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The entrance to St Osmund’s Church, Evershot.

That John Martin was a devout Christian cannot be in doubt and yet it is a surprise to find so little reference to his faith in the diaries. Perhaps the most obvious expression is the fact that, with the exception, of a handful of entries in the early diaries he never worked, although he did travel, on Sunday’s. After the 1810 diary an entry, At home”, almost guarantees the day to be a Sunday.1 His tribute to his wife also points to a man of simple faith, An humble christian a sincere friend, pious without ostentation, charitable without display, “a doer of the word, and not a hearer only””.2

The number of diary entries about religion are limited, but he was a keen supporter of the local Sunday school.

29th October 1838

Gave Mr Eaton towards Church Missionary Society 5s

1st September 1845

Gave towards Fordington New Church 10s

22nd May 1854

Went down to Edwins at the Opening of Shepton Church

23rd May 1854

At Shepton when the Newly repaired Church was opened [our Singers attended] Gave Subscription to Shepton Church £5

16th July 1854

At Home The Revd Mr Ramsay [Preached for Mr Collins] Vicar of Crewkerne a Fine Preacher

29th January 1852

Pd Mr C Jennings Subscription to Sunday School £1

6th January 1861

Pd Subscription Sunday School £1

24th January 1854

Pd Arthur yrs Subscription to Sundays [sic] School £1

His most public religious duty though was in one of the most ancient offices of the realm – the churchwarden. First mentioned in a canon of the Council of London in 1127, the churchwardens were defined in canon law as “the guardians or keepers of the church, and representatives of the body of the parish.” Most parishes had two churchwardens and they were usually nominated and elected at a vestry meeting at Easter. It is known from the Evershot churchwarden records that Martin served, together with William Jennings, from 1828-1829 but the first time that there is a record of his election was not until 1829: “26th March 1829 Examined and allow’d this account and nominated and appointed William Jennings & John Martin as Churchwardens for the year ensuing and ordered 20 Rates to be collected for the service of the next Year.” He would remain a churchwarden until he died, in post, in 1863.

It is difficult for us today to recall the immense power and legal jurisdiction the church once had over a persons life. “The Courts Ecclesiastical were created to deal with questions having reference to the interests of the Church; in process of time it happened—whether by abuse, by accident, or by a mixture of both, I cannot say—that those Courts came to have jurisdiction over matters which cannot, except technically, be described as of an ecclesiastical character”3.By the 19th century the power of the ecclesiastical courts had waned and was generally confined to disciplining wayward parsons, involving themselves in marriage and, via its “Prerogative” court, allowing wills to be proved. Controversially, since they were both judge and jury, they often heard tithe disputes.

Their role was not benign; evidence of Schism, adultery, whoredom, incest, drunkenness, swearing, ribaldry, usury and any other uncleanness and wickedness” had to be reported by the churchwardens to the bishop, they had to hear the recantation of schismatics, report strange preachers in the parish, division between preachers, repel loiterers near the church, keep peace amongst the congregation, report those who refused to have their children baptised and prevent the bells being rung during a service. 4

By Martin’s day most of these duties were an anachronism but one duty remained. Under the Act of Uniformity [1558] Churchwardens had to report non-attenders at church to the church authorities. Cripps 5 noted “that in strictness this part of their duty may still remain, never having been directly repealed or superseded, though it would be inconsistent with the provisions and the spirit of the Toleration Act [1649]”. As late as 1842 Mr Monckton Milnes 6, MP for Pontefract pointed out the iniquity of enforcing this law. One of his constituents, referred to by the singularly appropriate initials JC, had been fined one shilling by the courts. This he might conceivably have paid but they also imposed costs of fourteen shillings, which he could not. He was then imprisoned in a debtors prison during which time he was of course unable to work to pay the fine. He would no doubt have spent the rest of his life in prison had not Milne appealed directly to the Queen for a pardon and he was released after ten weeks. Milne listed several others of his constituents in prison for the same reason.

Any organisation where an office is invested in a succession of individuals faces a problem, for, as all personal rights die with the person; and, as the necessary forms of investing a series of individuals, one after another, with the same identical rights, would be very inconvenient, if not impracticable; it has been found necessary… to constitute artificial persons, who may maintain a perpetual succession, and enjoy a kind of legal immortality.7 It was the Romans who had the answer – the perpetual corporation- because when the officers of an organisation “are consolidated and united into a corporation, they and their successors are then considered as one person in law”.

