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Langport Eastover (All Saints)

LANGPORT EASTOVER (All Saints), an incorporated market-town and a parish, having separate jurisdiction, and the head of a union, locally in the hundred of Pitney, W. division of Somerset, 4½ miles (W. S. W.) from Somerton, and 130 (W. S. W.) from London, on the great western road; containing 1172 inhabitants. This place, in the Domesday survey called Lanporth, is of great antiquity; and is supposed to have derived its name from the Saxon words long, extended, and port, a town, having reference to the length of its principal street. It was a royal burgh in the time of William the Conqueror, and contained 34 resident burgesses. In the civil war in the reign of Charles I., being considered a commanding station, it was well garrisoned, and alternately in the possession of the royal and the parliamentary forces: in July, 1644, the former were compelled to abandon the place, from the result of an engagement here, in which 300 men were killed, and 1400 made prisoners. The Town is situated on the river Parret (which is navigable for barges) near its junction with the Yeo and the Ile; at the western entrance a very ancient bridge of ten arches crosses the river, and there are nine other bridges, which are repaired from the funds of the corporation. At the eastern approach, on the old lines of fortification, an arch thrown over the road supports a building called the "Hanging Chapel," originally devoted to religious uses, but during Monmouth's rebellion the place of execution. The principal part of the town is on an eminence, and commands some pleasing and extensive views; that portion near the river, lying low, is subject to frequent inundations. Since 1800, the general appearance of the whole has been much improved by the erection of many new houses, and the inhabitants are supplied with excellent water from an adjacent well. A considerable traffic in coal, culm, iron, timber, salt, corn, &c., is carried on with London, Bristol, and various other places; and several boats, of from eight to fourteen tons' burthen, are constantly employed between the town and Bridgwater. The market is on Saturday; and fairs are held on the Monday before Lent, the second Wednesday in August, the last Monday but one in September, and the last Monday in November, for cattle.

The borough sent members to parliament in the reign of Edward I., but the privilege was not subsequently exercised. The government is vested, by a renewed charter of James I. in the year 1617, in a corporation consisting of twelve chief burgesses, including a portreeve, justice, and two bailiffs, assisted by a recorder, townclerk, and serjeant-at-mace. The portreeve, justice, and recorder, are justices of the peace; the portreeve is coroner for the borough and clerk of the market, and his predecessor is justice. The powers of the county debt-court of Langport, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Langport, and part of the districts of Taunton and Yeovil. The town-hall, a neat edifice, was erected about 1733. The parish comprises 171a. 1p., chiefly pasture. The living is a discharged vicarage, united to that of Huish-Episcopi: the impropriate tithes have been commuted for £15, and the vicarial for £70. The church is an ancient structure, in the early English style; in the eastern window, amongst other representations in stained glass, are figures of the Twelve Apostles: the edifice lately underwent new internal arrangement and decoration. There is a place of worship for Independents. The free grammar school, founded about the year 1675, by Thomas Gillett, has an income of £70 per annum; a national school was erected in 1827. An hospital for lepers, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, stood here previously to 1310. The poor-law union of Langport comprises 29 parishes or places, and contains a population of 18,109.

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