St Mary's Church, Thorncombe
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Dorset and Wiltshire|
Thorncombe // is a village and civil parish in the English county of Dorset. It was historically, until 1844, an exclave of Devon. It lies five miles (8 km) south east of the town of Chard in neighbouring Somerset. Thorncombe is situated close to the borders of both Somerset and Devon. In the 2011 census the population of the civil parish was 687.
Approximately half of the population of the parish live in the village of Thorncombe, the rest are divided between the hamlets of Holditch, Hewood and Synderford, and outlying farms and houses. The layout of Thorncombe village consists of three roads which meet at a "T" in the middle of the village. These roads are Chard Street, Fore Street and High Street.
Chard Street heads north to the Somerset town of Chard. Chard Street is probably the busiest road with the Village Hall, St Mary's Primary School and the housing estates of Gribb View and Tansee Hill. Gribb View breaks from the tradition of most of the village in being mostly brick or rendered buildings, the traditional build of the village being flint-faced cottages, as this stone was readily available from the local area. Tansee Hill, of more recent build, is more in keeping with the village as it consists of both flint-faced and rendered buildings.
Fore Street heads to the east towards Venn and is a more traditional looking part of the village with flint-faced cottages and terraced housing down its length. Along Fore Street are many of the buildings which previously housed village amenities and services such as the village store, a bakery and two pubs; these are all now used for housing.
High Street heads west and towards Sadborrow and Holditch. The housing in High Street presents a traditional appearance. Halfway along High Street is the recent development of Orchard Lane. This development, like Tansee Hill, is in keeping with the look of the village with traditional-looking buildings, some of which are thatched.
The parish of Thorncombe lies within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is over 5,200 acres (21 km2) in extent and is principally agricultural land. To the east, across the valley of the River Synderford, is the ridge of Blackdown Hill (215 m), traversed by the Jubilee Trail, from which there are extensive views of the village and the area. About 4 kilometres to the southeast is Pilsdon Pen (277 m), formerly thought to be Dorset's highest point but now recognised as its second highest.
The original church at Thorncombe was dedicated to St Mary by William Brewer, Bishop of Exeter, in 1239. The building of the church, as well as nearby Forde Abbey (founded in 1136), was superintended by Cistercian monks from Waverley, Surrey. Thomas Chard, alias Tyblis, the last Abbot, was Suffragan Bishop to the Bishop of Exeter from 1508 and was appointed Vicar of Thorncombe in 1529, 10 years before he left Forde Abbey at the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539.
Local legend has it that Rev. John Bragge, Vicar of Thorncombe from 1644 to 1647, was deprived of his living, probably because he was involved in a royalist plot against Cromwell, and was transported to Barbados. Although this statement appears on several websites, it is incorrect. The truth is less dramatic: Thorncombe’s parish register records John Bragge's burial in the churchyard on 5 April 1647. The Journal of the House of Lords for 3 November 1647 records the presentation of a ‘Petition of the Inhabitants of Thornecombe’. Now in Lambeth Palace Library, it confirms the date of John Bragge's demise. Signed by 62 parishioners, it states that parishioners 'have suffered above these twelve months last past their want of a preaching minister of the Gospel, by reason that John Bragge the last Incumbent by his delinquency agt State was sequestrated unto the time of his death which happened about half a year since'.
The old church stood about 50 yards (46 m) to the south of the present church, where the Wellingtonia tree now stands. In 1770, the church at Thorncombe was not large enough to contain 'the fourth part of the inhabitants'. Thorncombe's population grew from around 885 in 1676 to 1,308 in 1851 and 1,189 in 1871. The present church dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, was built in 1866 to seat 400. There was a significant community of non conformists living in the parish from the late 17th century onwards. In 1689 clothier Robert French registered his Synderford home as a "Protestant Dissenting Meeting Place" and by 1723 there was a Quaker Meeting House and burial ground at Laymore, just outside the parish boundary.
