Evercreech Park


A drawing of Evercreech Park House, from the current owners of what is now called Evercreech Park Farm.
The inscription at the bottom of the picture says "The South East View of Evercreech Park House, Somerset. Built by Sir Ralph Hopton, 1609"
The artist's name may be J. Backler and the date (also very indistinct) appears to be 1922, but may be 1822.


Evercreech Park was purchased from Messrs Tretheroy and Caryll by a Richard Newman in 1657 according to a purchase contract given to me by the current owners of Evercreech Park Farm. There is some uncertainty as to which Richard Newman actually bought the estate, since it could have been the Richard Newman who had earlier bought Sparkford and Cadbury estates, but who by 1657 was an elderly man of 73. Or it could have been his son Col. Richard Newman who would have been 37 at the time. Either way, the purchase contract describes Richard Newman as resident in the City of Westminster. However since the purchase was made before the restoration of King Charles II (which took place in 1660) it might be deduced the funds did not come from the King (as has sometimes been assumed) in recognition of Col. Richard's bravery and assistance after the Battle of Worcester six years earlier. My belief is that it was Richard Newman (the father) who made the purchase, since he probably had the financial resources to do so, and would have been unlikely to have passed on his wealth to his son prior to his death. If this deduction is correct, then it can also be deduced that Richard Newman (the father) owned a property in London - probably in Tufton Street according to Raymond Mercier.

I have a note that three of Richard Newman's children appear to have been born at Evercreech Park but I cannot recall the source of that information and don't know if it relates to Richard the father or Richard the son (or Richard the grandson or Sir Richard, the great grandson!) Anyway, Col Richard Newman inherited the several Newman estates, but whether or not he lived at Evercreech is not certain, though Rev Prebendery Jenkins suggests that either he or his father made it their residence after its purchase (see note 1 below).

By 1675 Col. Richard seems to have entered into a lease agreement with Sir Francis Hollis of Winterborne St Martin, Dorset; the Hon. William Harbord of Perry Park, Northampton; Sir William Pargiler of Greedworth, Northampton; and William Tate of De La Pre also of Northampton, whereby "in consideration of the sum of five shillings of lawful English money to him in hand" Col Richard handed over possession for a period of 12 months of Evercreech Park ("two hundred and twenty acres more or less") and several other nearby estates. A copy of the lease (itself a copy made in 1779) was given to me by the current owners of Evercreech Park Farm. It is interesting to list the other lands and rights therein said to be owned by Richard Newman. These include -

Evercreech Park passed through five generations of Newmans, starting with Richard Newman of Fifehead (assuming that it was he who purchased the estate); his son Col Richard Newman; his eldest son, Richard Newman of Evercreech, then Sir Richard Newman of Fifehead, Preston Hall and Evercreech and finally to Sir Samwell Newman. On Sir Samwell's death, the estate came into the administration of his sister Frances Newman on whose death its fate remains uncertain. On the one hand, Frances's almost incomprehensible will (dated the year of her death in 1775) includes two referneces to Evercreech - in the first instance, she left £10 to the poor of the village and in the second instance she left "all my Messuages Lands Tenements and Hereditaments called Evercreech Park in the said County of Somerset .... unto the said Sir James Langham his Heirs Executors Administrators and Assigns ... ". On the other hand, 'The History and Antiquities of Somerset' by John Collinson 1791 (see extract below) reported that Evercreech Park remained in the Newman family "till the year 1773, when it was purchased by Thomas Sampson, esq; the present possessor." Either way, it appears that the estate remained under Newman ownership for around 150 years.

Ian Caldwell tells me (June 2003) that the original house was demolished around 1840 when it was replaced with the present building. Evercreech Park Farm as it is now called is a couple of miles out on the southwest side of the village. It retains two features from the old house - the main fireplace which is now located in the kitchen, and the garden gate (seen in the illustration above) which, together with a section of stone wall, is still extant at the bottom of the garden (as illustrated in the photos below)


The kitchen fireplace is clearly from the old house (see picture below)

The garden gate is also clearly from the old house, and even incorporates the same broken-down bit of stone wall beside it.