Many things can be corporations, from organisations comprising many thousands of people to what are known as sole corporations. The monarch is, de jure, a sole corporation as was the village parson. Corporations are of course made up individuals and from the earliest centuries arrangements were made to check that they were performing their duties correctly. The person tasked with this duty was known as the “Visitor”. From the earliest times the clergy were divided into two groups. The first group were known as the ‘regular’ clergy; in essence the monks, friars and nuns who lived in the monastic institutions. Their job was to pray and by and large they disappeared after the dissolution of the monasteries.

The second group were known as the secular clergy and it is they that had the responsibility for the care [cure] of the souls of the laity. At the top of the hierarchy, within the diocese at least, was the bishop and he was said to exercise ‘ordinary jurisdiction’. In any diocese it was the ordinary who was the visitor and he undertook visitations of his clergy. The job was often delegated to the Arch-Deacon and the frequency of visits varied but in Dorset were usually every three years or so.

One problem that the visitor had was how to obtain accurate information and churchwardens were appointed as “the bishop [felt] the need of reliable persons who could be summoned from each parish to give information as to disorders of clergy and people”.8 Due to the unwillingness of churchwardens to present neighbours for ecclesiastical offences” however, the strategy appears to have failed and “From the 1680s some bishops sought to involve the clergy rather than churchwardens in the process, and to make visitations more of an administrative occasion than a judicial one.”

The effect however was not quite as expected as due to ‘their infrequent contact with their bishop made the occasion of visitation rather a social than an ecclesiastical event’. 9 As churchwarden Martin was obliged to attend these visitations,

The Exeter Road The Story of the West of England Highway 1899

Highways and Byways of Dorset, Sir Frederick Treves, Illustrations Joseph Pennell 1906

9th June 1832

Went to Cerne Visitation and came back with Mr J Jesty to Oyleywell for Bacon & Eggs

Expenses at Cerne 1s

8thJune 1838

Went to Cerne Visitation and working on North Poorton Valuation

Paid at Visitation for Parish 15s

10th May 1845

Cerne Visitation

22ndJune 1852

Went to Sherborne Visitation

2nd May 1854

Visitation at Sherborne 10 O Clock

Went to Visitation with Arthur in his Carriage

19th August 1861

Went to Sherborne Visitation

Pd for things Sherborne and Expenses 14s

IN PENCIL Pd McDonalds &c 15s 6d Visitation

Unfortunately we don’t know what Martin reported to the bishop, although it was normal to inquire about any prolonged absence of the parson from the parish, whilst the parson had to produce evidence of his ordination, presentation, institution and any licences he may have had.

The churchwardens accounts that Martin kept have a few entries relating to the visitations, almost all about expenses.

May 3rd 1828

Pd Carriage of Visitation papers 1s


Pd Articles of Inquiry of Parish Register 15s 6d


Pd Expenses at Visitation 10s 6d


Pd Mr Coxwell Expenses at Visitation 10s 6d

The Reverend Charles Smith Coxwell was stipendiary curate at Frome St Quintin and Evershot. Over the years the expenses remained remarkably stable, although the visitation fee steadily rose.


Pd Expenses at Visitation 10s 6d


Pd Mr Coxwell Journey to Visitation 10s 6d


Expenses of Visitation 10s 6d


Fees of Do 16s 11 ½ d


Expenses of Visitation 10s 6d


Fees of Do 16s 11 ½ d


Expenses of Visitation 1862 10s 6d


Visitation Fee 1862 17s 6d


Expenses of Visitation 1863 10s 6d


Visitation Fee 1863 19s 4d

The Exeter Road The Story of the West of England Highway 1899

In times earlier than John Martin’s it was a requirement that the bishop, or his archdeacons if they carried out the visitation, be provided with their food, drink and accommodation. By Martin’s day this had been commuted to a sum of money known as the procuration money. The relatively small amount would seem to indicate that all the parishes clubbed together to put the bishop up.

2nd May 1854

Pd Procuration money for the Year 1854 11s 5 ½ d

22nd October 1854

Reced of Mr Hoskins what I paid Procuration money 11s 5 ½ d

One other ecclesiastical cost is also mentioned which are Pentecostal oblations which he records in 1828 and 1830. Oblations were offerings of the faithful collected during the service, in this case at Pentecost or Whitsun, fifty days after Easter. Again it seems a very moderate amount.

