Medieval and Tudor History

Medieval and Tudor History

The foundations of the village of East Harptree stretch back to at least the early medieval period, with the nearby Norman Richmont Castle and traces remaining in the church.

King John found Harptree was a convenient stopping off place between Wells and Bristol and stayed, probably at Richmont Castle during September of 1205 and 1207 with his supporter, William Fitz John, the Lord of the Manor and son of the man who famously lost the Castle to Stephen in 1138. It was also important for the King to see, and be seen, among his dwindling band of followers to maintain their support.

After he had dealt with the necessary official business of signing instructions to his officials, he was free to indulge in his favourite sport of hunting in the Forest of Mendip.

Sybilla de Gournay, daughter of Hugh de Vivonia and wife of Anselm de Gournay (Lord of Harptree who died 1286), dropped her silver seal somewhere on the manor. The front is engraved with the figure of a lady of high rank holding a hawk. It was not found until early in the 19th century by Daniel Gurney. It resurfaced again in early 2015, being sold at auction for about £14,000.

A survey of the roof timbers of the western section of the Waldegrave Arms, East Harptree has shown it to be a much older building than previously thought. It has now been dated to the late 15th century when it was the village’s Church House. This was where village celebrations and meetings took place in a large open upstairs room with the Church ales brewed downstairs.

Our Heritage and History