Old cine film of Somerset

We have recently been contacted by Trevor Bailey who is searching for old cine films of Somerset. He is involved with a charity that has funds to digitise old cine films, and to show them to the communities.  He had heard of the Sidney Hill films of Langford House, which John Hunt has recently had digitised. These are a remarkable record of life in Langford and Churchill in the 1930s. A VHS tape of the film was shown at a History Group meeting some years ago, but John’s reedited DVD version has been cleaned up, and consists of  over one hour of material. We are hoping that we will be able to show the film locally to our villagers who might be able to identify many of the individuals who feature in the film.  We are also hoping to send the film to Trevor for inclusion in future shows, which will raise the profile both of Sidney Hill and Langford House.

There will be an opportunity to see some of these old films over the next few weeks at Wedmore  on 21st January( advertisement below) and Clevedon on 29th January.  In due course we will invite Trevor to come to Langford to show us the film archive.

Meanwhile,  if anyone has any old cine films of Somerset, please get in touch with us through the “contact us” page, and we will make arrangements to put you in touch with Trevor.

                                           ” Reel Back the Years “

 There is a hint of excitement in his voice: Trevor Bailey is talking about a couple of rusty old film cans that have just been unearthed. One is labelled ‘Clevedon 1903’ the other ‘1914’. “They need cleaning and repairing, but they could be ready for Wedmore.” We were chatting about plans for an evening of nostalgic films at Wedmore Village Hall on Friday January 21st.

 Trevor leads a charity dedicated to unearthing and preserving films, – largely amateur – of life in Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset. Once preserved and copied he tours the films, taking them back to the places where they’ve been found. Three years ago he dipped into the collection for a wonderful evening of nostalgia and humour in Wedmore. Now he’s coming back and we were discussing other treasures to be found in the archive.

 “There’s the Compton Martin film.” This, he knows, was shot in the 1940s by Ernie Spiller and rediscovered by Dave Salmon, the son of one of the people featured in the footage. It’s a picture of Village life 70 years ago, the pub – the sports day – the people.

 “And what about some early caving film shot near Priddy,” suggests Trevor pulling out a reel that’s about 50 years old. “Or a lovely 1930s film of Burnham, – including the carnival?” Search through this archive and there’s the chance to relive the snows of 1963 in Westbury–sub-Mendip, ride again on the old Dorset and Somerset Railway between Highbridge and Glastonbury, or witness the transition from horse-power to tractors on a war-time farm near Corfe Castle.

 Sometimes the old films are revisited. This is just what happened to one film shown last time at Wedmore: it inspired part of a TV documentary. Anyone who was there will recall that collective intake-of-breath when an image of a young man spraying fruit trees with DDT flashed up. This early film, shot in Somerset, became the basis for a return to the same family-run farm. Trevor is keen to bring the updated clip back in January.

 From Burnham to Clevedon, from the Levels up the hill, past a snow-bound Westbury, to Priddy, memories of bygone times will flicker back into life. “And we could show Clive Gunnel eating snails at the Miners Arms…” Trevor is still digging into this remarkable archive.

 Don’t miss his return visit to Wedmore Village Hall on Friday 21st January and see the new material he’s found. The lights will dim at 7-00!

“Somerset on Film” event at the Curzon Cinema , Clevedon.
Sat 29 Jan at 2pm
Somerset on Film (U)
100 mins+interval

A selection of vintage films featuring Somerset life from the early 20th century onwards, much of it shot by local people themselves. The programme will include a selection of newly digitised films from the Curzon Collection. Full details will be available nearer the date. Presented in association with Trilith, the charity dedicated to preserving film records of Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Tickets: £6.00 (concessions £5.00) available on the door.

Somerset High Sheriffs

We recently had an excellent talk from David Pugsley on the Somerset Assizes in the 18th century. In recent years Langford has provided more than its fair share of High Sheriffs, with John Alvis and Ian Hoddell being the most recent in 2009 and 2002.
This led us to wonder if there were other Langfordians who had shared this high office.
Here is a list of  High Sheriffs of Somerset  compiled with the help of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The list is incomplete, but goes along way back!
I have spotted at least three other Langfordians on the list, can you spot them and maybe some others? Also, if you are able to add to the list, please do get in touch using the “Contact Us” page. You might like to regard this as a  rather highbrow end of the year quiz!! Answers in 2011.

