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Somerset Historic Environment Record


Site Name: Secular College, Parsonage Farm, Stoke sub Hamdon
SCHEDULED MONUMENT: Medieval secular college at Parsonage Farm [No:35309]
Civil Parish: Stoke sub Hamdon
Grid Ref: ST 4735 1742 (ST 41 NE)
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Public access:

As far as we are aware all or part of this site is a National Trust property open to the public at certain times. [Information last updated on 09 December 2002]


The HER is currently being transferred to a new system. Please ask about this changed entry. {0}

A secular college which housed a small number of priests attached to a free chapel in a nearby manor house was founded in 1303 and dissolved before 1549. {1}

The building now known as the Priory or Parsonage Farm House is the most likely site of the secular college. It was probably built c1450-60 and reconstructed c1585. The range of buildings also includes a C15 gateway and C16 or earlier barns and dovecote. {2}

Pantin's account includes a detailed description of the buildings. {3}

Was the residence of the provost and his fellow chaplains of the Beauchamp Chantry Foundation. Purchased by the National Trust in 1946 and restored 1967-8 it undoubtedly retains some fabric of the chaplains dwelling. The hall range is the most important and oldest part of the building, basically C14 and perhaps earlier. The ogee arch is of the early C14 and some stones show oblique tooling suggestive of Norman work. A small projecting wing to the N contains a chapel on the upper floor with a fine ogee-headed piscina. {4}

The buildings are listed, see PRNs 56421, 56422, 56423, 56424, 56425, 56426. {7}

It was recorded as being in a dilapidated state with the damaged roof having been only recently removed in 1886. {9}

The uninhabited parts consist of (a) hall with southern annex and porch (b) and (c) two barns, (d) a dovecote and (e) an outbuilding, once a cottage. There are also exterior walls and a gateway which are scheduled, which are not shown on the maplet. The solar block with two stoned chambers topped with a bell cote is inhabited and is not scheduled. The principle building is a hall with simple arch braced roof and screens passage. To the E end there was a parlour or service room with a long chamber over where the five chaplains or cannons would have slept. This was essentially the original structure of soon after 1304. Later in the C14 a small N projecting wing with angle buttresses was added. This contained a porch with a chamber above. Restoration work in 1967 revealed that the upper chamber had at one time been a chapel. An annex to the S of the hall has a large traceried window, now fallen, and an ogee headed aumbry. The hall had a floor inserted and a six light square headed window installed in the N wall early in the C16.

The outbuilding is of stone construction and aligned on the road, once forming part of the perimeter of the site. c18m long and 7m wide with a good thatched roof.

The barn is essentially medieval, with good buttress and gable caps. Orientated N-S with porch on E side. c25m long and 10m wide with a good thatched roof. Appears to have new doors and replaced finials on the gables

The other barn is essentially medieval, orientated E-W and c28m long and 8m wide, now survives only as a stone shell. Evidence of recent destruction by fire - reddened stonework and fragments of charred timbers still present.

The dovecote is situated at the W end of the barn orientated E-W. Circular in plan, roofless but with some of the stone pigeon holes intact {11}

All masonry is secure and in good order. Currently grazed by cattle at the rear. {13}

There are reports that walls were seen in the road when a gas pipeline went through in the late 1990s. {14}

Scheduling revised with enlarged area and new national number (was Somerset 196) on 28 January 2003. {15}

There is little doubt that the new college of 1304 provides the foundation of the present site. It is not possible however to confirm the retention of any part of the structure that might precede the 1304 date. A process of logic might suggest that if the chantry priests moved into an existing building then it must be a possibility at least that some of the walls may have belonged to a house of the 13th century. Perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence lies in the construction of the chapel wing at the east end of the north elevation which appears to date to the 14th century but has walls which are considerably narrower than those of the main building. If the chapel were constructed early in the 14th century then it could be suggested that the wing was added to a 13th century or earlier building. Unfortunatly the lack or architectural detail to support such a theory means that it cannot safely be proposed particularly as there are other possibilities. {16}


0 Compiler comment - Webster, CJ (Chris). Somerset Historic Environment Record (12/02/2016). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained.
1 Mention - Knowles, D and Hadcock, RN. Medieval Religious Houses of England and Wales.  (1953), 342.
2 Description - Pantin, WA. Chantry priests' houses and other medieval lodgings. Medieval Archaeology.  3 (1959), 216-
3 Measured plan - Pantin, WA. Chantry priests' houses and other medieval lodgings. Medieval Archaeology.  3 (1959), 216-
4 Description - Ireland, P. Record of the Restoration 1967-8 of the Priory, Stoke sub Hamdon.  Unpublished National Trust report (1969) Report location: Unchecked but probably HER files.
5 Description - The National Trust. College buildings of the Beauchamp Chantry.  (Undated) leaflet. Location: Unchecked but probably HER files.
6 Description - Dunning, RW (ed). Victoria History of the County of Somerset.  Vol. 3 (1974), 241.
7 Compiler comment - Dennison, E [Ed]. Somerset County Council, Sites and Monuments Record (16/01/1985). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained
8 Mention - Page, W. Victoria History of the County of Somerset.  Vol. 2 (1911), 161-2.
9 Mention - Rowland, WJ. The Beauchamp College. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History.  32 (1886), 51-55
10 Mention - Bates, EH. Leland in Somersetshire, 1540-1542. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History.  33 (1887), 60-136 [page 87-88]
11 Detailed records - HBMC Field Monument Wardens report (SCC Planning Department)
12 Sketch plan - HBMC Field Monument Wardens report (SCC Planning Department)
13 Site visit report - Graham, A [Alan]. English Heritage Field Monument Warden. (23/6/2000) Report location: HER files
14 Verbal communication - Webster, CJ [Chris]. Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record (18/04/2001). Location: verbal or direct entry to database, no other records.
15 Correspondence - English Heritage to Somerset County Council. (19/2/2003) Location: HER files
16 Survey report - Brebner, P. The Priory, Stoke Sub Hamdon.  Unpublished National Trust report (2000) Report location: HER files

Record created in January 1985

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