Picture of William Camden

William Camden

places mentioned

Dorset and Somerset

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NEXT unto the Danmonians eastward, Ptolomee placeth in his Geographicall tables Δουρότριγες, as he wrote in Greek, who in the Latin copies are written Durotriges. The same people were named by the Britans about the yeere of Salvation 890 Dwr-Gwyr , as saith mine author Asserus Menevensis, who lived in that age and was himselfe a Britan borne. The English-Saxons called them Dorsettan , like as we at this day call this Country the County of Dorset and Dorsetshire. That name Durotriges, being ancient and meere British, may seeme by a very good and probable Etymologie to be derived of dovr or dwr , which in the British tongue signifieth Water, and of trig , that betokeneth an inhabitant, as if a man would say Dwellers by the water or Sea-side. Neither verily from any other fountaine than from water are we to fetch those names of places in old France or Gaule, which used in times past the very same language that our ancient Britaines did, which either begin with Dur and Dour or doe in the same; as for example Durocases, Durocottorum, Duranius, Dordonia, Durolorum, Doromellum, Durodurum, Breviodurum, Batavodurum, Ganodudum [sic], Octodurum, and a number of that sort, as well in Gaule as in Britaine. As for that English-Saxon word Dorsetta , compounded of both tongues, British and English, it carieth the same sense and signification that Durotriges doth. For setta with our old Forefathers, like as with the rest of the Germans, soundeth as much as to inhabite or dwell upon. And therefore they termed mountaners in their language Dun-settan , the inhabitants of the Chiltern-hilles Cyltern-settan , the dwellers by the river Arow Arow-settan , even as the Germans called the inhabitants of Woods and Forrests Holt-satten , because they dwelt within or among the woods. Neither went our Britans from the reason and meaning of the old name when they termed these Durotriges, of whom we now treat, Dwr-Gweir , that is to say, Men bordering on the Maritime or Sea-coast. For their country lieth stretched out with a shore full of turnings or windings in and out for a long tract, to wit by the space of fiftie miles or thereabout, full upon the British sea from West to East.


THE Countie of Dorset as it is on the Northside bounded with Somersetshire and Wiltshire, on the West with Devonshire and some part of Somersetshire, on the East with Hamptshire, so on the South part, where it carieth the greatest length, it lieth all open to the Sea, bearing upon the British Ocean, as I said erewhile, for fifty miles together or much thereabout. A fruitful soile it is: the North part thereof, being overspred with woods and forrests, from thence garnished with many a greene hill whereon feed flocks of sheepe in great number, with pleasant pastures likewise and fruitfull vallies bearing corne, it hath a descent even to the very Sea shore, which in my description I will follow as it leadeth me, for that I can find no better order.

In the very entrance into this out of Denshire, the first place that sheweth it selfe on this shore is Lime, a little towne situate upon a steepe hill, so called of a small river of the same name running hard by, which scarsely may challenge the name of a port or Haven towne, though it be frequented with fishermen and hath a rode under it called the Cobbe, sufficiently defended from the force of winds with rocks and high trees. In ancient books I can hardly find any mention thereof, onely thus much have I read, that King Kinwulfe in the yeere of our Lord 774 gave (by these words) the land of one Mansion unto the Church of Scireburne, hard by the Westerne banks of the river Lime, not far from the place where he hideth the course of his streame within the Sea, to this end, that for the said Church salt might be boiled to the susteining of manifold necessities.

2. Neere thereunto the river Carr dischargeth it selfe into the Sea, and there standeth Carmouth, a little village where the bold-roving Danes, having good successe in sea-fights, wonne two victories of the English, first vanquished King Egbert in the yeere of Christ 831, and then eight yeeres after King Aethelwulfe. Then there is Burtport, or more truly Birtport, placed betweene two small rivers which there meete together. In this towne, in the daies of King Edward the Confessor, there were reckoned one hundred and twentie houses, but in William the Conquerors reigne, as we find in his booke of Doomesday , one hundred and no more. In our time, in respect of the soile yeelding the best hemp, and skill of the people for making ropes and cables for ships, it was provided by a speciall statute, to remaine in force for a certaine set time, that ropes for the navie of England should be twisted no where else. Neither is this place able to maintaine the name of an haven, albeit in the mouth of the river, being enclosed on both sides enclosed within little hilles, nature seemes as it were of purpose to have begun an haven, and requireth in some sort art and mans helpe to accomplish the same.

3. From hence the shore winding in and out shooteth far into the Sea, and a banke caled Chesil of sands heaped up thick together (with a narrow firth betweene) lieth in length for nine miles, which the South-wind when it is up commonly cutteth in sunder and disperseth, but the Northren wind bindeth and hardneth againe. By this Bank or Sand-ridge Portland, sometime an Iland, is now adjoined to the main-land. The reason of which name is altogether unknowen, unless it were so called because it lieth full against the Port Weymouth, but it soundeth more neere unto the truth that this name was given it of one Port, a noble Saxon who about the yeere of our Salvation 703 infested and sore annoied these coasts. This Portland in the declining state of the Saxons Empire (for beforetime writers never speak of it) felt as much as any other place, from time to time, the violent rage of the Danes. But when the Danish warre was ended, it fell into the possession of the Church of Winchester. For at what time as Emme mother to King Edward the Confessor (whose name was called in question and she charged for incontinencie with Aldwin Bishop of Winchester) had gone barefoot upon nine culters [knife blades] red hote in Winchester Church without harme (an usuall kind of triall in those daies and then called ordalium [ordeal]), and so cleered her selfe of that imputation, that she made her chastitie by so great a miracle more famous to posterity, she for a memoriall thereof gave nine Lordships to the Church of Winchester, and King Edward her sonne, repenting that he had so wrongfully brought his mothers name into question, bestowed likewise upon the said Church this Iland with other revenues. It is in compasse scarse seven miles, rising up about the sides with high rocks, but lying flat and low in the mids, inhabited scatteringly heere and there, plentifull enough of corne and good to feed sheepe, but so scant of woods that in default of other fewell they make their fire with ox and cow dung dried. The Inhabitants of all Englishmen were the cunningest slingers, and very often doe find among the weeds or reits of the sea Isidis plocamos , that is, Isis haire, which, as Plinie reporteth out of Juba, is a shrub growing in the Sea not unlike unto Corall without leafe, cut it up it it turneth into a black colour, and if it fall it soone breaketh. On the East-side it hath one onely Church and very few houses standing close thereto, and on the North a castle built by King Henrie the Eight, which also defendeth the entrance into the haven of Weimouth. A little towne this is upon the mouth of Wey, a small river, over against which on the other side of the bank standeth Melcomb, surnamed Regis, that is, Kings Melcomb, divided from the other onely by the haven betweene. But the priviledges of the haven were awarded from them by sentence of the Parliament, howbeit afterwards recovered. These stood both sometimes proudly upon their owne severall priviledges, and were in emulation one of another: but now (God turne it to the good of both) many they are by Authoritie of Parliament incorporated into one bodie, conjoined of late by a bridge, and growen very much greater and goodlier in buildings by sea-adventures than heeretofore.

4. From thence the shore stretcheth out directly along by the Isle of Purbeck (as they call it), which for a great part of it is an heath and forrest like indeed replenished with Deere both red and fallow, having also veines of marble running skateringly heere and there under the ground. In the mids whereof there is an old large castle named Corf seated upon a great slaty hill, which after a long combat with time somewhat yeelded as overcome unto time, untill of late it hath beene repaired and is a notable testimonie of a Stepmothers hatred. For Aelfrith, to make way for her owne sonne Etheldred to the Crowne, when Edward her sonne in law King of England came to visite her in this castle from his disport of hunting, set some villanes and hacksters [assassins] to murder him, and like a most wicked Stepdame fed her eies with his bloud. For which deed repenting herselfe when it was too late, she sought afterward mervellously to wash out that sinfull staine, by taking herselfe to the mantle and ring in the habit of an holy Votarie, and to building religious houses. This Purbeck is called an Isle, although it be onely a Demy Iland, compassed round about with the sea, save onely on the West-side. For on the East the sea bendeth the banks inward and, breaking in at a very narrow streight betweene the two shores (against which a small Isle with a block house called Brensey standeth) maketh a broad and wide bay. On the North side whereof in the said Biland, there standing over it the towne Poole, so as it is wholly environed with waters except it be on the North-side, where it closeth with the continent and hath one gate and no more leading into it. We may well think is so named because that bay aforesaid lying under it, in calme weather when the waters be stil, resembleth a pond such as we call a poole in our language.This of a Sedgeplot and of a few fishermens cotages in the last foregoing age, grew to be a mercate town exceeding rich and wealthy, beautified also with goodly houses, and King Henrie the Sixth by consent of the Parliament granted unto it the priviledges of a port or haven towne which he had taken from Melcomb, and licensed the Major thereof to wall it about: which worke afterward was begun at the haven by King Richard the Third, a prince who deserved to be rancked among the worst men and the best Kings. But ever since that time, by what fatall destinie I know not, or rather through the idlenesse and sloth of the townesmen, it is decaied, in so much as for want of inhabitation the very houses at this day runne to ruine.

5. Into the West Angle of this Bay falleth the greatest and most famous river of all this tract, commonly called Frome, but the English-Saxons, as witnesseth Asseruis, named it Frau , whereupon, perhaps for that this Bay was in old time called Fraumouth, the posterity ensuing tooke the rivers name to be Frome. The head thereof is at Evarshot neere unto the West limit of this shire, from whence he taketh his course Eastward by Frompton, whereto it gave the name, and from the North receiveth a little river running downe by Cerne Abbay which Augustine the Apostle of the English nation built when he had broken their in peeces Heil, the Idol of the heathen English-Saxons, and chased away the fog of paganish superstition. ‡ Here was first bred among the religious men (as I have read) John Morton Cardinall and Archbishop of Canterbury, borne at S. Andrews Milborn, worthily advanced to so high places for his good service in working Englands happines by the union of the two houses of Lancaster and York, and of this familie there hath issued both R. Bishop of Worcester, and many gentlemen of very good note in this country and elsewere. ‡ Under this, somewhat lower, the Frau or From (chuse whether you will) maketh an Iland, and so goeth to see that most ancient towne Dorchester, which in Antinonus his Itinerarium is termed Durnovaria , that is, The river Passage or Ferry, and seemeth in Ptolomee to be named untruly, in sundry copies Durnium and Dunium . This is the head towne of the whole Shire, and yet is neither great nor beautifull, being long since despoiled of the walls by the Danes, who raised as it is thought certaine trenches, whereof one is called Maumbury, being an acre inditched, and other Poundbury, somewhat greater, and the third a mile off is a camp with five trenches containing some ten acres called Maiden-castle, which a man may easily conjecture to have beene a summer station or campe of the Romanes. But of her antiquity it sheweth daily exprese tokens, namely the Romane causey [road] of the Fosse high way, and coine of the Romanes both copper and silver found there, and especially at Fordington hard by, which the common people there call King Dorn his pence, whom by some allusion to the name they dreame full sweetly to have beene the founder of the towne. ‡ It had anciently a castle in that place where the Grey-friers built their Convent out of the ruines thereof, and hath now but three parish Churches, whereas the compasse of the old towne seemeth to have been very large. ‡ But the most grievous hurt that it tooke was when Sveno the Dane had in most outrageous crueltie renewed the Danish warre, and Hush the Norman who ruled these countries, a man of a perfidious and treacherous mind, suffered all to be spoiled and harried. But in what estate it stood soone after the Normans first comming in, take knowledge if it please you out of Domesday booke being the Survey of England. In King Edwards daies there were in Dorchester 170 houses, and these for all the Kings service discharged themselves and paid according to ten Hides, but to the use of Houscarles [royal servants] one marke of silver, excepting the customes which pertaine to firmam noctis, that is, to the entertainment of the King for one night. There were in it two Mint Masters. Now there be therein but 82 houses, and one hundred have beene utterly destroyed since the time of Sheriffe Hugh. If these termes seeme to be very obscure (as Sextus Cecilius said) impute it not to the fault of the writers, but to their ignorance who cannot conceive the meaning.

