the people not oppressed, would have 
sheltered him and resisted the enemy, and drove them 
to the walls of Bridgwater, to which place his lordship 
retired in j^reat disorder. He rested there that night, 
leaving to the garrison of Bridgwater the cannon, am- 
munition and carriages, and as many soldiers as the 
Government desired. The next day Lord Goring re- 
tired into Devonshire, after a disaster which was no less 
than the defeat of the whole Royal army. His lordship 
retired to Barnstaple, and quartered his army over the 
whole north of Devon. The following is the copy of a. 
communication containing extracts from a diary kept in 
1645, and addressed by Sir Thomas Fairfax to the Par- 
liament, giving details of the events referred to : — 

" An account I gave you in my last of our affairs till 
yesterday. I left Goring, (the Royalist General) with 
his whole army at Langport. Yesterday we advanced 
to Long Sutton, drawing out that part of the army which 
we had into Sutton field. The rest, being from' 400 to 
500 horse and dragoons at the least, under the command 
of Major-General Massey, were on the other side of the 
river, and those eight regiments of foot which we had 
at Naseby Field, were also quartered at Martock. Mas- 



10 The Ancient Uisfori/ of Bridgwater. 

sey advanced with his horse and dragoons, having foot 
to back them, to North Curry, being ordered to straiten 
the enemy's quarters and to hinder them from any 
phindering exercise. It seems five hundred of them, 
being upon some design out of place, and having no 
intelligence of General Massey's movements, were sur- 
prised. Being in a careless position, he fell on them, 
the result being nine colours, 200 prisoners and about 
250 horse, about 30 being slain. We, in the meantime 
were drawn up within a mile of Langport, with those 
horpe and foot the General had with him. Not knowing 
of his engagement, and there being three rivers between 
him and us, and the way almost twelve miles' march, 
the last night we quartered at Sutton, and this morning 
by three o'clock drew into Sutton Field, having with us 
but four regiments of horse — namely. General Crom- 
well's, Whalley's, Richard Fleetwood's and Butler's, 
which were not in all 2,000 horse. Of foot, we had all 
but the musqueteers of three regiments. Early in the 
morning the enemy appeared in the field, and about seven 
o'clodc they had made themselves masters of a pass which 
lay in the midst between us and them, with at least 
2,000 musqueteers ; so that the passage to them was ex- 
tremely dangerous, being so straight that four horses 
could hardly pass abreast, and that up to their bellies in 
water — they lying so in the flanks and fronts to receive 
us. In that posiure they stood till near 11 o'clock, 
having, in the interim, sent away most of their train 
and baggage, led horses and other lumber to Bridgwater, 
being resolved to make good their retreat thither. We 
understanding their intentions by some scouts and other 
countrymen, resolved to charge them, and accordingly 
drew down a commanded party of musqueteers to beat 
them from the hedges, which was done in gallant style 
advancing at the same time with two regiments of horse 
into the lane. All that we could draw up in front was 
but a single troop, and that commanded by Bethell. 
The enemy, standing ready with two bodies of horse of 



The Ancient Hktory of Bridgwater. 17 

about 1,000 to charge him, he, with a single troop, 
broke two of their divisions of about 400 ; received the 
charge of the third division both in front and flank, 
was somewhat overborne at last, and forced to retire to 
the General's regiment which was about 100 yards be- 
hind Desborough. The General's troop sheltered him- 
self, and with about 200 horse of the General's regiment 
dispossessed the enemy and set them all a running ; 
gained freedom by it for all our horse and foot to draw 
into bodies, the enemy not being able to endure another 
charge. The General, Lieutenant-General and some 
officers upon the hill, beholding the gallant charges, 
commended it for the most excellent piece of service 
that ever was in England. We had them in chase al- 
most to Bridgwater, having put them to the cleanest 
rout that ever any enemy was put to. What the num- 
ber of the slain may be I cannot tell you, being just 
come from the chase. The prisoners come in already 
are 900, and I conceive there will come in as many as 
will make 2,000 and 1,200 horse at the least. For 
colours I am uncertain — I dare say at 40. The arms 
about 4,000 ; two pieces of ordnance I saw and divers 
carriages of ammunition, and to make it a complete 
victory we pursued the enemy through Langport, 
having gained the garrison, and though they fired the 
town just at the bridge, yet we followed the victory 
through the fire. The success of that victory, (next 
to God) must be ascribed unto the good management 
of the General, and to Cromwell following the chase 
through Langport, where he himself passed through, 
the fire flaming both sides of him. The enemy cried 
out that they were now utterly undone, and that the 
King must go into Ireland. The victory was oppor- 
tune, in regard had they stayed but three days longer 
Goring would have had reinforcements of six thousand 
horse and foot from Grenville and the King, they 
being transporting their forces as fast as can be to 
Minehcad, Watchet, and Uphill, there being 1,500 that 



18 TJ^e Ancient History of Bridgirater. 

landed at Uphill, which came to Bridgwater yester- 
day. Sir, this is all at present, from your affectionate, 
humble servant, " Fairfax. 

" Langport, July 10, 7 o'clock." 

The scout brought, by way of postscript for further 
satisfaction, the following : — "The fight was very hot, 
and lasted about two hours. About three o'clock Goring 
himself was got to Bridgwater, Prince Charles being 
gone from thence before, and Lord Hopton with him, to 
Barnstaple, with three troops of horse, to raise what 
forces they could in those parts to join with those that 
were to come from Grenville. Rupert was gone to the 
King before. Sir John Berkely was drawn off, for some 
discontent or other, towards Exeter, but, it is believed, 
is returning with Grenville. The cavaliers seem to be 
very sorrowful for their losses, including 300 slain and 
left dead on the place ; divers oificers carried dead and 
some wounded into Bridgwater. The prisoners, num- 
bering two thousand, included the following : — Six 
colonels, some of whom are notorious incendiaries ; 
fourteen lieutenants, colonels and majors; 100 captains 
^nd other officers of note. There were also captured 
1,200 horse, forty colours of horse and foot, 4,000 arms, 
pistols, carbines, firelocks, muskets, pikes and two pieces 
of ordnance, six cartloads of ammunition, powder, match, 
and all their bag and baggage which they left on the, 
field." 

The next day, July 11, Fairfax's army was as I 
have stated, drawn up on Weston Moor, near Penzoy 
Pound. — July 12. Fairfax reccnnoitred the situation 
of Bridgwater, and found a regular fortification with 
a ditch around thirty feet wide, filled with water at 
every tide, and the garrison consisting of 1,800 
soldiers — a castle of strength within it — and forty 
pieces of cannon mounted on the walls besides a 
largo quantity of ammunition. The inhabitants of 



The Ancient History of Bridgicater. 19 



Bridjirwater held stoutly for the King, and they wanted 
not for courage, which was soon to be put to the test : — 
" 26th J uly, 1645. The general and lieutenant-general 
and some other officers went in the afternoon to view 
the woiks, from thence they were saluted by a cannon 
shot by the famous Lady AVyndham, who bid the 
trumpeter tell the general' she could do no less, and if 
he was a courfier he would do the like. On Sunday, 
rested at Chedzoy, the hoad-quarters, glad that our busi- 
ness gave us liberty for a religious rest, which of late 
we have been very happy in observing. In the after- 
noon came to us Colonel O'Rey, who with his dragoons 
and the assistanceof some foot, took, in Borough Church, 
150 prisoners, who rendered up themselves with their 
arms and what they had. The governor's name was 
Greenham. The general caused it to be possessed by a 
party of foot till further orders be taken. On Monday 
we began to think of the necessity of moving, and also 
the great importance of taking the town of Bridgwater, 
if possible, which we find strongly fortified in regard of 
the advantage of the water drawn about it, and many 
ordnance in it. Goring having left them all his, A storm 
was thought of, and provision made accordingly, but the 
thing being of great importance our officers, being very 
tender of the honour of the army and the lives of their 
men, thought fit to defer it till more certain information 
might be had of the works and trenches, and full pre- 
paration made. Therefore, when they were almost ready 
to fall on, they were drawn off Monday night late, and 
returned to their quarters. This evening, through the 
great goodness of God, the general and lieutenant- 
general* escaped a very great danger by water, passing 
the river in a boat which was within two minutes of 
being overturned by the violence of the tide called the 
"Eager " coming upon them. On Tuesday morning 
Colonel Massey came near our quarters at Chedzoy, 
where a council of war was called concerning the town 
of liridgwatcr, and which resolved that we should go on 
*(OIiver Cromwell). 



20 The Ancient Sistorrj of Bridgwater. 

in making all preparations which, if they proved good, 
and our intelligence crossed not the hopes of prevailing 
by storm, it was suddenly to be attempted, otherwise to 
be blocked up. We have these two days taken some 
vessels coming to and going from Bridgwater, laden 
with malt, oats, &c. Six vessels have been taken by us 
in all since coming hither. On Wednesday and Thurs- 
day preparations were diligently made for an attempt 
upon the town ; but finding the ditch around the works 
filled with water, being six yards wide, and the town 
well furnished with men — the inhabitants inclined to 
Royalty, and having the example of so much wariness 
given us by other armies — it is thought it will not be 
expedient to put it to such a hazard, but rather, since 
there is some probability of starving it in a little time, 
to spend some patience upon it, considering it a town of 
great importance to the welfare of the West, and with- 
out considering that the blocking up of this town will 
not be a total impediment to other kind of action, as we 
hope next week to demonstrate. This day, being Satur- 
day, a party of horse is sent towards London to meet 
and bring up recruits, and the general and the rest of the 
officers are in the field near the town, settling quarters 
to block up the town to the very works, or taking some 
quicker resolution that the army may be likely to be 
disposed to make as may be best for the service of the 
kingdom. " Fairfax. 

"Dated from Chedzoy, near Bridgwater, July, 1645." 

