History of Langford Budville
Little is known of the history of Langford Budville before 1066. The Saxon and Norman ages led to the growth of a settlement in and around Langford Budville. An axe head was recovered from an old stone quarry plus, in 1989, a Saxon burial ground was discovered next to Croxhall, which is opposite St Peter’s Church. There has also been evidence of a bronze age settlement, plus Roman gold coins were discovered in the region of Bere Farm in the 1960s confirming the presence of a Roman influence.
The manor of Langford in 1216 was held by one Richard de Buddville (one of King John’s knights), and we may assume that this is how the village acquired the 2nd part of its name. The manor of Langford Budville was acquired in 1756 by Edward Clarke of Chipley Park to prevent it falling into the hands of his rivals being the Sanfords of Nynehead. This didn’t stop Edward Ayshford Sanford from acquiring it in 1829. It remained in the Sanford family ownership until the 20th century.
The church of St Peter’s seems to have existed by 1204 with the north aisle added in 1829 and a combined vestry and organ chamber built in 1873. The church was finally given its own parish status when its own vicar was appointed in 1863.
In a private garden next to the south-west corner of the churchyard is the site of the former medieval church house, which accommodated a school in the 1620s. After 1650, the building became the parish poor house until, following an act of 1834, Langford Budville became part of the Wellington Poor Law Union and paupers were sent to the Wellington workhouse. The former church house eventually became a private house until it burnt down in 1908.
Farming has always been an important feature of the local economy. Other forms of enterprise and employment included a pottery at Middle Hill in the 16th century, serge weaving (on domestic handlooms) in the 17th century, lime-burning in the 18th and 19th centuries (there is a disused quarry and lime-kiln near Bere Farm) and a 19th-century census returns record craftsmen such as blacksmiths, carpenters and shoemakers, although some inhabitants commuted to work in the woollen factory in Wellington. Transport improved in the 18th century when more important roads through the parish were made available with gates being put across the new roads to ensure a toll could be collected by anyone using them under the auspices of the Wiveliscombe Turnpike Trust. In 1838 part of the Grand Weston Canal between Taunton and Tiverton was constructed through the parish, but the canal did not Exeter as intended and the stretch from Taunton to Greenham was abandoned.
For leisure requirements in the 19th century, there were two public houses in the village, namely the New Inn and the Crown. The latter survives today, renamed the Martlet Inn in reference to the Sanford coat of arms.
In 1894 Wellington Rural District Council was set up and absorbed the functions of the Wellington Poor Law Union. Langford Budville, like other parishes, became entitled to a Parish Council, which is still in existence today, and plays an active role in the community.
Changes since the Second World War include housing development with the largest housing expansion coming via the building of properties in the Swift estate, and the creation of a recreation field, which has recently undergone an experiment in the advancement of biodiversity, and other environmentally friendly practices.
Unfortunately, in 2022, a major outbreak of ash dieback meant a major felling programme that will change the look of this area forever. The parish council is ensuring that only native trees will replace the lost ash trees.
Although some years ago the village lost its Post Office and working men’s club, the needs of the community continue to be served by the school, pub, church and parish council. The jewel in the crown of the village’s entertainment hub has to be the village hall, which was opened in October 2012 by HRH the Earl of Wessex following 30 years of fundraising. It is used extensively both by members of the community and is also hired by people who live outside the parish for all kinds of celebrations.
Langford Budville has become a modern community that is still been able to keep in touch with its rural identity with the help of a number of groups. Their modus operandi is to ensure the improvement in our environment is high on everyone’s agenda.
History of Wellisford
Go back 1,000 years and Wellisford is recorded in the Domesday Book as a small settlement. In the hundred of Milverton and the county of Somerset, part of the lands of Robert de Odburville, who presumably came from the Normandy seaside town of Odburville. We don’t know where Robert kept his English seat but it’s unlikely to have been Wellisford itself, where it is recorded two thanes (pre-Norman nobility) called Edric and Bruninc held it during the time of King Edward the Confessor.
Go back 1,000 years before that and it is likely that the hamlet was a satellite of the agricultural village of Langford Budville where migrant workers from Wales went to live, away from the main body of English. That could have given it the name, the ford of the Welsh, or ‘Wellisford’.
By 1086, Wellisford had a recorded population of 10 households, inhabited by eight householders and two slaves. On about 20 acres, the Domesday Book records: one riding-horse, 18 cows, three swine and 17 sheep.
Fast-forward to now and the agricultural land has increased many times, but livestock numbers are not much greater than they were a millennium ago, and there are still only 10 households in Lower Wellisford.
Between those dates, Wellisford probably did what the UK’s rural villages did and saw population drop dramatically with the medieval Black Death and then reach heights of population during the 18th-century agricultural boom.
For part of that period, the hamlet was the home of another Norman family, the de Havillands, recently famous for founding the aircraft manufacturer that bore their name (1920-1963) and for the British actress Olivia de Havilland (1916-2020). You will see de Havillands recorded on the walls of St Peter’s Church, Langford Budville.
From the 19th century onwards, the manor was owned and/or lived by several families, including the Winwoods. In August 1914, an estate centred on Wellisford Manor including the house, the manor at Thorne St Margaret and farms as far away as Rewe Farm, totalling 945 acres of farmland plus 70 acres of coverts for shooting, all producing a rentroll of £1,227 10s 4d a year, went under the hammer at the Castle Hotel in Taunton. History does not relate what price it made.