6. From hence Frome, runneth by Woodford, where in old time Guy Brient a Baron and renowned warriour had a little Castle of his owne, which afterward was the habitation of Hugh Stafford of Suthwick; by one of whose daughters Inheretrices it came, as I have had heard, to Thomas Strangwaies, who being borne in Lancashire and brought hither by the first Marques Dorset, obtained a great and rich inheritance in these parts, and his issue built a very faire house at Milbery. Then holdeth he on his course besids Byndon, in the Saxon tongue Beandun , which also had a monasterie where Kinegilfus in the yeere 614 in a doubtfull and dangerous battell vanquished the Britans. Not long since it was the seat of the Lord Marney; now it giveth the honourable title of Vicount unto the Lord Thomas Howard Knight of the order of S. George, whose father Thomas, the second sonne of Thomas Howard, the second of that name Duke of Norfolk, Queene Elizabeth created Vicount Howard of Bindon, when he, having matched in mariage with the daughter and heire of Baron Marney, was seized here of a very great inheritance of the Newborows. These, who were anciently named de Novo Burgo and commonly Newboroughs, derive their pedigree from a younger sonne of Henrie the first Earle of Warwick of the Norman line, and held heere Winfrott with the whole Hundred of the gift of King Henry the First, per servitium camerarii (thee be the words out of the booke of the Offices) in capite de domino rege , that is, by service of Chamberlaine in Chef from our soveraigne Lord the King . But under Edward the Third, I have read that this was held by Sergeantie , namely, by holding the laver or Ewre for the King his soveraigne Lord to wash, upon his Coronation day . Also Raulph Moien held the Manor of Owres, neere adjoining, by service of a Serjeantie in the Kitchen , of the gift likewise of King Henrie the First, and R. de Welles the Manor of Welles heereabout, since the conquest of England, by the service of the Kings Baker . Which I note onely by the way.

7. Where Frome maketh his issue into that Bay whereupon Poole is situate, hard by the very mouth is placed Warham, in the Saxon tongue Weareham , a towne strongly seated on every side but Westward, as being fensed on all parts beside with the river Trent, Frome, and the sea together. In King Edward the Confessors time it had two Mint maisters, but whiles William the conqueror reigned it could not reckon above seven dwelling houses in it. Yet afterwards it flourished againe, fortified with the wall, furnished with a mint house, a great number of inhabitants and a most strong castle, which that same William the First built it, continued in a most flourishing state untill the daies of King Henrie the Second, who when he came to challenge the Crowne of England in the yeere 1142, hee arrived heere, besieged and tooke the castle, which was defended by Robert Lacy against him in behalfe of King Stephen, and afterward Robert of Lincolne, a man of mighty possessions in these parts, defended the same against King Stephen. But from that time, by occasion partly of wars, and partly of sudden casualty by fires, by reason also that the sea by little and little withdraweth the commodity of an haven, it is almost run to ruine, and in the very heart of the old towne it bringeth forth store of garlick. At this mouth likewise is discharged another small river with Frome, Asserius calleth it Trent, by now the inhabitants thereby name it Piddle. From the North bank whereof scarse three miles off I saw the same ruins of Middleton Abbay which King Athelstane founded as a satisfaction to appease the ghost and soule of his brother Edwine, whom he had deprived both of his kingdom and life. For when that sollicitous desire of reigning had caused him quite to forget all Justice, he put the young Prince heire apparent to the crowne, with one page, into a little whirrey [skiff] without any tackling or furniture thereto, to the end he might impute his wickednesse to the waves. And so the young Prince, overcome with griefe of heart and unable to master his owne passions, cast himselfe headlong into the sea. Under this Middleton there is voided also another river, which runneth hard by Bere, a little mercate towne, where for a long time that ancient and famous family de Turbida Villa , commonly Turbervill, had their chiefe habitation, whereof as some were famous, so Hugh Turbervill in the time of King Edward the first was infamous for his traiterous practises with the French.

8. But to go back againe to the West part of the shire, at the springhead of Frome, where the soile is most fruitfull, the forrest of Blackmore, sometimes thick and full of trees but now thinner growen, yeeldeth plentifull game for hunting. This by a more common and better knowen name is called The Forrest of White Hart. The reason of which name the inhabitants by tradition from their forefathers report to be thus. When King Henrie the Third came hither to hunt and had taken other Deere, he spared a most beautifull and goodly White-hart, which afterwards T. de la Lynde, a gentleman of this countrey, with others in his companie tooke and killed: but how perillous a matter it was to be twitching (as they say) of a lion they soone found and felt. For the King conceived great indignation and high displeasure against them, put them to a grievous fine of money for it, and the very lands which they held pay even to this day every yeere by way of amercement a peece of money into the Exchequer, which is called White hart silver. There joineth neere to this forrest Shirburn towne, named also Chirburne Castle, in old times Scireburn , which by interpretation is Fons limpidus , or as it is else where written Fons clarus , that is, Pure fountaine or Cleere well, sited on the hanging of an hill, a pleasant and proper seat, as William of Malmesbury saith, as well for the frequent number of inhabitants as the situation , and now it is the most populous and best hanted towne of all this countrey, and gaineth exceeding much by clothing. In the yeere of our redemption 704 an episcopall seat was heere erected, and Adelme the first Bishop there consecrated: afterwards also in the reigne of Etheldred, Herman the Bishop of Sunning, having obtained this Bishoprick, translated his episcopall see hither, and joined the said bishoprick of Sunning unto this, which under William Conqueror the same Bishop translated to Sarisbury, and reserved Shirburne to be a retiring place for his Successors, unto whom it belongeth as yet. And one of them, namely Roger, built a strong castle in the East part thereof, under which lay sometime a wide meere and many fish pooles: and now being filled up are converted into a most pleasant and rich medow ground. As for the Cathedrall Church, presently upon the translation of the See it became a monasterie againe, and beareth shew of great antiquity, although not manie yeres past in a broile betweene the townesmen and the Monks it was fired; which the burnt and skorched colour upon the stones doth as yet most evidently shew. Under this, the river Ivell, whereof I will speake somewhere else, winding in and out with many curving reaches, runneth Westward to Chifton, the seat sometime of the linage de Maulbauch, from which it descended hereditarily unto the familie of the Horseies, Knights, where it entreth into Sommersetshire.

9. More toward the East the most famous river Stoure, passing full of tenches and Eeles especially, arising in Wiltshire out of six fountaines, commeth downe to Sourton, the honor and seat of the Barons of Stourton. So soone as it is entred into this Shire it passeth thorow Gillingham forrest, in which Edmund surnamed Iron-side in a memorable battell put the Danes to flight, and three miles from thence saluteth Shaftsbury standing upon an hill top, very defective of water, sometimes called by the Britans, as it is commonly but falsly thought, Caer Paldur , and in Latine by later writers Septonia ; by the Saxons Sceaftesburyg , perhaps of the Churches spire steeple, such as they termed scheafts . A little before the Normans time it had in it 104 houses, and three Mint masters, as we read in that booke so often by me alleadged. And afterwards it flourished the more by reason of a Nunnerie which Elfgiva, a most godly and devout Ladie, wife to Edmund that was King Aelfrids nephews sonnes, had erected, and of ten parish Churches besides, or there about. But most famous is this place by occasion of a pretty fable that our Historians doe report of Aquila prophesying here of the conversion or change of the Britans empire. For some will have the bird aquila , that is, an Aegle, others a man so named to have foretold heere that the British Empire after the Saxons and Normans should returne againe to the ancient Britans: and these men affirme and maintain that this place is of greater antiquity than Saturne himselfe, whereas most certaine it is that it was first built by Alfred. For the Historiographer of Malmesburie hath recorded that in his daies there was an old stone translated from the ruines of the wall into the Chapter house of the Nuns, which had this Inscription:

That is,
In the yeere of the incarnation of our Lord, King Aelfred built
this City, 880; of his reign the eighth

This inscription I have the more willingly put downe heere for proofe of the Truth because in all the copies which I have seen it is wanting, save only in that in the Librarie of the late Lord Burghley, high treasurer of England, ‡ and I have beene enformed that it continued there until the time of King Henrie the Eighth. Yet the inhabitants have a tradition that an old Citie stood upon the place which is called the Castle-Greene, and by some Bolt-bury, now a faire plaine so sited that as of one side it joineth to the Towne, so of another it is a strange sight to looke downe to the vale under it, whereby in the West end of the old Chapell of S. John, as I heare now, standeth a Roman inscription reversed.

10. From thence the Stoure, by Marnhill, of which place Lord Henrie Howard, brother of Thomas last Duke of Norfolk, receaved of King James the title of Baron Howard of Marnhill before that he was created Earle of Northampton, makes speed to Sourminster, which is as much as to say as The Monasterie or Minster upon Stoure. A small towne this is, standing somewhat with the lowest, from which there is a stone bridge bilt reaching to Newton Castle, where offreth it selfe to be seene a loftie mount cast up (as they say) to that height with great labour, but of the Castle there remaineth nothing at all but onely the bare name. Of these, I have nothing of more antiquitie to say than this, that King Aelfred bequeathed Stourminster to a younger sonne of his. Hard by at Silleston there rise two good great hilles, the one named Hameldon, the other Hodde, and both of them fortified with a three fold Dich and rampier. And not far from thence (but the very place I cannot precisely set downe) stood Okeford, the Capitall honour of the Baronie of Robert, the son of Pagan, commonly named Fitz-Payne, who maried the daughter of Guido de Brient, who also in this West part enjoied the honor of a Baron under King Edward the Third; but for default of heires males of those Fitz-Paynes, it came to the Poinings, Barons likewise in those daies, and at length by a daughter and heire of Poinings in the reigne of Henrie the Sixths, these Barons titles, Fitz-Payne, Brient, and Poinings were conjoined in the Percies, Earles of Northumberland. Howbeit within our fathers remembrance, through the favour of King Henrie the Eighth, the title of Baron Poinings reflourished in Sir Thomas Poinings, sonne of Sir Edward Poinings, a martiall man and fruitfull father of much base brood, but with him it soone vanished away, ‡ as bastardly slips seldome take deepe root. ‡

11. From hence Stoure passeth on by Brienston, that is, Brients towne, where the Rogerses dwelleth, an ancient familie of Knights degree, to Market Blandford, which since in our time it chanced to be burnt downe, arose again, built more elegantly, and is better peopled with inhabitants. Then Stoure from thence, by Tarrent, where Richard Poer Bishop of Sarisbury founded a Cell for Virgins Votaries, speedeth himselfe apace to that most ancient towne Vindogladia , whereof Antoninus maketh mention. Which in the Saxons tongue is called Wynburnham , commonly Winburne, and of the Monasterie, Winburnminster: and from hence to Dorchester are counted sixteene miles, just so many as the Emperour Antonine in his Itinerarie reckoneth between Vinogladia and Durnovaria . The name, as I conjecture, it taketh of the situation, because it is seated betweene two rivers: for so in the British tongue Windugledy soundeth as much as between two Swords, now that the Britans by a peculiar phrase of their owne terme rivers Swords, it appeareth by Abrdugleldiau , the British name of Milford Haven, which is as much to say as the mouth of two rivers, for that two rivers named with them glediau , that is, Swords, run into it. The latter name also of this town seemeth to be fet [fetched] from Rivers. For Winburn is compounded of vin , a parcel of the old name, and the Saxon word burne , which among them betokeneth a river: and by the addition thereof the Saxons were wont to name places standing upon rivers. The very towne it selfe is seated upon the peece of an hill large in compasse and replenished with inhabitants, but few faire buildings. In the Saxons time right famous it was and much frequented for no other cause, I beleeve, but for that in those daies there remained divers tokens of the Romans majestie. In the yeere 713, Cuthburga, sister to Ina King of the West-Saxons, when upon a lothing wearinesse of wedlock she had sued out a Divorce from her owne husband King of Northumberland, built heere a Nunnerie: which yeelding unto the injurie of time, and fallen to decay, there arose in the very place thereof a new Church with a faire Vault beneath under the quire, and an high spire besides the Toure-steeple. In which were placed Prebendaries in liew of those Nuns. Over whom in our fathers daies Reginald Pole was Deane, who afterwards being Cardinal and Archbishop of Canterbury, over and above the nobilitie of his house (for descended he was of the roiall bloud) became highly renowmed for pietie, wisdome and eloquence. King Etheldred, a right good and vertuous Prince, brother of Aelfred, slaine in the battell at Wittingham against the Danes, lieth enterred in this Church: upon whose tombe, which not long since hath beene repaired, this new Inscription is to be read:

That is,
Heere lieth at rest the bodie of Etheldred King of the West-Saxons, Martyr, who died in the yeere of our Lord 872, the 23 of April,
by the hands of the Danes, Infidels

12. Neere unto whom lieth entombed Gertrude Blunt Marchionesse of Excester, daughter to William Lord Montjoy and mother to Edward Courtney, the last Earle of Devonshire of that house, and on the other side of the quire John de Beaufort Duke of Somerset with his wife Margaret, daughter and heire to Sir John Beauchamp of Bletneshoe, whose daughter Margaret, Countesse of Richmond and mother of King Henrie the Seventh, a most godly and vertuous princesse, erected a schoole heere for the training up of youth. Now I will turne my pen from the Church to the towne: when the Danes by their crafty devices went about to set the Englishmen together by the eares, and would have broken that league and unitie which was betweene King Edward the Elder and his cosen Aethelwald, Athelwald, then lusting after the Kingdome and wholly set against his liege Prince, fortified this towne as strongly as possibly he could. But so soone as Edward came towards him with his forces, and pitched his tents at Baddan-birig , now called Badbury, he fled and conveied himselfe to his confederates the Danes. This Badbury is a little hill upon a faire downe, scarce two miles off, environed about with a triple trench and rampire, and had by report in times past a castle, which was the seat of the West-Saxon Kings, But now, if ever there were such, it lieth so buried in the owne ruines and rubbish that I could see not so much as one token thereof. Mary, hard by a sight I had of a village or mannor called Kingston Lacie, because together with Winburne it appertained to the Lacies Earles of Lincoln, unto whom by covenant it came from the Earles of Leicester by the meanes of Quincie Earle of Winchester. For King Henry the First had given it to Robert Earle of Mellent and of Leicester, and at the last both places from the Lacies fell unto the house of Lancaster, whose bounty and liberality Winburne had good triall of.