At length Lieutenant- General Hammond caused eight 
bridges, about forty feet long, to be prepared, and these 
were of great use in storming the town of Bridgwater, 
which took place after considerable consultation. Gen. 
Massey was to make an attack on the Hamp side, with 
the regiments of Colonel Wilden, Colonel Fortescue, 
Colonel Herbert and the Major- General's own regiment. 
On St. John's and Castle Field side was posted General 
Cromwell's regiment, with Sir Hardness Wallers, 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 21 

Colonel Pride aud Colonel Rainsborough. The General 
forded the river, and rode around the town to see if all 
was ready, that both sides niightfall on together. The 
Castle wall on the north side was very high and the 
moat deep, and between North Gate ancl West Gate was 
a battery (a part of the wall of this battery can be now 
seen) on the off side of the moat, which hindered all 
approach that way. On Sunday, Mr. Peters preached 
an encouraging sermon in the forenoon, and Mr. 
Bowles another in the afternoon. The eminent Mr. 
Baxter, who was present at the great action, was 
not wanting in the discharge of his duty. After the ser- 
mons the drums beat to arms, and the army was drawn 
up in the fields about Horsey and Bower. Thecoma 
manders of " the forlorn hope" and the soldiers were 
fresh exhorted to do their duty by Mr. Peters, who be- 
haved that da}"" with energy. As soon as it grew dark the 
soldiers drew towards the several posts allotted thenj. 
to storm. The signal of attack was to be the shooting off 
three pieces of ordnance, which the forces on the Hamp 
side were to take ijotice of, and to attack on the instant. 
Before the actioa Sir Thomas Fairfax sent a summon^ tp 
the governor and townspeople to surrender, but Wynd* 
ham, like the rest of the cavaliers, did not want for word* 
of defiance, and returned a scornful answer. While Mas- 
sey's troops kept alarming the enemy on the south side 
of the town, Lieutenant- Colonel Hewson led the forlorn 
hope at the east end, and was valiantly seconded by the 
general's own regiment, commanded by Lieutenantr 
Colonel Jackson, and Lieutcnant-General Cromwell'? 
regiment, commanded by Colonel Ashfiehl. The bridges 
prepared by Colonel Hammond were quickly brought 
tQ the ditch of Castle Field, and thrown over. On 
these the soldiers passed with little loss, and with un. 
daunted courage mounted the works the enemy had 
raised, boat them from their ordnance, and turned th^ 
latter on the town, While Captain Jieynolds, of Crom* 
well's regiment of horse, drove the cavaliers from the 



22 The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 



drawbridge at St. John's a passage was made to East 
Gate which was forced open. Reynolds entering East- 
over with his horse, scoured the streets of that part of 
the town up to the stone bridge over the river, upon 
which the officers and soldiers, to the number of 600, 
who had made resistance in Eastover, threw down their 
arms and cried " Quarter, quarter." There was at that 
time a gate on the bridge, where the enemy instantly 
made barricades and drew up a drawbridge. The Parlia- 
mentary forces had not been two hours in Eastover, 
before the King's forces shot grenades and slugs of hot 
iron, which fired the street on both sides. The next 
morning it was burnt to the ground, with the exception 
of three or four houses. It consisted of goodly dwellings. 
Major Co well and Colonel Harley's regiment stood in 
the midst whilst it was in flames on both sides, and 
kept guard to prevent the enemies sallying. General 
Fairfax, hoping the storm might have so wrought upon 
the soldiers and the fire on the townsmen that they 
would have hearkened to a treaty, renewed his sum- 
mons, which the governor peremptorily refused, as if it 
was his intent that so fair a town shordd be destroyed, 
for he knew he could, at the worst, but be a prisoner of 
war. There was no hope of his being relieved, and the 
resistance the Royalists made had more phrensy in it 
than courage. When they saw Eastover in a blaze they 
rang the bells and set fire themselves to many houses 
in Silver-street, Friarn Street and the Pig-cross, which 
showed the effects of it for many years after. On Tues- 
day (the next day) General Fairfax resolved to alarm 
the town on the east side, while General Massey stormed 
it on the south. That resolution was, however, changed 
to an alarm on both sides, at which the enemy was 
much amazed, and abandoned their line on the south 
and west part of the town. About two o'clock that day 
the general sent a trumpet to the governor, with a mes- 
sage to the purport that his denial on fair terras had 
brought him no other thoughts but of compassion to- 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 23 

wards those who were innocent, and who otherwise 
might suffer through the governor's ohstinacy ; where- 
fore he signified that all women and children that would 
mii^ht come forth of the town by four o'clock. This 
being made known to Colonel Wyndham's lady, she 
came out, as did also Lady Hawley, Mrs. War, and 
several other ladies. They had no sooner left it than 
the cannon played fiercely on the town. Grenades were 
shot, and St. Mary-street and Iligh-street were set on 
fire. The wind being high increased the flames, and 
the townsmen began, every man, to save his goods. 
Wyndhara, amidst this distraction, sent Tom Elliott, as 
he was then generally called, one of the King's favour- 
ites, to desire terms, but the general would only grant 
the soldiers their lives, and the inhabitants their freedom 
and liberty from plunder. The gentlemen were to be 
disposed of as the Government may appoint. This, the 
governor said, the gentlemen would not consent to. 
Elliot, fearing the army would follow, prayed the general 
to forbear until he went once more to Wyndham, from 
whom he presently brought back an answer of submis- 
sion. Hostages came out to the general for the perfor- 
mance of the governor's agreement, consisting of 
Sir, John Heal, Sir Hugh Wyndham, Mr. Walrond, 
Mr. War, Mr. Sydenham, and Mr. Speke, and 
the town was the next day surrendered to the 
Parliamentary army. There was left therein for the 
Parliament 40 pieces of ordnance, 4000 weight of metal 
and powder in proportion, victuals for 2,000 soldiers for 
four months, 1,700 prisoners, amongst whom were some 
priests and gentlemen, and treasure, in plate and jewels, 
said to be worth £100,000. An express was immedi- 
ately despatched to Parliament, with advice of the sur- 
render of Bridgwater, and twenty pounds were awarded 
the messenger. In a few days Mr. Peters gave the 
Parliament a more particular account, for which he 
received £100, and the House gave thanks to Sir Thomas 
Fairfax for reducing it. Colonel Birch was made goy- 



24 The Ancient IPidory of Bridgwater. 

ernor. The reason for so great an amount of treasure 
being found was that the cavalier gentry had, from all 
the adjacent parts, sent in thither their jewels, plate, 
&c., and their best household furniture, Colonel Wj^nd- 
ham, having assured the King that it could not be taken. 
A large quantity of plate and rich hangings were carried 
thence to London, and there sold to raise the bounty 
money for Fairfax's soldiers, who were at the storm, 
which was regarded as the most furious of any in the 
war, and the prize oi the victors as valuable. The town 
is stated to have been at that time about four miles in 
circumference, and, for its size, to have been able to 
boast of houses as well built as any in the West of 
England. The account of the siege bears direct testi- 
mony to the courage with which the town was defended, 
and to the firmness and loyalty of the inhabitants. In 
four or five different places the fire blazed whilst the 
cannon shots rattled their forcible summons to surren- 
der ; and, driven by extremity, the governor submitted 
in order to prevent the savage massacre of the inhabi- 
tants by the excited soldiery of the Parliamentary army. 
Wyndham seems to have been a man of most heroic 
Courage, and was only prevailed on at last to yield by 
the urgent entreaties of those around him. 

In reference to the events already recorded, the cele- 
brated Admiral Blake must not be omitted. He was 
born and educated at Bridgwater, where at that time 
there was a Grammar School. He afterwards went to 
Oxford, where he took honours. He was returned as 
member for Bridgwater in 1640, and by principle was 
a Puritan, and next to Cromwell was the ablest general 
they had ; but when the King was brought to trial he dis- 
approved of it, and wa§ frequently heard to say it was an 
illegal measure, and that he would risk his life to save 
the King as readily as he had to serve the Parliament. 
When he had the command of the fleet, and any of tlie 
officers spoke of the Government, he said to them, 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 25 

" Leave politics for home ; what we have to do is to 
keep foreigners from fooling us." He was the first to 
infuse amongst our sailors that degree of courage for 
which they have been pre-eminent. He was disinterest- 
ed , generous, liberal, and of undaunted courage, which 
was testified by his deeds recorded in history. His 
father was a merchant, and some remnants of his house 
may still be seen in Blake-street. I have already no- 
ticed one of the remarkable persons whose subsequent 
power depended in great measure on his success in the 
siege of Bridgwater. We now come to another equally 
eminent in history — the Duke of Monmouth — who also 
aimed at the throne of England, and whose fate seem- 
ingly, depended on the success of a battle fought near 
Bridgwater — the battle of Sedgemoor, — in 1685. The 
Duke of Monmouth landed at Lyme, and was joyfully re- 
ceived by the people as he journeyed towards Taunton. 
He became more and more popular, and armed men 
joined him ready to sacrifice their lives in his cause. 
His reception at Taunton was most enthusiastic, and 
when he arrived at Bridgwater he was led by the Mayor 
(Alexander Popham, Esq.) and Corporation to the high 
cross, which then stood in the centre of the town, and 
was there procleimed king'amid the thundering plaudits 
of the people. His troops were very numerous, most 
"devoted to him personally and to his cause, but badly 
armed, and with little or no military discipline. They 
encamped in a large field near the town, called Castle 
Field. A Bridgwater man who kept his cattle near 
Wes<.onzoyland brought word to the duke as to the po- 
sition of the King's army. He said they were distribu- 
ted at Westonzoyland, Middlezoy, and Othery. The 
duke and Lord Grey went on St. Mary's Tower, and by 
the help of a telescope could discern many of the troops. 
The King's army consisted of about 4000 men, and was 
commanded by Earl Feversham and Lord Churchill, 
who afterwards became the ])uke of Marlborough. 
Monmouth called a council of war, and it was deter- 



26 The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 

mined they should march oflp in the night, and so sur- 
prise the enemy, the duke observing that no more could 
be done but to lock up tlie stable door and seize the 
troopers in their beds. Oldmixon, who himself was a 
native of the town, and whose • tombstone is now to be 
seen in St. Mary's Churchyard, states that he saw the 
duke and his army leave on Friday night, July 3rd, 
without even beat of drum, and the strictest orders 
were given to observe silence as much as possible. They 
took as their guide a man named Benjamin Newton, who 
thoroughly understood the path through Bradney-lane. 
All went well till they arrived in Sedgemoor, when un- 
fortunately, Newton became bewildered, not being equal 
to the strange and responsible position he was placed in. 
Although he thought he could find the ford out almost 
blindfolded, he led the army above it, and whilst some 
confusion followed a shot was fired by an officer who, it 
was supposed, was a traitor to the cause (said to be 
Captain Hucker, of Taunton). The noise alarmed the 
King's troops. Dunbarton's regiment aroused and put 
themselves in order. Had the well devised plan of the 
duke succeeded, his forces would have marched directly 
into the enemy's tents, and as the soldiers had such a 
dread of the scythemen, the terror of the weapon, to- 
gether with the darkness of the night, would have caused 
utter confusion in their ranks. But, as it was, immedi- 
ately a special messenger was sent to summon the Earl 
of Feversham, who was in bed at Westonzoyland. He 
soon arrived, and at about one o'clock in the morning 
the fight commenced. The battle was an obstinate one. 
At first it went in favour of the duke's forces. After 
some time they wanted ammunition, which they called 
earnestly for. It was proved after the battle that the 
men in charge of the waggons loaded with the ammu- 
nition, although zealous in the cause, were induced not 
to proceed from an alarm being given that the battle 
was lost. The drivers thereupon turned their horses, 
and the want of this ammunition was said to be the 



The Ancient ITisfori/ of Brith; tenter. 27 

principal circumstance causing the loss of the battle. 
Still they fought with desperation, and the stout scythe- 
men dashed into the thickest of the fight. At length 
Monmouth, finding that the ammunition did iiot arrive, 
fled with Grey and the horse. The foot soldiers follow- 
ed ; the King's horse following them, killed more than 
had been slain in the battle. Oldmixon, who was par- 
ticular in his account of the battle, says he was upon 
the spot before the dead were buried, and he observed 
the slain to be more on the King's side than on the 
duke's, as they were pointed out to him by the person 
who took him to the moor. Thus ended the famous 
battle of Sedgemoor, which, of course, at that time 
caused much excitement at Bridgwater. It ultimately 
led to the arrival in Somersetshire of the famous Judge 
Jefieries, whose name will ever be odious in the West of 
England. He was termed " a murderer in the robes of 
a Lord Chief Justice," and it is also said that he trampled 
upon the laws by his cruelties and severities. After 
his barbarous expedicion he was heard to boast, with 
a brutal pleasure, that he had caused to be hung more 
than all the judges of England since the time of 
William the Conqueror. So infamous had his name be- 
come that years after these transactions his granddaugh- 
ter^ m travelling through the county of Somerset, being 
recognised as his descendant, her carriage was surround- 
ed, and but for prompt assistance being rendered to her 
she would have been murdered by the populace. No 
fewer than eighty were executed by his orders at Dor- 
chester ; and at Exeter, Taunton and Bridgwater about 
250 were computed to have fallen by the hands of 
justice, as it was then called. When at Bridgwater he 
lodged at a house on the Cornhill, where the gibbets were 
erected, and there witnessed the executions. The names 
of the sufferers recorded were Robert Francis, Richard 
Harris, Josiah Bellamy, Nicholas Stodgell, Richard 
Engram, John Trott, ' William Moggeridge, Robert 
^"PPy> John Hurman, Josiah Davis, Robert Roper and 



