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Priory Farm

The current Priory Farm  is a mainly modern light industrial unit built in the grounds of the forme Chewton Priory. Some buildings built at the same time as  ‘Mr Jenkins’ house’ remain and some references to Priory farm could apply to Sages  or Sperrings Green  farm. However, there are references to a farm owned by the various priories who owned part of Chewton Mendip. Another name for this historical entity could be ‘Bishops farm’ because the Bishop of Bath & Wells received a pension from the rector of Chewton Mendip from the medieval period until the modern era. These records suggest that the right to collect tithes was shared between the Bishop of Bath & Wells and the priory which was geographically separated from Chewton Mendip. A number of other sites could have been the site of a far owned by the Bishop of Bath &  Wells but what documentary evidence exists points to the Chewton Priory site. Shooters Bottom and farms in the Middlesex tithing may have been closer but no evidence has been found to link them directly to the Bishop of Bath & Wells.
 The earliest record in the Communar’s accounts of the Dean & Chapter of Wells dated 1327 state that Chewton Mendip paid a pension of  £23.6s 8d. This amount remained consistent until 1559 but three pounds had been taken of the figure, and the value greatly reduced, by 1848 when a payment to the Bishop of Bath & Wells was still due.
Aldridge LaneA transaction between the Abbot of Jumieges and Bishop Jocelyn of Wells 1241 or 1242 provides details of the relationship between the two ecclesiastical bodies and makes reference to ‘farm’ and other buildings near ‘Aldredscomb’. Accommodation for curates in addition to a vicarage house were also mentioned. The priory also had to provide accommodation for travelers and care for the sick. They needed a farm to support these services which would have been in addition to the glebe lands used to support the vicar and rectory lands that provided income for the prior .  The location of Aldreddscomb described in the 1241/42 document is consistent with Aldridge Lane shown 1794 Map. Alrdeds Lane used to form part of a road that connected Lower Street with Sages Farm. Aldridge Lane is now filled in and grassed over between the two yellow dots but its course can still be seen.
The Hampshire archive contains a record dated 1591/2 when Roger Manners sold two-thirds of the rectory manor of Chewton Mendip to George Kingsmill.  This was one of many records that had not been included in the online-catelogue so it had escaped study but this clarifies the some of the questions raised by the conflict between other sources. Sir Edward Waldegrave had been awarded the manor of Chewton Mendip by Mary I in 1553 but for some reason Roger Maners was given the rectory of Chewton Menidp in 1576. Sir Edward and his descendents retained owner ship of their part of the manor of Chewton Mendip but only became rectors in the 1890s.
 The 1591/2 transaction also refers Priors Grove and Church House leased to John Butcher. Family names were still fairly descriptive at that time which  provides more circumstantial evidence that here was a farm  on the site. The Church House may have been the one close to  the church building or another name for the former priory building at Bathway but the rectory lands included most of the centre of the village.
The 18th century churchwarden accounts and poor book  make references to several estates that could have been based on the Chewton Priory site. Adams and Loxtons are two examples but they were probably based on what is now Chewton House.
The Jenkins family bought Chewton Priory from the Kingsmills and built themselves a Gothic style house. This building is the source of some misguided stories but the letter written at the time make references to a substantial building on the site in addition to the Fillis house that can be seen in a ruinous state on the 1794 map. The remains of whatever stood on the site was probaby obiterated in subsequent developments.
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