1828, 1830

Pd Pentecostal Oblations 4s 6d

Judging by the Evershot churchwardens records most of Martin’s time was spent paying for the maintenance of the church. According to the Jewish, Levitical tradition of tithing a third part of the tithe was supposed to go towards the repair of the church. The Christian church took a somewhat different view. According to Blackstone whereas it was “admitted that, by the general canon law of the church the repair of the fabric, both chancel and nave fell upon the owner of the tithe ….Somehow the church had persuaded the laity so that “by the custom of the country ie by the common law of England, the repair of the chancel only fell upon the rector and that of the nave, where the parishioners sat, was the duty of the parishioners themselves.”

On occasions the rector managed to escape even this responsibility as recorded in 1855.


Toleman for Keeping Wet out of Chancel £2 7s


Toleman for oiling Church Roof


Thomas Frampton for Mops 2s

Rather oddly the situation has been reversed today, for the liability to maintain some chancels unwittingly falls on those laity who have been unfortunate enough to buy property on ancient rectorial or glebe land. As we will see even in Martin’s day it was unlikely that the parishioners could ever have found the money to pay for substantial repairs without help from the rich, but the day to day running was supported by a church rate. The arrangements to raise this are unclear, Tate noted that there was no statutory duty to pay Church rates and presumably it was a matter of moral rather than legal obligation that caused them to be paid.10 Until 1830 the Churchwardens records appear to indicate that it was raised from a specific number of individuals,

1828 March 24th To Twenty Rates ordered at £1 5s 4d £25 7s 11d

The diaries indicate that at this time he himself was paying rates, albeit a fraction of the £1 5s 4d ordered and it’s not known precisely how the rate was raised.

2nd December 1821

Pd Him [Mr Chubb] Church Rate of 1821 6s 3d

13th June 1827

Pd Church Rates 2s 1d

Collecting a set number of rates [20] is mentioned until 1830 but Martin makes no further mention of paying them himself, until they reappear in the 1845 diary. In 1852 there is note about the rates,

Balance in Hand £47 17 10

Received of Arrears John Groves 1s 3 ¾

Mary Groves 2s 7 ½

John Lake 2s 9 ¾

Arrears of the church rate seem to have been a problem as in 1830 he had to spend a guinea to collect them. The suggestion from this is that more people were paying the rate and it is probable that by the 1840’s people were being assessed in the same way as they were for the Poor Law assessment, a view which is supported by an entry made in 1860,

Examined and allowed at a vestry held the 9th day of April 1860 and appointed and continued Mr John Martin and Mr Arthur Martin to serve the Office of Churchwardens for the year ensuing and Ordered that a rate of 3d in the £ be collected…..

Again it is not clear what the “3d in the £” was raised on. It is possible that the valuation for the poor’s rate was used. Having raised the Church rate it remained to be spent. The parish was responsible for supplying what were known as the “ornaments of the Church”. These had been trimmed down greatly after the accession of Edward VI to the throne. Gone was the liability to provide an antiphon, troper, ordinal, dalmatic, pix, rochet or osculatory, but the list was still long and some of the ornaments are mentioned in the churchwardens returns. Cripps noted it was the duty of the parish to provide a table for the celebration of Holy Communion [silk covered preferably], “a comely and decent pulpit” and a seat for the minister to sit on.


George Edwards for Communion Cloth & Napkins £ 3 6s 0d

The parson had to be supplied with a “decent and comely surplice with sleeves” which sometimes needed running repairs,


Pd Getting Iron Moles out of Surplice 1s


Mrs Perratt for mending Surplice

The church had to be fitted out with a font of stone, “set in the usual places” which, perhaps in anticipation of the later Baptist movement, was the only place to be used for public baptism.

A strong chest with a hole in the top and three locks was needed for the collection of alms for the poor. Fearful of theft or fraud one key each was held by the parson and the two wardens and the alms “quarterly or oftener as need requireth” were taken out of the chest and distributed in the presence of most of the parish, or six of the chief of them, to be truly and faithfully delivered to their most poor and needy neighbours.” Giving alms was a Christian duty, and a “decent basin” had also to be made available to “receive the alms for the poor, and other devotions of the people, whilst the sentences of the offertory are in reading”. 11

The churchwardens had to provide a Communion chalice together with the Communion wine and bread as in these examples,

1828 May

Pd Mr Chubb for Sacramental Wine £1 18s 6d


Mr Chubb for Wine £2 17s 4d


Mr Mullens for Bread


Pd Bread and Wine Bread 0- 3 – 2

Wine 2-16-10

The church had to have a bell [singular] to call the faithful to worship and to toll at funerals. Repair of these was not cheap and in 1855 they needed considerable, expensive attention.