28 Thd Ancient IJisfori/ of Bridgu-nfcr. 



E. Ro<j:er Hoar, the last-named being reprieved under 
the f^aliows. One circumstance of some interest is told 
of a man who was taken prisoner at Shapwick, His 
name was Swaine, and he was reported as one of the 
most active men in the country. After he was taken 
prisoner he consented to 0:0 quietly with his captors to 
Bridgwater, there to be tried, if he was allowed to take 
three leaps. The soldiers, being anxious to see his 
agility, granted it. They were in a field near Locksley 
Wood. He leaped towards the wood, each leap being ten 
feet, and darted into the wood, and after all their 
efibrts they could not find him again. He was more for- 
tunate than another poor man of Westonzoyland, who 
was also remarkable for his swiftness of foot. He was pre- 
vailed upon on a condition of being pardoned to entertain 
the general with an instance of his agility. Accordingly 
having stripped himself naked, a halter was put round 
his neck, and the opposite end of it was fastened to the 
neck of a horse. They started at Bussex Rhine, and ran 
from thence to Brintsfield-bridge, a distance somewhat 
exceeding half a mile, and though the horse went at full 
speed the man kept pace the whole way. Notwith- 
standing this exertion (it is said) he was afterwards 
hung with the rest. 



Places in the Neighbourhood. 

There are marks of antiquity and interest in the 
neighbourhood of Bridgwater, and the following has 
been gathered from ancient records and old authors: — 
The village of Cannington was once the abode of Cangii, 
a tribe of ancient Britons. There are evidences of rude 
fortifications in Cannington Park. Tradition tells us 
that the legions of Rome passed this way at the time 
of the invasion of this country, in the reign of Emperor 
Claudius. At Steart a few miles from Bridgwater was dis- 



The Ancient I^istory of Biuhjtrater. 29 

covered what was once a British barrow {i). Combwich 
has the traditional honour of being the landing place 
of Joseph of Arimathea, who first preached the o;ospcl at 
Glastonbury (J) . Stogursey was the seat of 1 )e Courcey, 
a Norman knight> to whom Cannington was awarded 
for his services to William the Conqueror. Cannington 
was also the birthplace of the fair Rosamond Clifford. 
Blackmore, near Cannington, was once the residence of 
a religious order. It is well known that Cardinal 
Wolsey once lived a short time at Gothelney. The dis- 
solution of monasteries in the reign of Henry YIII. led 
to the establishment of convents, including the one at 
Cannington. Chilton Trinity lies about a mile from 
Bridgwater, and in old records is called " Chilton Trin- 
itatis," on account of the dedication of its church. Sir 
John de Chilton and Sir Thomas de Chilton held it after 
the Conquest. From Pawlett the Poulett family take 
their name. In the time of William the Conqueror it 
was possessed by Walter de Dowai, Lord of Bridgwater 
and Huntspill, and other manors in the neighbourhood. 

(i) British barrow, afi artificial hillock or mound, generally 
known by the name of CairnB, and intended as a repository for 
the dead. 

(j) In confirmation of Joseph of Arimathea landing at Combwich* 
we have the following curious old legend of Poetry :— 
" The good Saint Arimathean Joseph, borne by the Parret's tide 
To Combwich, o'er the Mendips ; at length, he came to Glaston's Hide, 
' Here I'll build a wattle cburch '—he planted a christian staff, 
'Twas Xmas now — at Xmas time, the staff with blossoms laugh ; 
A miracle — a miracle — a miracle it turned to be 

That christian churcheSfrom that time, should coverthe whole country 
This staff wag a thorn brought from the Holy Land — 'tis known. 
The Christian Churches throughout England — from its branches they 

[have grown.'' 

The Legend states that Joseph's Staff had been cut from a thorn 
tree in the Holy Land, and when stuck into the ground took root and 
flourished, and in proof of its origin, it blossomed miraculously at 
Xmas ever after. Even as late as James the Second's time, the blos- 
soms were esteemed such curio.sities by people of all nations, that 
Bristol Merchants made a traffic of them and exported them tO' 
foreign parts. 



''0 The Ancmit Hktory of Bridgivater. 

From Walter de Dowai this land descended to the 
I'agunols, Fitzhardinges, Gaunts and Gournays. On 
the soutli side of Pawlett is Walpole, formerly spelt 
Wallpolle, also lands of Walter de Dowai. Respecting 
the parish of Wembdon, it is recorded that Walter de 
Dowai held the church of " Wimedone," and that a 
Thane held it at the time of King Edward. The parish, 
it is stated, was " gelded for three hides. The arable 
land is four carucates, two servants and seven cottages, 
with one plough." AD. 1284, the Church of St. George 
at Weiubdon, was appropriated by Robert Darnell, 
Bishop of Bath and Wells, to the Hospital of St. John 
the Baptist at Bridgwater. Within the bounds and 
limits of the parish church of Wembdon there was a 
certain well called " St. John's Well," to which an im- 
mense concourse of people resorted and made oblations 
to the honour of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and 
St. John the Baptist, and many who had for years la- 
boured under various bodily diseases, and found no 
benefit from physic and physicians, were, by the use of 
the waters, stated to have been restored to their pristine 
health. The said bishop issued a mandate to Master 
Hurst, Canon of Wells, his Commissary- Gen oral, and 
Thomas Overay, LL.B., to make enquiry into the par- 
ticulars of this miraculous spring, and to report the 
Christian and surname^ of the persons who had been 
cured by these waters. What was the effect of, this 
mandate does not appear. Fountains were certainly in 
the early ages superstitiously frequented and diverted 
into a pecuniary current.' A. chantry was founded in 
the church at Wembdon, by Matthias, son of Robert de 
Courcey, 19th Edward II. In the forty-fourth year 
Edward III. John Horsey was lord of the manor of 
Ef^st and West Bower. The family of Godwyn were 
long lords of Bower, and gave it the name of Godwyn' s 
Bower. It is said Lady Jane Seymour was born at 
West Bower. Opposite Horsey-lane, on the way to 
Knowle, there stood in a field an elm tree, and 



The Ancient Hiatorif of BiiiUjicater. 31 

when one died from age another was planted in its 
steud, to record the spot where the country people 
mot the inhabitants of Bridgwater at the time of the 
great plague in 1665, to hold a market. When a 
boy this elm was pointed out to me. It was then called 
" Watch Elm." l^nmore is a small parish situated on 
a rising ground four miles west of Bridgwater, having 
the noble ridge of Quantock Hills three miles west of it. 
At the time of William the Conqueror it belonged to 
Roger de Ourcelle, eldest son of Wandril de Leon, of a 
noble family in Normandy. The Malets were bene- 
factors to the Abbey of Glastonbury. Sir William 
Malet, knight, was possessed of Enmore at the time 
of Richard I. P^nmore Castle, which is now destroyed, 
was built by the Earl of Egmont. It was a noble 
building, standing on a gently-rising hill, and in the 
remembrance of many now living. It was a large 
quadrangular embattled pile, built of a reddish dark 
coloured stone, surrounded by a dry fosse forty feet 
wide and sixteen deep. 

The ancient ville and mansion of Sydenham belonged 
to several branches of the Worth family, which flourished 
in the county upwards of 500 years. This place was 
formerly called Sideham, in regard to its situation on 
the side of the river Parret, being possessed in the days 
of Edward the Confessor by one Cheping, a Saxon, and 
in the time of William I. by Roger Arundel. Thomas 
Percival, in the time of Henry VIII., rebuilt the manor 
house of Sydenham, in which estate he was succeeded 
by David Percival, his son and heir. This David 
married Alice, the daughter of Thomas Bythemore, of 
Nailsea. He removed from thence to Sydenham. 

The parish of Goathurst lies about three miles west 
of Bridgwater. In the Norman survey the name appears, 
an(J it is obviously compounded of Saxon words meaning 
a goat and a wood, the village having large woods, and 



33 TIte Ancient UUtory of Bridgwater. 

at that time those animals were found there. Collinson 
says it was written "Gahers." The French transcribers 
caUed it "Gathurst." Ilalswell, was the residence of a 
fatnily of that name for several centuries. Jane the 
daughter of Hugh Ilalswell, son of Sir Nicholas Ilalswell 
married John Tynte, of Chedzoy, Esq., progenitor of 
Sir Kemeys Tynte, Bart. The mansion at Ilalswell 
was rebuilt 1689, by Sir Halswell Tynte, Bart, who was 
advanced to that dignity in 26th Charles XL This seat 
has received rich gifts from Nature and Art ; the temple 
dedicated to Robin Hood commands a very extensive 
and re^Uy magnificent view, and it is indeed, difficult 
to describe the varied beauties of Halswell Park and 
the adjoining woods. 

The family of Stawel had been seated at Stawel, and 
at Cpthelstone, in this county, from the former of which 
places they derive their name ever since the Conquest. 
One of the family married Lady Alice Pawlet, eldest 
daughter of William the first Marquis of Winches- 
ter. Sir John Stawel was one of the Knights that 
defended Bridgwater at the time of the siege. 

Westonzoyland. Five miles south-east from Bridg- 
water, upon the Moor of this village, is a spot called 
Penzoy Pound, where General Fairfax the day after the 
battle of Langport, July 10th, 1645, drew up his whole 
army, and in the same spot in 1685, the Duke of Mon- 
mouth fought the battle of Sedgemoor, with his 
disorderly troops. 500 of his men were taken prisoners, 
in the field of battle, and they were confined in the 
parish church, where many of them died of their 
wounds. Of the King's party, five soldiers that were 
slain were buried in the church, and eleven in the 
churchyard. 

In the time of Henry VIII., the following certifi- 
cate was made of the state of this manor of Weston, 
" the Ilcntcs of assize of Freeholders, and customary 



The Ancient Ilidonj of Bridgwater. 33 

tenants belonging to the sayd Lordship, payable at 
at the feastes aforesaid, of the yearly value of £94 
3s. 7M., there are able men inhabitants, within the 
precinct of the said Lordship being in redynes to 
serve the King, whenever they shall be called upon 
to the nombre of 50." 

The towers of Westonzoyland and North Pcthcrton 
churches are of peculiar beauty, " indeed" Freeman says 
** the village Towers of Somersetshire, are considered to 
maintain their supremacy over all others in the 
country, it is much enhanced by their picturesque 
surroundings." 

Hamp. In this village a. d. 794, ten casaates of 
land were given to Brithria, King of the West 
Saxons. 

DuNWEAR, 17th Edward II., Joachino De Bradney 
held 25 acres of arable land. There was a family of 
the name of Dunwear, who held land here in the 
time of Henry 11. , and Richard I. 