Historically Thorncombe's main industries were spinning, weaving and sheep and cattle breeding. Other small industries included leather production, shoe making and flax processing. During the 18th century there was a weekly market selling 'grain and meat' and serving 'other wants'and an annual Easter fair where 'sheep and other horned cattle' and locally woven 'narrow cloth' were traded. The market ceased trading in 1773 and the last recorded fair took place in 1885. Following the national decline in small scale weaving during the 19th century due to industrialisation, Thorncombe reverted to agriculture, but this has decreased in recent times. There are still a few farms which survive around the village but most residents work in the local towns of Chard, Crewkerne and Bridport.
Famous past inhabitants of Thorncombe include the Puritan Sir Henry Rosewell; the poet, dramatist and Royalist sermoniser Robert Gomersall; the Commonwealth Attorney General, Edmund Prideaux; Queen Anne's Secretary of War Francis Gwyn; the artist Lucien Pissarro; the ethnologist Sir Raymond Firth; the anthropologist Rosemary, Lady Firth; and the art-historian Cecil Gould.
Until 1844, the parish of Thorncombe was an exclave of Devon, at which time it was transferred under the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844, to Dorset. It was part of Axminster Hundred.
In 1836 the parish, which had been part of the Deanery of Honiton, was transferred ecclesiastically from the Diocese of Exeter to the Diocese of Salisbury. In 1982, the ecclesiastical parish was transferred to the Diocese of Bath and Wells, at which time it became a 'united benefice' sharing a vicar with the neighbouring (Somerset) parishes of Winsham and Cricket St Thomas. In 1999, the parishes joined with others to form the Chard and District Team Ministry. In 2006 Thorncombe together with Winsham was linked with Tatworth, Chaffcombe and Cricket Malherbie with Knowle St Giles to form the Two Shires Benefice.
The present church, incorporating a number of items from the old church, was built in 1866–1867 at a cost of £4,000. The foundation stone was laid on 26 April 1866 by Margaret Bragge, widow of Colonel Bragge of Sadborow, and was dedicated by the Bishop of Salisbury on 15 October 1867. It was built in Perpendicular style, the windows being modelled on those of the cloisters of Forde Abbey. Inside the church is a memorial brass commemorating Sir Thomas (died 1419) and Lady Brook (died 1437) of Holditch Manor. This is one of 500 brass memorials recorded in the Lancastrian period 1400–1453.
Axminster is a market town and civil parish on the eastern border of the county of Devon in England. It is 28 miles (45 km) from the county town of Exeter. The town is built on a hill overlooking the River Axe which heads towards the English Channel at Axmouth, and is in the East Devon local government district. At the 2001 census, it had a population of 5,626, increasing to 5,761 at the 2011 census. The town contains two electoral wards the total sum of both wards being a population of 7,110. The market is still held every Thursday.
The River Axe is a 22-mile (35 km) long river in the counties of Dorset, Somerset and Devon, in the south-west of England. It rises in Dorset and flows south to Lyme Bay which it enters through the Axe Estuary in Devon. It is a shallow, non-navigable river, although its mouth at Axmouth has some boating activity. The name Axe derives from a Common Brittonic word meaning "abounding in fish", and is cognate with pysg, the Welsh word for fish.
Chard is a town and a civil parish in the English county of Somerset. It lies on the A30 road near the Devon and Dorset borders, 15 miles (24 km) south west of Yeovil. The parish has a population of approximately 13,000 and, at an elevation of 121 metres (397 ft), Chard is the southernmost and one of the highest towns in Somerset. Administratively Chard forms part of the district of South Somerset.
The Counties Act 1844, which came into effect on 20 October 1844, was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom which eliminated many outliers or exclaves of counties in England and Wales for civil purposes. The changes were based on recommendations by a boundary commission, headed by the surveyor Thomas Drummond and summarized in a schedule attached to the Parliamentary Boundaries Act 1832. This also listed a few examples of civil parishes divided by county boundaries, most of which were dealt with by later legislation.
The Perry Street and District League, commonly known as the Perry Street League, is a football competition with clubs from south Somerset, west Dorset and East Devon, England. The league was formed in 1903 by Charles Edward Small, the owner of the Perry Street Lace Works, who is commemorated by the three spools of lace depicted on the league's crest.
Hawkchurch is a village and civil parish in Devon, England, 3 miles (5 km) north east of Axminster on the border of Devon and Dorset, and about 6 miles (10 km) south of Somerset. It is 4 miles (6 km) north of the tourist and fishing town of Lyme Regis.
