Milborne Port

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In Search of Swatchford

Heritage LogoNathalie Hetherington writes. Some of you have probably walked through the fields to the north of Lower Kingsbury, Milborne Port, along the footpath that leads to the little stone bridge that goes over the river near a pond. Well, just before that little bridge there was once a substantial farmstead or manor called Swatchford, probably still occupied until the mid-1850s, the last remnants of which (the original house had been used as a barn for many years) were destroyed by fire in the 1970s.   From maps, I can see that about 200 years ago, it consisted of a complex of four main buildings: a house, cowsheds or stables and barns.

Its situation would have been perfect for the time when it was established: nestled into the dip of the valley, next to the convergence of various tracks and footways leading to Milborne Wick, Charlton Horethorne and Milborne Port and tucked in by the river.

I can only speculate that in later years, its tenants would have struggled from being too far away from main roads and possibly, after at least 250 years of existence in one form or another, its buildings would have required too much investment to be financially viable, its stones being gradually removed to build elsewhere.e was once a substantial farmstead or manor called Swatchford, probably still occupied until the mid-1850s, the last remnants of which (the original house had been used as a barn for many years) were destroyed by fire in the 1970s.   From maps, I can see that about 200 years ago, it consisted of a complex of four main buildings: a house, cowsheds or stables and barns.   Its situation would have been perfect for the time when it was established: nestled into the dip of the valley, next to the convergence of various tracks and footways leading to Milborne Wick, Charlton Horethorne and Milborne Port and tucked in by the river.

SwatchfordI am currently researching the history of Swatchford and its residents – notably an Edward Hallett who was the Sheriff of Somerset in 1741 and agent for Thomas Medlycott – and my research has led me in all sorts of interesting directions, to the records of ancient St Mary’s Abbey at Cirencester and its Regenbald (a.k.a. Rainbald) and William the Conqueror; to the Hogwarts-esque archives at Winchester College; from the aristocracy and lords of the manor to the most humble residents of our village throughout the centuries; to the records at the National Archives, Taunton and Dorchester; to the College of Arms; to Hugh Vincent and his detectoring finds; to election rigging of the 18th century, to tithe maps and censuses. My research has touched on so many different aspects of the history of Milborne Port and Kingsbury Regis, stretching as far back as the early 1600s.

I hope to put together enough material for one of our talks and possibly even for a booklet or book! There has been so much to uncover, so many fascinating and interweaving discoveries about politics, farming, language and society and so many people who have helped me along the way so far… but I still need help!

If anyone has any knowledge – myth or fact! – about Swatchford, I would love to hear from you as you might know something that I have not yet uncovered!

The photograph above shows (to the right) what was by then known as Swatchford Barn, on fire, taken at some time in the 1970s. It was taken from the top of Kingsbury Hill, probably quite close to where the little iron gate is now. Can anyone remember anything about the fire? Can anyone pin down the date for me?

 

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