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Crewkerne (St. Bartholomew)

CREWKERNE (St. Bartholomew), a market-town and parish, in the union of Chard, hundred of Crewkerne, W. division of Somerset, 10 miles (S. W. by S.) from Ilchester, and 132 (W. S. W.) from London; comprising the tythings of Clapton, Coombe, Easthams, Furland, Hewish, Laymore, and Woolminstone; and containing 4414 inhabitants. This place, being a royal manor, anciently enjoyed many privileges, and in the reign of Henry II. was exempt from taxation. The town is pleasantly situated in a fertile valley, watered by branches of the rivers Parret and Axe, and sheltered by hills richly planted. It has five principal streets, diverging from a spacious market-place, in the centre of which is a large and commodious market-house; the houses are in general well built and of handsome appearance, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water. Sailcloth, stockings, and dowlas, are manufactured. An act was passed in 1846 for a railway to this town, 8½ miles in length, from the Yeovil branch of the Bristol and Exeter line. The market, which is well supplied with corn, is on Saturday; and a fair is held on the 4th of September, for horses, bullocks, linen-drapery, cheese, and toys. The powers of the county debt-court of Crewkerne, established in 1847, extend over part of the registration-districts of Chard, Beaminster, and Yeovil. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £158; patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Winchester; impropriator, J. Hussey, Esq. The church is a spacious cruciform structure in the decorated English style, with a highly enriched tower rising from the intersection, crowned with battlements and ornamented with angular turrets; the interior is finely arranged, the windows are large, and filled with tracery, and the piers and arches which support the tower are lofty and of graceful elevation. There are places of worship for Particular Baptists and Unitarians. The free grammar school was founded in 1449, by John de Combe, precentor of the cathedral of Exeter, who endowed it with land now producing £300 per annum: it has four exhibitions, of £5 per annum each, to any college at Oxford, founded by the Rev. William Owsley, who gave a rent-charge of £20. There are two other schools, endowed with £9. 12. per annum, and two almshouses, one of which, for twelve aged men and women, was in 1707 endowed with a rent-charge of £29 by Mrs. Mary Davis.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.

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