  • c1061 Godwine
  • 1066-1068 Tovi or Tofig
  • 1083-1086 William de Moyon
  • c1091 Aiulph
  • 1123-1130 Warin
  • 1155 Richard de Monte Alto
  • 1155 Richard de Raddona
  • 1157 Warner de Lisoria
  • 1162 Robert de Beauchamp
  • 1163 Gerbert de Parcy
  • 1167 Robert Pucherel
  • 1169 Alfred of Lincoln
  • 1175 Robert de Beauchamp
  • 1182 William de Bendeng
  • 1184 Robert Fitzpain
  • 1188-1189 Hugh Bardulf
  • 1189 John, Count of Mortain
  • 1194 William earl of Salisbury
  • 1197 Peter de Scudamore
  • 1199 Robert Belet
  • 1200 Hubert de Burgh
  • 1204 William de Montacute
  • 1204 Osbert de Stoke
  • 1207 William Brewer
  • 1209 William Malet
  • 1377 Sir John Delamare
  • 1428-1431 Sir John Stourton, of Stourton, Co Wilts and of Stavordale Co, Somerset, High Sheriff of Somerset “In direct descent of the King, and entitled to quarter the Plantagenet Arms”
  • 1485: Amyas Paulet
  • 1495 Sir Edmond Gorges of Wraxall
  • 1504 Sir Henry Uvedale
  • 1515-16: John Seymour
  • 1519: John Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Bath
  • 1528: John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford
  • 1536: Hugh Paulet
  • 1538: Henry Long
  • 1542–1547: Hugh Paulet
  • 1548 Sir John Thynne
  • 1592 Sir John Harrington
  • 1601 Sir John Mallet of Enmore ( Knight of the Bath)
  • 1602: John May
  • 1603 Sir Edward Rogers of Cannington
  • 1627 John Clark Symes
  • 1627: Sir John Latch of Over Langford Manor
  • 1628: Sir John Stawell
  • 1638: John Mallett
  • 1685 : Edward Hobbes
  • 1698:  Henry Mompesson of Corston, Wiltshire (1633–1715)
  • 1750–1752: Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, Bt
  • 1752: John Harding
  • 1775–1776: Thomas Champneys 1st Bt.
  • 1798: John Hurle, Brislington Hill House
  • 1830: James Adam Gordon, of Portbury
  • 1831: Thomas Shewell Bailward, of Horsington
  • 1832: Sir Henry Strachey, 2nd Baronet, of Sutton Court
  • 1833: George Henry Carew, of Crowcombe Court
  • 1834: Francis Popham, of West Bagborough
  • 1835: William Manning Dodington, of Horsington
  • 1836: James Bennett, of North Cadbury
  • 1837: Alexander Adair, of Heatherton Park
  • 1838: Robert Phippen, of Badgworth Court
  • 1839: Sir William Medlycott, 2nd Baronet, of Milborne Port
  • 1840: John Jarrett, of Camerton
  • 1841: William Francis Knatchbull, of Babington
  • 1842: Robert Charles Tudway, of the city of Wells
  • 1843: Hon. Philip Pleydell-Bouverie, of Brymore
  • 1844: John Fownes Luttrell, of Dunster Castle
  • 1845: John Lee Lee, of Dillington House
  • 1846: Richard Meade King, of Pyrland Hall
  • 1847: John Matthew Quantock, of Norton-sub-Hamdon
  • 1848: Edward Ayshford Sanford, of Nynehead Court
  • 1849: George William Blathway, of Porlock
  • 1850: Langley St Albyn, of Alfoxton
  • 1851: Thomas Tutton Knyfton, of Uphill
  • 1852: Montague Gore, of Barrow Court
