1861 Kelly's Directory
GLASTONBURY is a municipal borough and market town, distant 158 miles by rail, via Bristol, from London, 40, via Highbridge, from Bristol, 18 by rail from Bridgwater, 6 from Wells, 9 from Shepton Mallet, and 74 from Somerton. It is in the magisterial division of Wells, Glaston Twelve Hides, hundred, Wells union, East Somersetshire, Glastonbury deanery, Wells archdeaconry, Bath and Wells bishopric, and Canterbury province. It formerly consisted of two parishes, St. John the Baptist and St. Benedict: these, for civil purposes only, were united under the authority of a special Act of Parliament in 1884. The population in 1861 was 3,593, and the acreage is 7,102a. 2r. 17p. It is situated on the Somerset Central railway, and is intersected by the river Brue. The great western road from London, through Bath and Wells, passes through it. The town was incorporated by Queen Anne, 30th June, 1706. The corporate body then consisted of seven "capital burgesses" and sixteen "inferior burgesses," besides a recorder and town clerk. Peter King, Esq. (afterwards Lord High Chancellor of England) was the first recorder, and it was chiefly through his influence that the charter was obtained. The Municipal Corporations Act reduced the number of the corporation to four aldermen and twelve councillors. The inhabitants were summoned, A.D. 1319, to return two members to parliament, but the then bailiff of the XII. Hides (William de Grinstede) made no return to the writ. The mayor and justice have magisterial jurisdiction within the bounds of the borough. The mayor is a justice of the peace for the year succeeding his year of office. The magistrates' sittings are held at the town-hall on every alternate Tuesday. Those matters of a judicial nature which cannot be done by the borough justices are dealt with by the county justices at the petty sessions held at Wells. Glastonbury is in the Bristol district of the Court of Bankruptcy. The county court is held at Wells. The Board of Guardians meet on Wednesdays at Wells. The town is neatly paved, and well lighted with gas. The costs of paving, lighting, &c, are defrayed by rates raised by commissioners, under the powers of a local act obtained for the purpose in 1811. The town is well supplied with water from two ancient wells, one on the west side of Edmund-hill, distant one mile, and the other is above the town; both were built, and the water conveyed in pipes to the public conduits, by one or more of the former rulers of the abbey. The police arrangements are under the supervision of the chief constable of the county. A new high cross was erected at the intersection of the four principal streets, A.D. 1846. It stands near the site of the ancient high cross and conduit. The Town Hall is a plain but substantial structure. It was erected in A.D. 1814, an older town hall, built in 1717, near its site, having been taken down about the same time. Adjoining the Town Hall is one of the great gates of the abbey, now converted into the Red Lion inn. The police station, or constabulary barracks, built about three years ago, are situate in St. Benedict-street, and attached to it are residences for the chief constable and other officers connected with the establishment. The railway station is a short distance from the police barracks, and about half a mile from the centre of the town. Great improvements in the style of buildings have been made.
The church of St. John the Baptist stands in a commanding position on the north side of, and near to the High-street. It is built principally of freestone from the Doulting quarries, and is generally admired as a fine Gothic structure. It is in the Perpendicular style of architecture, and the probable date of its erection was during the reigns of Henry VI. and Edward IV. The interior has recently been thoroughly renovated with much taste and care; the old pews have been removed, and open benches substituted, which has added much to the beauty of the building, the fine proportions of which are now seen to great advantage. A beautifully sculptured stone pulpit, the gift of Lady Charlotte Neville, has also been added. The church has a nave, aisles, chancel, transept, tower with 6 bells, clock, chimes, porch, and organ. The organ was the gift of Mr. John Yeoman, in 1818. The tower is 140 feet high, surmounted by a parapet of open stone-work, and ornamented with lofty pinnacles. There is an ancient altar-tomb (said to have been brought from the abbey), to the memory of one Camel, the purse-bearer or treasurer to one of the abbots. Besides this, there are other altar-tombs in the chancel, to the memory of Richard Atwell (ob. 1472), and Joan Atwell, both liberal benefactors to the church. There is a small brass to the memory of the Dyer family. The register dates from 1603. The living is a perpetual curacy, worth £95 yearly, with a good residence. The glebe lands and tithes are held by a lay impropriator, by a lease for lives from the Bishop of Bath and Wells, who has the patronage of the living. The Rev. Thomas Parfitt, D.D. (instituted in 1812), is the incumbent, and the Rev. Charles Sydenham Ross, M.A., is the curate.