Wookey is a village and civil parish 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Wells, on the River Axe in the Mendip district of Somerset, England. The parish includes the village of Henton and the nearby hamlets of Yarley and Bleadney where the River Axe travels the length of the village. There used to be a port at Bleadney on the river in the 8th century which allowed goods to be brought to within 3 miles (5 km) of Wells. Wookey is often confused with its sister village Wookey Hole, site of the Wookey Hole Caves.
Stockland is a village and civil parish in Devon, close to the Somerset boundary. The parish is surrounded clockwise from the north by the parishes of Yarcombe, Membury, Dalwood, Widworthy, Offwell, Cotleigh and Upottery. Its nearest neighbouring towns are Honiton and Axminster, which are 6 miles (10 km) and 5 miles (8 km) away respectively. It has a population of around 600. The village is placed within the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Stockland parish had historically been an exclave of Dorset until the Counties Act 1844.
Whitelackington is a village and civil parish on the A303 one mile north east of Ilminster, in Somerset, England. The parish includes Dillington Park and the hamlets of Atherstone and Ashwell.
Sir Henry Rosewell (1590–1656) of Forde Abbey, Devon, was a puritan and supporter of the New World colonies.
Winsham is a village and civil parish 4 miles (6 km) south-east of Chard and 6 miles (10 km) from Crewkerne, in the South Somerset district of Somerset, England. The parish, which has a population of approximately 730 residents living in some 320 households, includes the hamlets of Whatley, Bridge, Purtington and Ammerham, and covers an area of approximately 12 square miles (3,100 ha).
Forde Abbey is a privately owned former Cistercian monastery in Dorset, England, with a postal address in Chard, Somerset. The house and gardens are run as a tourist attraction while the 1,600-acre (650 ha) estate is farmed to provide additional revenue. Forde Abbey is a Grade I listed building.
Blackborough is a hamlet and former manor in the parish of Kentisbeare, Devon, England. It is situated within the Mid Devon district. The nearest substantial town is Cullompton, approximately 4.7 miles (7.6 km) to the south-west. Within Blackborough are situated the large mansion of Blackborough House also notable are Hayne Farm and the Old Smithy. The former neo-Gothic Early English style parish church of All Saints, built in 1838 by George Wyndham, 4th Earl of Egremont, lord of the manor, who also built Blackborough House was demolished in 1994, having become structurally unsafe. The churchyard however is still maintained and the ecclesiastical parish and parochial church council still exist.
Yarcombe is a village and civil parish in the county of Devon, England, situated in the East Devon administrative district on the A30 road near the towns of Honiton and Chard. It is sited in the steep rolling meadows and ancient woods of the Yarty Valley on the south edge of the Blackdown Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The population according to the 2011 census was 500.
Henry Henley (1612–1696) was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1653 and 1681. He supported the Parliamentary cause in the English Civil War.
Crewkerne Grammar School was a grammar school in the town of Crewkerne in the English county of Somerset. It was founded in 1499 by John de Combe, a precentor of Exeter Cathedral and former vicar of Crewkerne. The school closed in 1904, after a prolonged financial crisis, and re-opened the following year as an ordinary secondary school under the Board of Education.
The Church of St John the Evangelist is a Church of England parish church in Tatworth, Somerset, England. It was built in 1850–51 to the design of Charles Pinch of Bath and is a Grade II listed building.
Weycroft is an historic manor in the parish of Axminster in Devon, England. The surviving manor house known as "Weycroft Hall" is a Grade I listed building which includes elements from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, with a great hall of circa 1400, and was restored in the 19th century.
Brooke in the parish of Ilchester in Somerset, England, was an historic estate, the earliest known seat of the prominent Brooke family, Barons Cobham.
Sir Thomas Brooke (c.1355-1418) of Holditch in the parish of Thorncombe in Devon and of la Brooke in the parish of Ilchester in Somerset, was "by far the largest landowner in Somerset" and served 13 times as a Member of Parliament for Somerset. He was the first prominent member of his family, largely due to the great wealth he acquired from his marriage to a wealthy widow. The monumental brass of Sir Thomas Brooke and his wife survives in Thorncombe Church.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thorncombe .|