  • 1853: Francis Henry Dickinson, of Kingweston
  • 1854: James Curtis Somerville, of Dinder
  • 1855: George Barons Northcote, of Somerset Court
  • 1856: John Hippisley, of Ston Easton Park
  • 1857: Sir Arthur Elton, 7th Baronet, of Clevedon Court
  • 1858: Sir Alexander Acland-Hood, 3rd Baronet, of St Audries
  • 1859: Edward Berkeley Napier, of East Pennard
  • 1860: Robert James Elton, of Whitestaunton
  • 1861: Francis Wheat Newton, of Barton Grange
  • 1862: Ralph Neville-Grenville, of Butleigh Court
  • 1863: George Treweeke Scobell, of Kingwell
  • 1864: Sir Edward Strachey, 3rd Baronet, of Sutton Court
  • 1865: Sir John Henry Greville Smyth, 1st Baronet, of Ashton Court
  • 1866: George Bullock
  • 1868: Colonel Jones
  • 1871: Henry Cornish Henley
  • 1873: RKM King
  • 1875:  Mr Moysey
  • 18??: Edward Talbot Day Foxcroft (1837-1911)
  • 1888: Antony Gibbs, of Charlton House, Wraxall, Nailsea
  • 1898: Hon. Edward William-Berkeley Portman of Hestercombe, Taunton
  • 1899: William Long of Woodlands, Congresbury, Bristol
  • 1911: Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey, Bt
  • 1928: Sir William Mason, Bt
  • 1960–1961: Sir Walter Luttrell
  • 1961–1962: Richard Cely-Trevilian
  • 1962–1963: Gilbert Poole
  • 1963–1964: Cecil Mitford-Slade
  • 1964–1965: Richard Hill
  • 1965–1966: Sir John Slessor
  • 1966–1967: Sir Edward Malet
  • 1967–1968: Sir Ian Lyle
  • 1968–1969: Sir John Wills
  • 1969–1970: W.Q. Roberts
  • 1970–1971: John A. Clark
  • 1971–1972: H.W.F. Hoskyns
  • 1972–1973: C.J.R. Trotter
  • 1973–1974: Gerald Hignett
  • 1974–1975: David Tudway-Quilter
  • 1975–1976: Matthew Waley-Cohen
  • 1976–1977: John S. Lloyd
  • 1977–1978: P.H. Daniel
  • 1978–1979: William Rees-Mogg
  • 1979–1980: W.K.B. Crawford
  • 1980–1981: John A. Lindley
  • 1981–1982: A.J. Greswell
  • 1982–1983: Peter Speke
  • 1983–1984: Charles de Salis
  • 1984–1985: C.E.B. Clive-Ponsonby-Fane
  • 1985–1986: J.S.B. White
  • 1986–1987: Ewan Cameron
  • 1987–1988: M.J.F. Carter
  • 1988–1989: William Theed
  • 1989–1990: R.W. Vivian-Neal
  • 1990–1991: Malcolm Henry Alistair Fraser
  • 1991–1992: Ian Crawford MacDonald
  • 1992–1993: William Sanford
  • 1993–1994: John Hedworth Jolliffe
  • 1994–1995: Lady Elizabeth Gass
  • 1995–1996: Roy Scrymgeour Graham Hewett
  • 1996–1997: Christopher Phillip Thomas-Everard
  • 1997–1998: Richard Stanton Roy Sheldon
  • 1998–1999: Micaela Elizabeth Benedicta Beckett
  • 1999–2000: Thomas Andrew Heath Yandle
  • 2000–2001: Angela Betty Yeoman
  • 2001–2002: Thomas Hugh Ruscombe Poole
  • 2002–2003: Robert Ian Hoddell
  • 2003–2004: Brian Michael Tanner
  • 2004–2005: Sandy Evans
  • 2005–2006: Fiona Densham
  • 2006–2007: Alastair Ian Hayward Fyfe
  • 2007–2008: David John Medlock
  • 2008–2009: Anne Caroline Maw
  • 2009–2010: John Alvis