13. From this Winburne Stoure, as it passeth, admitteth Alen, a little brook, over which standeth S. Giles Winburne, the habitation of the worshipfull and ancient house of Astleys, Knights; also Wickhampton, the inheritance sometime of the Barons de Maltravers, of whom the last, in the reigne of Edward the Third, left behind him two daughters onely, the one wedded unto John de Arundell, grandfather to John Earle of Arundell, who left unto his posterity the title of Barons de Maltravers; the other, wife of Robert Le-Rous and afterwards of Sir John Keines, Knight. From hence the Stoure passeth on by Cranford, under which not long ago James Lord Montjoy, studious in Minerall matters, began to make calcanthum or Vitriol (we call it coperas ) and to boile Alume: and out of which in old time John Earle of Warren, to the great disteining of his owne good name and the damage of England, tooke, as it were, by strong hand and caried away, as it is to be seen in our Chronicles, Dame Alice Lacey, the wife of Thomas Earle of Lancaster. And now by this time Stoure leaveth Dorsetshire behind him, and after he hath travelled thorow some part of Hantshire, at length taketh up his lodging in the Ocean: and yet not before he hath entertained a prety river that runneth to Cranburne, a place well watered. Where in the yeere of Salvation 930 Aelward, a noble gentleman surnamed for his whitenesse Meaw , founded a little monasterie, which Robert Fitz-Paimon, a Norman unto whom fell the possessions of the said Aelward, leaving heere one or two monks in a cell, translated to Theoksbury. From whom in order of succession, by the Clares Earles of Glocester and Burghs Earles of Ulster, it came to Lionell Duke of Clarence, and by him to the Crowne. But now Cranborn hath his Vicount, now Earle of Salisbury, whom King James for his approved wisdome and worth honored first with the title of Baron or Lord Cecil of Essendon, and the next yeere after of Vicount Cranborne. ‡ South from hence lieth Woodland emparked, sometime the seat of the worshipfull familie of Filioll, the heires whereof were maried to Edward, after Duke of Somerset, and Willoughby of Walton. ‡

14. As touching the Earles and Marquesses of this shire, King William the Conqueror, having now by conquest attained to the Kingdome of England, made Osmund that was Earle of Seez in Normandie both Bishop of Sarisburie and afterward also the first Earle of Dorset and his Chancellor, highly admiring the godly wisedome of the man and his notable good parts. Long after that, King Richard the Second in the one and twentieth yeere of his reigne advanced John de Beaufort, John of Gaunt his sonne and Earle of Somerset, to be Marquesse Dorset, of which dignity King Henrie the Fourth in hatred of Richard the Second deprived him. And when as in the high Court of Parliament the Commons there assembled, who loved him very deerely, made earnest intercession that the said dignity of Marquesse might be restored unto him, he himselfe, distasting this new title and never heard of before those daies, utterly refused it. And then his younger brother, named Thomas Beaufort, was created Earle of Dorset: who afterward for his warlick proesse and valour was by King Henrie the Fifth adorned with the title of Duke of Excester and with the Earledome of Harcourt. For he valiantly defended Harflow in Normandie against the Frenchmen, and in a pitched field encountring the Earle of Armignac put him to flight. After he was dead without issue, King Henrie the Sixth nominated out of the same house of Lancaster Edmund, first Earle, afterwards Marquesse Dorset, and lastly Duke of Somerset: whose sonnes being slaine in the civill wars, Edward the Fourth, when as now the familie of Lancaster lay as it were over trodden in the dust, created Thomas Grey out of the house of Ruthin, who was his sonne in law (for the King had espoused the mother of the said Grey) Marquesse Dorset, when in right of his wife he had entred upon a great state and inheritance of the Bonvilles in this country and the territories adjoining. After him succeeded in the same honor Thomas his sonne and Henrie his nephew by the said Thomas, who also was created by King Edward the Sixth Duke of Suffolk, having wedded Lady Francis, daughter of Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk and neece unto King Henrie the Eighth by his sister. This Duke, in Queen Maries daies being put to death for high treason, learned too late how dangerous a thing it is to marie into the bloud roiall, and to feed ambitious hopes both in himself and in others. From that time the title of Dorset was bestowed upon none, untill King James at his first entrance into this Kingdome exalted Thomas Sackvill, Baron of Buckhurst and Lord high Treasurer of England, a man of rare wisdome and most careful providence, to the honor of Earle of Dorset, ‡ who ended his life with suddaine death 1608, and left Robert his sonne his successor, who deceasing within the yeere left the said honor againe to Richard his hopefull sonne whom he begot of the Lady Margaret Howard, daughter to the Duke of Norfolk. ‡

In this County are numbred Parishes 248.


UPON the North and East side of the Durotriges bordered in times past the Belgae, who as it is by the name probable, and by authority of writers very likely, passed over from the Belgae, a people of Gaule, into Britaine. For those Belgae, having their beginnings (as Caesar according to the information he had from the people of Rhemes) of the Germans, and in old time being brought over the Rhene, finding the sweetnesse and fertility of the place, expelled the Gaules and planted themselves there. From whence, as the same Caesar saith, they gat them over into Britaine for to spoile, and in a warlicke manner to invade the country, and were all of them called afer the name of those countries from whence they came; where, after they had made warre, they remained and began to till the grounds. But at what time they came hither to dwell it is not certainly knowen, unlesse Divitiacus King of the Suessones, who flourished before Caesars time, brought over the Belgae hither. For a great part as well of Gaule as of Britaine he had under him. Whence also they were named Belgae, it is not sufficienly shewed. Hubert Thomas of Liege, a great learned man, supposed Belgae to be a German word, for that the Germans use to call the Fench and the Italians Wallen , as strangers, yea and some of them Welgen . John Goropius, himselfe a Belgian, maintaineth it to be derived of the word belke , which in the Belgicke tongue signifieth wrath or anger, as if they would be sooner incensed with choler than others. But seeing that the name of the Belgae seemeth not to be sought out of that tongue which the Germans of the Low-countries uses at this day, and is almost the same that our English-Saxon language (for from the Saxons it came, whom Charles the Great brought over into Brabant and Flanders), for my part I will in no wise diminish their credit who fetch it forth of the ancient Gaules tongue, which remaineth in mannr uncorrupt among our Welch-Britans, and will have them called Belgae of pell , which in that tongue betokeneth Remote or far off. For of all Gaule they were the furtheset, and as they were furthest from the civil behaviour and humanity of the Roman Province, so they were also in situation and seat, and the Poet hath shewed that the Morini were the people of all Belgica most remote, when he wrote thus: Extremique hominum Morini , that is, The Morini of all men furthest . But come we now to our Belgae, who inhabited far and wide in Someretshire, Wiltshire, and the inner parts of Hantshire.


THE Countie of Somerset, commonly called Somersetshire, is a verie large and wealthy Region, the North side wherof the Severn Sea beateth upon; the west part confineth with Devonshire; in the South it bordereth first upon Devonshire, and then upon Dorsetshire; Eastward, upon Wiltshire, and North-east upon part of Glocestershire. The Soile verie rich, yeelding for the most part thereof passing great plentie both of pasture and corne, and yet not without stonie hills; exceeding populous, and full of Inhabitants; furnished also with commodious havens and ports sufficiently. Some thinke it was so called for that the aire there is so mild and summer-like, and in that sense the Welch Britans at this day terme it Gladerhaf , borrowing that name out of our English tongue. And verily, howsoever in summer time it is a right summer-like Country, yet surely in winter it may worthily be called a winterish Region, so wet and weely, so miry and moorish it is, to the exceeding great trouble and encombrance of those that travell in it. But I will beleeve that this name without all question grew from Somerton, a famous towne in ancient time, and of all others in the shire most frequented, considering that Asserius, a writer of great antiquitie, calleth this countie in every place Somertunensis , that is, Sumertunshire. ‡ In the very first limit of the shire West-ward, where Ex riseth in a solitarie and hilly more, first appeareth Dulverton, a silly [insignificant, rustic] market, according to the soile, and neere unto it was a small religious house of Black-chanons at Barelinch, who in latter times acknowledge the Fetyplaces their founders. ‡

Higher upward on the Severne side, where this shire confineth upon Devonshire, first wee meet with Porlock (in the English-Saxon tongue Portlocan , and Watchet ), in times past Wecedpoort , roades both and harbours for ships, the which in the yeere 886 where most grievously afflicted by the Danish cruell piracies. Betwixt them standeth Dunster Castle upon a flat and low ground, enclosed round about with hilles saving to the Sea-ward, built by the Moions or Mohuns. From whose heires by agreements and compositions it came in the end to the Lutterels. A right noble and mightie house this of the Mohuns was for a long time, and flourished from the very Conquerours daies (under whose raigne that Castle was built), unto the time of King Richard the Second. Two Earles there were of this Countie out of that familie, as I shall shew hereafter, William and Reginald, who in the Barons warre lost that honour. The Posteritie afterwards were reputed Barons, of whom the last, named John, left three daughters, Philip, wife to Edward Duke of Yorke; Elizabeth, wedded to William Montacute, Earle of Sarisburie, the second of that name; and Maud, joyned in mariage to the Lord Strange of Knocking. The Mother of which three Ladies, as the report goes, obtained of her husband so much pasture-ground in Common by the towne side, for the benefit of the inhabitants, as shee could goe about in one day barefoot.

