Montacute, a village and a parish in Somerset. The village stands 4 miles W by N of Yeovil, and has a station on the G.W.R., 137 miles from London. It was known to the Saxons as Logaresburch, takes its present name by corruption of the Latin mons acutus from one of two neighbouring wood-clad, pyramidal hills, and sent two members to a parliament of Edward I. It has a post and telegraph office (S.O.); money order office, Stoke-under-Ham. Acreage of parish, 1516; population, 853. The parish council consists of six members. The manor was given by William the Conqueror to the Earl of Mortaigne; and, with Montacute House, and nearly all the property belongs now to the Phelips family. Montacute House was built in 1580-1601 by Sir Edward Phelips, is an imposing structure, in the form of the letter E, 189 feet long and 92 feet high; presents an E front with 41 Tudor windows, and with statues in the spaces between the windows of second storey; presents a W front of equally handsome character; includes a magnificent screen brought from the old family mansion of Clifton Hall, near Sherborne; contains a stately hall, with singing gallery, screen, and a decoration of bas-reliefs representing the ancient punishment of " riding the skimmington;" contains also in the upper storey an apartment 189 feet long and 21 feet wide, furnished in the manner of the time of Elizabeth; has gardens in the Italian style, with terraces and fountains; and, in the time of the Civil War, was sacked by the Parliamentarians and occupied for a short time by Cromwell. A strong castle was built on a hill here by the Earl of Mortaigne, and its site is now occupied by a tower 60 feet high. A Cluniac priory also was founded here by the Earl of Mortaigne, and some interesting remains of it, including a battlemented gatehouse, flanked by towers and lighted on each side by an oriel window, all in Later English architecture, still exist. An ancient British camp, altered and occupied by the Romans, with a NW stone rampart enclosing about 20 acres, and with a ditch about two miles in circuit, is on Ham Hill; includes at the N angle an amphitheatre called " The Frying-Pan;" has yielded numerous coins, weapons, parts of chariots, and other relics of the Romans, and commands a fine panoramic view. Extensive quarries of a magnesian limestone much esteemed for ornamental building and little inferior to Bath oolite, are on the same hill, and have been worked to a depth of 100 feet. Gloves are manufactured in the village. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Bath and Wells; value, £120 with residence. The church is variously Norman, Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular; comprises nave, aisles, and chancel, with porch and tower, and contains monuments of the Phelipses, one of them of the year 1484. There are a Baptist chapel, a working-men's club, a Constitution hall,. and a Liberal club.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Montacute St. Catherine|
|Poor Law union||Yeovil|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The parish register dates from the year 1538.
Ancestry.co.uk, in association with Somerset Archives & Local Studies, have images of the Parish Registers for Somerset online.
Church of England
St. Catharine (parish church)
The church of St. Catharine is a building of stone in the Norman, Early English and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, nave, transepts, north porch and an embattled western tower containing a clock and 6 bells, rehung in 1901 at a cost of £160: there are five stained windows: a fine Norman arch divides the chancel from the nave: in the north transept is a tomb with recumbent effigies in stone of David Phelips and Ann his wife, 1484; and there are other memorials to Miss Bridget Phelips, 1508; Thomas Phelips, 1588, and Elizabeth Phelips, his wife, 1598, surmounted by a canopy; Sir Edward Phelips kt. King's Sergeant, Speaker of the House of Commons and Master of the Rolls, ob. 11th Sept. 1619, and Dame Edith Phelips, 1728: the church was thoroughly restored in 1871, and has sittings for 380 persons.
The Baptist chapel, erected in 1880, is a building in the Early Gothic style, and has a stained window, presented by the members of the Baptist chapel at Upper Norwood: under the platform is a marble baptistery, presented by the late Mr. G. Mitchell, a native of Montacute: there are sittings for 300 persons.
Here was once a Cluniac priory, founded in the reign of Henry I. by William Earl of Moreton, and dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul; the revenues were estimated at £456 yearly; the lodge and gateway, both of Perpendicular date, and in a good state of preservation, have been converted into a farmhouse.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Montacute from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Montacute (St. Catherine))
Land and Property
Montacute House is a mansion in the Elizabethan style, erected between the years 1580 and 1601: the principal front is 189 feet in length and 62 feet in height, and is adorned with nine stone statues, representing Moses, Joshua, and Judas Maccabeus; Caesar, Pompey and Alexander the Great and King Arthur, the Emperor Charlemagne and Godfrey de Bouillon; the gardens are also interesting, and the views obtained from the house are of the most varied and picturesque character. A portion of the park was opened in 1897 as a cricket ground. The house was eventually sold to Ernest Cook in 1931, and from him it passed to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, and from them to the National Trust. It is now open to the public and often contains exhibitions of art or costume in its vast hall.
Online maps of Montacute are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Somerset papers online:
- Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette
- Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser
- Western Gazette
- Wells Journal
- Somerset County Gazette
The Visitation of Somersetshire, 1623 is available on the Heraldry page.