Tbe church of St. Benedict is in the Early Gothic stvle of architecture, and was built about A.D. 1520, by Abbot Bere, whose curious cipher " R. B." is inserted over the principal doorway. In it is a chapel, called the Sharpham Chapel, under which Judge Gould is buried. The registers date from 1678. Until recently this church was a chapelry to the church of St. John, but a separate district is now assigned to it, the right of presentation being vested in the Bishop of Bath and Wells. The annual value is £100; the Rev. Walter Allnutt is the incumbent. There are chapels for Independents, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Plymouth Brethren. The Independent chapel adjoins High-street, and is a good and substantial building of freestone; it was erected in 1814, on the site of another house used as a chapel from 1706. Several benefactors have added to its endowment, of whom Mr. John Yeoman was the chief, whose bequest was £600 (reduced to £420), and an organ. The Wesleyan chapel is in Lambrook-street; it was built in 1825, and is chiefly of freestone. There is now in course of erection a Wesleyan chapel of much larger dimensions, on the top of, and facing High-street. There are National and Infant schools for boys and girls, with a residence for the master of the National school, the gift of the Rev. Thomas Parfitt, D.D., the incumbent. There are Sunday schools belonging to St. John's and St, Benedict's churches. The Wesleyans and Independents also have schools. The "Somerset Central Herald," is a penny weekly paper, published on Saturdays established in June, 1861. In 1550 a number of French Walloons (Protestant refugees) settled here as weavers of woollen cloths. In 1553 they were ordered by Queen Mary to quit the kingdom, but the woollen trade continued to flourish for upwards of a century. Some years after this the silk manufacture was introduced by a man named Dutch, but this failed early in the present century. Afterwards the knit-stocking trade gave employment to a large number of hands, and subsequently leather gloves were made here to a large extent. The introduction of machinery has caused the failure of these trades also. There is a tannery at Northover, and a flour mill at Beckery. There are also brick and tile manufactories. The only bank in the town is a branch of the Somersetshire or Stuckey's Bank. In 1827 an Act was obtained for making a canal from Highbridge (connected with the Bristol Channel) to Glastonbury, wnich was opened in 1834. In 1852 another Act was obtained, under the authority of which the canal was purchased and a railway made on its bank, from the Bristol and Exeter Railway to Glastonbury, and under another Act, passed in 1855, this line has been extended to Wells. In 1856 the same company obtained an Act for making another railway from the line between Glastonbury and Wells, which, when completed, will give access to the Wilts and Somerset Railway, Southampton, Poole, Weymouth, &c. Since the railway from Highbridge was opened, the town has considerably increased in its trade and copulation. The market, which is an extensive cattle one, is held on the third Monday in each month, and is well supported. There are large and important horse, sheep, and cattle fairs held here on the 19th day of September (called the Tor fair), and on the 11th October (called Michaelmas fair). These fairs are held in a large field conveniently situated about midway between the Somerset Central Railway station and the market place.
Ponter's, or Pouter's wall, intersected at right angles by the road from Glastonbury to West Pennard (at Havyatt), is an earthwork of immense strength of the Belgic Britons. It extends round to and below Hartlake bridge on the road to Wells. There are traces of ancient military works on and round Tor hill. Tor hill is a remarkable and well known eminence, on which a chapel is said to have been founded A.D. 166. After this a church dedicated to St. Michael was built on the site of this old chapel, and destroyed by an earthquake in 1275; again rebuilt and again destroyed but the tower still stands, and may be seen from almost every elevated point in the county. Norwood park (distant 1 mile) and Sharpham park (about 3 miles) were two of the seven parks held by the abbots. In the former, at the Dissolution, there were 800 deer, and in the latter 300 ; and there, too, the celebrated Henry Fielding, author of "Tom Jones," was born. At both places are some interesting remains of ancient mansions, &c.
The George Inn, near the New Cross, is a building of much interest. It was erected by Abbot John Selwood, about 1475, for pilgrims or visitors to the abbey. The "Tribunal" is an ancient building in the High street, opposite to which is the ancient Hospitium to the abbey. Here it is said the judicial courts of the Abbots connected with the XII. Hides were held. There are several mineral springs in Glastonbury which rise near the Tor. The Glastonbury waters were brought into high repute about 110 years ago, by a man named Matthew Chancellor. After this, Pump-rooms were built, and for many years the waters were resorted to by large numbers, and exported in considerable quantities for sale. They have fallen into disuse for many years, but the Chain Gate baths are being re-erected, and will doubtless prove an additional attraction to the town. The local charities are of very limited extent. On the west side of Magdalen street is the almshouse of St. Margaret, for 10 poor old men, and in the rear of the Red Lion Inn (formerly the Abbey gate) is an almshouse for 10 poor old women. Both these institutions were founded by former rulers of the abbey, the latter being the work of Abbot Bere, A.D. 1512. The alms-people were formerly supported by endowments made by the founders, but at the Dissolution all the revenues connected with the abbey were seized by the King. At present an annual payment of £37 is made from the land revenues of the Crown, and besides this there is an annuity of £6 2s. 6d. presented by Roger Nightingale (clerk), and Margaret, his wife, A.D. 1634, and charged on the Crown Inn. There is also another annuity of £2, and an addition of £8 yearly; has lately been made by the Rev. Incumbent of St. John's Church, Dr. Parfitt, and charged on lands at Meare. In 1666, James Levingston, Esq., founded what is called the second poor charity, now about £40 a year, part of which is given to poor persons not receiving parish relief, and the residue to the master of the National school. There are two or three other charities of small amount.