2. Neere to this Castle there lie two little Villages consecrate unto to peculiar Saints of those places: the one of them is named Caranton, of Carantoc the Britain; the other, Saint Decombs of Decuman, who, putting to sea out of Southwales, arrived here in a waste and Desert Wildernesse, as we read in an old Agonel, overgrowen with shrubs, bushes, and briers, among woods of great thicknesse reaching out farre in length and bredth, lying out with high and steepe hilles one way, and wonderfully uneven with as deepe and hollow vales another way , where he, bidding worldly vanity farewell, was by a murderer stabbed to death, and of the people honoured as a Saint. And betweene these Clives was an old Abbey of white Monkes, founded by William de Romara, Cosin to the Earle of Lincolne. Somewhat farther from the sea is seated Stoke-Curey, a Barony so named of the Lords thereof, the dwelling place of William De Curcy, Sewer [Steward] to King Henrie the First. Out of which Familie, John Curcy (as some write) issued, that conquered Ulster in Ireland, whom nature framed for magnanimitie, gravitie, and all other vertues, a great person and a noble: the record and testimonie of whose approoved valour is to be fetched out of the antient Annals of Ireland. From thence the shore by little and little beareth out to Stertpoint, where the two greatest Rivers of all this Shire, meeting in confluence together, at one mouth runne forth into the Severne sea. Ptolomee calleth this confluence Uzella Aestuarium , of the river Ivel, which now hath lost his name alreadie before he came hither. It springeth in Dorsetshire, and no sooner entreth into Somersetshire but he giveth name to Evel, a great market towne which rose by the decay of Ilchester, and taketh into him a rill neere which is Camalet, a steepe hill and hard to get up: on the top whereof are to bee seene expresse tokens of a decayed Castle with triple rampires of earth cast up, enclosing within it many acres of ground, and there appeare about the hill five or six ditches, so steepe that a man shall sooner slide downe than goe downe. The Inhabitants name it King Arthurs Palace: that it was the Romans worke appeareth by peeces of money of their coine daily digged out there. But what name it had among them I know not, unlesse it be the same which in Ninnius his Catalogue of antient Cities is called Car Calemion , in stead of Camelion, by transposition of the letters. Hereby are two townes, West Camalet and East Camalet or Queens Camalet, happily for that it hath been in dowrie to some Queene. As for Cadburie, a little towne next unto it, we may ghesse verie probably to have been that Cathbregion where King Arthur (as Ninnius writeth) defeated the English-Saxons in a memorable battell. The other of that name, called North Cadbury, King Henry the third gave unto Nicolas de Moeles, who had maried Hawisia, one of the heires of James of Newmarket, whose posteritie continued a long time in great fame and honour, untill that John, dying in the time of Edward the Third, left two daughters, Muriel and Isabel, the one wife to William Botereaux, and the former to Thomas Courtney. ‡ Here, to digresse aside from the River Ivel, Winecaunton, no meane market, is neighbour to this North Cadbury, and neere thereunto is Pen, an obscure village now, but antiently famous, being ordained by destinie, as it may seeme, to the overthrow both of Britans and Danes. For at this verie place Keniwalch, a West Saxon, had such a day of the Britans that they would scarsely ever after abide to come into the field against the English-Saxons. And many a yeere after that, King Edmund, surnamed Iron-side, gave there a notable foile to the Danes, as he pursued Canutus their King, then usurping the Crowne of England, from place to place. The house of Lorty, called in Latine de Urtiaco , was great hereabout, possessing Stoke Triske, Cocklington, and other Mannours, and Henrie Lorty of this house was summoned a Baron to the Parliament in the time of King Edward the First. ‡

3. Now to returne: the river Iwel from hence runneth to Ischalis, mentioned by Ptolomee, now Ivelchester, named in the Catalogue of Ninnius (if I be not deceived) Pontavel Coit for Pont-Ivel Coit , that is, Ivel bridge in the wood; by Florentius of Worcester, Givelcester ; at this day of small account, but onely for the antiquitie and market there kept; for peeces of the Roman Caesars or Emperours money, of gold, brasse, and silver, are other whiles here digged up. That in old time it had been a great towne, and on some sides strengthned with a double wall,the ruines declare, and two towers upon the Bridge. About the time of the Normans comming in, well peopled it was, and much frequented. For reckoned there were in it one hundred and seven Burgesses. A sure place also in those daies, and well fortified: for in the yeere of Grace 1088, when the Nobles of England had conspired and plotted against King William Rufus to put him down and set up his brother Robert Duke of Normandie in his Roiall throne, Robert Mobray a warlike man, having burnt Bathe, forcibly assaulted this towne, but with lost labour; yet what hee could not doe then, long processe of time hath now partly effected, and in some sort over-mastred it.

4. A little beneath, by Langport, a proper market town, the Rivers Ivel and Pedred running together make betweene them an Iland called Muchelney , that is to say, The great Iland, wherein are to be seene the defaced walles and ruines of an old Abbey built by King Athenstane, as writers report. This Pedred, commonly named Parret, hath his beginning in the verie edge or skirt of the shire southward, and, holding on a crooked and winding course thorow Crockherene, in the Saxon tongue Cruecerne , and Pedderton, to whom it gave the name, sometime Pedridan , the Roiall seat of King of King Ina (which towne now adaies is of none account, unlesse it be for the market and Faire there held, which Henrie Daubeney obtained of King Henrie the Sixth), at this place runneth into Ivel and robbeth him of his name, when hee is come down three miles Eastward and hath bidden farewell to Montacute, so termed by the Earle of Moriton, brother by the Mothers side to King William the Conquerour (who built a Castle upon the verie hill top, and at the foot thereof a Priorie), because the said hill riseth up by little and little to a sharpe point: for before time it was called Logoresburg and Bischopeston . And for the Castle, it came to nothing many yeeres since, the stones thereof being had away to the repairing of the Monasterie and other houses. Upon the pitch of the said hill there was a Chappell afterwards set and dedicated unto Saint Michael, built with arch-worke and an embowed roofe all of stone, right artificially: to which for halfe a mile wel nere men ascended up on stone-staires, which in their ascente fetched a compasse round about the hil. But now that the Priorie and Chapell both be pulled down, the faire and goodly house which Sir Edward Philips, Knight and the Kings Sargeant at Law, built lately at the hill foot maketh a very beautifull shew. This high place Mont-acute hath given surname to that right honourable family of Montacute, which had their beginning of Dru the younger. Out of which there were foure Earles of Sarisburie: the last of them left one daughter onely, Alice, who by Richard Nevil bare Richard, that most renowmed Earle of Warwick who kept such stirres, and made all England to shake, also John Nevil Marquesse Montacute, who were both slaine at Barnet field in the yeere 1472. Afterward King Henrie the Eighth conferred the title of Lord Montacute upon Henrie Poole, sonne of Margaret, daughter to George Duke of Clarence, that came of the daughter of that Richard Nevill aforesaid, Earle of Warwicke: and when he had so done, straightwaies made him shorter by the head. Afterwards Queene Marie advanced Anthonie Browne, whose Grandmother was a daughter of John Nevill Marquesse Montacute, to the title and honour of Vicount Montacute, which his Grandchild Anthonie who succeeded him now honourably enjoyeth.

5. ‡ And heere I must not forget neither Preston, sometime the seat of John Sturton, younger sonne to the first Lord Sturton, one of whose heires was married to Sidenham of Brimpton hereby; ‡ neither Oldcome adjoyning thereto, as small a towne as it is, seeing it had a Baron of the owne, William de Briewer (for so was his father named in the Norman-French, because he was borne in an heath), who being taken up in the new Forrest by King Henrie the Second in a hunting journey, prooved a great man and gratious in the Court (as whom King Richard the First highly favored as his minion, and all the world embraced and loved), grew into a verie wealthy state, married Beatrix of Vannes, widow to Reginald Earle of Cornwall, and his daughters, for that his sonne died without issue, by their marriages brought great possessions to their husbands Breos, Wake, La-fert, and Piercy. Under this towne hard by lieth Stoke under Hamden, where the Gornaies had their Castle and built a Colledge. This familie de Gorniaco, commonly named Gornay, was very antient and of good account, descended from the same stocke out of which the Warrens Earles of Surrie and the Mortimers are sprung: but in the foregoing age it failed, and some of their lands descended by the Hamptons to the house of the Newtons, Knights, who willingly acknowledge themselves to bee come out of Wales, and not long since to have been named Caradocks. Neither must I passe over in silence how Matthew Gournay, a most famous warriour in the raigne of Edward the Third, was buried here; who in the fourscore and sixteenth yere of his age ended this life when (as appeareth by his Epitaph) he had fought at the siege of Algizar against the Saracens, in the battels of Benamazin, Scluse, Cressie, Ingenos, Poictiers, and Nazars in Spaine.

6. Then Pedred watereth Martock, a little market towne, which in times past William of Bologne, King Stephens sonne, gave unto Faramuse of Bologne, whose sole heire Sibyll was wedded to Ingenraine Fienes, from whom descended the Fienes, Barons of Dacre, and Lords Say and Zele.

Parret from hence thorow the mirie and moorish plaine countrey, holding his course Northward, passeth by Langport, a market towne well frequented, and Aulre, a Village consisting of a few poore Cottages, which seemeth to have beene a towne of good account: for when King Alfred had given the Danes such an overthrow in battell, and by strait siege compelled them to yeeld so farre forth that they tooke an oath immediatly to depart out of his dominions, and Godrus their King promised to become Christian (as writeth Asserius), at this verie place he with great pompe was Godfather to the said Godrus at the sacred Font.

Beneath this place from the west, Parret receiveth into it the river Thone, which, springing farre off in the West part of this Country, very neere unto Devonshire, runneth thorow most rich and pleasant fields, passing downe neere Wivelscomb, assigned antiently to the Bishops of Bathe, and by Wellington, which in the time of King Edward the Elder was a land of six manentes , what time hee granted it together with Lediard, that had twelve manentes , Hides, unto the Bishop of Shirburne. Now a prettie market towne it is, and graced most by the habitation there of Sir John Popham (for vertuous men, and such as have so well deserved of their countrey are not to be passed in silence), a man of an ancient worshipfull house, and withall a most upright Justicer, and of singular industry, who being Lord chiefe Justice of the Kings Bench, administereth his office toward malefactours with such holesome and available severitie that England hath been beholden unto him a long time for a great part of her private peace and home-securitie.

7. From thence with a soft streame and gentle fall Thone runneth by Thonton, commonly Taunton, and giveth it his name. A verie fine and proper towne this is indeed, and most pleasantly seated: in a word, one of the eies of this shire, where Ina King of the West Saxons built a Castle which Desburgia his wife raced and laid even with the ground after shee had expelled from thence Eadbritch King of the South-Saxons, who now had made himselfe Lord thereof, and used it as a bridle to keepe the countrey under that he had subdued. When Edward the Confessour was King, it paid tribute (as wee find in the Kings Survey-Booke of England) after the rate of fiftie and foure Hides: and had in it threescore and three Burgers. The Bishop of Winchester held it as Lord, and his courts or Pleas were kept here thrice in the yeere. And these Customes appertaine to Taunton, Burgerists, Theeves, Breach of peace, hansinare, pence of the Hundred, and pence of Saint Peter de Circieto, thrice in the yeere to hold the Bishops Pleas without warning, to goe forth to warfare with the Bishops men. The Countrey here, most delectable on every side with greene medowes, flourishing with pleasant Gardens and Orchards, and replenished with fair Mannour houses; wonderfully contenteth the eyes of the beholders. And among these houses those of greatest note are these: Orchard, which had in times past Lords of that name, from whom in right of inheritance it descended unto the Portmans, men of Knights degree; Hach Beauchamp and Corry-Mallet, bearing those additions of their Lords. For this was the seat of the Mallets that came of the Norman race, and from them in short time it fell by the familie heire to the Pointzes. From among whom in the raigne of Edward the First, Hugh was ranged in the rank of Parliament Barons, and out of that familie some remaine at this day of great reputation and Knights in their Countrey. As for those Beauchamps, or de Bello Campo , they flourished in high places of honour from the time of King Henrie the Second, but especially since that Cecilie de Fortibus, which derived her pedigree from the Earles de Ferrariis , and that great Marshall of England William Earle of Pembroke matched in marriage with this familie. But in the raigne of Edward the Third, the whole inheritance was by the sisters divided betweene Roger de. S. Mauro or Seimore, [and] John Meriot, men of ancient descent and great alliance. And hereupon it was that King Henrie the Eight, when he had wedded Jane Seimor, mother to King Edward the Sixth, bestowed upon Edward Seimor her brother the titles of Vicount Beauchamp and Earle of Hertfort, whom King Edward the Sixth afterwards honoured, first with the name of Lord and Baron Seimor ‡ to bee annexed to his other titles, lest (as the King saith in the Patent) the name of his mothers familie should bee overshadowed with any other stile, and yet afterward created him Duke of Somerset. ‡

8. As you go from thence, where Thone windeth himselfe into Parrett, it maketh a pretty Iland between two rivers called in times past Aethlinge, that is, The Isle of Nobles, now commonly knowen by the name of Athelney, a place no lesse famous among us for King Alfreds shrowding himselfe therein, what time as the Danes now had brought all into broile, then those Marishes of Minturny among the Italians, wherein Marius lurked and lay hidden. For touching that King an antient poet wrote thus:

With dolour great his joyes were mixt his hope was joyn'd with dread.
If now he victour were, next day of warres he stood afraid;
If vanquisht now, the morrow next forthwith he thought it good
For to prepare for warre: his sword was aye begoard in blood.
His garments eke with painfull sweat were evermore bestain'd,
Which wel did shew what burden great he bare while that he raign' d.