Horsey. In the time of "Wm. the Conqueror, it 
belonged to the Lord of Bridgwater, and was held 
by him from Radamera, a Saxon. There was a Sif 
John Horsey who once possessed the land. 

BiCKNOLLER. A picturesque village, lying under the 
south-west slopes of the Quantocks, was one of the 
manors of the Cathedral of Wells. Its name is sup- 
posed to have been derived from the ancient British 
words Bychan Small Aboar — a Treasury. CoUinson 
says that Roman coins have been discovered here 
in great abundance, and it has been conjectured that 
the Romans in this spot had one of the smaller de- 
positories of their money, which they dispensed to 
the army stationed in different parts of the country. 



'*i4 The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 

In reading * Somersetshire past and present/ in the 
London Quarterly Review, I met with the following : — 

Somerset Court in the Parish of South Brent. 
Some years ago when repairing the roof a roll of 
papers was found containing copies of Bills sent up 
to Parliament, for requisitions made by the troops 
during the Civil war.' There were also some letters to 
his wife from a man shut up in Bridgwater when 
the town was besieged. 

In the servants* hall of the same house there was a 
beam on which there are these quaint inscriptions : — 

I wronge not the poor, I fear not the rich, 

I have not tooe little, nor I have not tooe much, 

I was set up right and even. 

and on the other side is the motto : — 

Be you merry, and be you wise, 
And doe you not noe man despise. ' 



From the facts related in the publication of the Ancient 
History of Bridgwater and its neighbourhood it appears 
that there have been periods in the History of England 
when the inhabitants of Bridgwater and its neighbour- 
hood have been conspicuous in the struggles formerly 
made both for religious and political freedom ; and should 
we not feel proud at the bold spirit of our ancestors 
who then helped to lay the foundation of an empire 
unequalled in history? Let us hope the youth of Somerset- 
shire will be faithful and loyal to the Queen and Govern- 
ment of our country, and combine against all efforts, 
come from what quarter they may, to sweep away the 
landmarks of our constitution, which have been both the 
pride of Englishmen and the envy of foreigners. 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 35 

Matters of Interest connected with 
THE Town. 

We have not a more valuable historical record than 
our old St. Mary's parish church, which, for the inform- 
ation of strangers, I will describe, The quadrangular 
tower is 80 feet in height, and the handsome spire 120. 
The church is an oblong structure, consisting of a nave 
and chancel. The nave is divided by two rows of five 
moulded piers, bases and capitals supporting six poiated 
arches on each side. The windows on the south side of 
the nave, west of the porch, appear to be of the time of 
Edward the 3rd or Richard the 2nd, the tracery being 
formed of quatrefoils and segments of circles. There 
are also two or three windows of the same age on the 
north side, particularly a very curious one over the 
north door, containing intersecting triangles within a 
circle, and the angles being fitted with trefoils. The 
north porch is also of the same period. The other 
parts of the church, with a few exceptions, appear to 
have been built, or more probably greatly repaired and 
altered, about the year 1420, or some time in the reign 
of Henry the 5th, the tracery of the windows being of 
that kind which have been denominated Perpendicular. 
On the south side of the nave stand the Corporation, 
seats, in front of which is a handsome screen presenting 
a good specimen of oak carving. On the north side of 
the nave stood two ancient chapels, with a heavy wall 
separating them. The wall has been removed, and two 
arches, with pillars corresponding to those in the nave, 
have been substituted, giving a greater lightness and 
elegance to that part of the building. Over the porches, 
both on the north and south side, are sittings, with 
"ornamental carved freestone fronts. The pulpit is 
placed towards the north-east end of the nave of the 
church, and the organ in a chapel behind it. Opposite 
the organ in the chancel there is a corresponding 



36 The Ancient Ilktory of Bridgwater. 

chapel, with a handsome screen of oak carving in front. 
The altar-piece is a very valuable painting, second to 
none known as a work of art. It has been examined by 
Sir Joshua Reynolds, Haydon and other eminent 
painters, but none of them have been enabled to speak 
with certainty as to the name of the artist. It was 
taken during a war with France out of a French vessel 
broujfht as a prize into Plymouth, there purchased by 
Lord Powlett (it was said that Queen Ann was his 
godmother), and presented to the town of Bridgwater 
by his lordship. The subject is Christ taken from the 
Cross; St. John leaning mournfully over the body of 
the dead Saviour; the Virgin Mary fainting; Mary the 
wife of Cleophas holding the Virgin's head; and 
perhaps the most beautifully executed of all the figures 
is Mary Magdalene, with grief strongly depicted on her 
countenance, standing with one arm extended, the hand 
exquisitely pourtrayed, and a tear rolling from her 
cheek. It forms altogether a picture as a work of art 
invaluable. It has been doubted whether it is a Spanish 
or an Italian painting, but the preponderance of opinion 
inclines to the latter. In the chancel is a mural monu- 
ment of the KingsmiU family, very large and handsome. 
An account of the family is thus given by Edward 
Bryan, Esq., to Robert Anstice, Esq.: Sir Francis 
Ejngsmill is a younger son of Sir William KingsmiU ; 
is of the knightly family of the same name; for ages 
settled at Sidmanton, Hants, and near to Newberry, in 
Berkshire. Francis, the principal subject of the monu- 
ment, we find was knighted by the Lord- deputy of 
Ireland in 1605. Frora the motto on the monument — 
"Per Fidem sancti efiecti sunt validi Bello" — he 
appears to have been a very religious character. It is 
stated on the monument he died 25 July, 1620, What 
link of property or otherwise connected the family with 
Bridgwater is not known. 

I remember there once was- a stone under the old 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 



chancel table; it disappeared when the church was 
restored. In the centre of this stone was a piece of 
copper, with the following words engraved on it as an 
epitaph : — 

"Tho' hungry Death hath gulphed into his maw. 
Both sire and child being first ground in his jaw, 
They shall arise when the righteous Judge shall say 
Arise, ye dead, at the resurrection day." 

There was an awful thunderstorm in the year 1814, 
when the church spire was split by lightning. It was 
so terrific that every one rushed out of doors expecting 
to hear of some accident. In the following year it was 
determined to take down a certain portion of the spire 
and rebuild it. Of course it was a difficult undertaking. 
By the advice of a nautical man an ingenious method 
was at length agreed on. Poles were hoisted to the top 
of the tower, and two of them lashed with strong ropes 
round the base of the steeple. Iron rings were riveted 
large enough to admit the ends of other poles, which 
where also lashed. Rope ladders were then fastened 
from pole to pole, as you would mount the rigging of a 
vessel, so the work was continued until the top of the 
steeple was attained. Of course a concourse of people 
gathered to watch a celebrated pilot, named Gover, who 
fearlessly mounted and brought down the weathercock. 
The repair of the steeple was undertaken, and well 
executed, by Mr. Thomas Hutchings, stonemason, and, 
fortunately, no accident of a serious nature occurred. I 
remember putting on a sailor's jacket and mounting one 
fine afternoon, when the work was three parts finished. 
A workman took my hand, and I went on a stage which 
stood inside ; the beautiful view of the surrounding 
neighbourhood repaid the hazard of the undertaking. 

As a proof that Bridgwater was made the battle field 
in former days of contending factions, at its entrances^ 
North, East, West, and South, heavy arches of Ham 
Hill 'stone were erected, and since my remembrance throe 



38 The Ancient History of Bridgicatci^. 

of those arches stood, with heavy iron hooks, from 
which the iron gates were hung, that defended forcible 
entrance. 

Bridgwater Famous for Loyai^ty. — Copy of a 
letter written many years ago from Edward Byam, 
Esq., of Cheltenham, to Robert Anstice, Esq., of 
Bridgwater: — 

Oxford, September 4th, 1831. 
"Dear Sir, — As a person so long connected with Bridgwater and 
interested with every thing connected with that place, 1 take the 
liberty of making you the present communication, thinking on that 
account it will be acceptable, and you accordingly excuse the liberty 
I therein take, the individual concerning whom I was seeking to 
obtain information on the spot, an ancestor of mine connected at one 
time as you will see with Bridgwater. I have found particulars 
respecting the Civil war between the King and his Parliament and 
the conseciuent fate of the kingdom whether its state be Monarchical 
or Republican which this struggle involved. 

"The transcript then is taken from the Newspaper 4th February, 
1644, called (Mercurials Aulicus) purporting to convey intelligence of 
the Court to the rest of the Kingdom, which it wholly engrosses for 
that day, and is as follows : — 

" ' Now as this groundless rebellion usually drives them into horri- 
ble contradictions, so they (the Parliamentarians) generally rail at us 
for doing any thing which they themselves practice ; for it is incredi- 
ble what vain Pamphlets have been spent in railing at such who 
would have had Brown to deliver Abingdon to his Majesty, though 
they have been since busy to bribe over divers of Jiis Majesty's Gar- 
risons; more pai-ticularly the Town of Bridgwater, in Somersetshire, 
was fairly bid for this last week, for Colonel Blake the rebel Governor 
of Ta,unton Castle, offered £1000 to Captain Byham, of the garrison 
■of Bridgwater, to betray that Town to them. The Captain a Courage- 
ous and hearty Royalist, immediately acquainted Colonel Wyndham 
the Governor, who bid him continue the treaty and get what he 
could from Blake. The Articles were agreed upon that Blake and 
his fellow Rebels should march toward Bridgwater, on Sunday night 
last, February 2nd, the Captain being then on guard was to let down 
the drawbridge and unlock the Turnpike to let them in at 4 o'Clock 
in the morninjr, for which they were to give him £1000 whereof he 
received £50. The Rebels came accordingly and the Captain kept 
punctual word with them; for just at that hour the Rebels 1000 
Horse and Foot came near the Town. Captain Byham let down the 
Bridge and unlocked the Turnpike insomuch (Captain Wemysj a 
Scot who led on the Rebels came upon the Bridge and cried follow 
me (all our own) but at that instant Captain Byham gave fire to a 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 30* 



piece of Ordnance (charged with Case Shot) which dispatched that 
eager Scot and many other dead in the place, there were fifty killed 
and had the garrison been as ready to follow the Commander, few of 
those Rebels had retreated back to Taunton. As to Captain Byhain 
he is to take advice with some able Lawyer how to recover the rest 
of his thousand Pounds, for that he kept his promise both 
in letting do^vn the Bridge and unlocking the Turnpike, but we hear 
the Captain is fully satisfied, having already fifty Pounds in money 
and another fifty in Rebels.' This Captain By ham was bom in 
Dulverton, in Somersetshire, in March, 1622, consequently at time 
of the exploit had not completed his 22nd year. The rest of his History 
relates more to the New World in works pertaining to which the 
remainder of his life and devoted services to his King and Country 
are to bs found. Suffice it that he died in the Island of Antigua in 
1670, leaving by his wife Dorothy Knollys, a great Niece of the Earl 
of Bambury three Sons. 

I am. Dear Sir, 
Your obedient Servant, 

ED^VARD S. BYAM." 

Robert Anstice, Esq., to whom this singular letter 
was written, was hip^hly respected for his urbanity, not 
only by his fellow townsmen at Bridgwater, but also in 
the County, and from his general scientific knowledge, 
especially as an Antiquarian he was consulted, and cor- 
responded with by many of the leading learned men in 
the kingdom. 

