Broad Street Wrington HISTORY
Lords of the Manor of Wrington
by John Gowar

Whatever doubts there may be about the provenance of the Charter of Wrington of 904 AD, it is beyond dispute that the Manor was held by the Abbey of Glastonbury from Saxon times until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Following the brutal execution on Glastonbury Tor in 1539, of the elderly Abbot, Richard Whiting (believed to have been born in Wrington) the monastic lands and all the abbey's possessions passed to the Crown.

The Manor of Wrington was granted soon afterwards to Sir Henry Capell. Some hundred years later, his descendants, who had retained the Manor, were created Earls of Essex. What is less clear is how and why this family, whose main interests were in Hertfordshire and Essex, came to own the West-country estate that they were to keep for almost two centuries.

Sir Henry Capell was born in London in 1505 and died there in 1558. His grandfather, Sir William Capell, had made a considerable fortune as a merchant in London, becoming Mayor in 1503 and again in 1510. The link to this part of England came when his son Giles, Sir Henry's father, married Isabel Newton, co-heiress of the Manor of Ubley. The estate reverted to Henry on her death in 1512 and he appears to have made it his main residence once he came of age in 1526.

In 1546 Sir Henry and his wife Anne received the: Grant in fee … for £1952-1-6¼d of the lordship and manor of Wryngton, Soms., the advowson of the rectory of Wryngton and annexed chapel of Burrington, Soms., and woods (160½ ac) called Littlebarrow, Hurdacres, Kingeswood, Coleclif, Landegrewe, Prestover, Littleover and Blakemore, in Wryngton. (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, 24 Oct 1546)

A tenth part was initially reserved by the Crown but was given to Sir Henry by Queen Mary in 1554.

Sir Henry and his wife were less fortunate in family matters; their nine children all predeceased them. So, in 1558, the estates passed to Sir Henry's younger brother Edward, then to his son Henry, to his son Arthur, to his grandson Arthur (executed 1649), to his son Arthur (1st Earl of Essex, who died in the Tower in 1683), to his son Algenon (2nd Earl of Essex), to his son William (3rd Earl of Essex), who sold the Somerset estates in 1726. But that is another story.

The main sources for this article are:

The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1509 - 1558, S. T. Bindoff (Secker & Warburg, 1982)

Suppression of the Monasteries in the West Country, J. H. Bettey (Alan Sutton, 1989).