And in truth this Isle afforded him a very fit shrowding corner for that, by reason of waters partly standing there in plashes, and partly resorting reflowing thether, which Asserius termed gronnas , Latinizing a Saxon word), there is in maner no accesse into it. It had sometime a bridge between to castles built by Aelfred, and a very large grove of Alders, full of goales and wild beasts: but of firme ground scarce two acres in breadth: on which, as saith William of Malmesbury (whose words these are and not mine) he founded a little monasterie, the whole frame wherof hanged upon foure maine posts pitched fast in the ground, with foure round isles of sphaerick work contrived and brought round about the same. Not far from this Isle Parret, having received the said river, runneth alone, ‡ swelling with certaine sandy shelfes sometime in his chancell, by the Hundred of North Pederton, anciently acknowledging the Bluets to have beene Lords thereof, who are thought to have brought that name from Bluet in little Britaine. Here it taketh into him an other river from East to beare him company, which openeth selfe neere Castle Cary where William Lovel Lord thereof [held] against King Stephen in the behalfe of Mawd the Empresse, right inheretrix of the Crown of England, whose issue failing in the time of King Edward the Third, by heire female it came into Nicholas de S. Maure, a Baron (of a distinct familie from that which was a few lines before mentioned), and shortly after about the time of Henrie the Fift by an heire female againe to the Lord Zouches of Harringworth, as a moitie of the lands of Lord Zouch of Ashby de la Zouch, came before by coheires to the house of this S. Maures. But when John Lord Zouch was attainted by King Henry the Seventh for assisting King Richard the Third, this Castle was given by the King to Robert Willoughby Lord Brook, as his lands at Bridge-water to the Lord Daubney, and then he was restored in bloud. From Castle Cary this water passeth by Lites-Carye, to be remembred in respect of the late owner Thomas Lyte, a gentleman as studious in all good knowledge, ‡ and so to Somerton, the Shire towne in times past, as which gave the name thereto. A Castle it had of the West Saxon Kings, which Ethelbald King of Mercia, forcing a breach through the wals, sieged and kept. But now time hath gotten the mastry of it, so as that there is no apperance at all thereof, and the very towne it selfe would have much a doe to keepe that name, were it not for a Faire of oxen of other beasts which is kept there from Palme Sunday untill the mids of June, with much resort of people, for that the countrimen all there about are very great Grasiers, breeders, and feeders of cattaile.

9. No sooner hath Parret entertained this river but he speeds him apace toward a great and populous towne commonly called Bridg-water, and is thought to have taken that name of the bridge and water there, but the old records and evidences gain say this opinion, where in it is alwaies called in plaine words Burghwalter , that, is Walters burgh or Burch-walter , and (as we may very probably conjecture) of that Walter de Duaco or Doway who served under William Conqueror in his wars, and received at his hands many faire mannors in this shire. Neither carieth it any other name in that grant or donation whereby Fulke Paynes Lord of Bampton passed the possession of the place over unto William Briwer to curry favour of him, being so great a man and so gracious a favourite with King Richard the First. This Williams sonne and bearing his name, bettered this haven; having obtained licence of King John to fortify a Castle, built heere a Fortresse, which now time hath wrought her will of, and began a bridge which one Trivet, a gentleman of Cornwall, with infinite cost finished; founded also the Hospitall of S. John heere and Dunkeswell Abbay. But when this William Briwer the yonger left this life without issue, in the partition of his heritage it fell to Margaret his sister, in right of whose daughter that she had by William De la Fort, it came to the house of Cadurci or Chaworthe, and from it hereditarily to the Dukes of Lancaster, as some lands heereabout by an other sister came to Breas, and so by Cantalupe to Lord Zouch. But the greatest honor that this place had was by the title of an Earldome that King Henrie the Eight adorned it withall, what time as he created Henrie Doubeney Earle of Bridg-water, whose sister Cecilie was maried unto John Bourchier, the first Earle of Bath out of that house.

10. Beneath this some few miles off, Parret voideth it selfe into the Severne sea at a wide mouth, which, as we said, Ptolomee called Uzella aestuarium , and some even at this day, Evelmouth, but the old English-Saxons Pedredan muth , at which place, as Marianus mine author writeth, Ealstan Bishop of Shirburne about the yeere of Salvation 845 discomfited the Danish forces as they were stragling abroad. At the same mouth where we saw Honispell, an ancient Manour of the Coganes, men of great fame in the conquest of Ireland, there meeteth it another river called of some Brius, which ariseth out of that great and wide wood in the East-side of this shire, which the Britons named Cort Maur , the Saxons Selwood , that is (by Asserius interpretation), The great wood, but now not so great. This river first visiteth Bruiton, to which he leaveth his name (a place memorable for that the Mohuns there entombed, who built a religious house), ‡ and then entertaining a brooke comming by Rodlinch, a well knowne house of the Fitz-James, ‡ runneth a long way by small villages and, encreased with some other brooks, it watereth goodly grounds untill it meete with softer soile then, and there it maketh certain marshes and meres, and when the waters rise, environeth a large plot of ground, as an Isle, so called of old time in the British tongue the Isle of Avalon, of Appuls; afterwards named Inis Witrin , that is, The Glassy Isle, like as in the Saxon idiome, the same sense Glastn-ey , and in Latin Glasconia . Of which, a Poet of good antiquity writeth thus:

The Apple-Isle and fortunate, folke of the thing so call,
For of it it selfe it bringeth forth corne, forage, fruit and all.
There is no need of country clowns to plough and till the fields,
Nor seene is any husbandry but that which nature yeelds.
Of the owne accord there commeth up corne, grasse and herbs good store,
Whole woods there be that apples beare, if they be prun' d before.

11. ‡ In this Isle, under a great hill rising in great height with a tower thereon, which they call the Tor , ‡ flourished the famous Abbay of Glastenbury, the beginning whereof is very ancient, fetched even from that Joseph of Armithaea who enterred the bodie of Jesus Christ, and whom Philip the Apostle of the Gaules sent into Britaine for to preach Christ. For thus much both the most ancient records and monuments of this Monasterie testifie, and also Patrick the Irish Apostle (who lived there a Monke thirtie yeeres) in an Epistle of his hath left to memorie. Whereupon this place was by our Auncestors named The first land of God, The first land of Saints in England, The beginning and fountaine of all religion in England, The tombe of Saints, The mother of Saints, The Church founded and built by the Lords Disciples . Neither is there any cause why we should much doubt heereof, sithence I have shewed before that the beames of Christian religion in the very infancie of the primitive Church were spred and shined upon this Iland, yea and Freculphus Lexoviensis hath written that the said Philip conducted barbarous nations, neere unto darknesse and bordering just upon the Ocean, to the light of knowledge and port of faith . But to our Monasterie, and that out of Malmesburie his booke touching the matter. When that old Cell or little chapell which Joseph had built by continuance of time was in the end decaied, Devi Bishop of Saint Davids erected a new one in the same place, which also in time falling to ruinne, twelve men comming out of the North part of Britaine repaired it, and lastly King Ina (who founded a schoole in Rome for the training up and instruction of English youth, and to the maintenance thereof, as also for almes to be distributed at Rome, had laid an imposition of Peter-pence upon every house thorowout his realme) having demolished it, built there a very faire and stately Church to Christ, Peter, and Paul, and under the very highest coping thereof round about caused to be written thee verses:

Two mountaines high that reach the stars, two tops of Sion faire
From Libanon two cedar trees their flouring heads doe beare.
Two roiall gates of highest heaven, two lights that men admire,
Paul thundreth with his voice aloft, Peter he flasheth fire.
Of all the Apostles crowned crew, whose raies right glittering bee,
Paul for deepe learning doth excell, Peter for high degree.
The one doth open the hearts of men, the other heaven doore,
For Peter lets those into heaven whom Paul had taught before.
As one by meanes of doctrine shewes the way how heaven to win,
By vertue so of th' others Keys men quickly enter in.
Paul is a plaine and ready way for men to heaven hie,
And Peter is as sure a gate for them to passe thereby.
This is a rocke remaining firme, a Master builder hee.
Twixt these a Church and altar both to please God built we see.
Rejoice, o England, willingly, for Rome doth greet the thee well,
The glorious Apostles light in Glaston now doe dwell.
Two bulwarks strong afront the Foe are rais' d. These towres of faith
In that this this Citie holds, the head even of the world it hath.
These monuments King Ina gave of perfect meere good will
Unto his subjects, whose good deeds remaine and shall doe still.
He with his whole affection in godlinesse did live,
And holy Church to amplifie great riches also give.
Well might he our Melchisedech, a Priest and King, be thought,
For he the true religious worke to full perfection brought.
The lawes in common weale he kept, and state in Court beside,
The onely Prince that prelats grac' d, and them eke rectifide.
And now departed hence to heaven, of right he there doth reigne,
Yet shall the praise of his good deeds with us for ay remaine.

12. In this first age of the primitive Church very holy men, and the Irish especially, applied the service of God in this place diligently, who were maintained with allowances from Kings, and instructed youth in religion and liberall sciences. These men embraced a solitarie life that they might the more quietly studie the scriptures, and by an austere kind of life exercise themselves to the bearing of the crosse. But at length Dunstane, a man of a subtile wit and well experienced, when he had once by an opinion of his singular holinesse and learning wound himselfe into the inward acquaintance of Princes, in stead of these, brought in monks of a later order, called Benedictines, and himselfe first of all others became the Abbat or ruler heere of a great convent of them; who had formerly and afterward gotten at the hands of good and godly Princes a roiall revenue. And having reigned as it were in all affluence 600 yeres (for al their neighbors round about were at their beck), they were by King Henry the Eighth dispossessed and thrust out of all, and this their Monastery, which was growen now to be a prety Citie, environed with a large wall a mile about and replenished with stately buildings, was raced and made even with the ground: and now onely sheweth evidently by the ruines thereof how great and how magnificent a thing it was.

13. Now, I might be thought one of those that in this age have vanities in admiration, if I should tell you of a Walnut tree in the holy Churchyard heere, that never did put forth leave before S. Barnabees feast, and upon that very day was rank and full of leaves, but that is now gone, and a young tree in the place, as also of the Hawthorne in Wiral-park hard by, which upon Christmasday sprouteth forth as well as in May. And yet there be many of good credit, if we may beleeve men of their word, who avouch these things to be most true. But before I returne from hence, I will briefly set downe unto you that which Giraldus Cambrensis, an eie-witnesse of the thing, hath more at large related touching Arthurs Sepulcher in the Churchyard there.

When Henrie the Second King of England tooke knowledge out of the Songs of British Bards, or Rhythmers, how Arthur that most noble Worthy of the Britans, who by his Martial prowesse had many a time daunted the fury of the English-Saxons, lay buried here between two Pyramides or sharpe-headed pillars, hee caused the bodie to be searched for, and scarcely had they digged seven foot deepe into the earth but they lighted upon a Tomb or Grave-stone, on the upper face whereof was fastned a broad Crosse of led grosly wrought: which being taken forth shewed an inscription of letters, and under the said stone almost nine foot deeper was found a Sepulchre of oake made hollow, wherein the bones of that famous Arthur were bestowed, which Inscription or Epitaph, as it was sometime exemplified and drawen out of the first Copie in the Abbey of Glascon, I thought good for the antiquitie of the characters heere to put downe. The letters, being made after a barbarous maner and resembling the Gothish Character, bewray plainly the barbarism of that age, when ignorance (as it were) by fatall destinie bare such sway that there was none to be found by whose writings the renowme of Arthur might be blazed and commended to posteritie, a matter and argument doubtlesse meet to have been handled by the skill and eloquence of some right learned man, who in celebrating the praises of so great a prince might have wonne due commendation also for his own wit. For the most valiant Champian of the British Empire seemeth even, in this behalfe only, unfortunate, that he never met with such a trumpetter as might worthily have sounded out the praise of his valor. But behold the said Crosse and Epitaph therein.

14. Neither will it be impertinent if I annex hereunto what our Countreyman Joseph (a Monke) of Excester, no vulgar and triviall Poet, versified sometime of Arthur in his Poeme Antiocheis , ‡ wherein he described the warres of the Christians for recoverie of the Holy Land, and was there present with King Richard the First, speaking of Britaine.