In confirmation of the gallantry and courage of 
Colonel Wyndham, who commanded Bridgwater Castle; 
and of the loyalty of the men of the "West upon that 
memorable historical period, I have in my reading found 
the following : — 

" DuNSTER Castle. — It was the spring of 1646 that 
the Parlimentary Aimy was besieging Dunster Castle 
which was then garrisoned for the King under the 
command of Colonel Wyndham. The following message 
was sent him, * If you will yet deliver up the Castle, 
you shall have fair quarter, if not expect no mercy, 
your Mother shall be in front to receive the first firing 
of your cannon;' to which the gallant Colonel replied 
* My mother I honour, but the cause I fight for and the 
master I serve, God and the King, I honour more^^ 



40 The Ancient History of Briilgicater. 

Mother, do you forgive roe and give me your blessing, 
and let the rebels answer, for spilling that blood of 
yours, which I will save with the loss of mine, if I have 
enough both for my masters and yourself.' The mother 
replied * Son I forgive thee, and Pray God to help thee 
in thy brave resolution. If I live, I shall love thee all 
the better for it, God's will be done.' Lord Wentworth, 
Sir R. Greswell and Colonel Webbe rescued the mother 
relieved the Castle and took 1000 prisoners, and put 
the enemy to flight. 

In 'Antiquities of History is the following : — " The 
characterestic boldness of the men of the West. — The trade 
of the towns promoted distant explorations, and we 
find in 1494 Sebastian Cabot getting together the 
crews for his ship, from Bristol and Bridgwater, in the 
latter place the sailors were renowned for their love of 
enterprise, by which Newfoundland was discovered." 

I have heard it said when a boy that Bridgwater 
men were remarkable for their attachment to their 
native Town, in confirmation of this peculiaritj'^, in 
^reading the History of Ancient matters connected with 
Somersetshire, I found the following : " Blake was born 
at Bridgwater and had nearly attained the age of fifty 
before his great talents for Military and Naval 
command were first called into action. Throughout his 
brilliant career, which dates from the early successes in 
his native County, he never forgot his love for 
Somersetshire, and it is a curious circumstance that he 
always kept a Bridgwater man near his person that 
he might talk of the old place and people." 

Southey in his " Common Place Book" relates the fol- 
lowing anecdote relative to Bridgwater. At the White 
Hart, Eastover, an inn occupied then by a Mrs. Francis, 
a Fox was kept. From a cub he had been trained as a 
turnspit and became clever at the work. One day 
master Reynard giving way to a touch of nature 



The Ancient History of Bridyuater. 41 



decamped, and at Sedgmoor played havoc with botji 
ducks and geese. He was found by Mr. Portman's 
hounds near Alfred's Stump, at Athelney ; away he 
went in gallant style to the Quantocks, where for a 
time he entrenched himself. Again discovered, he 
dashed away to Enmore, and from thence to North 
l*etherton, below which parish he crossed the River 
Parrett, and made for Bridgwater, on reaching which 
he found his way into the garden of his old mistress, 
and on entering the house, immediately leapt into the 
turnspit cage, where he was safely housed on the 
arrival of the disappointed hounds. 

Roman Encampments have been found in the imme- 
diate vicinity of Bridgwater. On a part of the Polden 
Ilills, many coins and other relics have been 
discovered, we have every reason therefore for believing 
Bridgwater formed a small colony in very early days. 
Towns were only fortresses to which rustics retired with 
their cattle under danger from incursions of the enemies, 
and the outward ballium of castles were afterward used 
for the same purpose. 

In the 25th Edward the Third, 1350, Lord Zouch 
obtained a license from that King, to settle the Manor 
of Bridgwater, upon William the son of Le Zouch of 
Totness, & Agnes his wife, should he be divorced or for 
any other cause separated, then the manor of Bridgwater 
should remain to her heirs for ever. William, Lord Zouch 
in the 36th Edward the Third, 1361, had license to go a 
pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and departed this life in 
the 5th Richard the 2nd, 1381. 

One Silver, an inhabitant of Bridgwater, brother to 
Captain Silver, Master Gunner of England, invented a 
machine, which would discharge many barrels of 
musket^ at once, these were to be played at several 
passes instead of cannon. 



42 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 



Old Documents. 

At the old gaol, in boxes and cupboards, are very 
old and curious ^ documents ; it requires a learned 
man to read them. I attended Mr. Rylcy, one of the 
expert and learned antiquarians employed by Govern- 
ment for the purpose of examining them. He discovered 
some of the oldest churchwardens' accounts perhaps to 
be found in England. I give a copy of one of them. It 
reads as follows ; — " Compotus Johannas Paris Custodis 
Ecclesia Parocheates Maria3 Virginis Anno Regni 
Henrici Sexti Post Conquestorium Anglia3 Vicessimo 
Tertius A. D. 1444—5. 



De Receptione. 

Furst Eesey'd of John Weamps of money he"| 

bequeathed to the Church J 

Item Thomas Chamberlayne bequests of one Wm. ) 

Crew I 

Item reseyvedfor Hindus (mind dues) for Commemo- \ 

ration days ... ... ... j 

Item a Tenant in Fry em Street rente 

Thomas Taylor rente 

Wm. Michael Mercer , 

Item reced of Edward Slape the yaf to the Holy- \ 

waterstone J 

Eeceived great Bell 

Costage. 

First for XXIII li wex for torches and the lyght \ 

' before the hye Cross agen Xmas J 

Item payed for XXVIII wex for II Torches an the 1 
Jsascclle and the vault taper at Easter ... j 
Item for making holy baskets 
Item for sticking caudles on al 

Christy night j" 

Item for a Boarde at Vestry door ... 

Item foi a laundry man 

Item for " Cordes and Gynncs 1 
aboutc the sepulcre and to the > 
Bille at Church door ... J 

Item Ijantern ... 

Item 11 B()ards to mend Toncmente 1 
in Fryem Street ... ... j 



Vis. Vllld. 
lis. lid. 

XIIs. 

IIIIs. 

VId. 

Vllld. 

Ills. 

XXd. 



XIs. 

XIs. lid. 

XVIIId. 

Vlld. 

Illd. 
lis. 

Xllld. 

VId. 
VId." 



The Ancient History of Bridgtcater. 43 

Amongst the old documQiits were the following. : — 

A Notice by the Common Cryer in 1718. 

" I am ordered and commanded to give no'tice to all 
persons that bring Corn and Grain into this town for 
sale on market days, that tbey bring the same in bags 
on the Cornhill. And that no person shall open the 
bags for sale, until the ringing of the bell, or they will 
be prosecuted for the same by the Mayor & Aldermen." 

*' July 18, 1719 — Wm. Erie maketh oath that he was 
standing near the High Cross in the Borough of Bridg- 
water, looking at a person who was put in the pillory, 
for speaking seditious words ; heard Edward Parry, a 
trooper say, ' he knew him in the pillory, being one of 
his countrymen, and that the Pretender was his King,' 
and the deponent answered, 'King George is my King.* 

Sworn before me,— EDWARD RAYMOND, 

Mayor." 

" "We, Jos. Taylor and John Mounsher, surveyors of 
the Highways of the Parish of Bridgwater, do hereby 
present the Highway leading from Bridgwater to North 
Petherton, also Wembdon, also Bawdrip, also to 
Durleigh, are very bad, out of repair and dangerous to 
all Travellers who pass these roads, and it is a great 
detriment to the Parish. Sworn before me, Thomas 
Yeates, Mayor. 

27 April, 1737. Samuel Smyth, Alderman." 

" Borough and Parish of Bridgwater. — The inform- 
ation of Sarah Leaky, of Bridgwater aforesaid, widow,, 
taken before Wm. Binford, Alderman, one of his 
Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the Borough, who 
saith — That she now keeps a common Ale House within 
the Borough. That yesterday, about noon, Banfield 
Moore Carow came to informant's House and desired 
to lodge; there was a woman with him he called his. 



44 The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 

wife, and a girl his daughter, and the informant 
believes the said Banfield Moore Carew hath nothing to 
subsist on but what gentlemen give him. 

Taken on oath this 22 day of August, 1744- 

Before me, Wm. Bynford. — Sarah Leaky." 

One of the oldest properties in the borough is the 
Town Mills. 

The owner holds amongst the papers a curious deed 
of assignment, dated 1709, between Richard Lowbridge 
and George Balch, Esq., wherein it is recorded that in 
1694 the Mayor, Aldermen, &c., gave permission to 
Hichard Lowbridge to remove pavements, break up the 
soil of the streets, lanes, &c., in order that he may 
convey the water from the millstream, commonly called 
Durleigh Brook, for the use of the inhabitants, to a 
cross on the Cornhill, known by the name of the High 
Cross, and that the pipes might be conveyed to any other 
parts of the town. His right was to supply the water 
for 1,000 years, at the annual payment of one shilling a 
year, and to encourage him in the undertaking the 
Mayor, Aldermen, &c., were to pay him the sum of 
one hundred pounds, Richard Lowbridge, being the 
owner of the mill and water connected with it; but when 
the Corporate seal was to be affixed the Mayor, &c., 
refused to ratify what they had promised unless Richard 
Lowbridge remitted the said sum of one hundred pounds, 
which he did accordingly. 



The old Zummersetshire dialect is fast dying out. 
It may amuse the reader if I give a labourer's account 
of the siesre of Bridgwater — a countryman living at 



The Ancient Ilistory of Bridgwater. 45 

Weston Zoyland, who appears to have been enlisted 
against his will by Cromwell in 1645 : — 

In Weston field I^earnVl my bread 

In sixteen forty-five ; 
A very quiet life did lead, 

Vor my family did strive. 

And when I war at work one day 

A turning up zome gr'uind, 
I heard a noise which made me start : 

It waran awful sound. 

Aye, zich a crashing sound it war, 

I never shall forget ; 
I dro'd away my spade, by gor, 

And away then I did zet. 

And as I cum'd nigh Oiler drove 

I zeed zome zogers run ; 
I cllm'd a tree, and there above 

Thought I shud zee some fun. 

Oh, how the Eed Coats tackled on. 

And tothers atter hied ; 
They soon war cum, and soon war gone ; 

It zeem'd war's opening tide. 

A company at length appeared, 

And stop'd the tothers' flight. 
And then thej' turned, and then they cheered. 

And vow'd that they would fight. 

And twarden long they had to stay, 

Vor General Cromwell cum. 
And never war there such a day ; 

Twar cruel death to some. 

Zome Zogers fall'd by musket shot, 

Zome spiked wi a long spear, 
And zome into the ditches got, " 

Where their heads did only peer, 

I cling'd to middle of the tree — 

The leaves war very thick — 
And twar a lucky job vor me, 

Vor I feel'd faint and sick. 

To see the blood and hear the groans, 

Twar savages outright ; 
Thick as hail the splinter bones j 

It war an awful sight. 



46 The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 

At last the Royalists gi'd in ; -m 

The prisoners vall'tl down, 
The rest retreated in a din 

Towards Bridgwater town. 

I clihimered down from off the tree ; 

A voice said there's a chap : 
Cromwell he catched a sight o' me. 

And ordered me to stap. 

Then down upon my kneea I vall'd ; 

He said, *' My man, stand op ; 
Twarden to kill thee that I called ; " 

My head spin'd like a top. 

" Wut list ? " zaid he, "I will," said I ;; 

And list I did there right, 
And made a vow till I did die 

Vor Cromwell I wud fight 

I noed my life war at a stake,, 

My very brains did ring ; 
At that time vor my own self's sake 

I'd a promised anything. 