At the meeting there was a question about lady high sheriffs, David has kindly written a piece on the subject!


The first Lady High Sheriff in England in modern times was Mrs Mary Dent-Brocklehurst in Gloucestershire in 1967. Wales had already had a Lady High Sheriff in 1943.

The Sheriffs Act, 1887, spoke of “fit persons”, not “fit gentlemen”; and the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, 1919, confirmed that there was no legal objection to the appointment of a lady.

Ladies were elected in the cities of Canterbury in 1923 (Mrs Lucy G. Wells), Southampton in 1926, Norwich in 1928, and Nottingham in 1931 (Mrs Caroline M. Harper).

The possibility of appointing a lady High Sheriff of a county seems to have been raised for the first time by Mr Justice Darling in his charge to the county grand jury at Gloucestershire Assizes in 1922: “she would not only have to be in attendance on the Judges of Assize, but would also have to be prepared to ride at the head of a posse comitatus in the case of a civil disturbance.”

In 1934 the High Sheriff of Flint wished to put forward the name of Lady Kenyon, of Gredington, Whitchurch. The was a flurry of correspondence between the King’s Remembrancer, the Privy Council, the Lord Chancellor’s Department and the Home Office. On the whole no-one wished to commit himself. This was a matter for the Court or the Privy Council. It was even suggested that the King himself should be consulted. It was pointed out that the High Sheriff was responsible for executions and women would not be appropriate for that function. Finally Lady Kenyon withdrew in October before the Nomination Ceremony in November. Sir Claud Schuster, the Permanent Secretary in the Lord Chancellor’s Department, annotated the file: “Personally, I think that the position is a most unsuitable one for a woman, and I believe that most women – though not all – would agree with me.” But he did accept that feelings might change.

In 1936 the High Sheriff of an unnamed Welsh county reported to the Privy Council that he was having difficulty in finding suitable male candidates, though there were plenty of suitable ladies; but he did agree to put forward the names of two suitable gentlemen as well.

 In 1937 the High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire wished to put forward the name of a lady. It was pointed out that it would be most unfortunate if a lady’s name were put forward publickly and she were then rejected by the Court or the Privy Council or even by the King. Her name was therefore withdrawn.

Finally in 1940 Mrs C. S. Way, of Garthmyl Hall, was nominated for Montgomeryshire. There is no comment in the Privy Council papers. She was duly pricked as High Sheriff in 1943. There were Lady High Sheriffs in Montgomeryshire again in 1946 and 1947 – twenty years before the first Lady High Sheriff of a county in England.

There was also a question on the sheriff’s fund…….


Mr SANFORD (HS 1848), in opposing the motion (to use police instead of javelin men) said the alteration was less required in this county than in any other, because, from a long-existing regulation, the expense of the sheriff was comparatively trifling. Gentlemen had only to belong to the sheriff’s fund, and pay £5 5s. a year, and they were exonerated from these expenses. Somerset County Gazette, 9 January 1858.

Motion withdrawn.

Colonel Jones (HS 1868; 997 acres, £2,250 pa.) regretted that the motion he was about to propose had not been moved by some person better acquainted with the different magistrates, and who might be of much more importance than himself. At the same time, when a bracket (sic) appeared last November in which he was detailed as a sheriff in prospect, he could not help experiencing a certain amount of feeling on the subject. In fact, he felt himself highly flattered that the chairman had done him the honour, as a new inhabitant in the county. But he had also the feeling in his mind that a toad would have under a harrow – (laughter). But the toad would have the best of it, and would hop out of the way, while he, unless he died, could not run out of the way…. The expenses of Col. Blathway (HS 1849; 5,043 acres, Somerset, 2,306 acres, Gloucestershire, £8,705 pa.), who was not a subscriber to the sheriff’s fund, amounted to £600. If he subscribed to the fund, he had a certain amount to pay at entrance, and a yearly blister of £5; but even then he could not be at less expense than £150 – he believed it had been placed much higher.

Mr WOOD was a subscriber to the sheriff’s fund, and it would be better for his own pocket if the motion were carried…. He thought that the expense of the shrievalty very moderate indeed, and that Col. Blathway had incurred unnecessary expense. It could not, he thought, be more than £200 or £250 to a subscriber. Somerset County Gazette, 7 July 1866.

Mr Nicholetts (Under Sheriff) informed the court that there was a contract entered into with the captain of the javelin men for two years longer, and he would have to be paid £200 each year from the Sheriffs’ Fund. Bristol Mercury, 7 July 1866.

Motion carried, 19-17.

Mr Moysey (HS 1875; 712 acres, £1,145 pa.) said that no sheriff he had heard of had complained that he had not command over the men employed, he believed, since 1811.

