Harptree, East (St. Lawrence)

HARPTREE, EAST (St. Lawrence), a parish, in the union of Clutton, hundred of Winterstoke, E. division of Somerset, 12 miles (S. by W.) from Bristol; containing 772 inhabitants. The parish takes its name from the family of Harptree, to whom it anciently belonged, and of whose baronial residence, Richmond Castle, there are still some considerable remains near the church. In the year 1138, this castle was garrisoned by Sir William Harptree, in aid of the Empress Matilda, against King Stephen, by whom, after the reduction of Bristol, it was besieged and taken. It was demolished in the reign of Henry VIII., when Sir John Newton, to whom it then belonged, dug up the foundations to furnish materials for the erection of a mansion. The parish comprises 2596a. 3r. 18p., of which about 300 acres are arable, 140 in plantations and woodland, 40 orchard, and the rest pasture, &c.; the southern parts, on the top of the Mendip hills, are bleak and wild, but the northern parts are beautifully diversified with woods, coppice, and garden, and contain the chief residences, interspersed with trees. The substratum is rich in mineral wealth, and that portion of the Mendip range called Harptree Hill contains several mines of lead, in which are found manganese and quartz crystal. The village is situated in a rich valley, and there are also two small hamlets, both watered by the river Chew. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the patronage of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, valued in the king's books at £8. 15. The great tithes have been commuted for £72, and the vicarial for £126; the impropriate glebe consists of 72 acres, and the vicarial of 4½ acres. The church is a spacious structure, chiefly in the early and later English styles, with a handsome embattled tower, and a southern doorway in the Norman style: at the east end of the chancel is a curious monument to Sir John Newton, with his recumbent effigy in armour and that of his lady, and in two panels in front of the tomb are the effigies of his eight sons and twelve daughters kneeling; the whole within a recess, under a richly sculptured canopy, supported by Ionic columns. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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