Repair to Bells £4 15 9d

Henry Conway for repairing Bells £5 9 10s


Henry Conway for repairing Bells &c £3 17 2d

The bells were rung at times of national importance, but also at Christmas when the diaries record that Martin gave the ringers a tip. It may be wondered what the Church felt that it should pay for. Even ringing the bell cost money;


Pd Ringing Funeral Bell for King Geo 4th 5s

as did paying a shilling for a public prayer; was he so unpopular a King that nobody would pray free?

In the middle part of the century St Osmund’s gained a choir, which he actively supported,

21st – 24th December 1852

Gave the Singers 4s

Gave the Ringers 2s

3rd October 1854

Gave the Ringers for the Sebastopol [sic] Victory 2s 6d

27th December 1854

Gave Ringers 2s

28th December 1861

Gave Ringers 2/6d

I am pleased to say that although the singers did not receive a tip in 1854 or 1861 they had not yet gone the way of the musicians in Hardy’s “Beneath the Greenwood Tree”, they were still performing in 1854 and 1861, and even had a harmonium to accompany them.

23rd May 1854

At Shepton when the Newly repaired Church was opened [our Singers attended]

24th December 1854

Paid Subscription to Singers £1

April 1854

J Woodford for repairing Church Harmonium £2

23rd December 1861

Pd Annual Singers £1

The costs for maintaining the church continued. The bell ropes were almost as expensive to maintain as the bells themselves and there are two references to them,


John Pouncey for New Bell Ropes £2 8 6d


John Pouncey bill for Bell ropes £3 3 0d

In the days before cremation burial was normal and it was the wardens responsibility to provide a bier to carry the dead from home to the church; later in the century this duty was transferred to the civil authorities as at Child Okeford in 1899 when the parish council minutes report having to buy one.

Of course a bible had to be provided, a provision first instituted by Thomas Cromwell in 1538, as well as the Book of Common Prayer, a list of the commandments and a table of the prohibited degrees of marriage. One wonders how old the books were in 1830 when they were sent to be repaired?


Pd Carriage of Church Books to be repaired 8d

Pd by J Martin 1-12-2

Pd Stationer mending Church Books 9s


Custard12 Yeovil for binding & repair Church Bible 5s 6d

Finally the wardens had to provide a parchment book, wherein shall be written the day and year of every christening, wedding and burial within the parish; and for the safe keeping thereof, the church wardens shall provide one sure coffer with three locks”: this is the eponymous parish chest which gave Tate the title for his book. In this chest were kept important documents such as the parochial copy of the Tithe Commutation and Inclosure awards.

These books were to be Proper books, of vellum or good and durable paper”


Pd for Parchment for Registers 12s


Pd #### & Liturgy Paper 2s

Pd Mr Smith for making Register List 7s 6d

In 1836 The General Register Office was established in London to record all these events but it did not absolve the parish from keeping their own records.

The majority of the churchwarden’s work was concerned with the maintenance of the church itself, the windows seeming to be a particular problem in the early years.

May 8th1828

Pd Mr Bow’s Bill Plumber & Glazier £4 7s 7 ½ d

July 5th

Pd Mr Conways Bill for Carpenters Work £1 10s 4d

Pd Geo Perratts Bill for Masons Work £4 11 6d

Paid Mr Bow another Glaziers Bill 4s

Mr Conways Carpenters Bill £2 9s 8 ¾ d


Richard Roberts for mending Lock2s


Pd Mr Bow’s Bill as Plumber & Glazier £1 19s 6d

Pd Mr Conway’s Bill 14s 9 ½ d

Pd Blacksmiths Bill 10s 10 ¼ d

Pd Masons Bill £5 12s 1 ¼ d

Pd Mr Bows Bill mending lead on Church &c £3 8s 8d

Pd Joseph Pullman Blacksmith 2s 2d

In the absence of gas or electricity the only lighting available was that from candles, at topic to which we will return later,


Pd Mr Guppy for Matting & Butts £1 2s 6d

Pd for Candles for Church 1827 15s 4d

Do Do 1828 £1 10s 3 ½ d


Pd Mr Harman for Sockets for Candles £3 15s 4d


Pd for Candles for Evening Service £1 16s 4d


John Chubb for Candles £1 19s 6d

Burial fees are not recorded in the churchwardens accounts as they were usually claimed by the parish clerk but there were inevitably some costs associated with the churchyard.