Mr Wood said they, in Somerset, stood in a peculiar position: they had a sheriff’s fund which had been in operation for a number of years…. A contract was entered into with Mr Armstrong (the Captain of the Javelin men) for three years that he should provide a sufficient number of javelin men…. Were they going to interfere also with the arrangement made and confirmed by all the gentlemen who subscribed to the sheriff’s fund. He himself was a subscriber to that fund, and thought it a most admirable arrangement.

Mr R K M King (HS 1873; 1,748 acres, £4,740 pa.) then explained that each sheriff had £250 allowed him in gross in aid of the expense to which he was put. Somerset County Gazette, 5 January 1867.

Motion carried, 39-4 (reversing previous resolution).

Mr H W Hoskins said that in 1867 the Under Sheriff, Mr Nicholetts, was anxious that the corps of javelin men, the funds of which he administered, should be continued. But since then circumstances had changed. He said the corps was established in 1811 principally for the purpose of keeping order in court. Somerset County Gazette, 7 July 1877.

Motion carried: Javelin men disbanded.

John Hubert Hunt, of Compton Pauncefoot, was nominated as Sheriff in November 1810, 1811 and 1812. “Mr Lethbridge to Lord President, for excusing Mr Hunt for this year on the ground of his having only of late succeeded to his Estate, and the Expence of serving being not less than £800, a public subscription to defray which having been just instituted, but of which he cannot avail himself unless he is struck off the Judges’ Roll. Mr Lethbridge adds that Mr Ackland (second on the Roll) is, he knows, anxious to serve, is a young man of considerable Fortune, and belongs to the subscription alluded to. Privy Council Papers, National Archives, PC 13/4.

Hunt was nominated again in 1821 and 1825, but never appointed.

Sheriff’s expenses varied from £100 to about £700 or £800. In the case that I speak of, where it was £100, I rather think they had a sheriff’s fund in the county, to which each property liable to serve contributed. Charles Lennox Peel, Clerk of the Privy Council, Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on High Sheriffs (1888) p.7, qu.32. Somerset?

In the eighteenth century they had a system in Buckinghamshire under which all gentlemen of sufficient standing to be eligible as Sheriff belonged to an association to which they subscribed five guineas a year. When his year of office came, most of the Sheriff’s expenses were paid out of this common fund. Purefoy Letters (1931).

It is strange to find so practical and business-like a system in existence in the middle of the eighteenth century. I would suggest that it might be revived today in any county. On Circuit, 1924-1937, by MacKinnon LJ (1940), p.159.  


Latch Memorial at St John the Baptist Church, Churchill

There has recently been a most interesting email exchange with some of our members and Kirsten Uszkalo, a university lecturer from Edmonton, Alberta, concerning the Latch memorial!

Many of you will be familair with the memorial in the church which depicts a gentleman, supposedly Sir John Latch, gazing horror struck at the partially shrouded face of his wife, Sara, who has allegedly just died in child birth delivering her twelth child. The children are also represented in the memorial including the shrouded figure of the recently deceased last child. To help refresh your memories there is a photo of the memorial which is dated 1644 in the Gallery section.

The Latch family had a long association with Over Langford Manor, much of which is documented in Chris Lee’s excellent chapter on the house in “More Stories From Langford”.

The initials on the memorial appear to be JL and SL, and we have hitherto believed this to be Sir John and Sara Latch. However, Wallace Butler’s extremely erudite publication “Churchill People and Places” has a different take on the memorial. He believes the male figure represents Thomas Latch, Sir John’s son. Moreover there is a family tree of the Latches which would appear to identify all the children of the marriage between Thomas and Sara.

Wallace believes that it was Collinson’s guide to Somerset dated 1791 that started the myth that Sara’s husband was called John, and that he died of heartbreak on seeing the body of his wife.

We would be delighted to hear of your views on whether you think the gentleman in the memorial is Thomas or John Latch, and to see if we can find any compelling evidence that might throw some additional light on the subject! You can get in touch with us via the “Contact Us” page.


Thanks to research carried out by Jeanette Perry, Sally Greenhill, Sheila Johnson and Olga Shotton some interesting information has been uncovered about the three adjacent houses in Lower Langford, namely Nash House, Dring Cottage and Rose Cottage, which in times past were collectively known as “Burgesville”.

