Click on the titles at the foot of this page for the details of the terrier and perambulations
BEATING THE BOUNDS WITH ABBOT BERE
By Dom Thomas Sutton, O.S.B.
The following important official document on Abbot Bere’s Perambulation of the Glaston XII Hides was translated by Coun. H. F. Scott Stokes, F.S.A., and read as a paper to members of the Glastonbury Antiquarian Society on 27th January, 1940. The paper was printed in instalments in the February, 1940, issues of the Central Somerset Gazette, from which journal it is now reprinted.
He therefore in great distress absolutely insisted on at once putting in hand this prodigious labour (which I have made bold to call a Terrier), to be compiled with the utmost care and diligence, and he put down money to pay for it. Like the good father of a family that he was, he was determined to secure the livelihood of his flock, at home and away, and of their guests, by making sure that there could be no possible doubt about the validity and extent of the grants of their pious founders, or about any detail of the same.
And reflecting in his wise way that a task like this would be a most difficult undertaking, not to say a labour of Hercules, needing not only industry and application, but also men of standing erudition and judgment, in accordance with the old saying, Take counsel first about all your doings, for you will rue it later if you don’t, he appointed to this laborious undertaking the following eminent persons, namely: his most faithful friend and counsellor, John Fitzjames, Esquire, barrister-at-law, at that time Seneschal of the Abbey; William Long, auditor and clerk to the reeves; Thomas Gunwyn, clerk, and master of the rolls of the said Abbey and official of the feudal court, and also chief surveyor on this occasion; together with his trusty John Horner, surveyor, Bailiff of Whitstone: and divers others, together with Thomas Somerset and William Walton, clerks of the Abbey Treasury for the time being, assistant surveyors; and your humble servant, Brother Thomas Sutton, an unworthy member of this religious community, now Estates Bursar to the same; and I have done my duty in the matter as best I could, together with the aforesaid officers and others. And if any little details of the lands, fields, pastures, plantations and forests have escaped me, and my pen has not noted them in the present Terrier, well, you must attribute it to my lack of knowledge and not to any bad faith please.
I have done all I could, though not all I wished and intended; as the wise Solomon hath it, Things are so complicated, that the tongue of man cannot tell them all in every detail.
Item, I counsel thee, wise reader, to ponder closely and circumspectly the details of this Terrier, what lands are rich and what are poor. It is not just a matter of counting the acres and noting the boundaries and the extent of the holdings. And so when you roll or unroll one sheet or another of this Terrier (as you will have to), do not think that you are to study it for any theoretical purpose; for its plain practical purpose is to make you a sound sensible practical farmer, or at least overseer of farms; for in the words of the philosopher, All practical experience depends upon seeing and smelling and touching and tasting and hearing things for yourself; for all knowledge comes to us through our five senses.
Item, I have carefully put headings on each sheet of this little work, sheet by sheet, so that the reader may more readily find the particular manor he is looking for.