For famous death and happie birth hence floursh' d next in place,
Arthur the flower of noble Kings, whose acts with lovely grace
Accepted and admired were in peoples mouth and eare
No lesse than if sweet hony they, or pleasant musicke were.
See former Princes, and compare his worth even with them all:
That King in Pella borne, whom we great Alexander call,
The trumpe of fame doth sound aloft. The Roman Stories eke
Much praise and honour both of their Triumphant Caesars speake,
And Hercules exalted is for taming Monsters fell.
But Pine-trees hazels low (as Sunne the Starres) doe farre excell:
Both Greeke and Latine Annals read, no former age his Peere,
Nor future time his match can shew. For this is plaine and cleere,
In goodnesse hee and greatnesse both surmounts Kings all and some,
Better alone than all before, greater than those to come.

And this worthy Knight (that I may note so much also by the way out of Ninnius the Britan, if it be worth the noting) was called Mab-uter , that is, A terrible dreadfull Sonne, because hee was from his childhood cruell; and Artur , which in the British tongue importeth as much as an horrible beare, or an yron mall wherewith the Lions jawes are bruised and broken.

15. Lo here also, if it please you, other monuments of this place, though they bee not of the greatest antiquitie, out of the foresaid William of Malmesburie. That (quoth he) which to all men is altogether unknowen I would gladly relate, if I could picke out the truth: namely, what those sharp pillars or pyramides should meane, which being set distant certaine feet from the old Church, stand in the front and border of the Churchyard. The highest of them, and that which is neerer to the Church than the rest, hath five stories, and carrieth in height six and twentie foot. Which albeit for age it be ready to fall, yet hath it certaine antiquities to bee seen, that plainly may be read, although they cannot so easily bee understood. For in the uppermost storie there is an Image in habit and attire of a Bishop; in the next under it, the statue of a King in in his roiall robes, and these Letters, HER. SEXI. and BLISWERH. In the third, these names likewise, and nothing else, WEMCHESTE. BAMPTOMP. WINEWEGNE. In the fourth, HATE. WULFREDE and EANFLEDE. In the fifth, which is the lowest, a portaict and this writing, LOGVOR. WESLIELAS and BREGDENE. SWELSWES. HWINGENDES. BERNE. The other Pyramis is eighteene foot high and hath foure floores or stories, in which you may read HEDDE Bishop &, BREGORRED & BEORWALDEE. What all this should signifie, I take not upon me rashly to define: but by conjecture I gather that in some hollowed stones within are contained the bones of those whose names are read without. Surely LOGWOR is affirmed for certaine to be the same man of whose name the place was sometime called Logweresbeorgh which now they call Mont-acute. And BEORWALDE sembably was Abbat next after HEMGISELUS.

16. To reckon up here the Kings of the West-Saxons that were buried in this place would be but needless. Howbeit, King Edgar the Peaceable, who alwaies tendred peace, in regard if there were nothing else, I cannot but remember and put downe his Epitaph, not unbeseeming that age where in he lived.

That Well of wealth and scourge of sinne, that honour-giver great,
King Edgar hence is gone to hold in heaven his roiall seat.
This second Salomon that was, law-father, Prince of peace,
In that he wanted warres, the more his glorie had increase.
Churches to God, to Churches Monkes, to Monkes faire Lands he gave,
Downe went in his daies wickedness, and Justice place might have:
A pure crowne for a counterfeit he purchased once for all,
An endlesse Kingdome for a short, a boundlesse for a small.

17. Beneath Glascon three Rivers which there meet doe make a meere, and issuing forth at one little mouth, runne all in one chanell West-ward to Uzella Frith, first by Gedney or (as other will have it) Godney moore, which (they say), signifieth Gods Iland, and was granted to Joseph of Arimathea; then by Wead-moore, a Mannour of King Aelfreds, which by his last Will and Testament hee gave as a legacie to his sonne Edward, and so by that moory or fenny countrey Brentmarsh, that runneth out verie farre, which the Monkes of Glastenburie interpreted to be the Countrey of Fen frogges, like as the little towne Brentknoll there, which signifieth Frog-hill.

From thence Eastward Mendippe hils extend themselves in length and bredth; Leland calleth them Minerarios , that is, the Minerall hils; and rightly (as I suppose), seeing they be in old writings named Muneduppe , for rich they are in lead mines and good to feede cattell. Among these hils there is a cave or denne farre within the ground, wherein are to be seene certaine pits and riverlets, the place they call Ochie-hole, whereof the Inhabitants feine no fewer tales, nor devise lese dotages, than the Italians did of their Sibyls Cave in the mountaine Appeninus. The name (no doubt) grew of ogo , a British world that betokeneth a Den, even as of the like den the Isle Euboea was by such another name sometime called Ocha. Not far hence, in the raigne of King Henrie the Eighth, was turned up with the plough a table of lead somewhat long, ‡ which lay long at Lambith in the Duke of Norfolkes house, ‡ erected sometime for a trophee in token of victorie, with this inscription:


This Tribuneship of Claudius here mentioned fell out to be in the 802 yeere after the foundation of Rome, when Antistius and M. Suillius were Consuls, what time P. Ostorious Governour of Britaine as Vice-Pretour was welcomed thither with many troubles. Out of this time, give me leave, I pray you, to frame certain conjectures. That in this yeere Claudius erected two Trophees or monuments of victorie over the Britans his owne antient coin sheweth as a most certaine witnesse, in the forepart whereof is this plaine Inscription, TI. CLAVD. CAESAR AVG. P. M. TR. P. VIIII IMP. XIIII. P. P., and in the reverse thereof, DE BRITAN., and there is expressely stamped a triumphall Arch with an Image of one gallopping on horsebacke, and with two triumphall pillars. What Britans these were then vanquished Tacitus sheweth, testifying that this yeere Claudius by the conduct of Ostorius subdued two Nations of the Britans this yeere, [sic], to wit, the Iceni and the Cangi. But forasmuch as the Iceni lay (as it were) in another climate, what if I said this trophee was set up in token of victorie over the Cangi, a smaller nation among our Belgae, and that those Cangi were seated in these parts? For not farre from here is the sea that lieth toward Ireland, neere which hee placed the Cangi, of whose name there seemeth as yet in certaine places of this tract some shadow to remain, namely, in Cannington and Cannings, pettie countries and Hundreds, as also in Wincaunton, which elsewhere is called Cangton. But of these matters let the reader be judge; my selfe (as I said) doth no more but conjecture whiles I seeke to trace out these their footsteps, and hope to find them out somewhere else.

18. Among these hils standeth Chuton, which was the habitation (if I take not my markes amisse) of William Bonvill, whom King Henrie the Sixth called by his writ of Summons to the Parliament by the name William de Bonneville and Chuton, among other Barons of the Realme, made him Knight of the Garter, and richly matched his sonne in marriage with the sole daughter of Lord Harington. But when he (unthankfull man that hee was) in the heat of civill warre, revolted, and tooke part with the house of Yorke, as if vengeance had pursued him hard at heeles, that onely sonne of his he saw taken from him by untimely death, and his nephew by the same sonne, Baron of Harrington, slaine at the battell of Wakefield; and immediately after (that his old age might want no kinde of miserie) whiles hee waited still and long looked for better daies, was himself taken prisoner in the second battell of Saint Albans and, having now runne thorow his full time by course of nature, lost his head, leaving behind him for his heire his Grandchilds daughter Cecilie, a Damsell of tender yeeres, who afterwards with a great inheritance was wedded to Thomas Greie, Marquesse Dorset. But his bloud after his death was by authoritie of Parliament restored.

19. Under Mendip his northward there is a little village called Congersburie, so named of one Congar, a man of singular holinesse. Capgrave hath written that hee was the Emperours sonne of Constantinople, who lived there an Eremite. Also Harpestre, a Castle by right of inheritance, fell to the Gornaies, and from them descended to the Ab-Adams, who, as I have read, restored it to the Gornaies again. Southward, not farre from the foresaid hole, where Mendip slopeth downe with a stonie descent, a little citie with an Episcopall Sea is situat beneath at the hill foot, sometime called (as saith Leland), but whence he had it I wot not, Thodorodunum , now Welles, so named of the Springs or Wels which boile and walme [well] up here, like as Susa in Persia, Croia in Dalamatia, and Pagase in Macedonia were named of the like fountaines in their countrey speech, whereupon this also in Latine, is called Fontanensis ecclesia , as one would say, Fountain-Church. For multitudes of Inhabitants, for faire and stately buildings, it may well and truely chalenge the preheminence of all this Province. A goodly Church it hath, and a Colledge founded by King Ina in honour of Saint Andrew, and soone after endowed by Princes and great men with rich livings and revenewes: among whom King Kinewolph by name, in the yeere of our Lord 788, granted unto it verie many places lying thereabout. For in a Charter of his wee read thus, I Kinewulph King of the West-Saxons, for the love of God and (that which is not openly to be spoken) for some vexation of our enemies, those of the Cornish Nation, with the consent of my Bishop and Nobles, will most humbly give and consecrate some parcell of Land to Saint Andrew the Apostle and servant of God, that is to say, as much as commeth to Eleven Hides, neere to the River called Welwe, for the augmentation of that Monasterie which standeth neere the great fountaine that they call Wiclea . This Charter have I set downe both for the antiquitie, and because some have supposed that the place tooke name of this River; verily, nere the Church there is a Spring called Saint Andrews Well, the fairest, deepest, and most plentifull that I have seen, by and by making a swift Brooke. The Church it selfe all thorowout is verie beautifull, but the Frontispiece thereof, in the west end, is a most excellent and goodly peece of worke indeede, for it ariseth up still from the foot to the top of all imagerie, in curious and antike wise wrought of stone carved and embowed right artificially, and the Cloisters adjoyning very faire and spatious.

20. A gorgeous pallace of the Bishops, built in manner of a Castle, fortified with walles and a mote, standeth hard by, Southward, and on the other side faire houses of the Prebendaries. For Seven and Twentie Prebends, with nineteen other pety Prebends, beside a Deane, a Chaunter, a Chancellour, and three Archdeacons, belong to this church. In the time of King Edward the Elder, a Bishops Sea was here placed. For when the Pope had suspended him because the Ecclesiasticall discipline and jurisdiction in these westerne parts of the Realme began openly to decay, then he, knowing himselfe to be a maintainer and Nurse-father of the Church, ordained three new Bishopricks, to wit, of Cridie, Cornwall, and this of Welles, were he made Eadulph the first Bishop. But many yeeres after, when Giso sat Bishop there, Harald Earle of the West-Saxons and of Kent (who gaped so greedily for the goods of the Church) so disquieted and vexed him that he went within a little of quite abolishing the dignitie thereof. But King William the Conquerour, after he had overthrowen Harold, stretched out his helping hand to the succour of banished Giso and reliefe of his afflicted Church. At what time (as witnesseth Domesday booke ) the Bishop held the whole towne in his owne hands, which paid tribute after the proportion of fiftie Hides . Afterwards in the raigne of Henrie the First, Johannes de Villula of Tours in France, being now elected Bishop, translated his Sea to Bathe, since which time the two Seas growing into one, the Bishop beareth the title of both, so that he is called the Bishop of Bathe and Welles. Whereupon the Monkes of Bathe and Canons of Welles entred into a great quarrell and skuffled, as it were, each with the other about the choosing of their Bishops. Mean while, Savanaricus Bishop of Bathe, being also Abbot of Glastenburie, translated the Sea to Glastenburie, and was called Bishop thereof. But when hee died, this title died with him, and the Monkes and Canons aforesaid were at length brought to accord by that Robert who divided the Patrimonie of Welles Church into Prebends, instituting a Deane, Sub-Deane, &. Joceline also, the Bishop about the same time, repaired the Church with new buildings, and within remembrance of our Grandfathers, Raulph of Shrewburie (so some call him) built a verie fine Colledge for the Vicars and singing men fast by the North side of the Church, and walled in the Bishops Palace. But this rich Church was despoiled of many faire possessions in the time of King Edward the Sixt, when England felt all miseries which happen under a child-King. As yee go from the Palace to the market-place of the towne, Thomas Beckington the Bishop built a most beautiful gate, who also adjoyned thereto passing faire houses, all of uniforme height, neere the Market-place, in the middes whereof is to bee seen a Market-place supported with seven Columnes or pillars without, arched over-head right daintily, which William Knight the Bishop and Wolman the Deane founded for the use of people resorting thither to the Market. Thus much of the East-part of the towne. In the west-side thereof I have seene the parish Church of Saint Cuthberts, next unto which standeth an Hospitall, founded by Nicolas Bubwith Bishop, for foure and twentie poore people.