 We relied heavily on Sally’s grandfather’s memoir for the Dring Cottage entry in “Every House Tells A Story”. His father’s father was Richard Burges and his recollection of Richard is reproduced here.

 Grandpa Richard Burges, my father’s father, I never saw. He died in 1853 (the will shows 1858). Local people who knew him, told me he was a tall strong man, quiet and industrious. He had made Somerset his county, but had come up from Cornwall or Devon. His profession was the building line. He had an aptitude for slating a roof, and a special aptitude in plaster centres and borders round the ceilings. His work remains to this day in the district. I still have a slating hammer and plaster moulds. He married and the lady dies soon. He then married a widow who was engaged in some capacity with Miss Hannah More, of Barley Wood, Wrington. On the death of this widow, he married her daughter. He and his three wives, two of them mother and daughter, lie at rest in the family grave at Churchill ( the memoir shows Christchurch)  Parish Church (St.John the Baptist).

Thanks to Olga Shotton we have a copy of Richard’s will, which shows that he left his wife and children a considerable estate of houses and properties. A picture of the Burges family grave is in the Gallery.

While researching the Blagdon church records for its recent centenary celebrations, Sheila came across builder’s accounts and vouchers for the tiling and plastering work carried out by Richard Burges for the period 1821-23. Copies of some of these are shown in the Gallery section under Burgesville. It is quite clear that he was a master craftsman operating in the first half of the 19th Century, and that his skills would have been applied to renovating and extending the three Lower Langford houses that he and his third wife, Sarah, owned. Most likely, they lived and occupied Dring Cottage as their main residence, with their children and grandchildren at various times shown by the census data to be in occupancy.

 Jeanette’s family history studies have revealed that Ellen, the eldest daughter of Richard and Sarah, married Matthew Henry Harse Kitley, also a builder, in 1853, and that at least two of their children Frank and Ada are mentioned in the census data. Another sister, Kate, is shown as having died at Burgesville, Langford in 1929, as also is her husband George Augustine Jameson who died in March 1947. Therefore, it is highly likely that the house remained in the possession of the Kitley Burges family at least up until this date.

Family photos including Frank Kitley Burges, Jeanette’s husband’s great grandfather are included in the Gallery section. Can anyone help with the uniform he is wearing? Frank died in 1886 at the age of 33. Also included are pictures of Kate Kitley taken at Dring Cottage in 1927, and a picture which, while unidentified, has a remarkable similarity to the photo of Sarah Sabina Burges, the spinster shop keeper, shown on page 73 of “Every House Tells A Story”.

It is always rewarding to be able to fill in the gaps in our knowledge, and to be able to add to the stories of the houses in our village. So if you have pictures or indeed stories of relatives that might have lived in Langford, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Manorial Court Rolls

The History Group has recently been given access to a remarkable archive of Court Rolls for the manors of Langford, Whatley and Whatman’s Brent.  The records that have been examined so far date from 1449  to 1777.   They give the names of the tenants and details of their tenancies.  They thus provide a record of Langford landholders over a period of more than 300 years. Please see the Gallery section under “Manorial Court Rolls” for images.

The Manor of Langford is based on Langford Court and appears to embrace an area that became detached from the Manor of Wrington at an early date. Both Wrington and Burrington had been bequeathed by charter to the Abbots of Glastonbury in 904 AD. Unlike the Wrington manorial court rolls, so far we have seen no  references to the Abbots of Glastonbury in the titles, suggesting that the Manor of Langford was indeed seperated before the dissolution.  We are hoping to learn more of this seperation by studying the Glastonbury records.

The location of Whatley and Whatman’s Brent and what has become of them remain mysteries that these documents may help us to solve. However, there are very early references to Whatleigh in Wrington records, and there is an early association between a Robert Whatman and Robert Brent who owned land in Nether Langford ( in Churchill).

 One of the earliest Rolls records the decisions made for Whatley by the manorial court that was held on 13th October, 1449 (in the 28th year of the reign of Henry 6th).  The lord of the manor appears to have been the late John Brent.  Alex(ander)  Hody seems to have stood in for him and his feoffess (trustees).  A later record is that of the Court held under John Creswick on 15th October, 1652, who we know owned Langford Court from 1636.