The Vellacott farming family moved from Exmoor to Wellisford after the Second World War. In the 1960s or 1970s, Taunton builder CS Williams converted the manor and its wings into separate homes and sold them, and that is how the hamlet looks today. We’re still trying to work out which of us are the two slaves.
History of Runnington
Runnington is a small hamlet on the River Tone one mile north-west of Wellington. Its name has previously been spelt as Rowington, Runeton or as now Runnington. Although its origin is uncertain, it is most likely to be derived from ‘the running Tone’.
Runnington has existed since before the Doomsday Book of 1086, when it was recorded as having 10 acres of woodland with at least four ploughs, four slaves and a mill. In 1837, the tithe map records it as having 340 acres, which is a fairly accurate estimate of today’s acreage. It has a population of around 80 and is part of one the smallest parishes in the country.
The main building in the village is the church, which is first recorded in the 12th century with Will de Lydford being the first recorded rector in the early 1300s. The present church of St Peter & St Paul is built of red sandstone and dates back to the 15th century. It has undergone a number of alterations over the centuries, notably the removal of the rood screen, which must have been used by singers and musicians until the coming of the organ. However, the access to it can still be seen.
On the south side of the River Tone there can be seen the remains of a section of the Grand Western Canal, which was an unfulfilled dream to link Bristol to the English Channel. The section was planned to run from Lowdells to Taunton, and was started in 1810, but it was only completed as far as Tiverton. The section from Tiverton to Taunton, passing through Runnington, was started in 1831 but it was not completed and finally abandoned due to the coming of the railways. Clearly visible can be seen the remains of the tow path, the canal and the ruins of the bargee’s cottage.
The social life of this small community centres around events organised by the church and are generously supported by the village.
History of Chipley
The hamlet of Chipley, bisected by the parish boundary, lies in the valley to the NE of Langford village. 'Chipley' is believed to originate from an Anglo Saxon name, recorded as 'Cyppan Leage' in 894, the meaning of which has been variously suggested to be ‘cattle field’, relating to onions or a persons name. Other potentials are ‘(buying) market field’ (derivation as with Chippenham), or taking Anglo Saxon 'Cyp' as relating to timber so may be 'wooded area'.
Held by Montacute Priory under the Winchester estate, the 'Manor of Chippelegh' was a small settlement with four recorded tenants as early as 13th century. It passed in 1408-9 to the Warre family of Hestercombe, then to the Lottishams, to the Clarkes. And in 1829, it came to the Sanford family.
Samuel Daniel, b1562 in Chipley (reputedly), poet
Edward Clarke, b1650, MP, commissioner of excise, Auditor General to Queen Mary, instigator of the Bank of England
John Locke, b1632, frequent resident at Chipley, philosopher (his work helped guide the founders of the USA), government officer, author concerning education and government
Edward Sanford, elected MP for Somerset 1830
Showerings drinks, makers of Babycham, second half 20th century, had pear orchards over land locally
Now almost 25 residences (many converted barns), there were only four early residential buildings. These are:
Chipley Park House
There was an early house of the Manor of Chipley, then while under the Clarke family there was a fine house built, circa 1681. With brick-built symmetrical elevation, it was arranged over four floors, positioned on a raised platform approached from the south by a grand driveway, and another from the north. That house was demolished in the 1840s, and the remaining brick-built Chipley Park house is modest in comparison, but still grand compared to its surroundings. The driveway still remains, with a fine avenue of trees which were reputedly sent as saplings by Locke when in exile in Holland.
This house has sections believed to date from the late medieval period (late 14th century - mid 15th century), with many modifications and additions in the 17th century and ongoing since then. It has features which suggest the residence of minor gentry. Possibly referred to as ‘Middle Chipley Farm’ in 1920s, together with its mill barn of 1856 it is now grade two listed. The early maps hint at an earlier mill building on the site of the barns, and a suggestion of a walled garden.
Lower Chipley Farm (now Rosemary Cott & Pippins)
This has been described as originally being a thatched hall-house of circa 1580-1590 with renovations in the 17th century. It is thought to have housed the estate office for Chipley at one time.
There are earlier references for a mill but the current building is likely to originate in the early to mid 19th century when the estate underwent much development.
Among other interesting facts, 'Little Chipley' once included three houses on Baghay lane (two still present), with the track continuing from Chipley, past the sawmills to meet the Baghay lane, now just a footpath.
The Toll House and pond at Langford Gate are seen on early maps, and are likely to date from soon after the turnpike came to being (1786-1806). The building was on the north-west corner of the junction, with two gates. Another early map exists with a note of Chipley Gate, but it is uncertain where this was situated.
During the Second World War, a Nissen hut with searchlight was positioned at the end of the Chipley avenue, with three others in the village.
There used to be a road from the end of the Chipley park north driveway (now just a layby by 'Young Oaks') across the racecourse fields to join Huntash lane, where a footpath still exists. Some of the parish boundary follows its course.
The 1840s tithe map shows the bridge in Chipley over the Luckham stream as a narrow affair with a ford alongside for carriages.
Chipley now suffers somewhat from the increasingly busy B3187 but despite this it has a healthy community of friendly residents.