Pitminster is both a village and a parish and is located just 4 miles from Taunton centre. It has a population of 934 and the parish comprises of the villages of Angersleigh and Blagdon Hill, as well as numerous hamlets covering an area of about 20 square miles.
The name Pitminster means the minster or mother church of Pippa’s people.
In 938 King Athelstan gave the estate, along with nearby Corfe as a tithing to the Bishop of Winchester. By the early 13th century the bishops had established a deer park in the parish which was visited by King John in 1208.
Its boundaries were first established by Saxon Charter in 834 and it was given to the Bishop of Winchester by Edward the Confessor in 1044. Poundisford Park, with its renowned Deer Park, was developed as one of the Bishop of Winchester’s medieval estates during the 12th Century. Pitminster Church was recorded in the 10th century. Blagdon Hill, first mentioned in 1225, meandered along both sides of a long, winding turnpike from Taunton, over the Blackdown Hills, to Devon and beyond.
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
A large part of the parish now lies within the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It has three public houses: two, in Blagdon Hill, were early 17th Century coach houses and one, in Pitminster, was converted from a mill mentioned in the Doomsday Book. There are two churches, a post office and a garage. A playing field and small sports pavilion at Sellicks Green, run by a locally organised charitable trust, is well used but the facilities are very limited.
There is a Tithe Book for the years 1890 – 1914 lodged in Somerset Archives, Group code is A/DJA and the Accession number M/3872 which includes Pitminster.
A Potted History of Our Settlements
Pitminster (and Poundisford) History
The Parish, a Saxon term for an administrative unit, of Pitminster can be traced back to a charter in the year 938 by King Aethelstan granting land in Pipingminstre (or ‘mother church of pippa’s people’ – Pitminster) to Aelfheah. The boundary recorded in the charter is similar to the ecclesiastical parish except for the land to the north of the M5 is now lost to the present parish. There is a section of the oldest Saxon hedgerow in the county running north/south at the footbridge on a footpath from Howleigh Farm to the Dipford Road.
Pitminster was given as a tithing to Bishop of Winchester in 934. Around 1230 the Deer Park was enclosed and a Verderer’s Lodge built at Poundisford. This park was split in half in 1534, the northern half based on the earlier Poundisford Lodge was leased to a merchant, Roger Hill. His younger son rebuilt the Lodge around 1550. The southern half lease came to William Hill (son of Roger Hill), who had made a fortune in foreign trade, and who built Poundisford Park around 1546. These two estates remained linked by family connections for most of the time until the Park was sold to Vivian Neal in 1928. The Lodge remains in separate ownership.
The church was first recorded in 938 with the present structure started in C13th. The oldest bell of eight is dated 1692.
The Old School building, now used for meetings, was the village school between 1840 and 1921. To replaced by the new building in Howleigh Lane 1914.
Flyboat Farm was named after the swing boat rides of the fair that used to be held in the adjacent field.
The Queens Arms, in Pitminster, was a Mill mentioned in the Doomsday Book and first opened as a pub in 1852.
The earliest mention of Blagdon Hill in the records is around 1225. A typical Somerset village that has undergone linear development. This road was the old turnpike from Taunton with two former Coaching Inns, the White Lion and the Lamb and Flag, that carried the coaches over the Blackdown Hills to Devon and beyond. There are other traces of the past, the tannery down Curdleigh Lane, the nearby malthouse and the old farrier’s forge are now part of private premises.
Blagdon Green, a triangular field at the top of the village, formerly common land was anciently the site of the pound, where straying cattle were penned, and the parish saw-pit operated there in the 18th century. The Green was enclosed and sold in 1851, but was still to be regarded as ‘a place of Exercise and Recreation for the Inhabitants’. The Blagdon Mission Room was built in 1878 on the corner of the Green to seat 150 people who lived too far from Pitminster Church. Now a kitchen unit outlet. There is still a right of way across the Green and a memorial tree planted by the Parish Council to replace the dead Jubilee Oak of 1935. It has recently been bought and returned into community ownership.
The Memorial Playing Field at Sellicks Green, some 4 ½ acres bought in 1950 for £700 with the Welcome Home Fund collected after the Second World War. The Annual Fete is held here in June. A Bronze Age standing stone, found nearby during rescue archaeology work on the motorway was re-erected here in 1982 and the Member of Parliament, then Mr Edward du Cann, poured a libation of cider over it at the unveiling ceremony.
The almhouse row of cottages, formerly Pring Cottages, were set up as a charity by the Marke family for their retired workers.
The first Blagdon School was built in 1837 by Mrs Welman of Poundisford Park at the junction with Howleigh Lane. After the new school was built it served as a non-conformist chapel until the 1990’s
On an old coaching route, a small settlement with the former Angersleigh vicarage and two cottages which used to be the Gardeners Arms pub.
The smallest ecclesiastical parish in Somerset (403 acres). Named after a Norman Knight, Angers who bought the estate called Leigh in 1279. The church dates back to C13th, possibly on the site of a Saxon Chapel. The oldest bell was cast in 1430. Leigh Manor burnt down and was replaced with Leigh Court in 1830.
The church hall was donated by Squire Eastwood in 1908.
A tithing of Pitminster. A hanging tree on the side of the main road at Heale Lane junction was used to display those hung by Judge Jefferies.
Lowton Manor was owned by Thomas Westwood. His estate was inherited by his apprentice Robert Mattock who named The Merry Harriers after the nearby harrier kennels. The hamlet, until recently used to have a Post Office, a forge and a tony school. The remains of the school can be made out just past the crossroad where the road divides.
Small hamlet of two farms, a residence and a non-conformist chapel built by the Fox family of Wellington. Upper Chelmsine farmhouse dates back to 1652.
During WW1, horses were trained on the farm and the hills behind.
A clearing in the wood, is a small C15th farming settlement.
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