Vrom there we march'd to Weston Moor 

And then the trumpet zound; 
That night wi ly'd upon a floor. 

And that war the bare ground. 

I zend home to my family. 

And told em twar my doom — 
A general's servant I shud be, 

Vor I war Cromwell's groom. 

He zaid he'd make a man o' me, 

Vor that he wud be bown ; 
War pleased, he said, to see the way 

I rub'd the bosses down. 

He war a fuss-rate man, I know, 

Wud do what he did dare ; 
But as for they about em, tho'. 

Their ways I cud not bare. 

They long'd, they said, to kill the King ; 

Twar that vor they war bent. 
And than zome arguments would bring 

About zome Parliament, 

Now in my heart I loved the King;^ 

His laws wud 1 obey. 
And hated beyond anything 

Such wicked men as they. ' 



The Ancient Historj/ of Bridgwater. 47 



But I war fn their clutches now, 

And bown to act my part, 
And tho' my mouth war forced to bow 

It warden from my heart. 

" Come, join in chorus," thejr did cry 
When mornings they did sing ; 

Inward I vowed when I did die 
Shud be to sarve my King. 

We marched to Chedzoy ; there we ly'd, 

And noed not what to do ; 
To teake Bridgweter they had tried, 

But Bridgwater men war true. 

They war no traitors, no, not they, 
And wud stan firm, they zaid ; 

We heard about em day by day. 
Brave Wyndham was their head. 

He had a wife war good and brave, 

One day she fired a shot ; 
Vor Cromwell twar the closest shave 

That ever he'd a got. 

When Okey cum our force war strong ; 

Twar whispered then about 
They'd seize Bridgwater afore long, 

And set em to the rout. 

Fairfax and Cromwell talk'd one night 
Whilst I the boss rubbed down ; 

They zaid the next day they'd go right 
Into Bridgwater town. 

That night no sleep I never found, 

Altho' the moon did shine, 
Vor living in Bridgwater town 

War some old friends o' mine. 

Jest avore day away I sot, 

Before the cock did crow ; 
I thought thinks I, I'll blow their plot. 

And let the townsmen know. 

When at. the gate they cried out, " stop! 

Or else I'll make thee spin ; " 
I tould the zogers what war op, 

And zoon they let me in. 

Eight glad war they to to hear my tale; 

Wi warmth my hands they shook. 
And when they found the facts war real 

To the Castle I war took. 



48 The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 



I told cm all, the drums did beat, 

And they begun to arm ; 
The news it spread droo every street, 
The town was in alarm. 

Brave Wyndham talk'd em into tears 

To do as they were bid, 
" And now," said hfe, " dree heart}' cheers ! '' 

Dree hearty cheers they gid. 

And soon the roaring guns we heard 

Towards the eastern side ; 
The more they roared the more we cheered. 

Our guns, too, they reply'd. 

The tug of war it cannot last ; 

It cum wi awful might ; 
We know'd our fated die was cast, 

Like dragons we did fight. 

They ring'd the bells, burn'd houses down, 

Like phrenzy volks they were ; 
File atter file marched droo the to wn. 

The dangers vor to share. 

But when the wild dragoons cum op 

Droo Eastover at last 
I noed that Fate had filled the cup, 

All hopes or chance was past. 

At last I zeed how it wud be. 

That they wud gain the day ; 
I took't a chance war offered me. 

And scampered far away. 

I never fear'd their hue and cry ; 

They sought for me in vain. 
I lived to see old Cromwell die. 

And good King Charlie reign. 

With all their errors or mishaps 

It always seemed to me 
Bridgwater men were plucky chaps 

As ever I did zee. 



. The religious Hospital of St. John, which we have 
described, stood at the end of Eastover. Some years 
since, in digging for the foundation of a house, a stone 
coflfin was discovered, near which, it may be supposed, 
an urn was foimd containing a well-preserved document, 
which, transcribed, proves as follows: — 



The Ancient Mktory of Bridgwater. 49 



A PILGRIM'S POEM, 

IN HIS PILGRIMAGE FROM CORNWALL TO GLASTONBURY. 

Here a poor Pilgrim who hath seen 

Many a weary day ; 
To Normandy I have been. 

Again I never may. 

Weary and sick when I came here, 

To Glastonbury bent : 
My sins hath caused me many a tear, 

And humbly I repent. 

Here in this hospital I rest, 

The Hospital of St. John ; 
It was Briwere's good bequest 

For his soul to rest upon. 

He built the Castle in this town. 

The bridge he built besides ; 
His charity bears high renown, 

•Tis like the Parret's tides. 

It flows perpetual day by day. 

It bears a happy wave, 
That which will cast a pleasing ray 

Of comfort for his grave. 

Briwcre is good, and may he find. 

When earthly scenes are past. 
Better comfort for his mind — 

Those that will ever last ! 

There is One who sits above 

All good works to see ; 
The Saviour's earthly life was love, 

His aim was charity. 

Theblack cross the Hospitallers wear, 

Qn mantles hanging down. 
Their food the poorest ; they may sharo 

No better in any town. 

Here are dormitories, too. 

Where weary souls may rest ; 
The nurse Hospitallers are true, 

And they will do their best. 

To cure the sick, to heal the wound 

War's weapons may have made 
Here arc sufferers made sound, 

Whatever be their grade; 



50 The Ancient History of Bridgwater 

The poor outcasts a }iome will find, 
If here their way they weml, 

When the world doth prove unkind, 
No sympathetic friend. 

• To Weary- All Hill I humbly go ; 

From the Church's hand I'll crave, 
That holy mercy that will flow 

To all this side the grave. 

Those the Church's mercy seek 
In humble mood should stand ; 

Poverty becomes the meek. 
Tho' I have in this land 

Possessions many, no one knows 

My name or pedigree ; 
None can tell the secret woes, 

Nor the guilt that hangs on mo. 

They must be rooted out in pain; 

Trials must I endure — 
JFiery trials, or in vain 

For me to hope for cure. 

I have vowed barefoot to walk 

And see the Holy Thorn, 
To no one on the road to talk, ■ 

To feed on unground corn, 

Until to Cornwall I return. 

That sacred vow I'll keep ; 
I'll put this history in an urn, 

Before I go to sleep ; 
And bury it far underground ; 

In ages to come yet 
It may be accidental found, 

And a value on it set. 

Pilgrimage is hard to bear, 

But yet it brings its fruit, 
Relieves the soul from many a care, 

Drags sin out by the root. 

I feel to-night, fasting I feel, 

A noble spirit rise ; 
I kneel to-night, fasting I kneel. 

With eyes turned to the skies. 

I see to night, fasting I see, 

An angel high above ; 
I see to-night, lasting 1 see 

Will be His rapturous love. 

•Near GlastouUury. 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 51 



I'll east my hateful sin away. 
As snakes their skins will cast ; 

No deceiver shall betray, 
It shall for ever last. 

Pride, the foundation is of sin, 
'Twas pride was Adam's fall ; 

'Twas the tirst sin that did begin — 
'Twill be the last of all. 

Haughty man must learn to bead. 

It is God's decrae ; 
'Tis the beginning to an end. 

To all eternity. 

Learn a lesson, man, from me. 

Try to seek the Lord ; 
No faith without humility. 

Without faith no reward. 

Satan loves the haughty man. 

He foments pride within. 
Binds him safeJy as he can 

By the cords of sin. 

I've sunk in vice for many a year. 
It made my conscienoo burn ; 

At length comes the repentant tear. 
To virtue I'U return. 

The wicked standard long have I 
Held, and with sternness stood ; 

Now will I nobly lift on high 
The standard of the good. 

I'll give my land the poor to feed, 
The wanderer back will call ; 

I'll seek out sickness and distress. 
And stop the siimer's fall. 

Oh ! could I fellow pilgrims gr«ct 

In that celestial Ught, 
Where earthly, heavenly Pilgrims meejt 

In mansions pure and bright. 

To this house much land I've given, 

Tho' in disguise I'm here. 
Day after day in prayer I've striven. 

And have shed many a tear. 

Over the follies of my youth 
My heart seems melted now ; 

I trust in hope, in saered fear, 
I may keep my vow. 

Barefoot to Cornwall bend my way. 
From Glaston's holy place, 



•32 The Ancient Ektory of Bridgwater. 



Then for a glorious opening day, 
The opening day of grace. 

Then holy joy will fill my breast, 
Then holy hopes will cheer ; 

I'll build a place for saints to rest. 
As Briwere hath done here. 

The spot when landed first I trod. 
On England's rocky <;oa8t, 

Shall be made sacred to my God- 
To Him I love the most. 

Now comes the legend : It is said 

This stranger Pilgrim went 
At early morn from his lone bed. 

To Glaston was he beat. 

To carry out his holy vow, 

Visit St. Dunstan's shrine. 
More placid and relaxed his brow. 

His spirit more divine. 

Steady in faith he travell'd oa. 

His blistered feet were sore ; 
Still as the sting within was gone 

He cared for nothing more. 
As the sun reached to midday hour 

To Locksley Wood came he ; 
There in the shade of Nature's bower 

He rested merrily. 
Weary he felt, Nature gave way, 

The hills were long and steep ; 
Screened from the Sun's besetting ray. 

He dropp'd in quiet sleep. 
Long he enjoyed a calm repose 

Beneath a sheltering yew ; 
At length again, refreshed, he rose 

His journey to pursue. 
He felt amazed— he never feared — 

Fear's powers he defied ; 
A man in ancient garb appeared, 

Close standing at his side. 

Upon an oaken staff he leant, 

His beard was long and grey ! 
His manly frame Avith age was bent ; 

♦ ' Pilgrim," he said, " good day. 
" I'm sent to thee, I'm ordered here 

By powers thou knowest not now ; 
Come and partake my humble cheer ; 

I know thy holy vow." 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 53 

As on his feet the Pilgrim stood 

He said, " Ah, can it be? 
'Tis so, the dream I've had is good; 

Lead, and I'll follow thee." 

They passed along a wooded dell, 

Both seemed in serious thought ; 
They reached at length the Hermit's cell, 

The shelter which they sought. 

Humble, indeed, the cell appeared, 

And frugal was the fare ; 
Still as the Pilgrim ate he feared 

There was something in the air — 

A something in the Hermit's look, 

His eyes a brightness wore ; 
The PiJgrim's inward spirit shook ; 

He never shook before. 

" I know thee. Pilgrim, whom thou art," 

The Hermit earnest said, 
" Norman Mohun, and the part 

In war's sad woes thou'st play'd. 

" How thou wast savage and wast bold, 

And cruel in the fight ; 
On prisoners in thy fast hold 

Did exercise thy might. 

" How at the Hospital of St. John 

Thou did'st repent and live, 
And look'st to the Church to lean upon 

For the aid that it can give. 

" Know this, poor Pilgrim, Christ the Lord 

Is the Lord Christ indeed : 
Keep but in faith His Holy Word, 

And thou'lt have little need 

"The Glaston journey to pursue. 

I order that you shall 
Return, and other pardon sue 

At St. John's Hospital, 

" I'll send a priest to meet thee there, 

He'll lead thy thoughts on high ; 
Join Avith him, good man, in prayer — 

Prepare ere thou shalt die. 

" He'll teach thee to slake thy thirst 

Where thou wilt thirst no more ; 
Read David's Psalm the thirty-first— 

' Go and sin no more. ' 

'• Superstitious ways forsake, 
Now this very hour, 



54 The Ancient History of Bridgicater. 

'Tia a cord of human make 

Which binds thee by its power." 

