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Fairfield House

In the civil parish of Stogursey.
In the historic county of Somerset.
Modern Authority of Somerset.
1974 county of Somerset.
Medieval County of Somerset.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST18764298
Latitude 51.18029° Longitude -3.16373°

Fairfield House has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are masonry footings remains.

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.

Description

Manor House. Medieval in origin, rebuilt late C16, remains of earlier dwelling demolished, finnials removed from facade and parapet added, service area enlarged late C18, alterations by Richard Carver in 1815, restored and re-roofed early C20. Roughcast over rubble, exposed quoins on porch, Bath stone dressings, hipped pantiled roof, parapet with modillon moulded cornice, rendered stacks. 'E'-plan, corridor and kitchen wing added at rear with low flanking wings. 2 storeys with attic and 3 storey central porch, 1:2:1:2:1 bays; segmental headed 2-light dormers in wings with full height canted bays containing 5-light mullioned and transomed windows on both floors, two similar 4-light windows first floor and two 5-light ground floor to left of porch, two full height 5 x 5 light mullioned and transoned windows to right; pyramid roofed porch with pinnacle and 4 flame decorated finials, 3-light casement second floor, 3-light mullioned and transomed first floor, with empty square panel below and ashlar surround with pilasters to 4-centred arch doorway with half glazed double doors, late C18 inner double doors with fanlight. Long 4 bay right return, now entrance front. Interior: remains of late C15 decorated arch braced roof with wind bracing and moulded purlins in attic of left hand wing, 4-centred stone arch with ribbed moulding set off centre in left cross passage wall, both evidence of earlier dwelling. Late C18 plaster friezes in most rooms, coved ceiling to hall. (Listed Building Report)

In autumn 2009, the final season of field work (see PRN 28466) of a five year project was undertaken to investigate the archaeology and landscape history of the grounds of Fairfield House (PRN 30580). There is a documentary reference to a 'fortifying wall and towers,' for which a licence was granted in 1473 (Somerset Record Office DD/AH60/10). This structure is shown on a plan of Stogursey dated to the mid-18th century (Somerset Record Office DP Stogs 23/4).
Excavations on the site of the west wing (in 2005 and 2008, PRNs 24688 and 28673) revealed no trace of the foundations or floors of that structure and it appeared that all physical remains had been removed to facilitate later landscaping and gardening. The line of the south side of the late 15th century fortification was, however, revealed during excavations in 2005, 2006 and 2009). This consisted of a foundation trench 0.80m wide from which all masonry had been removed. The stone from the wall had evidently been re-used in a substantial nearby culvert. This was part of the late 18th century landscaping of the grounds of Fairfield House that created the open, flat parkland of today. To the north-east, demolition of the late medieval structure had been less thorough, and in a trench excavated in 2009, the foundations of the north-east corner of the fortification were revealed, complete with circular tower. The excavations also revealed parts of the external cobbling and sunken roadway that skirted the enclosed area (Brromhead et al 2009). (Somerest HER)

12 Edw. IV. this William {William de Vernai IV} had a licence to build a wall and seven round towers about his mansion-house at Fairfield, and to inclose two hundred acres of ground for a park. (Collison)

William Verney (d. 1489) is said to have had licence c. 1473 to encircle his house at Fairfield with a wall and seven round towers. (S.R.O., D/P/stogs 23/19) The plan of that house is probably incorporated within the present building. Part of the richly decorated, late 15th-century beams of two first-floor rooms survive in the south-west wing, and there is a blocked arch of similar date in the wall between the former screens passage and the dining room. Three of the towers remained in the earlier 18th century on the boundary of a walled court east of the house. (Ibid. DD/AH 23/4 map; 60/10.). (VCH 1992)

A Royal licence to crenellate may have been granted in 1473 (Click on the date for details of this supposed licence.).

Comments

The licence is not enrolled in the various calendars of Chancery records and the references given in other sources appear to be either to Collision or other early historians and not to a primary source. Virtually all licences to crenellate of this date also had licence to empark but the mention of 'seven round towers' is an unusual detail Gatehouse is not aware of in any other licence. Regardless of the existence of a licence to crenellate there is considerable evidence this was a fortified house.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 23/02/2016 10:03:51

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