Newton St Loe

 

By Jemima Buoy

Published in B&AFHS Journal 127 March 2007


The north-east Somerset parish of Newton St Loe, in the hundred of Wellow, stretches out exclusively over farming and parkland as seen in the map below.


corston

From Corston and Kelston Park in the north to Pennsylvania and Park Farms in the south, it covers the whole of Newton Park, the village of Newton St Loe itself and the hamlet of Clay’s End. In the east lies Newton Brook, running from Newbridge to Englishcombe. The village of Newton St Loe, sitting on a hill, is a quaint old-style nestled away from busy roads with attractions that could easily match in beauty with nearby Castle Combe in Wiltshire.





Recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as “Niwetone” is described (see image below) to have a mill, and separate land each for the village and the manor. The only person who is mentioned here is Aelfric.

magna1

“The bishop himself holds NIWETONE. Ælfric held it T.R.E. and it paid geld for 3 hides. There is land for 4 ploughs. In demesne (on the lord’s land there is land for) are 2 ploughs and 4 slaves; and 4 villans (villagers) and 3 bordars (smallholder) with 2 ploughs. There is a mill rendering 7s 6d, and 9 acres of meadow and 40 acres of scrubland. It was worth 60s; now 100s). To this manor have been added 7 hides which 2 thegns (noblemen) held T.R.E. There is land for 8 ploughs. There are 14 villans and 8 bordars and 7 slaves with 6 ploughs, and 23 acres of meadow. It was worth 100s; now 10l.”

(N.B. by author: to assist the meaning of some words, further translation is in brackets. T.R.E. is tempora regis Eduardis: In the time of King Edward - 1066; by implication, when all in the realm was legally correct and ownership would have been rightfully secured.)

The parish of Newton St Loe largely consists of Newton Park. The mansion and parks were given to French-born Roger de Santo Laudo [St Loe] as a gift from William the Conqueror. The manor house passed to Sir John St Loe’s daughter Elizabeth in 1375. She married Lord Botreaux of North Cadbury. In 1666 the manor was sold by George Nevill’s widow to Joseph Langton and it was he who created the enclosed park, with the help of Capability Brown. The marriage of Bridget Langton to William Gore of Barrow Court created the name Gore-Langton, which continued there until the death of the last remaining Earl Temple in 1941, when the Duchy of Cornwall took over the estate. It is the Duchy’s largest estate together with nearby Manor of Inglescombe.

The famous Launcelot (Capability) Brown designed the gardens of Manor House. Joseph Langton, the grandson of the first Langton owner, commissioned him in 1761. The mansion, built by Stiff Leadbetter in the 1760’s, is currently home to Bath Spa University as an administration centre and music rooms. It is of about 13 acres and the grounds include a fortified castle built in the 14th century by a descendant of Roger de Santo Laudo. Today the castle keep and gatehouse can be seen in the grounds. Several Grade I buildings reside in this quiet village, the Newton Park Mansion and the Gatehouse and Castle Keep, which was part of a fortified manor house.

Arthur Mee, in his book ‘The King’s England: Somerset’ (1968), describes the history of this little beauty: In the garden of the mansion are the ruins of a castle in which King John is said to have been held a captive, but scratched on a stone of the church is something possibly older still, a 24-hour dial which was telling this village the time before King John sealed Magna Carta. In the churchyard, which has a fine yew at the gate, the steps of the old cross are crowned by a new cross with a dainty head. The church has also been made new, but the old tower still has the hideous gargoyles the mediaeval masons loved. The 14th century doorway has ballflower ornament and the south arcade still keeps its ballflower capitals, the oldest part of the church. The door opens upon a great surprise, for it is all a little unchurchlike as we enter. We come into a transept and find ourselves looking through a group of columns 600 years old. On our left is a huge marble monument within magnificent iron railings, all spikes and balls; it is an 18th century structure with marble columns crowned by rich capitals and borne by angels. The modern pulpit, enriched with oak panelling and tracery, is raised on a slender stone pillar and on a bracket in the wall; it is charming. The floor of the chancel is paved with black and white tiles…………….”