Glastonbury is a place of great interest to the historian and antiquary. To the casual visitor, here are few localities where a taste for the study of early ecclesiastical architecture and mediaeval art may be more largely gratified than at this spot. Its earliest name was Yriswytryn ; secondly, Avallonia; and thirdly, Glaestingabyrig, all having some reference to the peculiarity of the locality, as a place surrounded with water, which it was before the Bristol Channel had been artificially confined within its present limits.
Soon after King Ina had conquered this part of the kingdom, A.D. 708, he pulled down all the old buildings, and built the abbey anew; and besides this, he added many manors and estates to the abbots' endowments. In 1184 the abbey was destroyed by fire, and soon raised again in greater splendour by order of Henry II. This monarch disinterred the body of the renowned King Arthur, whose remains had here found a place of repose. In 1276 the abbey was laid in ruins by an earthquake, but raised again on a far more extensive scale by succeeding abbots, the latest additions being, as it is said, by Abbot Richard Bere, who was elected A.D. 1493, and died A.D. 1524, his successor being Richard Whitinge, who was nominated by Cardinal Wolsey, the monks having voluntarily given him that privilege. This venerable abbey had now attained the utmost height of prosperity. It was one of the most wealthy and magnificent establishments of the kind in England. From this high and proud position the Reformation hurled the abbot, and annihilated his abbey. Richard Whitinge, having remained firm to his duty, denied the king's authority, and proved his innocence, of the charges made against him, was, on the 14th of November, 1539, after a mock trial at Wells, ignominiously hanged on a hill overlooking the abbey. The work of spoliation soon began; buildings were destroyed, and the valuable library of the abbey scattered. The, spirit of destruction became paramount, and the once hallowed precincts were given up to desecration. The abbey estate and manor of Glastonbury, comprising a large portion of the town, were given by Edward VI to the Duke of Somerset, on whose attainder all fell again to the crown. The abbey estate was afterwards obtained by the Duke of Devonshire, who, in 1733, sold it to Thomas Bladen, Esq, for £12,500. This gentleman had two daughters, whose husbands, General St. John and Lord Essex, sold it for £40,500, and in 1806 James Rocke, Esq., became the purchaser at £75,000, who sold portions to different persons. The manor, with the hundred and lordship of Glaston Twelve Hides, was held about 1606 by Sir Henry Campbell, Bart. It subsequently became divided into seven parts. After passing through divers names, by whom nearly all the lands belonging to the manor were from time to time sold off, the manor itself, with the hundred of the twrelve Hides, was sold to W. B. Naish, Esq. in 1838, who has lately-disposed of his interest to J. J. Rocke, Esq., of Glastonbury, the present lord of the manor.
Of the buildings of the abbey many portions still remain, though all are more or less in ruins, except the abbot's kitchen, which is unique in shape, and nearly so in the materials of its construction, being composed entirely of stone. Many tales are told in connection with its history, as well as the time of its erection; but as to the latter point, it is assumed by competent judges to have been built early in the fourteenth century.
Allnutt Rev. Walter, M.A. High street
Andrews Frederick, beer retailer, Magdalene street
Miss Anna Maria Vincent, postmistress, Letters arrive ar 5.45 & 10 a.m. Delivery commences at 7.30 a.m. & 10.15 a.m.; dispatched at 7 p.m. Box closes at 6.15. Money orders are issued & paid at this office from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m
Stuckey's Banking Co. John Gill, manager, High street
Atlas Life &, Fire, Mr. Thomas Mayhew, High street, & W. S. Weslake, Street
Almshouses, Magdalene street
Chief of County Police Force, Valentine Goold
PLACES OF WORSHIP:
St. John the Baptist Church, Rev. Thomas Parfitt, D.D., incumbent: Rev. Charles Sydenham Ross, M.A., curate
National School, High street, Eli Davis, master; Miss Mary Ann Macey, mistress
Corp Frederick, farmer