History of Isle Abbots - Parts 11 to 15



   The Brome family of Phillips' and Francis, are as difficult to disentangle as the Knights of Bristol. When Phillip married Martha Knight he brought prosperity to his family. Three sons became Merchant Venturers of Bristol. Francis lived for a while in Ireland, but finally settled with his large family in King Street, Bristol. Phillip sailed to Nevis Island whence he shipped sugar back to Bristol. He married into a Dorset family connected with the Monmouth Rebellion, though his tombstone on the Island describes him as being devoted to the King and Church and an able merchant in the African trade, or less politely, slaves. He bequeathed £500 to his father, Phillip in Ile Abbots. Meanwhile at home Francis and Phillip joined with the Walronds of Ile Brewers to harass the local Quakers; overturning and burning the furniture of their Meeting Houses, drinking their cider “sitting at it day and night worse than swine". These excursions gave the Brome family a bad reputation to this day. One has a tombstone in the Chancel and there is a table tomb in the Churchyard with a now indecipherable inscription. E.M.B.


   The accounts of the Church Wardens and the Overseers of the Poor give details of village life in the 18th Century. It cost £1 to attend to the Church clock, wash the surplice and clean the churchyard. New bell ropes were bought, a new clapper for the great bell and the porch repainted and lime washed. The killing of vermin was paid for, sparrows, hedgehogs and jays. 4d    was paid for a polecat.

   Possibly Cox's pit was named after Abigail Cox at whose funeral the bell was rung; liquor, bread and cheese was provided for the Wakers as well as treacle and a candle. For another funeral there was the extra charge of fixing the corpse on horseback at Stewley.

   Many items of clothing were given to the poor; Mary Baker was given a lb, of cheese and a lb, of soap in her illness. She did not recover. Families found temporary residence in the Poor House at Woodlands.

   The Overseers of the highways were Thomas Dukes and Phillip Collier, the rate was 6d. in the £. The stone piers remain of the 1751 bridge at Wellinch which ''ought'' to be built by Ile Abbots and kept in repair by Wellinch Farm; however the Rate book shows a charge for hewing and hauling wood for repairs. The road bridge at Two Bridges has a date stone of 1769.E.M.B.


    In 1798 William Humphry wrote that few cared about their souls or knew anything of the Gospel; he attended a chapel at South Petherton but wanted to spread the Good News in his own village. He was baptized at Wellinge Bridge by the Minister of Chard and subsequently, at the same place baptized William Baker and his wife (nee Humphry) a thousand people being present. The infant congregation applied to the Hatch Beauchamp Chapel but were rejected, so the Ile Abbots worshippers founded their own church at Walronds House situated  between School House and the Barton, where 3 bungalows have now been built. In 1817 a certificate was issued for a meeting house for the 13 members. William Humphry is buried in the Chapel yard. The Minister’s house, The Manse was bought for £100; after the centenary celebrations, land was bought for stables, trap house and furnace house. Offices and a wall around the burial ground were built.

    After a rift between the Chapels of Ile Abbots and Fivehead, they came together again in 1916, when Beatrice Derrick was the chapel keeper.

    When Jim Slade, a member for 43 years died, he was succeeded by his son. Messrs William Clarke and Tom Derrick were elected deacons.

    In 1951 the Manse was sold for £1000.  The Ile Abbots Cricket XI gave a donation of 10 guineas to the Chapel and it still receives a few bequests.E.M.B.


   The Tithe Award Map of Ile Abbots in 1842 shows 1877 acres of land all subject to payment of Tithes divided between the Dean & Chapter of Bristol as Rector and the Vicar. A slightly larger part of the land was arable, closely followed by meadow and pasture, only 2 acres of woodland; 125 acres of orchard or garden. Roads and streams accounted for 13 acres. The major land holders were absentees. Manor Farm as it is now called was owned by Edward Hyder Brown of Shepton Mallet, James Page was the occupier.

    The Earl of Egremont owned the lands around Ashford with about 10 tenant farmers. Mr William Pyne was the owner of Northalls, William Tilley being the occupier; John Scott Gould from North Curry owned part Brome’s Farm. William Still farmed his own land.

    The 1851 census gives the age, occupation and place of birth of all the inhabitants. There were 7 dwellings at Woodlands where Edward Humphry farmed 250 acres, he employed 11 labourers. Five cottages at Roundoak housed 4 labourers and the Hooper family of thatchers. There were 3 houses at Badbury, the remaining 43 houses were all in the Street. Manor Farm was still called Whitebarn Pound, farmed by John and Zabulon Page, who are buried in the church yard. The wives of the labourers were mostly employed as glovers. The total number of houses was 68.


   By the end the19th Century the population of Ile Abbots had reached 381, this included Stewley. The chief landowners were the Duke of Cornwall, Mr Pine and the Uttermare family. There was a school for boys and girls and a new school was about to be erected: Mrs Alice Burrow was the mistress. The village was quite self supporting; William Burrow was Parish Clerk, Isaac Hooper the Thatcher and a shop was kept by Hannah Humphry. John Patten also ran a shop, a bakery and post office. At Colliers, Abraham Tapp made agricultural machinery. In the surrounding yards a blacksmith worked, with a saw pit nearby. There was also a stonemason, a shoemaker and a butcher named James Walrond.

    In 1894 the first parish meeting was held in the board school. The Rev. Taylor was present with Messrs. Humphry, Barrington, Bicknell, Tapp and others. Mr. J. Humphry was elected Chairman and Way Warden and Mr. E. Barrington District Councillor.Owing to the small attendance at the 1897 meeting no steps were taken to commemorate the Queen’s record reign.

    Mr Hooper tendered a contract to repair the roads for a year to March 1901 for the sum of £58, his tender was accepted and Ile Abbots entered the 20th Century.   E.M.B.

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