Researching Parish History


Donated to the KTT Archive. An original poster of May 1835, with handwritten notes from the time. It tells us who sucessfully bid at auction for the building of the bridges on Westmoor, and how much they paid. This began the transformation of Westmoor through its draining and enclosure. This was a significant development in the health and economy of the Parish.

Our work is part of a thread in time, which we are able to pick up and continue to research, illustrate and make accessible to a wider audience. A river indeed, runs through it. Some of the earliest and comprehensive records about the Parish are as a result of the work of the Rev. K.W. Puddy in the 1980s. He transcribed the Births, Deaths & Marriages through the centuries from the available and original Parish Registers. For St Martin’s Church, the earliest entries are for Baptisms – 1557-1850, Burials 1581-1869 and Marriages commencing in 1813-1850. For St James’ Church at East Lambrook there are entries for Baptisms 1770-1860. A typed hard copy using his hand written transcript was brought together by M.P. & H.J. Faulkner of West Lambrook in 1989. This must have been a monumental task………and so we tread in others’ footsteps, with a far greater range of technology and digital access than our predecessors.

Parish Register from St Martins Vestry

The Parish Register gives insights into peoples’ occupations, together with how people at the time viewed the social order. Thus we have Cordwainer, Higgler, Wool Comber, Sword Maker, Base Born, Carrier and so on. It is also possible to recognise surnames of families still present in the Parish and nearby. The links below will take you to documents, which whilst not comprehensive, are free and will get you started, if you have the inclination to perhaps carry out a little of your own researches. This can lead you on to other more comprehensive sources such as Parish Registers Online at parishregister.co.uk. These cover the whole country and you will need to subscibe to access the archive.

PDF Documents – Extracts from the Parish Register : Kingsbury Episcopi Births 1683 – 1713 : Births 1728 – 1812 : Marriages 1813 -1837 : Marriages 1837 – 1879 : Rev Puddy’s personal notes on St Martins Church.

Medieval Masons Marks & Graffiti

Marks and dates on buildings are always good to look out for when exploring our surroundings – wherever we are. The Parish has its fair share for the keen eye. Most of the year, save on special days like the May Festival, St Martins Church Tower is generally not accessible unless prior arrangement has been made with the Captain of The Tower. For those with mobility difficulties or who might have claustrophobia, these exciting and thought-provoking traces of our history are inaccessible and so often – out of mind.

Below you will find a 3D model of St Martin’s Tower, on which are located all the masons’ marks and the graffitti which have been left behind over the centuries. They are quite remarkable and worth considering. The masons’ marks were probably left behind during the rebuild of the church in the early 1400s. These marks have a constructional significance and further reading about such marks can be found from detailed studies carried out by researchers. We have merely measured and recorded each mark and located them on a 3D model to make them and their implications accessible to a wider audience. The graffitti have been left by those who in some way were engaged in work in the church e.g. with repair work, or who, as part of the human condition, have elected to ‘leave their mark’ – for whatever reason.

Film : 3D Digital Model of St Martins Church Tower showing location of Masons Marks & Graffiti
PDF Document : Kingsbury Episcopi St Martins of Tours – Figure Sculptures by Jerry Sampson

Key Events in the Past

The Morning of Sedgemoor by Edgar Bundy : Tate Britain.

One exciting activity in any Parish can be to try to find out what was going on in the area at the times of key events in the past. These are the sort of events which have shaped the nation and which are paralleled around the world in time and space. One such event would be the Civil Wars and the Monmouth Rebellion of the mid1680s culminating in the Battle of Sedgemoor – just up the road, on the 6th July 1685. What was the social atmosphere in the Parish at that time? Who aligned themselves on which side? What were the conversations going on in the Wyndham Arms over a pint of ale? What was the social & political legacy as a result of the aftermath of the retributions meted out by Judge Jefferies? What evidence is available which directly connects the Parish of Kingsbury Episcopi and its souls with these events? These are questions for keen history students of whatever age.

Below are a few documents which have come our way from Frank Willy, whose family is from the area. Our thanks for sharing his work on this and bringing these to our attention and use. The copy of the letter by Mr Edward Hobbs – acting on behalf of Judge Jefferies – dated November 1685 – has been shared by Haydn Davies of Wells Local History Group. Our thanks.

PDF Document : The Western Rebellion – A list of Rebels and their Fates 1685.
PDF Document : Kingsbury Episcopi in the Monmouth Rebellion.

Somerset Heritage Centre

Visits to our county treasure-trove, the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton, has given us many and varied insights. The scroll above titled – “St Martins Tower 1622” – refers amongst other things to the refurbishment of the bells of St Martin’s Church. It gives insights into who did the work and how it was carried out, with links to bell-workers at Compton Dundon and further afield with London.

In another visit, we discovered an amazing shop ledger from the Fry’s estate dating from the 1790s, in which parishioners orders, ranging from cider to gunpowder and meat to lace are recorded. Our present new Community Shop is one in a long line of fore-runners.

Found within the Parish

Other great finds have been the Farmer’s Account Books of Job Bradford for 1857 at Thorney House and for New Cross Farm for 1892. Each details the work of their employees for a whole year. The two locations had quite different activities, which together form part of the heritage of the Parish. Either or both of these would prove excellent resource materials for a study with all sorts of dimensions to it.

More Recent

Picked up on Burrow Hill Aug. 11th 1940 by William Duck, son of Thomas Duck. Thrown out of German aeroplane. Kingsbury Episcopi Home Guard. H. Theodora Penny. From the Temperley Family Archive.

Objects & Photos

Bishops Cycles circa 1935. Archive of Elaine & Brian Heathman.

Other Archives : Wells & Kew

We have as yet, at 2021, to visit and use the National Archives at Kew. We also need to begin to discover what the Church Records at the Bath & Wells Archive can offer with regard to the Parish……..

There will be other sources……. moving forward…… since ’tis always ‘a work in progress’.