21. Out of those Mendip or Mine-hils springeth the River Frome, which running Eastward by Cole-pits, before it hath held on along course that way, turneth North-ward, and serveth in stead of a bound confining this shire and Glocestershire, and passeth hard under Farley, a Castle not long since of the Lord Hungerfords, situat upon a Rocke, where Humfrey Bohun built sometime a Monkerie, not farre from Philipps Norton, a great Market-towne which tooke the name of a Church consecrate to Saint Philip.

Lower than it Selwood, whereof I spake erewhile, spreadeth long and large: a wood standing well and thick of trees, whereof the country round about adjoining was named (as Ethelward mine author writeth), Selwoodshire, and a towne steeply seated thereby is yet called Frome Selwood, which gaineth very much by the trade of clothing. From which, Westward not full two miles, there sheweth it selfe a Castle (little though it be, yet fine and trim) consisting of foure round Turrets, which, being built by the Delamares and named thereupon Monney de la Mare, from them came by way of inheritance to the Powlets. And not far from thence is Witham, where King Henry the Third erected a Nunnerie, which afterward as the first house and as it were mother of the Cartusianes or Charter-house Monks in England, as Hinton not far of neere Farley Castle was the second.

22. And now by this time Frome, growne bigger by some riveret issuing out of this wood, joineth with the noble river Avon, which, holding on a crooked course, runneth anon to that ancient City which of the hote Bathes Ptolomee called Ὕδατα Θερμά, that is, Hote waters; Antoninus, Aquae Solis , that is, The waters of the Sunne ; the Britaines Yr ennaint Twymin and Caere Badon ; the Saxons Bathancester , Hat Bathan , and of the concourse thether of diseased people Akmanchester , that is, The city of sickly folke; Stephanus nameth it Badiza ; we at this day Bath ; and the Latinists commonly Bathonia . Seated it is low in a plaine, and the same not great, environed round about with hilles almost all of one height, out of which certaine rilles of fresh river waters continually descend into the City, to the great commoditie of the citizens. Within the Citie it selfe there buble and boile up three springs of hote water, of a blewish or sea colour, sending up from them thin vapours and a kind of a strong sent withall, by reason that the water is drilled and strained through veines of Brimstone and a clamy kind of earth called Bitumen. Which springs are very medicinable and of great vertue to cure bodies over-charged and benummed (as it were) with corrupt humors. For by their heat they procure sweat and subdue the rebellious stubbernesse of the said humors. Yet are they not wholesome at all houres: for from eight of the clocke in the forenoone unto three afternoone they are in a manner skalding hote and doe worke, and being thus troubled cast up from the bottom certain filth, during which time they are shut, neither may any bodie goe into them untill by their sluces they clense themselves and rid away that filthinesse. Of these three, The Crosse bath (so called of a crosse standing upright in old time in the mids of it) is of a very mild and temperate warmth, and hath twelve seats of stone about the brink or border thereof, and is enclosed within a wall. The second, distant from this not fully 200 toot, is much hoter: whereupon it is termed Hote Bath. Adjoining to these is a Spittle [hospital] or Lazar house, built by Reginald Bishop of Bath for the reliefe of poore diseased persons. And these two are in the mids of a Street on the West-side of the Citie. The third, which is the greatest and after a sort in the very bosome and heart of the Citie, is called the Kings Bath, neere unto the Cathedrall Church, walled also round about and fitted with 32 seats of arched worke, wherein men and women may sit apart, who when they enter in put upon their bodies linnen garments, and have their guids. Where the said Cathedrall Church now standeth, there was in ancient time, as the report goeth, a temple consecrated to Minerva. Certes, Solinus Polyhistor, speaking (no doubt) of these hot Bathes saith thus, In Britaine there are hot springs very daintily adorned and kept for mens use: the patronesse of which fountaines is the Goddesse Minerva, in whose temple the perpetuall fire never turneth ashes and dead coles, but when the fire beginneth to die, it turnes into round masses of stone. Howbeit Athenaeus writeth that all hot Bathes which naturally breake out of the bowels of the earth are sacred to Hercules. And in very deede, there is to be seene in the walles of this Citie an ancient Image (such as it is) of Hercules grasping in his hand a Snake, among other old monuments by the injurie of time now altogether defaced. But that we may not contented about this matter, let us grant (if it be so thought good) that Bathes were consecrated to Hercules and Minerva jointly. For the Greeks doe write that Pallas first ministred water unto Hercules for to bath him after he had atchieved his labours. For my purpose it shall suffice if I be able to prove by the authority of Solinus (who writeth that Pallas was the Patronesse of these Bathes) this Citie to be the same which the Britans in their tongue called Caer Palladur , that is, the Citie of Pallas-water or Urbs Palladiae Aquae if a man turne it into Latin.For the matter, the name, and signification doe most fitly agree. The finding out of these Bathes our Fables attribute to the King of Britans Bleyden Cloyth, that is, Bleyde the Magician, but with what probability, that I leave to others. Plinie indeed affirmeth that the Britans in old time used the practise of magick with so great ceremonies that it seemed they taught it the Persians; yet dare I not ascribe these Bathes to any art magicall. Some of our writers, when their minds were busied in other matters, report Julius Caesar to have beene the first finder of them. But my opinion is that later it was ere the Romans had knowledge of them, seeing Solinus is the first that hath made mention of them. The English-Saxons about the 44 yeere after their comming into Britain, when they had broken league and covenant, and kindled againe the coles of war which had already beene quenched, besieged this Citie. But when the warlike Arthur came upon them, they took the hill named Mons Badonicus , where, when courageously a long while they had fought it out to the uttermost, a great number of them were slaine. This hill seemeth to be the same which now is called Bannesdowne, over a little village neere this Citie, which they call Bathstone, on which there are banks and a rampire as yet to be seene. Yet some there be, I know, who seeke this hill in Yorkshire. But Gildas may bring them backe againe to this place. For in a manuscript Copie within Cambridge Librarie, where he writeth of the victorie of Aurelius Ambrose, thus we read: Untill that yeere wherein siege was laid to the hill Badonicus, which is not farre from Severne mouth . But in case this may not perswade them, know they that the vale which runneth here along the river Avon is named in British Nant Badon , that is, The Vale of Badon, and where we should seeke for the hill Badonicus but by the Vale Badonica, I cannot hitherto see.

23. Neither durst the Saxons for a long time after set upon this Citie, but left it for a great while to the Britans. Howbeit in the yeere of Christ 577, when Cewalin, King of the West-Saxons, had defeated the Britans at Deorham in Glocestershire, being both streitly besieged and also assaulted, it yeelded at first, and with few yeeres recovering some strength, grew up to great dignity and therewith got a new name, Akmanster , as I said. For Osbrich in the yeere 676 founded a Nunnerie there, and immediately after, when the Mercians had gotten it under them, King Offa built another Church, both which in the time of the Danish broils were overthrowen. Out of these ruins of these two arose afterwards the Church of S. Peter, in which Eadgar surnamed the Peace-maker, being crowned and sacred king, bestowed upon the Citie very many Immunities, the memorie of which thing the Citizens yeerely with Solemne plaies doe yet celebrate. In Edward the Confessors time (as we read in Domes-book of England ), it paid tribute according to 20 Hides, when as the Shire paid. There the King had 64 Burgers and 30 Burgers of others. But this prosperity of theirs endured not long: for soone after the Normans comming in, Robert Mowbray, Nephew to the Bishop of Constance, who had raised no small Sedition against King William Rufus, sacked and burned it. Yet in short space it revived and recovered it selfe by meanes of John de Villula of Tours in France, who being Bishop of Welles, for five hundred marks (as saith William of Malmesburie) purchased this of Citie of King Henrie the First and translated his Episcopall chaire hither, retaining also the title of Bishop of Welles, and for his owne See built a new church. Which being not long since ready to fal, Olivar Bishop of Bathe began to found another hard by that old (a curious and stately peece of worke, I assure you), and almost finished the same. Which if he had performed indeed, it would no doubt have surpassed the most Cathedrall Churches of England. But the untimely death of so magnificent a Bishop, the iniquity and troubles of the time, and the suppression of religious houses ensuing, with the late avarice of some who have craftily conveied the money collected thorowout England for that use another way (if it be true that is reported), have envied it that glorie. But neverthelesse this Citie hath flourished as well by clothing as by reason of usuall concourse thither for health twice every yeere, yea and hath fortified it selfe with walles, wherein there are set certain Antique Images and Roman inscriptions for the proofe of their antiquity, which now by age are so eaten into and worne that they can hardly be read. And that nothing might be wanting to the state and dignity of Bathe, some noble men it hath honored with the title of Earle. For we read that Philibert of Chandew, descended out of Bretaigne in France, was by King Henry the Seventh stiled with this honor. Afterwards, King Henrie the Eighth in the 28 yeere of his reigne created John Bourcher Lord Fitzwarin Earle of Bathe, who died shortly after, leaving by his wife, the sister of H. Haubeney Earle of Bridge-water, John, second Earle of this familie, ‡who by the daughter of George Lord Roos had John Lord Fitz-Warin, who deceased before his father, having by Frances the daughter of Sir Thomas Kitson of Hengrave William, now third Earle of Bathe, who endevoureth to beautifie and adorne his nobility of birth with commendable studies of good letters.‡ The longitude of this Citie is, according to Geographers measure, 20 degrees and 16 minutes, but the latitude 51 degrees and 21 minutes.

24. And now for a farwell, loe heere Nechams verses, such as they be, of these hot waters at Bathe, who lived 400 yeeres since.

Our Baines at Bath with Virgils to compare
For their effects, I dare almost be bold.
For feeble folke and crasie good they are,
For bruis' d, consum' d, far-spent, and very old,
For those likewise whose sicknesse comes of cold.
Nature prevents the painfull skill of man,
Arts worke againe, helps nature what it can.
Men thinke these Baths of ours are made thus hot
By reason of some secret force of fire,
Which under them, as under brazen pot,
Makes more or lesse, as reason doth require,
The waters boile, and walme to our desire.
Such fansies vaine use errors forth to bring.
But what? We know from Brimstone veines they spring.

Have heere also, if you list to read them, two ancient Inscriptions very lately digged up neere the Citie of Waldcot field, hard by the Kings highway side, which Robert Chambers, a studious lover of antiquities, hath translated into his garden, from whence I copied them out:

H. S E.

H. S. E.

I have seen these Antiquities also fastened in the walles on the in-side, betweene the North and West gates, to wit, Hercules bearing his left hand aloft, with a club in his right hand. In the fragment of a stone in great and faire letters,


Then leave folded in, Hercules streining two Snakes. And in a grave or Sepulcher-table, betweene two little images, of which the one holdeth the Horne of Amalthaea, in a worse character which cannot easily be read,

D. M.

A little beneath in the fragment of a stone in greater letters,


Betweene the West and South Gates, Ophiuchus enwrapped with a serpent, two mens heads with curled haire within a cope of the wall, a hare running, and annexed thereto upon a stone in letters standing overthwart,


A naked man laying hand, as it were, upon a souldier, within a battlement also of the wall: two lying along kissing and clipping one another: a footeman with a sword brandishing and bearing out his shield, a footeman with a speare, and upon a stone with letters standing overthwart,


And Medusaes head with heads all Snakes.

25. Along the said river of Avon, which now is neere the bound betweene this shire and Glocestershire, upon the bank Westward we have a sight of Cainham, so named of one [ ], a most devout and holy British virgine, who (as the credulous age before time perswaded many) transformed serpents into stone, because there be found there in Stone quarries such strange works of nature, when she is disposed to disport herselfe. For I have seene a stone brought from hence resembling a serpent, winding round in maner of a wreath, there head whereof being somewhat unperfect bare up in the Circumference thereof, and the end of the taile tooke up the centre within. But most most of these are headlesse. In the fields neere adjoining and other places beside is found percepier , an herbe peculiar unto England. Bitter is in taste, and hath a biting sharpnesse withall: it never groweth above a span high, and commeth up all the yeere long of it selfe: small leavy flowres of a greenish hew it beares, without any stalke at all. Which herbe mightily and speedily provoketh urine, and out of it the distilled water serveth for great use, as P. Paena in his Adversaries or Commentaries of Plants hath noted.