Paid John Hembury for Lime 8s

Pd John Tompkins removing earth in C Yard 16s 6d


Paid Churchwardens Salary £1 1s


Thomas Brett Bill for Clerkship &c £5 5s 6d


Pd Thomas Brett for Clerkship &c £5 11s


Richard Roberts one years Clerkship £7 7s 6d

The role of Parish Clerk dates back to the time of Archbishop Boniface in the 13th century.  The profits of certain religious fees [benefices] were used so “that poor clerks in the schools might be maintained with the profits thereof, until they were by improvement qualified for something greater”. Being in receipt of religious fees it was natural that the clerks in the early centuries were themselves in holy orders and the question then arose as to who should have the right to appoint the clerk, the rector or the parishioners. As is so often the case the matter was decided by the custom of the parish, and by Martin’s time the clerk did not have to be in holy orders but the individual had to be: “of the age of twenty-one at the least; known to the parson, vicar or minister to be of honest conversation, and sufficient for his reading, writing, and also for his competent skill in singing, if it may be”. The functions of the clerk are rather vague. He assisted at the church services and led the responses and probably acted as secretary to the rector or vicar. In some parishes his job was combined with that of Sexton and he actually dug the graves. From 1844 the clerk, if in holy orders and possessing a licence from the ordinary, could deputise for the rector if he was absent.

Originally the church at Evershot was a chapelry, that is to say a church built within the bounds of a parish for those who could not attend the main parish church, which in the case of Evershot was at Frome St Quintin. The original building had dated back to the time of Richard 1st and little had been done to the structure until 1765 when the chancel had been rebuilt. It appears that Joseph Crew Jennings had long deplored the dilapidated state of the church and had employed an architect to conduct a survey. In the words of the Faculty13 issued in 1852 the “survey and report of an experienced architect” had found St Osmund’s to be in a “state of general decay” with insufficient accommodation for the Inhabitants. The new church was to have seats for four hundred people all of which were to be “free and unappropriated”. A reference to the fact that in many parishes one of the churchwardens duties was to arrange the seating with the best seats being reserved for those prepared to pay. There is no evidence of this practice in Evershot.

The architect costed the repairs of the church as £350 but there would be no increase in the accommodation for the parish. Luckily the architect had drawn up plans for a new church and at a vestry meeting sometime in early 1852, Crew Jennings undertook to bear the costs of rebuilding the church himself if the parish would bear the cost of £350. He put down an immediate deposit of £400 which was subsequently matched by the Earl of Ilchester, William Jennings and his brother John bringing the total to nearly £1500. The next stage was to approach the Diocese of Sarum [Salisbury] to obtain the faculty and licence for building to commence and this was granted on the 24th June 1852. The faculty names John Martin and Joseph Crew Jennings and required them to pin a copy to the church door as well as citing and admonishing them to appear before the ecclesiastical court in the Cathedral church of Sarum on the 30th of June were there any objections to the proposed redevelopment. It also authorised them to proceed if there were no such objections. As no objections were forthcoming and as tenders had already been invited for the work the following notice was pinned to the church door on the 26th June.

“The Committee appointed for carrying out the repairs and enlargement of the Church will meet at The Acorn Inn Evershot on Monday the 26th instant at seven o’Clock in the Evening for the purpose of considering the Tenders received from various persons willing to perform the necessary Works

John Martin

Joseph Crew Jennings

26th June 1852

Things moved very quickly, on the 5th August 1852 Messrs. Chick of Beaminster started taking down the body of the church and on the 23rd of August William Jennings laid the first stone. Martin recorded the expenses of obtaining the faculty:

Expenses in the Business of granting a license and Faculty to take down and rebuild on the same Site [with the exception of the Chancel] the Church or Chapel of Evershot in the County of Dorset and Diocese of Sarum

1852 June

Drawing fair copying and engrossing Petition for Faculty



Exhibiting same to Judge and preparing Proclamation



Drawing fair copying and engrossing Proclamations for Faculty to Copy for Publication and Stamp