Interior of Evercreech Park House
The fireplace on the left is now part of the kitchen of Evercreech Park Farm as shown in the photo above.  
See also the note below relating to the deer's antlers.
The ornate plaster ceiling is remeniscent of the main bedroom ceiling at Cadbury Court.


Di Clements (professional researcher) discovered the following information and maps about Evercreech Park for me:

1: The following is taken from D/P/eve 23/1 History of Evercreech by the Rev. Prebendary Jenkins Vicar. He notes that Raffe so Robert Hopton Esq was bapt. 1596 and three years later Jane da Worshipful Mr Robert Hopton. He writes of the incumbents, one James Dugdale "In the beginning of the Wars [Civil War], attending on Lady Hopton w.o. my Lord Hopton,..... as spiritual assistant on her Death Bed, he was taken prisoner and carried to London and kept close two weeks." and of the church he says that in its original state it "had but one aisle until the Possessor of an Estate called Evercreech Park made an additional building of no great beauty on the South aisle which is called Park aisle"

The Park: In or near Southwood is a large stone edifice in which was born Robert Hopton. Whether he built it is uncertain it is probable however only half was erected by him. The initials RH are on the portico which is constructed in three orders of Grecian architecture ascending from the ? . this portico seems not to have been part of the original plan of the House being in all probability added to render the House warmer by breaking the force of the wind. The Date 1617 thereon is a clear proof of its being posterior to the inner rooms which bear the date 1609 and 1613 whence we may conclude the Hall was finished 1609 the Drawing room 1613 and the Portico 1617.

You enter the House by an ascent of 8 steps, on the right hand was the Buttery separated from a large spacious Hall of 38 by 20 [ft?] by a wooden skreen of oak whereon are carved Escutchions of Arms, the device of the Hop Bind growing out of a tun. It is paved with Freestone till within a few Feet of the upper End where it is floored with oak. The Wainscot which is also of oak reaches to 7½ ft the remainder is finished with Stag's Heads and Trees in Plaister work and the Hop growing out of the Tun; at the upper end is a spacious stair case leading to a roomof the same dimension as the Hall and passage below.This is also wainscotted in small panels with Oak with the conceit of the hop intermixed with escutcheon in the Plaister work by way of Corniche. The Ceiling is ornamented with Figures of various animals in Compartments. Over the two doors are the Arms of Hopton impaled with those of Hall and Capel.

Over the fireplace are collected and emblazoned in one Escutcheon the Arms of Hopton and most of the others which are carved on the wooden skreen below with the Crest of Hopton, a Griffin holding in his dexter claw a stone sa. on the dexter side and a Unicorn armed and crined on the sinister sejant gulle de sang.

The Park was sold to R Newman of Fifehead Magdelane 1653 Resident 1657. Married first Elizabeth do Giles Simmons second Elizabeth do Christopher Penny /Perry of Ken, Somerset by whom came Richd N who m. Ann do Sir C Harboard Kt.[?] Created Sir Richard Dec.1699 m Frances do Sir T Samwell, Upton of Northants from whom descended Sir Samwell N who died unmarried 174- Two sisters - Elizabeth m Kitchener of Westminster an Apothecary who died 1765. In 1764 an Act passed to empower a Committee of the estate of Elizabeth K wid lunatic, one of the heirs of Sir Samwell N to make leases during her lunacy."

[History of Evercreech compiled by the vicar, Rev. Preb. Jenkyns c.1810. From Somerset Records Office D/P/eve.23/

Some of the above information is incorrect. For instance, it appears the Richard Newman purchased Evercreech Park in 1657 and not 1653. Also it was Frances, and not Sir Samwell who was empowered to administer Elizabeth's estate. Elizabeth's husband died in 1753 and the Act was passed in 1754 - see notes on Frances Newman's page. Quite possibly therefore, Jenkins may also be mistaken as to which Richard Newman purchased Evercreech Park)

Note 2: Again from Di Clements:

"The old park of the Bishops called Evercreech-Park, is situated at the south-west extremity of the parish, bordering on the parishes of Ditchet and East-Pennard. It was formerly empaled but is now divided. In the centre of the estate, and nearly on the site of an old court-house erected by Ralph de Salopia, and ruinated in the time of Henry VII. is a very strong mansion, built in 1613 by Sir Ralph Hopton, afterwards created Lord Hopton, baron of Stratton in Cornwall. The house has undergone little or no alteration, but appears as originally fitted up. There is a large hall divided from the entrance by a handsome screen, which is ornamented with the device of Hopton, viz. hops issuing from a tun, and the arms of Hopton, Wyndham, Maltravers, Mompesson, Throgmorton and other families. The dining-room over it is decorated in the same manner. At the top of the house there is a gallery running the whole length of the building, apparently intended as for a banqueting room. During the usurpation this estate was confiscated for Sir Ralph Hopton's supposed treasons (as described in a separate page dedicated to Sir Ralph Hopton), and was sold in 1653, by the commissioners appointed by parliament to sell forrfeited estates, to John Caryll and John Trethery, who sold it four years after to Richard Newman, esq, (Richard Newman of Fifehead) whose family remained till the year 1773, when it was purchased by Thomas Sampson, esq; the present possessor." [Extracted from 'The History and Antiquities of Somerset' by John Collinson 1791].

Note 3: Di Clements sent me the following in Aug 2002:

"A/AQP 34 Rack's notes. He was helping Collinson with his history, the notes are fuller but repetitive. On the south side of the parish a large stone mansion built 1614 by Lord Hopton as appears by the initials RH and the Hopton Arms on the Portico. It was formerly enclosed with a Park, as were many - see in Cambdon's map of this County, but is now converted into a Farm though it still retains the name of Evercreech Park. It is the property of Mr Sampson of Bruton by purchase. Against the walls are deer formed in plaster with real horns on their heads. Over the Hall -a large dining room with Portales, Chimney and ceilings ornamented with the same device. There is a gallery on the top of the house, the whole length of it, which from the ornaments and manner of its fitting up, seems to have been the Ball or Banqueting room. During the Usurpation this estate was confiscated for Robert Hopton's supposed treason and sold in 1653 by Parliament and was sold 4 years after to Richard Newman Esq. in whose family it remained to 1778 when purchased by Thomas Sampson." This extract can be viewed on-line on pages 414 - 415 of the above source.


The map of Evercreech Park Farm (below) was also found by Di Clements. The map is dated 1831 and shows it owned by Mesdames Ward and White. It is described as as 225 acres in the south of the parish. Below it are a close-up detail of the map and the legend. Below that is a parish map showing the location of the farm relative to the Shepton Mallet - Castle Cary road and a road map showing its approximate location.



 


Evercreech itself is an enchanting and quite unspoilt Somerset village with one of the loveliest of English parish churches, and is quite famous for its high bell tower. For me though, Evercreech was something of a mecca in my childhood that seemed only to be able to be reached by taking the train to the end of old Highbridge Branch.of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. Evercreech Junction was where the branch line met the "main" line between Bath and Bournmouth via Templecombe, and my recollections of it (and Templecombe) were that they were very important and busy centres. Too late I discovered that it was actually within quite easy cycling distance, and by 1966 the line was closed and has now all but disappeared. Revisiting these places as an adult reveals them to be small and very quaint villages which without the old railway have lost something of their magic.

By coincidence, my step-mother Patricia was brought up in Evercreech, as described briefly on her page of this tree.

Evercreech Village Square, opposite the church

     

The beautiful Parish Church at Evercreech - one of the finest in England

Note: Di Clements told me in Oct 2003 that she had discovered in the church at Evercreech on a plain blue stone let into the west wall of the Park aisle:

Memoria Sacrum
Grace Newman aged 12 months buried October 9
Henry Newman aged 9 weeks buried February 5
Anno MDCLXXX [1553 year ends March 21]

"As Parents Grief the
Children's Joy so Earth
To Heaven is a Toy"

I have discussed this finding at greater length in Note 5 under Richard Newman of Evercreech.


Last updated: 8th Feb 2011 - reference to Frances Newman's Will added