The Pilgrim dropp'd, and nothing knew ; 

But when he roused he said 
He found himself beneath the yew 

Where he first had laid. 

So celestial all appeared. 

He wondered to the last, 
But returned, felt inward cheered 

At the vision past. 

At evening's vespers he once more 

At tke Hospital arrived. 
Entered stealthily at the door. 

And unobserved contrived. 

His pallid face a priest perceived. 

He pray'd with him all night ; 
Mohun the Norman, 'tis believed, 

Died before morning's light. 

Beneath his Pilgrim's dress he wore 

Armour, and clasp'd behind 
His will they found, which the night before 

He had duly signed, 

William Briwere trust he made 

Over his only son. 
At Dunster was his bo<ly laid. 

Thus his race was run. 

Hia son, a youth of vigorous UHod, 

To Bridgwater came, 
He was virtuous and kind, 

And bore his father's name. 

Briwere's daughter Alice 

Was beauteons as the mom ; 
Never for vice or maHbe 

Was that daughter bom. 

She helped the needy in distress, 

She visited the poor, 
She sought religious happiness 

That ever would endure. 

Young Mohun felt her charms, indeed, 

Sink deeply on his heart ; 
Her father he took little heed 

To pluck youBg Cupid's dart. 

WJien time in Hope's bright measure 

Had borne along its tide, 
He gained the beauteous treasure : 

Alice was Mohuu's bride. 



The Ancient Uistory of Bridgwater. 55 



ATHELNEY. 

Alfred, the son of ^thelwolf, Kin? of the West 
Saxons, was born at Wantage, in Berkshire, in 849; 
He distinguished himself during the reign of his brother 
Ethcldred in several engagements with the Danes, and 
upon his death succeeded to the crown, in the year 871, 
and in the 22nd year of his age. This prince was twelve 
years of age before a master could be procured in the 
Western Kingdom to teach him his alphabet. Notwith- 
standing the lateness of his initiation he ultimately 
acquired extraordinary erudition. On ascending the 
throne he found himself involved in a dangerous war 
with the Danes, and placed under such circumstance* of 
distress as called for the greatest valour and resolution, 
and all the other virtues with which he was adorned. 
The Danes had penetrated into the heart of his kingdom, 
and before he had been a month upon the throne he was 
obliged to take the field against those formidable 
enemies. After many battles gained on both sides, he 
was reduced to great distress, and was abandoned by 
most of his subjects. In this situation he laid aside the 
marks of royalty and took shelter in the house of one 
who kept cattle, in the Isle of ^thelhingey-— now called 
Athelney — in Somersetshire, where he built a fort for 
himself, his family, and the few faithful servants wto 
repaired thither to him. When informed that some of 
his subjects had routed a large army of the Danes, he 
contrived to giYe notice where he was, and invited his 
nobility to come and consult with him. Before they 
came to a final determination, Alfred, putting on the 
habit of a harper, went into the enemy's camp, whCTe, 
without suspicion, he was everywhere admitted, and had 
the honour of playing before their princes. Having 
thereby acquired an exact knowledge of their sigiuation, 
he returned in great secrecy to his nobility, whom he 
ordered to their respective homes, there to draw together,, 
each man, as great a force as he could, and appointed a 
time for a general rendezvous. 



56 The Ancient Uistory of Bridgwater. 

This was transacted so secretly and expeditiously 
that in a little time the King, at the head of a formida- 
ble army, approached the Danes before they had the 
least intelligence of his design. He totally defeated 
them at -35thendunc — now Edington. He agreed to 
give up the East Angles to such as would embrace the 
Christian religion, on condition that they would oblige 
the rest of their countrymen to quit the country. 
Guthrum, the chief captain, came with thirty of his 
chief officers, to be baptized. Alfred answered for him 
at the font. At the last battle he, by a determined rush, 
seized the Danish banner, the image of a raven, which, 
they say, was magically wrought, and believed in by the 
Danes as carrying great fatality with it. Towards good 
success it was said the raven would clap its wings, but 
towards mishap would hang them down and not move. 

Many curious relics have been found at Athelney, 
the most important of these the head of a golden spear, 
supposed to have been presented by Alfred to the Abbey, 
and an amulet of enamel and gold, now in the Ashmolean 
Museum. A legend on the latter expresses that it was 
made by the command of the King. (See Palgrave's 
Saxon History). 

Modern writers have, I am told, cast a doubt on 
the legend of the burning of the cakes, still, it has been 
introduced into this poem as believed most implicitly in 
the neighbourhood. Athelney stands at the junction 
of the rivers Tone and Parret, in the parish of Lyng, 
about seven miles from Bridgwater. The name of 
Athelney signifies in Saxon language, the Isle of Nobles. 
About 888 Alfred founded here an abbey for monks of 
the Benedictine Order, dedicated to the Blessed Saviour. 
The Abbot did not sit in Parliament, but was regards 
as a spiritual lord. 

'Twas at the dawn of early day, 

The 8un had cleared night's gloom away 

Over the Plains of Athelney. 




The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 



To Graecia's hut a stranger came 
Without a friend, without a name, 
With keen suspicion looked the dame. 

" Thy character I can read soon 

I guess thou art some lazy loon 

Whose hands will scarcely feed thy spoon. 

" I'll to the swine, I hen* fhcra crack ; 

Attend the cakes tfill I come back^ 

And keep 'cm turned, op they'll be black," 

The stranger smiled, brrt sullen care 
Had laid hi« throb&ing bosom fea»e >• 
Transfixed h« stood in deep de»paip. 

Thought upon thought o'erwhdmed his mlBcf,- 
'Till sorrow left its sting beh ind — 
Fortune to bim had been unkind. 

Pacts cumbered Memory's dreamy track- 
And called his wand'ring senses back ; 
The smoke it currd,<^te cakes were black. 

He heard a footstep hastening nighcr ; 
Ere he could snateh them from the fip« 
Gra>cia returned in furious ire. 

*' Gadzooks, you loon, you lazy loon^ 
You did Hot think I'd come so soon ;. 
The blackest cake shall be thy boon. 

Her good man came, amd his appeal 

Her angry passions seemed to feel y 

They sat down art their morning's meaL 

" We'll give Ciod thanks," the stranger saii^ 

And instant kueh him down a»d pjayed ; 

Abel and Groecia felt afraid. 

" Hark ! voices T" Graeeia said, " Arm, arm T"" 

Her gude man stood as by a eharm ; 

She, faltering, trembled with alarm. 

Who can describe what Grsecia felt ? 
A figure, slash'd in martial belt, 
Betoie the stately stranger knelt. 

Otliers appeared : "Your Majesty" 
They each one said, on bended knee ; 
It told the stranger's high degree. 

Your Majesty ! the words they fell 
As it had been a pas.sing bell. 
And ringing Gracia's funeral knell. 

Truth, as the gls«"e of day ai)peared. 
On bended knees, with hands upreared, 
They sought for pardon, whilst they feared. 



68 The Ancient History of Bridgwater', 



" R186 Cottagers." kind Alfred said, 
*• For here beneatli yonr humble slied 
I come to seek a sohlier's bedj 

" To-m«rrow's dawn, at bugle's sonnd, 
Some trusty friends will gather round. 
Protectors all of British ground. 
" The time may come will wipe the stain 
Of late defeat, and break the chain, 
Cast off the fetters of the Dane. 

" Here must our Court be held ; this cot 
May prove by chance a happy spot : 
Fear not, 'twill never be forgot. 

" When brighter days arrive you'll find 
In Alfred's breast a grateful mind ; 
But secrecy our acts roust bind. 
Swear all upon tbig sacred book." 
A solemn oath at once they took. 
And ne'er the promise they forsook. 
That none to friends or foes would say 
What had been heard or seen that day. 
And would the Monarch's word obey. 
Athelney was the Monarch'* seat ; 
A twelvemonth passed in that retreat. 
Until arrangements were complete. 
Alfred could play the harp full well. 
And oft was absent : none could tell 
For many weeks what him befel. 
Secure within this secret neat 
Abel and Graicia lodged their guest : 
He came or went as pleased him best. 

With the fierce Danes there seemed to be 

A triumph of security; 

In all their tents was revelry 

The warriors had lain down their arms 
To hear the sound of music's charms ; 
The harper's tones banished alarms. 
He played with skill, such skill had he. 
He seemed a very prodigy. 
In every art of minstrelsy. 
The noblest chiefs of Danish sway. 
Charmed by his harp, would pas.s the day. 
And banish night to hear him play. 
Wine followed music, and its power. 
Increased their pleasure hour by hour ; 
Twas like a wreath to pleasure's bower. 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 59 

He IJoWly played before all eyes ; 
Alfred the harper in disguise. 
Managed his p<art discreet and wise. 

On Athelney's protected land, 

The British nobles took their stand, 

And but awaited his command. 

Gladly at length they heard the call, 
In Selwood Forest one and all 
They marshalled as a gathering ball. 

"Now follow me," Great Alfred cried, 

" For what end this day will decide ; -» 

Be firm and faithful to your guide." 

He knew the path ; like lightning's flash 
Swiftly they went with sudden dash ; 
They met the Danes — and what a crash ! 

The alarm was spread, the first shock o'er, 
Bands of fierce Danes came, more and more, 
Unmindful of the streaming gore. 

In steady phalanx now they formed, 
Their spirit rising as they warmed ; 
In fight they prodigies performed. 

The Britons felt their force rebound ; 
From the first rush they lost some ground ; 
The Danes defiant gathered round. 

Their magic standard they had reared, 

Poised aa a balance it appeared. 

The British chieftains hoped but feared. 

Alfred their superstition knew ; 
He gathered round a chosen few. 
And near the Danish standard drew. 

He nobly led — impetuous led — 

Over the dying and the dead ; 

He rush'd of that small band the head. 

Onward tlie mighty wave they pour'd ; 
The flashes bright as sword met sword ; 
The anagic raven's wings were lowered. 

It was an omen that we find 
Spoke terrors to the Danish mind ; 
Misfortune seemed with it entwin'd. 

Still, valiantly they stood their ground, 
And many a Briton's corpse around 
Would hear no more a living sound. 

"Forward ! " cried Alfred ; " onward, on ! '' 
He seized the standard ; Fortune shone 
Upon the rush — the day was won. 



60 The Ancient History qf Bridgwater. 

The Danes perceived their standard loM-ered, 
In (jniverinfi tremour dropp'd the swowl ; 
" Retreat, retreat !" became the word. 

The Britons felt their spirits alow. 
With ardour followed up the olow, 
And till the evening chased the foe. 

The day was theirs, 'twas God's decree 
From that time forth united, free, 
May England date her liberty ! 

THE QUANT0CK8. 

Kote. — The highest point of the Quantocks is l,5f70 feet above low 
water mark. 