Seal Fees to Judge and Registrar



Officiators Journey to Evershot to publish Proclamation and Expenses



Interloculatory Decree of Faculty


Drawing fair copying and engrossing Faculty to 23rd



Seal Fees to Judge and Registrar thereon



Paid for Stamp and Parchment



Registering Faculty and collating same



Term Fee [10/-] remitted

Attendances Letters and Postages






The work was completed very quickly despite the contractors having to combat a year of bad weather and the church reopened on Wednesday 1st June 1853. The press coverage was extensive and on the whole very complimentary but there is a note of discord. The Rector, the Rev Henry Hoskins had given permission for the redevelopment of the chancel as well as the nave belfry and so on. However he had imposed conditions that “the committee who were entrusted carrying out the works did not feel justified in appropriating the funds placed in their hands to a work so foreign to the intentions of the donors.” One can only speculate as to the cause of this disagreement but for the Rector to fall out with the principle landowners and sponsors in the parish it must have been a heck of a bust up. Part of the problem may have been that Hoskins was not resident in the parish, he lived in North Perrott, Somerset where he was also rector. The cure of souls in the parish was undertaken by Edward Collins who at the time was a stipendiary curate but later became rector of the parish.

The review of the reporter attending the opening is even more astonishing in its criticism for the chancel “unfortunately remains in its former state devoid of the slightest pretensions to architectural beauty, disfigured by two deal panelled pews totally at variance in every particular with the nave and aisles forming an eyesore to the new building.”

Not only was the chancel an eyesore it will be recalled that it also leaked,


Toleman for Keeping Wet out of Chancel £2 7s


Toleman for oiling Church Roof

Leaving aside the chancel the remainder of the church was designed to have the “appearance of the early part of the fifteenth century” and to enhance the overall effect a new clock “by Dent of London, the additional gift of the Earl of Ilchester” was fitted to the tower which was of “medieval design, gilt and particoloured”.

The Earl himself came down from London to attend the opening by the Venerable the Archdeacon Buckle. It must have been a splendid celebration, for all the local rectors and vicars attended, together with the workmen who had carried out the work, the village choir, one hundred and fifty Sunday school scholars and the villagers. A new harmonium was brought up from Weymouth by a Mr Beale who played a “soft voluntary” whilst the procession was taking place and we are told the Archdeacon preached a most eloquent and appropriate sermon. The collection totalled £26 17s.

The reporter was especially keen to mention Mr Shout the architect, who was praised for his “skill and correct judgement”, the builders Messrs Chick and son who “completed their contract with the same satisfaction…invariably felt by those who have employed them in similar works” and he could not “refrain from noticing the exquisite manner in which the ornamental hinges lock plates handles and other iron work were produced” by Mr Pullman the local blacksmith. It is also interesting to note that Mr Eastham, “the talented artist now sojourning at Yeovil” had taken “several very beautiful photographic views” of the church presumably using the newly invented collodian method.

Some of Robert Pullman’s metalwork.

Finally he felt “it would be an act of injustice to the choir and their instructor and to Mr A Martin, a gentleman resident in the village” not to mention them for evincing….an amount of musical skill not often to be met with in country towns and far more seldom in country villages.” No matter how good Messrs Chick and Son’s work was, there were an amount of ‘snaggings’ to be corrected as shown by the entries in the churchwardens accounts for the subsequent years.

April 1854

J Woodford for repairing Church Harmonium £2

Do Repair to Bells£4 15 9d

John G### Mason Repairing Church Clock and cleaning out Lead Gutters 15s 6d

George Mullins putting Zinc to Clock Cars [sic] &c 7s 3d

Repairing and readjusting Church Clock Hancock & Cox £10 10s

Henry Conway for repairing Bells £5 9s 10d

Toleman for Keeping Wet out of Chancel £2 7s

There were a number of other minor costs to be borne


Hannam & Gillett Charcoal Stone and Charcoal for Church 16s 6d

Thos Frampton for Brushes &c 14s 8d

Ryall for Oil Dust Pan &c 4s 3d

John Penny advertising reopening Evershot Church 7s



The Earl of Ilchester’s clock?

One question is answered from these accounts, a report in 1852 noted that during the rebuilding “the services of the Church are to be performed in a building within the chapelry which has been licensed for that purpose”.

