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Bruton, Somerset

Historical Description

Bruton, a small town and a parish in Somersetshire. The town stands on the river Brue, among a cluster of hills, 10½ miles SSW of Frome, and has a station on the G.W.R., 117 miles from London. It is a place of considerable antiquity. A Benedictine monastery was founded at it in 1005 by Algar, Earl of Cornwall; changed into a priory of black canons in 1142 by William de Mohun, Earl of Somerset; raised to the dignity of an abbey in the time of Henry VIII., at the instance of the then prior, who was coadjutor to the Bishop of Bath and Wells; and given at the dissolution to Sir Maurice Berkeley. The town consists of three streets, and has a post, money order, and telegraph office (S.O.), a bank, a parish church, a Congregational chapel, a Wesleyan chapel, a grammar school, and an hospital. The church is Later English and large, has two quadrangular towers, one at the west end, the other at the north aisle, the former richly ornamented, and contains a fine tomb to Sir Maurice Berkeley and his two wives, and some other good monuments. The parsonage adjoining the church was built in 1822 from the ruins of the abbey. The grammar school was founded in the time of Edward VI. by Fitz-James, bishop of London, has £400 a year from endowment, and holds two exhibitions at the universities. The school also receives £300 a year from Hugh Sexey's Hospital, which is awarded in scholarships tenable at the school. There is a newly erected technical or trade school, with an endowment of £400 a year and about 80 pupils. An hospital, founded in 1618 by Hugh Sexey, said to have been a waiter in the town, maintains 30 old men and women, and 15 girls are trained for domestic service. It gives £1400 a year to various schools for educational purposes. Brewing and manufactures of horse hair are carried on. Dampier the navigator was a native. The parish includes also part of the parish of Eastrip containing Sheephouse Farm. Acreage, 4007; population of the civil parish, 1788; of the ecclesiastical, 1582. Eedlynch Park is a seat of the Earl of Ilchester. A Roman pavement was found in 1711 at Discove. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Bath and Wells; gross value, £168 with residence.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySomersetshire 
Ecclesiastical parishBruton St. Mary 
Poor Law unionWincanton 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1554., in association with Somerset Archives & Local Studies, have images of the Parish Registers for Somerset online.


Church of England

St. Mary the Virgin (parish church)

The church of St. Mary the Virgin, rebuilt towards the close of the 15th century, is one of the finest examples in this country of the Early Perpendicular style, and consists of chancel, erected in 1743, with a crypt below it, clerestoried nave of five bays, aisles, north tower porch and an embattled western tower, which was restored in 1910, and contains a clock and 6 bells: the parapets of the nave are filled with pierced tracery, consisting of zigzag moulding inclosing trefoils; the clerestory is lighted by large traceried windows of four lights, divided by flat buttresses: projecting from the embattled north aisle is a lofty porch tower of three stages, with Perpendicular windows in the upper stage, which is battlemented; at the south-west angle of this tower is a square turret, also embattled, and rising above the merlons of the parapet; the western tower is arranged in three stages, the belfry storey exhibiting on each face triplets of traceried windows separated by slender crocketed shafts; the tower is strengthened by angle buttresses rising into crocketed pinnacles, and has a pierced embattled parapet and an octagonal turret with pinnacle at the north-east angle: the chancel, an incongruous structure, has a tomb with recumbent effigies to Sir Maurice Berkeley K.B. and his two wives, Catherine (Blount), ob. 25 February, 1559, and Elizabeth (Sandes), ob. 16 June, 1585; there is also a monument of black marble, with bust and arms, and a Latin inscription, to William Godolphin esq. ob. 1636, and another mural monument of stone, with a rich canopy supported by Corinthian pillars, and recumbent effigies, to Charles, 3rd Viscount Fitzhardinge, ob. 12 June, 1688, and his two wives, one of whom, Penelope, was the daughter of Sir William Godolphin kt. and sister of the above William Godolphin esq.: a mural monument of white and grey marble, with a pediment, and inscriptions in Latin and Greek, commemorates William Berkeley, 4th baron Berkeley of Stratton, ob. 24 March, 1740-1, and near this is a monument of marble, with sculptured trophies and military ensigns, erected in 1749 by John, 5th baron Berkeley, to his brother, Capt. the Hon. William Berkeley R.N. of H.M.S. "Tiger," on board which he died, 25 March, 1733, and was buried at sea: the stained west window is a memorial to Mr. T. O. Bennett, d. 1877, and to his wife, Mary (Beasant), d. 1878; there are other memorial windows to John and William Ames, former parishioners, who emigrated to America in 1635 and 1638, and to Edward Dyne, d. 1850, Fanny, his wife, d. 1854, Henry Dyne, d. 1890, Henry Thomas Ridley, d. 1898, Frederick Longman, d. 1896 and James Hopkins Pearce, d. 1905 and Lydia, his wife. d. 1891: the church has a finely carved open timbered roof, and there is a lectern of carved oak: the church has been restored since 1873 at a cost of £5,000, and affords sittings for 800 persons: in the churchyard is a tomb with Latin inscription to the Hon. C. Berkeley, d. 1743.

St Mary the Virgin, BrutonNave of St Mary the Virgin, Bruton
Tower of St Mary the Virgin, BrutonAltar of St Mary the Virgin, Bruton


Congregational Chapel, High Street

The Congregational chapel in the High street, erected in 1803, has seating for 450 persons.


Wesleyan Chapel

There is a Wesleyan chapel at the west end of the town.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Bruton from the following:


Online maps of Bruton are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Somerset papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Somersetshire, 1623 is available on the Heraldry page.

DistrictSouth Somerset
RegionSouth West
Postal districtBA10
Post TownBruton