The parish church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, built in the 11th century, is a stone structure with a tower containing six bells, and contains tablets of the Gore-Langton family. In the churchyard is a marble monument to Captain Edward Gore-Langton. The Grade II listing church was restored and enlarged in 1857.

Discovered in 1837 during the cuttings of the nearby Bristol-Bath railway, a Roman villa revealed two mosaics. Both were removed; one was then laid at Keynsham Railway station as a plaque before eventually becoming a permanent feature at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in 2000. This is the Orpheus Mosaic (see image below). Although rather fragmented from the frost and neglect, it is an important insight into the Romano-British iconography.


mosaic1

The decennial census since 1801 show a population trend of people living in this sought-after idyllic setting. The following table show the trend at 50-year intervals:


Newton St. Loe Civil Parish - Parish Headcounts


2001

1951

1901

1851

1801

All Males

254

132

175

229

186

All Females

377

131

188

211

185

All People

631

263

363

440

371

All Housholds

80

73

80

92

-


This material is Crown Copyright


Three and a half miles west of Bath, Newton St Loe has been many an attraction for people looking for a new place to live. This is what, I believe, happened to my husband’s ancestor, William BOOY (sic), who was the first person in his family after 5 or so generations to move out of West Kington, a couple of miles west from Castle Combe in Wiltshire. He probably decided to live a better life as a farm labourer in this corner of Somerset having gotten married in Bath to Ann BROOKMAN, also a native of West Kington. Having settled in Crock’s Bottom and Clay’s End just outside the main village, their two sons, William and Isaac were born in this parish (1868 and 1871 respectively). The sons lived there until the early 1900’s when William was recorded in the electoral register as living at Pennyquick Cottage in the parish of Twerton, which is just down the road from Clay’s End. Today, descendants still live in Twerton, and one family moved to Canada in the mid 1950’s to settle into a successful farming project.

Holdings at the Somerset Records Office for this parish show records of baptisms from 1538 to 1875, marriages from 1538 to 1838 (with transcripts from 1754 - 1837) and burials from 1538 to 1890. Keynsham Union Workhouse was the nearest workhouse.

We could not end our look at the parish and records of Newton St Loe without mentioned a good book “Newton St Loe, North East Somerset: A Study of the Vernacular Building Survey” by John Dallimore. The book describes its detailed social history, including the effect of the local collieries, plus the rise and fall of the local population. Family historians will like the village plans 1789-1998, which shows the locations of the various houses, the tithe map of 1840 and estate maps of 1789, 1869 and 1899. But it is the finite detail of each house, which is fascinating. Each has its architecture described; its floor plans and in most cases their earlier design shapes. Agriculture, farms and farmsteads form a separate section, but are treated similarly. Newton Farm at the centre of the village even has the design and layouts of the cowshed/granary, stables/hay-loft and threshing barn shown. Appendices include the comprehensive list of field names 1789, copyholders and leaseholders c.1600 and those paying rents c.1710. Copies of the book can be seen at any library, and can be purchased from Bath & North East Somerset Council.

The secluded village of Newton St Loe is an attractive setting for many people who wish to find quiet solace from the bustling cities of Bristol and Bath. It has a long history and many people over the years have done well to keep quiet about the beauty of the houses rather than to be in competition with the over-commercialisation that Castle Combe, for example, suffers. Let us hope that it continues that way for a long time.


References:
Newton St Loe - Wikipedia, Internet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton_Saint_Loe
Newton St Loe - Genuki, Internet: http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/
Census Information: A Vision of Britain Through Time, Internet: http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk and http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census/
Newton St Loe, NE Somerset - A Study of the Vernacular Building Survey, John Dallimore, 2001
The Duchy of Cornwall, Crispin Gill, 1987
The King's England, Somerset, Arthur Mee, 1968