National Gazetteer (1868) - Yeovil

"YEOVIL, a parish, market town, and municipal borough in the hundred of Stone, county Somerset, 21 miles S.E. of Bridgwater, 40 S.W. of Bristol, and 48 N.E. of Exeter. It has a joint station of the London and South-Western and Bristol and Exeter railways, and a station of the Wilts, Somerset, and Weymouth railway, also a branch line to Durston. It is supposed to be the Roman station Velox, from the number of coins and tesselated pavements which have been found, and was called Gevele by the Saxons, and in Domesday survey is mentioned as Givele, and Ivle, which names may be identified with that of the river Yeo or Ivel, on the left bank of which it is situated, and which here separates the counties of Somerset and Dorset. The parish consists of the borough of Yeovil, the chapelry of Hendford, and the tythings of Huntley, Lyde Marsh, and Wigden, and the manor of Newton.

The present town, which stands on the direct road from London to Exeter, consists of a number of streets and lanes irregularly laid out, but the Improvement Commissioners have recently improved the appearance of the town by the removal of the unsightly buildings in the market-place and the shambles. The streets are paved and lighted with gas, and some are spacious, containing many good houses built of stone, and most of the shops have been modernised. The drainage has been recently improved, but the inhabitants still suffer from the absence of a good supply of water. The principal public buildings are the townhall and market-house, a Grecian structure of stone, erected in 1849; the lower part consisting of a basement of six pillars, in which the corn exchange and markets are held, and above the facade of the townhall, a chamber 58½ feet in length, by 35 in breadth, and 22 high; the police-station, situated in Wine-street, is a substantial building, with a residence for a superintendent of police, and cells for the prisoners; the Union workhouse is situated in the Preston-road, and has accommodation for 300 inmates. The savings-bank, in Princes-street, was erected in 1839; there are, besides, two branch commercial banks, a penny bank, literary institute and reading-rooms, with library, three breweries, and an old market cross.

The population of the parish in 1861 was 8,486, and of the borough 7,957, inhabiting 1,420 houses. The woollen trade, for which Yeovil was once famous, has entirely disappeared, as also the linen manufacture, which succeeded it, but is now one of the principal centres of the kid glove manufacture, which gives employment to the greater portion of the inhabitants of the town, as well as furnishing employment to thousands of females in the surrounding district. In the immediate vicinity of the town are Newton House, of the Harbin family, who have been settled here from the reign of James I.; Hendford House, Penn House, Yew Tree Close; Hendford Manor-house, Kingston Manor, and Hollands'. The manor was anciently held under the crown by its rectors, by the abbots of Sion, by Queen Katherine in the reign of Henry VIII., and subsequently by the Philipses of Montacute, with whom it remained until recently purchased by G. Harbin, Esq., for the corporation. In 1853 an Act of Incorporation was obtained, under which the borough is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 common councilmen. Both the borough and county magistrates hold petty sessions in the townhall weekly, and a county court is held monthly. The board of guardians meet weekly, on Tuesday, at the Union house; the union embracing 35 parishes and townships. It is within the Exeter bankruptcy district, and is the head of a Superintendent Registry. The police arrangements are under the county constabulary, who have a chief station here for the whole of the magisterial district.

The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Bath and Wells, value, with the parish of Preston annexed, £560. The parish church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is of the 14th century, 146 feet long by 50 wide, and the length of the transept is 80 feet. It has recently undergone restoration, during which the galleries have been removed, and several stained-glass windows have been inserted. In the interior of the church, which had formerly four chantries, are several brasses, one of a priest, bearing date 1519; an old lectern, an antique font, an altar piece in form of a Grecian pediment, a sedilia, several monuments of the Harbin, Batten, and Newman families, and a monumental marble bust of the late vicar, Rev. It. Philips. There is, besides, a district church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, built in 1846, the living of which is a perpetual curacy, value £150. The Independents, Wesleyans, Baptists, Calvinistic and Primitive Methodists, Unitarians, Society of Friends, and United Brethren, have chapels. There is a free grammar school, with an endowment of £150 per annum, and National, Sunday, denominational, and adult evening schools. The charities produce about £500 per annum. Market day is Friday, for cattle, corn, cheese, flax, and provisions. Fairs are held on 28th and 29th June, and 17th, 18th, and 19th November, for horses, cattle, &c."

"HENDFORD, a tything in the parish of Yeovil, hundred of Stone, county Somerset, 2 miles from Yeovil, and 21 S.E. of Bridgwater. It is situated near the river Yeo, on the borders of Dorsetshire. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Bath and Wells, value £150, in the patronage of the crown and bishop alternately. The church is modern."

"HUNTLEY, a tything in the parish of Yeovil, county Somerset, 2 miles from Yeovil, and 22 S.E. of Bridgwater."

"WIGDON, a tything in the parish of Yeovil, county Somerset."

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