Licence for preaching in Barn



It now appears that the building was a barn and it was not entirely to everyone’s satisfaction. In November 1852 an anonymous inhabitant wrote to the Dorset County Chronicle bemoaning the inconvenience caused during the Sunday evening service “in consequence of no lights being provided for the congregation”. Having experienced winter evensongs as a child in another parish one can empathise with the correspondent. Such services at their best were bleak and it appears that in Evershot “The congregation and strangers likewise must bring their own lights with them if they contemplate taking part in the service otherwise they must remain in darkness.” It is a delightful letter and one can imagine the writer suffering for as he said “it is most unseemly to undergo the ordeal of lighting and fixing you candle before you can take your seat and operation that scarcely leaves the hands in a fit state to turn over the pages of the bible or Book of Common Prayer.”

It is not known how John Martin responded as one of the churchwardens “bound to see this matter remedied.”

1854 saw the opening of Crewkerne church which Messrs Chick had also built but although he notes the fact he appears not to have gone to it,

20th September 1854

IN PENCIL The New Church at Crewkerne Consecrated

At Home on Various matters Went to Ransom

In 1858 the Dorset County Chronicle reported that at the Easter Vestry a church rate of 3d in the pound was granted and that the churchwardens had been re-elected. Unfortunately they got John Martins initial wrong referring to him as F Martin which rather spoiled the effect. Arthur’s initial they got right for he was the other warden. They also noted that it was the thirty third year that the former gentleman [John] had occupied the post and this too was probably wrong as there is no record of him being a warden before 1828.

As a rather curious aside the article also noted that the medical officer of the district, J J Clapcott Esq had recommended the purchase of a bath for the use of the poorer inhabitants and that the vestry had agreed.

Apart from the death of his own family members the most mournful ceremony Martin had to perform was to attend the funeral of the Earl of Ilchester. On the 28th December 1857 the Earl of Ilchester was taken dramatically and severely ill. He continued ill on the Tuesday and on the Wednesday “the early express train from Dorchester” was stopped specially in order to enable a Dorchester physician, Dr Cowdell together with “a London medical gentleman” to get out and attend the Earl. They found he was in a precarious state. In the event he died on the 3rd January 1858. His funeral took place on Saturday 9th January at Melbury Sampford and John and Arthur attended as Churchwardens. Interestingly so too did the local solicitor C H Baskett but also did J P Fitzgerald, the young apprentice that Martin had trained and who is mentioned in the 1841 census. The body had been kept at Melbury House and it was a short distance [70 yards] to the church. The procession was formed in the following order as the Poole and South Western Herald put it,

The feathers14

Dr Cowdell J.J Clapcott Esq

[the deceased’s medical attendants]

A Martin Esq J Martin Esq

C H Basket Esq J P Fitzgerald Esq

Mr George Edwards of Yeovil and Messrs Dingley of Sherborne [the undertaker]


The Mourners.

The Earl of Ilchester, the Hon John Charles Fox Strangways

Earl Digby Sir Edward Kerrison Bart

The Rev. Henry Strangways and several other near relatives of the deceased.

Martin did not act as pall bearer but he and Arthur and Fitz acted as stewards.  The next major event took place in 1861 when the churchyard was extended.

25th May 1861

At Home Addition to Evershot Church Yard consecrated by the Bishop of Salisbury Mr Hoskins Rector Mr Collins Curate John Martin & Arthur Martin Churchwardens

The land had been donated by the new Earl of Ilchester and the expenses associated with the extension were recorded,

Paid Messrs Macdonald and Broderick’s Bill for consecration of New Burial Ground




Mr Baskett for Conveyance of same to the parish officers




R Barmwell Plumber




Wm Holderness [Melbury Yard Bill]



James Roberts Clerks Fee &c




Ditto Smiths Bill



5 ½

Again there were numerous dignitaries in attendance including the Earl although due to poor weather not as many people as were expected actually turned up. Once again Arthur took the lead presenting the conveyance of the land to the bishop who in turned passed it on to his registrar.

After thirty five years as ChurchwardenJohn Martin died in post, the final entry in their accounts records his successor,

” John Martin and Arthur Martin Churchwardens from Easter 1863 to Easter 1864

Examined and allowed at a Vestry the 31st day of March 1864. Arthur Martin was continued and Henry Guppy was appointed to serve the Office of Churchwardens for the year ensuing….”