Close in our neighbourhood a scene there Kes, 
Which may be termed as Nature's grandest prize ; 
Where summer travellers wander with delight 
Upon its bosom's side. Wondrous the sight 
Along the heathy Quantocks' lengthened hills ! 
Deep in its combes, its dells, its murmuring rills 
Ecstatic pleasure finds a fairy scene. 
Beyond descriptive words — it must be seen 
To live in memory — the poet's sweet retreat, 
Where silent nooks and Fancy's grandeur meet. 
High on its top the eyes such prospects get 
Unequall'd in the range of Somerset. 
United sea and land-views nobly rise ; 
Struck with the vision, the reluctant eyes 
Refuse to leave its charms— so bright and fair 
The traveller pauses, and could linger there 
While life should last. A Paradise it seems, 
Which will hereafter re-appear in dreams. 
But more allurements tempt him still to rove, 
Where murmuring water thro' the verdant grove 
Runs pure and bright. Silent and soft it goes, 
As from its gushing spring unchecked it Hows, 
Until some chasm'd rock diverts its course. 
Down its rude steps it runs in headlong force, 
Sinking amid some bushy glen, where free 
It rushes onward, dancing merrily. 
Here oft the antlered stag finds his retreat. 
And spotted deer gamble with nimble feet. 
Here oft the pensive nighiingale is heard 
Warbling at noon ; and many a feather'd bird. 
As thro' the quiet grove it onward flies. 
With Nature s gaudy colours charms the eyes. 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 61 



Away from bustling cities, noisy sounds, 
Here the mind rests on fancied fairy grounds ; 
Tlaiaing the hallowed thoughts to Him abore, 
Who formed, who fashionc<l, this retreat of love, 
That the glad spirit may, ere it is blest, 
Find, on this earth, a momentary rest. 



— 0- 



BRIDGWATER CASTLE AND NORTH 
PETHERTON PARK. 

Bridgwater Castle was much in keeping and strncture 
with other castles of the early period when it waa 
erected, and had the advantages attending its contiguity 
to the river. The whole site was surrounded by a deep 
broad ditch, called a fosse. Before the great gate was 
an outwork called a barbican, which was a strongly- 
built, high wall, with turrets upon it designed for the 
defence of the gate and drawbridge. On the inside of 
the ditch stood the wall of the castle, about eight or ten 
feet thick, and between twenty and thirty feet high, 
with a parapet and a kind of embrasure, called crennels, 
on the top. On this Wall, at proper distances, square 
towers, two or three stories high, were built, which 
served for lodging for the common servants or retainers, 
granaries, storehouses and other necessary offices. On 
the top of this wall and on the flat roofs of these build- 
ings stood the defenders of the castle when it was 
besieged, and from thence arrows, darts and stones were 
discharged on the besiegers. The great gate of the 
castle stood in the centre of this wall, and was strongly 
fortified with a tower on each side, and rooms over the 
passage, which were closed with thick folding-doors of 
oak, plated with iron and with an iron portcullis or 
gate, let down from above. Within the enclosed wall 
was a space or court called a bayle or ballium. Under- 
ground were dismal dark colls or vaults for the confine- 



62 The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 

ment of prisoners. In the centre of the castle was a 
great hall, in which the owner at times displayed great 
hospitality by entertaining his numerous friends and 
followers. At one end of this great hall there was a 
raised place called the dais or deis, where the chief table 
stood, and at which persons of the highest rank dined. 
One of the vaults that formerly belonged to Bridgwater 
Castle is now used as a wine vault, near the present 
Custom House. The Castle of Bridgwater was held by 
some of the highest nobility, who were famed for 
hospitality. Amongst the chief of its noble owners was 
Lord Daubenny, to whom King Henry granted a fee 
farm rent out of the town of Bridgwater in consideration 
of his many services, and also the extensive park at 
North Petherton, which at that time was one of the 
most noted parks in the kingdom. It was large, 
and well stocked with all kinds of game, especially the 
wild deer. The chase was delighted in, and followed by 
ladies as well as lords. At particular times extensive 
invitations were issued from the castle, and the hunt 
was honoured by persons of the highest distinction. A 
quaintly- written poem gives us an interesting account 
of one of these splendid hunting days : — 

There was a park at Petherton, 

Where stately trees did grow, 
You ne'er the like could look upon, 

For uoble buck or doe. 

In fourteen hundred eighty-six. 

The young Lord Daubenny 
A wondrous hunting match did fix, 

For governor was he. 

Henry now wore King Richard's croWn, 

He nobly did attain ; 
One battle brought the tyrant down, 

Which Daubenny helped to gain. 

He was then active and was bold, 

And fear he never knew ; 
His diary many records told. 

He prized his boM' of yew. 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 63 



Which he h.ad won when very yoxiug, 

When knights had met to see 
A match wnich bards had ably sung 

Of skilful archery. 

To be the foremost was his pride, 

In daring deeds led he ; 
His fame was echoed far and wide, 

For acts of chivalry: 

To join the hunt, to view the sights 

Which he would then display, 
Both lords and ladies with their knights 

Assembled on this day. 

Bridgwater Castle opened wide 

Its sturdy gates to all ; 
It was the young Lord Daubenny's pride 

To fill the spacioug hall. 

Sir William Stanley proudly came 
With lady, knight and shield ; 

Fame placed its stamp upon his name, 
On famous Bosworth's field j 

Courtenay, the Earl of Devon, too. 

And Arundel of Kent, 
With other knights and men as true. 

Who were for pleasure bent. 

Their 'squires attended in their train. 
Their daughters young and fair ; 

Some sighed Lord Daubenny's heart to gain, 
His reputation share. 

As o'er the drawbridge on that day 

Caparisoned they passed. 
So grand and gaudy the display. 

It scarce could be surpassed. 

The gates oped wide to friend or foe, 

So noble Daubenny willed ; 
The outer ballium to its end 

With spectators was filled. 

The loud huzzas, marks of delight, 

Th e very air now rent, 
As the sun's dazzling rays of light 

Shone on the pageant. 

Heraldic banners lifted high. 

Of various forms were seen. 
With colours to attract the eye, 

Of azure blue or green. 

Long-bearded men, each armed with lance, 
AJfl men of martial deeds, 



64 Tlie Ancient History of Bridgwater. 

In compact line were in advance, 
Mounted on mettled steeds. 

The stirrup-top formed a lance rest, 
O'er which a cross was strung ; 

A silver belt lashed o'er the breast, 
From which a bugle hung. 

Lady and knight, each side by side. 

Soon followed in the track ; 
Each lady's grey pranced in its pride, 

The bold knights' steeds were black. 

The bits and stirrups looked as gold. 

The bridles white as snow ; 
On either side walked yeomen bold, 

With quiver and with bow. 

Next came the earls, whose stern looks tell 

Of haughty, proud disdain. 
Whose summons thousands could compel 

To follow in their train. 

Close in their rear a few renowned 

For valour in war's field, 
Who had, when danger sternlj* frowned, 

With courage borne their shield — 
Who had in difficulties shared. 

And won distinguished place. 
But now, with hearts and arms prepared, 

Were eager for the chase. 

Was ever seen such gay parade ? 

The multitudes remark. 
As they surveyed the calvacade, 

In Petherton's wide park. 

They soon were formed within its bounds, 

Its groves of sylvan green ; 
The huntsman, with the deep-toned hounds, 

In various groups were seen. 

The rough-haired staghound, with an eye 

Keen as the arrow's flight. 
With graceful form fitted to fly. 

Yet showing muscled might. 

The sleek-haired hounds, with pendent ears. 

To sweep the morning dew ; 
Their look sagacious appears. 

Their height and colour true. 

The spotted beagles scattered round, 

An active little pack. 
With nose already to the ground. 

With tail curled o'er the back. 



The Ancient History of Bridgwater. 65 



Another group must not escape, 

Our notice in the wood ; 
The greyhounds tall with slender shape, 

Held in their leashes stood. 

In the amusements of the day, 

All ranks of persons shared • 
iSome here, some there, wandered away. 

For any game prepared. 

When the nobility were seen, 
The huntsmen gathered round. 

And with their bugles tasselled green. 
Rung out a cheering sound. 

The various hounds the signal caught, 

As each would each outvie ; 
In sympathy, by practice taught, 

They joined the chorus cry. 

Scarcely the ladies could prepare, 

No time allowed to flag ; 
With sudden spring from covert lair, 

Rushed out an antlered stag. 

Boldly he took a look around, 

His enemies he heard ; 
And off he bounded o'er the ground; 

Swift as a feathered bird. 

The law of chase was then allowed, 
The foremost hounds whipped back ; 

Now they, in eager circle crowd — 
Then off, the gallant pack ! 

Well off, well off, my merry hound. 

Oh, what a joyful spring ! 
The huntsman said, " Hark to that sound ! 

It makes the forest ring," 

Now mettled steeds away pursue ; 

It calls the fleetest pace ; 
The sportsmen and the ladies too 

Dash forward in the chase. 

Through brake and glade, o'er hill and dale, 

Away from man's abode ; 
No check from danger would avail — 

With energy they rode. 

The frightened stag, o'er briar and brook. 
With speed of lightning goes ; 

His way toward the Quantocks took, 
Where the wild heather grows. 

The scent lay well, the dogs pursued 
Unerring in his track ; 



66 Th^ Ancient History of Bridgwater. 

A few with lasting strength endued, 
Led on the pressing pack. 

United now what music went, 

In chorus of alarm, 
So much the closer was the scent, 

The louder was the charm. 

The hill-top gained, the stag he stood 

As watchful as a bird. 
With ear bent towards a neighbouring wood. 

The fearful sound he heard. 

Quickly he turned by other ways 
To reach once more the plain — 

Took his straight course o'er rugged braes 
To reach his lair again. 

The leading sportsmen flushed M^th heat. 

Kept up a fleeting pace, 
And little dreamt they soon would meet 

The object of their chase. 

Too soon, for in a narrow gl«n. 

As ancient records tell. 
But a short distance from the men 

Rode Lady Arundel. 

Down came the stag from upper ground. 

With furious pace he came, 
The sportsmen heard the rushing sound. 

And trembled for the dame. 

One minute more, his branching head 
The lady's steed would meet ; 

Within that minute he lay dead 
And prostrate at her feet. 

Another wreath from smiling fame 

That arrow gained, I trow, 
It with a true precision came 

From young Lord Daubenny's bow. 

He caught a glimpse of danger near. 

And strung the fatal dart. 
With practised hand and vision clear, 

He sent it to the heart. 

The bugles join in reveille, 
They hear the stirring round ; 

Attendants move the stag away, 
As sportsmen gather round. 

The Lady Arundel was young. 

The blush was on her face ; 
Her hair the theme of every tongue, 

Her beauty and her gnace. 



The Ancient Ei^tory of Bridgwater. 67 

The chase was niu on Crispin's day, 

If chroniclers must guide, 
And ere could follow Easter-day 

She was Lord Daubenny's bride. 

Such feastiug and such joyous glee 

We never must forget, 
It hajjpened then what all would see — 

Valour and beauty met. 

Long did Bridgwater Castle ring 

With sounds of revelry, 
And years to come bards they would sing, 

Of gallant Daubenny. 

In the time of 26th Edward I. a perambulation was made of all 
forests in this covintry, in order to reduce them to their ancient law- 
ful bounds. The bounds of the parish of North Petherton are thus 
described : " Beginning at a bridge called Ebbyne Brugge, and from 
thence run along a certain ditch by the skirts of a wood to a certain 
lake called Huntyngage, to a place called Joan Weye, and thence 
going along a certain duct between the King's demesne and the fee 
of Sabina Peche and John Heron, leaving on the right a moor called 
Leghe, up to Plbbyne Brugge, the place where the bounds first 
began. And jurors say that all the places on the right hand con- 
tained within the circuit of the bounds above mentioned is the 
King's Forest." 



FINIS. 



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