Most of the earlier Court Rolls are in Latin, while the later ones are in English.  The History Group will welcome all offers of help to transcribe and translate these valuable documents.

An Early History of North Somerset

A paper published by Wallace F Butler produced in 2008.

Please see the gallery section for a full version.

This document includes a detailed account of the early settlers in North Somerset, the Romans, the Saxons and a comprehensive Domesday Survey for this area, covering the new, largely Norman land owners with the size of their holdings by settlement.

Langford’s Inns

Until recently our research into the Inns of Langford had concluded that both The Langford Inn, formerly The White Hart Inn, and the Green Dragon Inn (located close by Richmond House)  were flourishing in the late 1600’s as revealed by the accommodation entry in the Inns and Alehouses ledger of 1686 ( see Gallery ).

We now have evidence that both Inns were in existence even earlier from entries in a Langford Manor village survey dated 1636!   A  page from this survey is reproduced in the Gallery section, which amongst others, details the entry for The Green Dragon.

We are in the process of transcribing the surveys, and hope to publish these in the near future as we believe these documents will be a valuable aid for family history studies.

The entry for the Green Dragon Inn shows that the tenant was John Phippen age 35 years, and that in addition to the Inn, the holding included a “backside”, a tennis court, two gardens, two very good orchards in 20 acres of well wooded grounds. It is quite probable that this holding embraced part of the grounds of Langford House.

John Young, age 55,  and his wife, age 46, were tenants of The White Hart Inn ( now known as The Langford ) which included a “backside”, a garden, a very good orchard in well wooded 18 acres of land.

The Green Dragon ceased to trade around 1740, but The Langford is still going strong today, and once again can offer hospitality and accommodation to the weary traveller!

There are records of a third inn at Langford, which appears to have started at the end of the 18th Century as The Mendip Volunteer with a Thomas Reed as the landlord. It is possible that the inn was set up by John Hiley Addington as an alehouse for his volunteers recruited to fight off Napoleon.

Although the precise location of the inn is not certain, it was most likely located opposite Langford Place. The 1841 Census shows a Robert Hacker as a publican occupying  plot 142,  which is opposite the end of Saxon Street. From a study of the recognizances for this inn, it appears to have briefly changed its name to The Volunteer in 1822, and The Valiant Soldier a year later, before reverting to its original name. By the 1851 Census there is only one publican listed for Langford (Thomas Fenwick at The Langford Inn), so it is most likely the The Mendip Volunteer had ceased trading by this time.


LANCET  (Langford and Churchill Environs Team) was formed in 2008 as a result of an initiative by Vince Russet, the County Archaeologist, to establish local community archaeology based groups to tackle local projects.

During 2008, the group met on several occasions to survey an old enclosure in Dolebury Woods close to the Iron Age fort at Dolebury Warren. See Gallery section “Dolebury Woods Survey”.

As a result of the discovery of a Bronze Age axe head by metal detectorists Dave and Bob Whalley at Stepstones Farm, the group turned its attention in 2009 to an unusual feature appearing in one of the fields at Stepstones, an annular crop circle. Although this had been recorded as a HER (historic environment record) site no. 414, no research had been carried out to assess its significance.

Having obtained permission from the Alvis Bros. to carry out some geophysical surveys, a date was set after the crop harvest to carry out a preliminary resistivity survey. This technique measures the electrical resistance of the soil typically to a depth of some 18 inches. It can show the presence of banks and ditches,  buried stone work, and post holes A more sophisticated technique “pseudosectioning” was used, with some success, to measure the resisitivity to much greater depths through a section of the surveyed area.

The results of the survey which was carried out by Jill Polak and her helpers from Clevedon, on 22 August 2009 are shown in the Gallery section see “Stepstones Resistivity Survey”.  Also included here in the Research topics section are Jill’s notes on her preliminary observations, which speculated that the ring might possibly have been a Type 1 (single opening) henge. 

As the field was shortly due to be ploughed, it was decided to follow up the resistivity survey with a field walk, and also to enlist the help of the Congresbury group YCCART to carry out a magnetometry survey.

