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National Gazetteer (1868) - Witham Friary

"WITHAM FRIARY, a parish in the E. division of the hundred of Frome, county Somerset, 5½ miles S.W. of Frome, its post town, 4 E. of Axbridge, and 14 from Wells. It is a station on the Wilts and Somerset section of the Great Western railway, where the East Somerset line turns off. The parish is situated on the river Frome, and contains the hamlets of Gaer Hill, Bellerica, Holt, Rouse, Stubbs, and Drewley, besides the extra parochial liberty of Charterhouse-on-Mendip, which last is in the hundred of Wintersoke. The soil is clayey, upon a substratum of soft limestone, which is burnt into lime, and in some places are found layers of hard stone with shells imbedded in it. There are remains of the mansion built about the middle of the 18th century by the Earl of Egremont; but destroyed by Mr. Beckford; and traces of a monastery founded by Henry II. in 1181, and said to be the first establishment of Carthusians in England. Its revenue at the time of the Reformation was returned at £227 Is. 8d., and the ruins were taken down in 1764. There is a kiln for brick and tile burning.

The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Bath and Wells, value £105. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, St. John the Baptist, and All Saints, once formed part of the Carthusian priory. It has a groined roof, a nave with circular apse, and a tower, which was added in 1828, and is in ill-keeping with the original structure. Being in a dilapidated state, the church was repaired in 1828, and a new organ erected by subscription in 1859. The register commences in 1615. There are National and Sunday schools. The charities produce about £30 per annum. The Duke of Somerset is lord of the manor, which was a peculiar prior to 1826.

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