26. Scarse five miles from this place the river Avon passeth thorow the mids of Bristow, in Welsh-British, Caer oder Nant Badon , that is, The Citie Oder in the Vale of Badon . In the Catalogue of ancient Cities, Caer Brito , in Saxon Brightstow , that is, A bright or shining place . But such as have called it Venta Belgarum have deceaved both themselves and others. This Citie, standing partly in Somerset and partly in Glocestershire, is not to be reputed belonging either to this or that, having Magistrates of the owne by it selfe, and being of it selfe entire and a County incorporate. Situate it is somewhat high between Avon and the little river Frome, sufficiently defended with rivers and fortifications together. For environed it was sometime with a double wall. So faire to behold by reason of buildings as well publicke as private, that it is fully correspondent to the name of Brightstow . With common Sewes [sewers] or Sinks (they call them Goutes) so made to run under the ground for the conveiance and washing away of all filth, that for cleanlinesse and holesomenesse a man would not desire more, whereupon there is no use heere of carts; so well furnished with all things necessarie for mans life, so populous and well inhabited withall, that next after London and Yorke it may of all Cities in England justly challenge the chiefe place. For the mutuall entercourse of trafficke and the commodious haven, which admitteth in ships under saile into the very bosome of the Citie, hath drawne people of many countries thither. For the Avon, so often as the Moone declineth downward from the meridian point, and passeth by the opposite line unto it, so swelleth with the tide from the Ocean that it raiseth up the ships there riding and lying in the oze 11 or 12 els afloat in water. And the Citizens themselves are rich Marchants, and trafficke all over Europe, yea, and make Voiages at sea so far as into the most remote parts of America. But when and by whom it was built, it is hard to say. Old it seemeth not to be, for as much as in all those spoiles and sackages that the Danes made, there is no mention of it in our Historians. And verily mine opinion is that it first grew up to some name when the English-Saxons Empire was much declining, seeing that it is no where named before the yeere of our lord 1063, when Harold (as Florentinus of Worcester writeth) embarked himselfe and his armie and put to sea from Bristow to Wales. In the first yeeres of the Normans, Berton, a maner adjoining, and Bristow paid unto the King (as we find in the booke of Domesday ) 110 marks of Silver, and the Burgers said that Bishop G. hath 33 marks, and one marke of Gold. After this, Robert Bishop of Constance, that plotted seditious practises against King William Rufus, chose it for the seat-towne of the whole warre, fortified it, being then but a small Citie, with that inner wall (as I take it), which at this day is in part standing. But a few yeeres after, the circuit thereof was every way enlarged. For on the South Radcliffe, wherein there stood some small houses under the Citie side, is by a stone bridge, with houses on each hand built upon it, more like a street than a bridge, joined to the Citie, enclosed within a wall, and the inhabitants thereof enfranchised Citizens: yea and hospitals in every quarter thereof for the benefit of poore people and faire Parish-churches to the glorie of God were erected. The most beautifull of all which by far is S. Maries of Radcliffe without the walles, into which there is a stately ascent upon many staires: so large withall, so finely and curiously wrought, with an arched roofe over head of stone artificially embowed, a steeple also of an exceeding height, that all the Parish-churches in England which hetherto I have seen, in my judgement it surpasseth many degrees. In it William Cannings, the founder, hath two faire monuments: upon the one lieth his image portraied in an Aldermans robe, for five times hee had beene Major of this Citie; upon the other his image likewise in sacerdotall habite, for that in his old age he tooke the orders of priesthood and was Deane of that Colledge which himselfe instituted at Westburie. There is hard by another Church also, which they call the Temple, the lanterne or towre whereof when the bell rings shaketh to and fro, so as it hath cloven and divided it selfe from the rest of the building, and made such a chinke from the bottome to the top as that it gapeth the bredth of three fingers, and both shutteth and openeth whensoever the bell is rung. And heere I must not overpasse in silence S. Stephens Church, the towre steeple whereof being of a mightie height, one Shipward, alias Barstaple, a Citizen and Merchant, within the memorie of our grandfathers right sumptuously and artificially built. From the East-side also and the North, augmented it was with a number of edifices, enclosed within a wall and fences with the river Frome, which having runne by the wall side gently falleth into the Avon and yeeldeth a dainty harbour for ships, with a wharfe convenient for the shipping and unlading of Merchandise in and out (they call it the Kay). Under which betweene the confuents of Avon and Frome there is a plaine beset round about with trees, yeelding a most pleasant walking space. South-east, where no rivers are to gard it, Robert the base sonne of King Henrie the First, whom they commonly name Robert Rufus, and Consull of Glocester, because he was Earle of Glocester, built a large and strong Castle for the defense of this Citie; and of a pious and devout affection appointed every tenth stone to the building of a Chappell neere unto the Priorie of S. James, which he likewise founded by the Citie side. This Robert had to wife Mabile, the onely daughter and heire of Robert Fitz-Hamon, who held this towne by vassalage in capite of King William Conqueror. This castle was scarsely built when King Stephen besieged it, but with lost labour: for he was compelled to raise his siege and depart, and a few yeeres after was imprisoned in the same, giving thereby a testimonie and proofe how uncertaine the chance of war is. Beyond the river Frome, which hath a bridge over it, at . there riseth an high hill, with a steep and crooked ascent, so as it is painfull to goe up unto it. From whence yee have a most faire and goodly prospect to the Citie and haven underneath. This hill in the very top and pitch thereof spreadeth presently into a large, greene and even plaine, which in the midst is shadowed with a double row and course of trees, and among them stands a pulpit of Stone and a Chapell, wherein (by report) lieth enterred Jordan the companion of Augustine the Englishmens Apostle. Now it is converted to a schoole, and on both sides (to say nothing of the neate and fine houses of private men) beautified it is with publike and stately buildings. Of the one side was a collegiat Church called Gaunts, of the founder one Henrie Gaunt, Knight, who, relinquishing the world, in this place betooke himselfe to the service of God: but now through the bounty of Thomas Carr, a wealthy citizen, converted to the keeping of Orphans. On the other side directly against it stand two Churches dedicated to S. Augustine, the one (which is the lesse) a Parish-church, the other, that is greater, the Bishops Cathedrall Church, endowed with six Prebendaries by King Henrie the Eighth: the greatest part whereof is now destroied, where the Colledge-gate workmanly built carieth in the front this Inscription,

That is,
King Henry the Second and Lord Robert,
the sonne of Harding, the King of Denmarks
sonne, were the first founders of this Monasterie

This Robert, called by the Normans Fitz-Harding, descended of the bloud roiall of Denmarke, was an Alderman of Bristow, of King Henrie the Second so entirely beloved that by his meanes Maurice his sonne maried the daughter of the Lord of Barkley. Whereby his posterity, who flourished in great honor, are unto this day called Barons of Barkley, and some of them have been buried in this Church.

27. From hence, as Avon holdeth his course, there are on ech side very high cliffes by nature set there (as it were) of purpose. The one of them which on the East-side overlooketh the river beareth the name of S. Vincents rock, so full of Diamants that a man may fill whole strikes or bushels of them. These are not so much set by, because they be so plenteous. For in bright and transparent colour they match the Indian Diaments, if they passe them not; in hardnesse onely they are inferior to them, but in that nature herselfe hath framed them with six cornered or foure cornered smooth sides, I thinke them therefore worthy to be had in greater admiration. The other rocke also on the West-side is likewise full of Diamants, which by the wonderfull skill and worke of nature are enclosed as young ones within the bowels of hollow and reddish flints, for heere is the earth of a red colour. When the Avon hath left these rocks behind him, with full chanell at length he disengorgeth himselfe into the Severn-sea.

28. There remaineth now to reckon up the Earles and Dukes of this County. The first Earle of Somerset, by tradition, was William de Mohun or Moion, who may seeme to be the very same whom Maude the Empresse in a charter whereby she created William de Mandevill Earle of Essex, taketh as a witnesse under this name, comes W. de Moion . Neither from that time meete we with any expresse and apparent mention of Earles of Somerset, unless it be in these letters Patents of King Henrie the Third unto Peter de Mawley, which,that I might draw out the judgement of others, I will heere set downe literally. Know yee that we have received the homage of our welbeloved Uncle William Earle of Sarisbury for all the lands that he holdeth of us, and principally for the County or Earldome of Somerset, which we have given unto him with all appurtenances for his homage and service, saving the roialty to our selves: and therefore we will and command you that yee see he have full sesine [possession] of the foresaid Earldome and all the pertinances thereto, and that ye intermeddle not in any thing from henceforth as touching the County or Earledome aforesaid &. And commandement is given to all Earles, Barons, Knights, and Freeholders of the County of Somerset that unto the same Earle they doe fealty and homage, saving their faith and allegeance unto their soveraigne Lord the King, and that from henceforth they be intentive and answerable unto him as their Lord . Whether by these words in the Patent he was Earle of Somerset, as also of Denshire (for of the same William hee wrote likewise in the very same words unto Robert de Courtney) I leave for other man to judge. Under this King Henrie the Third (as we find in a booke written in French which pertaineth to the house of the Mohuns, Knights) it is recorded that Pope Innocentius in a solemne feast ordained Reginald Mohun Earl of Ests (that is, as the author doth interpret if, of Somerset) by delivering unto him a golden consecrated rose, and a yeerely pension to be paied upon the high Altar of S. Pauls in London . So that this Reginald may seeme to have beene not properly an Earle, but an Apostolicall Earle. For so were they termed in those daies who had their creation from the Bishop of Rome (like as they were called Earles Imperiall whom the Emperor invested), and such had power to institute Notaries and Scrobes, to legitimate such as were base borne &., under certaine conditions. A long time after John de Beaufort, the base sonne of John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster by Catharine Swinford, being made legitimate by King Richard the Second, together with his brethren and sister, with consent of the Parlament, was preferred to the honor of Earle of Somerset, and afterwards created Marquesse Dorset; but soone after deprived therof by King Henrie the Fourth, having the title onely of Earle of Somerset left unto him. The said John had three sonnes, Henrie Earle of Somerset, who died in his tender age, John, created by King Henrie the Fifth the first Duke of Somerset, who had one sole daughter named Margeret, mother to King Henrie the Seventh, and Edmund, who succeeded after his brother in the Dukedome: and having been a certaine time Regent of France, being called home and accused for the losse of Normandie, after he had suffred much grievance at the peoples hands in that regard, was in that wofull war betweene the houses of Lancaster and Yorke slaine in the first battaile of S. Albans. Henrie his sonne being placed in his rowme, whiles he served the times siding one while with Yorke and another while with Lancaster, in the Bataile of Exham was by those of the houses of Yorke, taken prisoner, and with the losse of his head paied for his unconstant levity. Edmund his brother succeeded him in his honor, who of this family was the last Duke of Somerset, and when the whole power of the Lancastrians was discomfited at placeName reg="Tewkesbury" cnty="Gloucestershire">Tewkesbury, was forcibly pulled out of the Church into which all embrued with bloud he fled as into a Sanctuary, and then beheaded. Thus all the legitimate males of this familie being dead and gone, first King Henry the Seventh honored with title Edmund his owne sonne, a young child, who shortly departed this world: afterwards King Henrie the Eight did the like for his base sonne named Henry Fitz-Roy. And seeing he had no children, King Edward the Sixth invested Sir Edward de Sancto Mauro, commonly Seimor, with the same honor, who being most power-able, honorable, and loden with titles, for thus went this stile, Duke of Somerset, Earle of Hertford, Vicount Beauchamp, Baron Seimor, Unkle to the King, Governor of the King, Protector of his Realmes, Dominions and subjects, Lieutenant of the forces by land and sea, Lord high Treasurer and Earle Marshall of England, Captaine of the Isles Gerney and Jarsey &. , was suddainly overwhelmed, as it were, by a disport of fortune which never suffereth suddaine over-greatnesse to last long, and for a small crime, and that upon a nice point subtlely devised and packed by his enemies, bereaved both of those dignities and his life withall.

In this county are numbred Parishes 385.

William Camden, Britain, or, a Chorographicall Description of the most flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland (London: George Bishop and John Norton, 1610) Copyright 2004 by Dana F. Sutton. This text was transcribed by Professor Sutton, of the University of California, Irvine, from Philemon Holland's 1610 translation [British Library Short Title Catalogue 4509, Early English Books reel 911:1]. For a full critical edition presenting Camden's original Latin text in parallel with Holland's translation, visit Professor Sutton's site at:


Placename mark-up by Humphrey Southall.

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