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Plaister

Richard Plaister I Chewton MendipThe Plaister  family  may have originated in Emborough but were also prominent in Wicombe and possibly Chewton Mednip. They have left there mark in the Lady Chapel  of Chewton Mendip  as shown by a photograph of the memorial set into the floor. Widcombe was part of Chewton Mendip at the time which is why they are commemorated in Chewton Mendip church.Their memorials set in the floor of the Lady Chapel are easily missed because of the prominence of the Bonville and Waldegrave monuments but they were a significant family in Chewton Mendip up to the 18th century.
Geoffrey Loxton records that Johanne ate Plestude paid 6d lay subsidy (tax) in Emborough in 1327. John Cabell was sometimes called John Atte Pleystude and is believed to be the same person as Johanne ate Plestude. Second names were very flexible in those days and this is not a unique example.
John Playsted was  listed as a villager in Emborough in the Michaelmas Court Roll of 1413. Matilda Cabell (or atte Pleystude)  held a cottage and 20 acres in Emborough in 1448.
 John Pleystede, yeoman, was mentioned with Robert Rome, the manor steward of Emborough, as being an arbiter of a dispute in 1471. The Cabells/ atte Pleystude family were able to buy the lease of 20
acres of land and an acre of woodland near Wells in 1472. Walcombe and Penn in Wells was then part of Emborough.
John Playstede of Emborough and Robert Pery of Whitnell (Emborough) were named by Thomas ApHarry, lord of the Manor of Emborough, as his attorney or representatives in 1496. It is not certain if  all of the references to John Playstede  (or the many variations of the name) was the same person but the implication that he was and that he was a prosperous person.
 The earliest Plaister so far identified in Chewton Mendip was when John Plaister married his first wife, Margery Nashe, in 1561 at Chewton Mendip.
 Margery must have died soon after because he married Isabel Tegg in 1567. The Teggs and Daggs  were probably the same family and gave their name to a number of features in th landscape. One is Daggs Lane that connects the High Street and The Folly. This leads to, or from Manor House farm so it is reasonable to assume that the Teggs once lived in Manor Farm.
 John Plaister II (1572-1639) was a presiding member of Mendip Mineral Court at Chewton Mendip in 1616, this was mainly concerned with the lead mines. It is not known where the Mineral Court sat but one possibility is the building that occupied the site of Manor Farm.  John Plaister had three sons John Plaister III, Richard Plaister I and Charles Plaister  and are all mentioned on the Subsidy Rolls of 1661.
 Richard Plaister II, the son of Richard Plaister I, was appointed lead reeve for the Mendip Lead Mines in 1665. They are the people commemorated in the Lady Chapel of Chewton Mendip Church. He died in 1694 aged 51.
When Richard Plaister II became lead reeve no fresh material had been obtained from the rocks for some years, but lead was procured in substantial quantities from the slags and slimes left by the old workings. During the years he was in office, the output of lead fluctuated up to 880 tons in 1669, and then in the next five years fell off to 250 tons. 10% of the lead produced was paid to the lord of the manor, in this case the Waldegraves,  but any silver found was supposed to be paid to the king. As with most jobs of its kind, the pay was poor and it as expected that the office holder would generate income for himself from his role but to what degree he took advantage of his position is not known.
What is known is his son Richard Plaister III and his family left Widcombe in 1725, when he acquired the manor of Butcombe. His departure from Chewton Mendip is shown in the churchwarden accounts and poor law records for the period. The late 17th century was a time of consolidation after the havoc caused by the Civil War but the Plaister had elevated themselves from yeomen to gentry in one generation.
 Another interesting point is why they were commemorated in the Lady Chapel. A number of other equally prominent families are commemorated in the nave of the church were good protestants believed all religious activity should take place. The Lady Chapel had ‘high church’ implications. The other people with contemporary memorials in the same location are members of  the Brice,  Quarles, Till-Adams and Webb families
 The Lady Chapel in Butcombe supports the theory that the Plaisters were ‘high church’ and they are the kind of people who had money , but lacked the social standing, to practice their high church/Anglo-Catholic views openly. They may have been secret catholics and felt the need to construct a ‘priest hole’ which is one interpretation of a feature in Manor Farm. There is no direct evidence they lived in Manor Farm but there is circumstantial evidence that suggests they did.
 Another possibility is that the memorial was moved after a storm damaged the memorial. The crack can be clearly seem. The storm is though to have occurred between 1725 and 1756. Edmund Rack does not refer to th Plaister memorial in his survey written between 1781 and 1787  but he does refer to a Plaister memorial in the churchyard in a way that suggest it was still in a good condition. He made a vague reference to other graves in a ruinous state.  There could have been several Plaister memorials but the most likely scenario is that a member of the Plaister family returned from Butcombe and had their ancestors memorial transfered to the lady chapel sometime after 1791.
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