Place:South Petherton, Somerset, England

NameSouth Petherton
Alt namesCompton Durvillesource: hamlet in parish
Lower Strattonsource: hamlet in parish
Over Strattonsource: village in parish
Yeabridgesource: hamlet in parish
TypeAncient parish, Civil parish
Coordinates50.967°N 2.817°W
Located inSomerset, England
See alsoSouth Petherton Hundred, Somerset, Englandhundred in which it was located
Yeovil Rural, Somerset, Englandrural district 1894-1974
South Somerset District, Somerset, Englandnon-metropolitan district covering the area since 1974
the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

South Petherton (#30 on map) is a civil parish and a small country town on the River Parrett in Somerset, England. It is located 5 miles (8 km) east of Ilminster and 5 miles (8 km) northwest of Crewkerne. The parish includes the village of Over Stratton and the hamlets of Lower Stratton, Yeabridge and Compton Durville, and is approximately 2 miles (3 km) from East Lambrook in Kingsbury Episcopi parish, Martock and Lopen. It had a population of 3,367 in the UK census of 2011, but a 2019 estimate shows an increase to nearly 4,500.

It is distinctive for the traditional hamstone construction of many of its buildings. In 2005 South Petherton was awarded "Somerset Village of the Year" in a national competition. Historically South Petherton was a market town, but these days is regarded to be a small town with many of its ancient functions having ended by around 1870.

Image:Yeovil Rural 1900 small.png


A large royal estate of South Petherton was created before 1066 and the Saxon settlement, "Sudperetone" (the southern tun on the Parrett), included a minster church, a royal palace and a short-lived 11th century mint. Most of the royal estate passed directly to William the Conqueror and was still a possession of the Crown in 1086. Part of the estate was also held by Bruton Abbey from the 12th century until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, then becoming known as the manor of Hele. In 1213 a royal warrant by King John was granted for a market and fair, but by 1243 the main manor had been granted away from the Crown under Henry II and by 1243 South Petherton manor was owned outright by the Daubeney family, who continued to hold it until the late 15th century, the family dying out after Henry Daubeney acquired the earldom of Bridgwater and then failed to produce an heir to succeed him.

The manor reverted to the Crown in 1553, before passing into the ownership of Charles Arundell (d. 1587), who left it to his brother Matthew Arundell, in whose family it remained until 1792, when it was sold to John Baker Edmonds. Edmonds also acquired the rectory estate of South Petherton (known also as the manor of Hele), which had had a complicated history of ownership, including purchase in 1753 by Henry Hele, a successful physician from Salisbury.

Another estate (known as the Manor of Wigborough) was shared by members of the Brome Family from 1581 to 1615, when it passed to the family of Hele of Flete (unconnected to the Henry Hele referred to above) who held it for most of the 17th century.

During the English Civil War troops from both sides occupied the town during 1644 and 1645. The town also had a role in the Monmouth rebellion of 1680 and two townsmen were among those who prosecuted in the Bloody Assizes.

It was recently discovered that South Petherton was, during the 17th century, one of the main centres of bronze cauldron and skillet production. These cooking vessels were used all over the British Isles.


South Petherton was originally a parish in the South Petherton Hundred, one of the hundreds or early subdivisions of the county of Somerset. From 1894 until 1974 it was part of the Yeovil Rural District.

In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, all urban and rural districts across England were abolished and counties were reorganized into metropolitan and non-metropolitan districts. South Petherton joined the non-metropolitan South Somerset District which covers the southeast corner of Somerset.

Research Tips

  • GENUKI page on South Petherton.
  • An article on South Petherton from the Victoria History of the Counties of England – History of the County of Somerset, produced by The Institute of Historical Research.
  • The Somerset Heritage Centre (incorporating what was formerly the Somerset Record Office and the Somerset Local Studies Library) can be found at its new location at Langford Mead in Taunton. It has an online search facility leading to pages of interest, including maps from the First and Second Ordnance Survey (select "Maps and Postcards" from the list at the left, then enter the parish in the search box).
    The Heritage Centre has an email address:
  • Three maps on the A Vision of Britain through Time website illustrate the changes in political boundaries over the period 1830-1945. All have expanding scales and on the second and third this facility is sufficient that individual parishes can be inspected.
  • Somerset Hundreds as drawn in 1832. This map was prepared before The Great Reform Act of that year. Note the polling places and representation of the various parts of the county.
  • Somerset in 1900, an Ordnance Survey map showing rural districts, the boundaries of the larger towns, the smaller civil parishes of the time, and some hamlets and villages in each parish
  • Somerset in 1943, an Ordnance Survey map showing the rural districts after the changes to their structure in the 1930s