On a rather wet and windy 3 September 2009, over 30 volunteers turned out to conduct a field walk over several acres in the vicinity of the crop circle. Some 44 grids of 25metre x 25metre were measured out, and volunteers collected  from the surface any foreign objects that were not felt to be indigenous to the field. An interesting challenge, resulting in copious amounts of terracotta and the odd machinery part!  The finds from each square were then placed in a labelled bag for future analysis.

A detailed magnetometry survey was carried out by Chris Short and his team on  14 September 2009. This technique which measures variations in the earth’s magnetic field can detect magnetic hot spots in the earth which can arise from hearth, pits or kiln fires. It can also detect other magnetic anomalies that could indicate buried buildings or earthworks. The results of this survey are also shown in the Gallery section. see “Stepstones Magnetometry Survey”.  However, the survey appears to have been somewhat inconclusive!

The analysis of the field finds was completed on 9 October 2009, and a photographic record of the more significant finds taken. See Gallery section “Stepstones Field Finds” to view the finds by each grid.  Once again, we are indebted to Jill Polak for her help and guidance with this part of the project. Of particular interest were the flint tools, a scraper(B7) and a blade (C5), which were possibly Mesolithic in origin.

In the summer of 2010, we are hoping that it might be possible to do some excavation work to see if we can uncover more clues as to the origin of the ring.

Jill Polak – Notes on Resistivity Survey

Stepstones Notes    Jill Polak     22/08/2009     

 TR/CIA resistivity kit (CBA South West)20 x 20 metre grids, with readings at 1 metre intervals

Top of grids is north and first traverses made from SW corners facing north. The base line was along the northern boundary of the field, at least 40 metres north of the edge of the grids.

The weather was dry and sunny, following a little rain during previous week. The field contained short stubble from a recently harvested wheat crop but had not been ploughed since harvesting.

 Site name & location:

SMR & SHER refs: 00414

National Grid Reference: 

Site Scheduled:

Landowner & occupier:  Alvis Bros

 Grids 1 -14 were downloaded under TR/CIA software. Grids 1 & 2 & 3 were already on the meter so were deleted after download.


Produced by Bob Smisson with Res2Dinv software and saved as bitmaps. Grid 14 is a pseudosection west to east crossing the eastern edge of the ring once near the centre of Grids 08 and 09.  Zero is at the west end.  Grid 10 is a pseudosection north to south, taken one metre to the east of the junction of Grids 08 & 09 and was intended to cross the ring at both ends. Unfortunately the line chosen was too far east and so it only touched the outside edge of the ring near the middle.  Zero is at the north end.

 The Grid 14 pseudosection crosses the ring at a right angle and is therefore more informative than Grid 10, which nearly misses the ring altogether. In both pseudosections the yellow/green=soft=low readings of the ring can be seen near the surface towards the middle. The third (bottom) version of each set of three is the significant one to study.  


Grids 04-07 and 11-13  are the usual sort of resistivity grids of measurements  in ohms up to 75 centimetres below the ground surface. They have been put together as raw data under TR/CIA software according to the grid plan below.

11 12 13
07 08 09
04 05 06

 The raw data ohms on this site have too wide a range to distinguish features (it appears uniformly black) but as almost all came within a narrow band from 15 to 50 ohms, these adjusted levels were used as a basis for the bitmap.

 All remote probe positions (15 metres from the nearest working positions) were adjusted to within 0.3 ohms of the initial reading of 25 ohms at a point on the west side of the junction of Grids 4 and 7. This was close enough to avoid any need to edge match the individual grids.

 The bitmap is uninverted so black=soft=low and white=hard=high readings.

 (Bob Smisson used Snuffler software to produce alternatives including a 3d version which was rather more informative but was not saved as a bitmap). 

 The ring is low resistance indicating soft ground, possibly a ditch. There is a hint of some contrasting high resistance, or hard ground, just inside the ring. There also seems to be an almost regular pattern of activity covering most of the inside of the ring. (Which might indicate postholes? jp).

 There appears to be an entrance gap on the south side, possibly ‘blocked’ in such a way as to reduce the view of the inside from a distance. (Which might explain why the initial three grids downloaded showed little sign of the ring. jp)  A line shows north to south to the east of the ring, which may be a recently trampled path. The old field boundary to the west is not within the 9 grid area.