In Memoriam

Some ten years after the church had been rebuilt the chancel was rebuilt, by “the munificence principally of Lord Ilchester, Mrs W[illiam] Jennings, and Mr A Martin.” The reporter approved the new chancel but commented that “until the intended beautiful glass window in the eastern end of the chancel now being executed by Mr Hardman of Birmingham is fixed the beauty of the recent addition will not be seen in its full force.”

After the religious ceremonies were complete “a large party of the clergy including the Lord Bishop and laity with a fair proportion of ladies assembled at the residence of Mr Martin and partook of luncheon”. Various toasts were proposed including one to Arthur who in turn proposed the health of the architect, Mr Shout who had planned the rebuilding of the nave. However perhaps demonstrating how the world had changed Mr Shout was prevented from responding; he had already left in order to catch the last train.

Two of the chancel windows that had not yet been fitted at the time of consecration were paid for by Arthur. When they were fitted is not known. The first is in the northern wall of the chancel.

North wall

Window in the North Wall of the Chancel.

Despite the consecration of the chancel, 1863 was an annus horribilis for Arthur for not only did he lose his father in April but he lost his brother’s only surviving child in December. At the bottom of the window the following inscription is found “To the Glory of God and in memory of Augusta Mary Martin daughter of Edwin Jennings Martin Born Feb 22nd 1849 Died Dec 31st 1863 this window is erected by the loving wish of her Uncle Arthur Martin”.


incription 1

incription 2

incription 3

To the Glory of God and in memory of Augusta Mary Martin daughter of Edwin Jennings Martin Born Feb 22nd 1849 Died Dec 31st 1863 this window is erected by the loving wish of her Uncle Arthur Martin

Hutchins says the following of the principal window of the church in the East wall: “The cast window is filled with stained glass representing the Crucifixion”

East window

The East window

He further goes on to note; “at the bottom is this inscription: To the glory of God and the beloved memory of John Martin who died April 14th AD 1863; and Mary his wife, who died May 11th AD 1838. This window is dedicated by their son Arthur Martin.” Sadly the inscription has faded beyond all recognition and is in any case obscured by a reredos.

Church exterior

St Osmund’s church Evershot as rebuilt by Joseph Crew Jennings, Susannah Jennings, John Martin, and Arthur Martin.

Martin was buried in the churchyard, reunited with his wife. An inscription, which cannot be photographed adequately, reads “In Memory of John Martin who died 14th April 1863 and to Mary his wife died 11th May 1838”.

Church grave

Church grave 2

Two other memorials are to be found in St Osmund’s, the first is to William Jennings Jnr, cousin and long term friend of John Martin. It was erected by Susanna Jennings, who sponsored the rebuilding of the chancel.

Wm Jennings













The second is a monument to the children of Joseph Crew Jennings although by whom is not known. Interestingly not included on the monument are the two daughters who took legal action to prevent the son of Joseph Crew Jennings [Charles Chamberlain] getting, a legacy.

Joseph Crew Jennings

Joseph Crew Jennings of Evershot Solicitor ob. 23 March 1854 aet 45

Thomas Robert Jennings of the same place Solicitor,

ob. At Hursling Hants March 21 1853 aet 35

William John Jennings ob 23 August 1854 aet:19

Mary Anne Jennings ob: 2 September 1835. aet 13

All Children of John Jennings formerly of Evershot

and Anne his Wife”

1 In the later diaries he is often at home on other days but takes care to distinguish them by “At home on Various matters”.

2 Dorset County Chronicle 17th May 1838

3 Robert Rolfe Lord Chancellor 1857 quoted in Hansard 1857 vol 144

4 H W Cripps A Practical Treatise on the laws relating to the Church and the Clergy 1845

5 H W Cripps ibid

6 Hansard 11th February 1842 vol 60

11 A Practical Treatise on the laws relating to the Church and the Clergy H W Cripps 1845

12 Mr Custard was a stationer in Yeovil.

13 The permissive right granted by the Bishop of the Diocese to undertake works to a church building.

14 The coffin had been surrounded by ‘Sable Plumes’ in the house.

7 Blackstone ibid

8 The Parish Chest W E Tate 3rd Ed 1983

9 W. J.Sheils, ‘Bishops and their dioceses: reform of visitation in the Anglican church c.1680–c.1760’, CCEd Online Journal 1, 2007

10 He also noted that in pre-reformation times the church was able to brew their own beer for sale and even had a stock of jewellry that could be loaned out to brides on their wedding day.