‘Kyngton’ 1517, Jean Martin


In the early 16th century Richard Beere, Abbot of Glastonbury, commissioned a survey of the Abbey’s estates. The Abbey’s ‘Kyngton’ estate consisted of some 2,500 acres in the ecclesiastical parish of Kington St Michael, which at the time included Kington Langley with detached areas at Peckingell and Allington. The Survey contained the names of the Abbey’s customary tenants together with a detailed listing of their landholdings.

Richard Snell was the Abbey’s reeve and Farmer, holding the Lordship Court consisting of a hall chamber, kitchen, the Lord’s barn, a dovecote and croft; and he farmed 200 acres of arable and meadow, 400 acres of woodland at Haywode, and 310 acres at Langleyheth for the Abbey. Snell also held land as a customary tenant, both in Kyngton, at Skydmores, and Langley; and supervised 35 tenants with lands in either Langley or Kyngton, the most affluent of whom were William Torney who held Cleypitte, Robert Bell and Isabella Russell of Kyngton; and John Tanner, William Necke, Robert Colchester and Thomas Coke of Langley. All had additional agricultural resources of either arable land, meadow, pasture or small enclosures. The men of Kyngton also paid for common rights in haywode for their cattle and draught animals and also for pannage. Overall the Survey indicates that Langley was the more prosperous of the two settlements.

John Aubrey’s sketch of Kington St. Michael church

John Aubrey’s sketch of Kington St. Michael church

The ‘Kyngton’ estate was divided into three entities; at Peckingell two tenants shared two small fields, meadow and pasture. Kyngton had a three-field system, Langley, two; and fields were divided into furlongs of half-acre strips. Settlement field systems may have overlapped at the centre, as some furlong names appear in more than one Field. The general layout of the open fields can be deduced by using the 1842 Tithe Map, although many furlong names have been supplanted due to later enclosures and renaming. However, it is possible to obtain hints of earlier settlement patterns from names such as ‘La Worthy’, ‘Odgarston’, ‘Burymede’, ‘Blakelond’, ground conditions and vegetation, Blakebusshe, Horteway, Furze, or topography Byddelyate, Henley Rawell, although ‘Chestell’ dedmanfurl’ defy location, and Jacobesslade, and Mauneshull analysis.

The Abbey also had four ‘Free’ tenants in Kyngton, John Saunders, Thomas Tropenell, the Abbot of Malmesbury, and the Prioress of Kington, all made small payments for tenements or messuages on the monastery’s land. Glastonbury Abbey was dissolved in 1539, and the estate was purchased by Nicholas Snell, son of Richard. A little over a century later, when his descendant Charles Snell died in 1651, the estate was divided between Charles’ three sisters and their heirs, passing into the Sadler, Coleman, Stokes and Gastnell families.