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The Folly

Folly and Brays BatchThe Folly is a group of picturesque cottages on the easter edge of the village or ‘Town‘ tithing. The Folly is shown in the bottom left had corner as a triangle shape with several houses marked on it, several of which are still standing. The map is confusing for a number of reasons. Firstly, most of the centre of the village  was owned by the Kingsmill family, including the site of Chewton House where the current Earl Waldegrave lives. The second reason is that several of the roads marked have been reduced to footpaths.
 The road that dissects the two large Kingsmill fields heading in the direction of what is now the High Street is  Daggs lane which is a narrow footpath. The Dagg family, or variations of that name, gave their name to features in other villages.
 There is a crossroads on the bottom left hand corner of the triangular plot  and two of those are now grassed over. Drials Lane, next to field 189,  is still obviously and old track way but it is now a muddy footpath. The origin of the name can be traced to a family called Drial . The other road on the far left heading towards the bottom of the map is now a footpath that leads to Dudwell Farm.
Council House c 1947The small blank field between the fields marked 670 and 671 in the right of the map is the site of what is now called Bray’s Batch. The stones in the wall of one of the cottages confirm that the cottages were built when the map was drawn in 1794 but they are not shown because they probably belonged to the Kingsmills at the time. The origin of the name is a bit of a mystery because nobody called Bray has yet been discovered who is linked to the village. Some council houses were built in the 1940s between The Folly and Brays Batch. This picture shows how the council houses, now called Homefield looked when they were first built. The copy of the photograph was supplied by Jeff Ford.
The large Kingsmill field opposite Bray’s Batch is called Scuts hill. There was a family called Scut who lived in the village for centuries. They disappear from the record in the 19th century when a family called Scott appear. It is possible the spelling of the name changed and Scut became Scott. Scuts Hill marks the beginning of Coles Lane (east).
 There are several theories for the origin of the name ‘The Folly’.
 One suggestion is that it was a ‘folly’ to build houses so far from water. It is easy to imagine the conversation between two labourers digging a well.Labourer 1 “Yer, tis a folly to build houses up here“. Labourer 2 “Bide and shut up and keep digging!“. The cottages have wells and other houses were built-in similar locations so this is suggestion is unlikely.
 The Folly in the snowThe second theory was that it was a folly to spend so much money on labourers cottages. Collinsons‘ history of Somerset is often quoted as the origin of this theory but no references to the folly have been found in either the published history or the original source material. The cottages are picturesque and some contain ornate stonework but the overall design and construction are relatively standard for the time. Several include stones with their date of construction in the 1780s.
 The Vestry committee Records from the 1760s and 1770 include references to a  ‘Folly House’ being used as an alternative to the Church House as  place to accomidate the poor or infirm. There are also records of the parish paying for rent and repairs which suggests that the folly may have ben the Court House. It is probable that this building was uneconomic to maintain so it was pulled down and some of the materials were recycled in the ‘new’ cottages built in the 1780s.
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