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National Gazetteer (1868) - Langport

"LANGPORT, (or Langport Eastover) a parish, market town, and municipal borough in the hundred of Pitney, county Somerset, 4½ miles W.S.W. of Somerton, 10 S.E. of Bridgwater, and 130 from London. It is a station on the Yeovil branch railway from Durston. It is situated on the great Western road, and on the river Parret. This town, which is of great antiquity, is called Lanport in Domesday Survey, at which time it was a royal burgh, containing thirty-four resident burgesses, and had a revenue of £79 10s. 7d., a very large sum in those days. It was anciently moated round, and returned members of parliament in the reign of Edward I. In the civil war of Charles I., being considered a commanding station, it was alternately held by the royalists and parliamentary forces. It is now an insignificant town, containing, in 1861, 1,141 inhabitants. The main street is very narrow, but the upper part being on a hill commands extensive views.

Since the commencement of the present century the general appearance of the whole has been much improved by the erection of many new houses. The principal building is the guildhall, erected in 1733, in which the county courts and petty sessions are held. There are also a bank, a literary institution, and public reading-rooms. The ancient bridge, a singular and interesting structure, was removed about twenty-two years ago, when a new one of three arches was substituted-the Parret Navigation Company having about that time come into existence, whereby, under an Act of Parliament, the river, hitherto navigable only to Langport, was opened up for 9 miles further. It was first chartered by James I., and under the Towns Act is at present governed by a portreeve and twelve burgesses, assisted by a recorder, town-clerk, and sergeant-at-mace. The corporation has right of common over two considerable tracts of rich meadow land, which, from the circumstance of its being depastured in common by the cattle of all the adjoining parishes, is denominated common moor. The manor belongs to the corporation, which has the royalty of the river.

A very considerable general trade is done, and many boats are constantly engaged on the river, carrying coal, iron, timber, salt, bricks, &c., between this town and Bridgwater. The impropriate tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £15, and the vicarial for £70. The living is a curacy annexed to the vicarage' of Huish-Episcopi, in the diocese of Bath and Wells. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is an ancient structure, with a tower containing five bells, and having two side chapels attached. The E. window is remarkably handsome, containing, amongst other representations in ancient stained glass, those of the twelve apostles. A memorial window has been recently placed in the N. transept by Vincent Stuckey, Esq., of Hill House, to the memory of his grandparents. The register dates from 1715. The Independents and Baptists have places of worship. The parochial charities produce about £81 per annum.

The free grammar school, founded in 1675 by Thomas Gillett, has an income from endowment of £70 per annum, and is a commodious building recently erected by the trustees, with a house for the master. The "Hanging Chapel," which stands on an arch across the street, is used as a museum founded by the Quekett family. Langport is the head of a Poor-law Union, embracing 29 parishes; the poor-law guardians meet here every Tuesday, but the poorhouse is in the parish of High Ham. It is also the seat of new County Court and superintendent registry districts. Tuesday is market day. A commodious pig market has recently been arranged by the corporation. Fairs are held for cattle, &c., on the Monday before Lent, the second Wednesday in August, last Monday but one in September, and the last Monday in November.

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson 2003]

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