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HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT

In 1066 Nettlecombe was held by Godwin, son of Harold. In 1086 the Domesday Survey described it as held by the King for a knight’s fee. It was granted by the King to Hugh de Ralegh in 1160 and the grant of free warren was made to Simon de Ralegh in 1304. In 1440 the then owner, also Simon de Ralegh, died childless, leaving the estate to his nephew, Thomas Whalesborough. Thomas’ son, Edmund, died during his father’s lifetime and the estate descended to Edmund’s sister, Elizabeth, who was married to John Trevelyan of Cornwall. Since 1440, the Trevelyan family has kept a record of the management of the estate, now held in the Somerset Record Office, Taunton. The first mention of a park at Nettlecombe appears in a survey of 1532, recorded as being of 80 acres (about 33 hectares) in a later survey of 1556, and deer were first recorded in 1593. Although deer parks are known to have existed at Nettlecombe since the late 16th century, the first conclusive evidence of a designed landscape appears in an engraving, published in 1787, by W Angus which shows a view from the south-east depicting mature parkland clumps. The park was enlarged with the addition of the Great Park in 1755 and South Park in 1792, in which year Thomas Veitch of Exeter provided estimates for landscaping and the stable block was erected by John Trevelyan. These changes are shown on an estate plan of 1796 which also shows the new parsonage, Combe, built following the removal of the village of Nettlecombe from the valley and enclosed by the church’s glebe land, separating it from the parkland. Further improvements to the estate were made by Sir John Trevelyan from around 1828. The influential garden writer, John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843), visited Nettlecombe in September 1842 and commented on the exploitation of the natural beauty of Nettlecombe in favourable terms (Loudon 1990). The park and woodlands of Nettlecombe Court shown on the OS 1st edition 25" map of 1887 remain largely the same today, although many of the parkland trees have been lost. In 1931 Sir Walter Trevelyan died and left Nettlecombe to his daughter Joan, wife of Garnet Wolsey, a noted artist. Joan died in 1943 and Garnet in 1966, since when the estate has been held in trust by the Wolsey family. In 1963 the Court was used by St Audries School for Girls but since 1967 the estate has been leased to the Leonard Wills Field Centre for ecological study by children and adults. In 1984 the site was recognised as a site of national importance for its lichen interest, being designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1990. Management agreements with English Nature, the Countryside Commission, MAFF, and DEFRA are designed to conserve and enhance Nettlecombe’s historic landscape and its ecological value (Pearson Assocs 1994, 2002).
 

Site timeline

1755: The park was enlarged with the addition of the Great Park.

1792: Thomas Veitch of Exeter provided estimates for landscaping.

1792: The park was enlarged with the addition of the South Park.

After 1828: The pleasure grounds were laid out by Sir John Trevelyan from around 1828.

1842: John Claudius Loudon visited Nettlecombe in September 1842 and commented on the exploitation of the natural beauty of Nettlecombe in favourable terms.

1990: The site was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its lichen interest.

Features

building

Feature created: 1852

Woodford Cottages which were erected for Nettlecombe estate workers.

Designation status: English Heritage Listed Building Designation Grade II

gate lodge

Feature created: 1820

Nettlecombe Lodge.

Designation status: English Heritage Listed Building Designation Grade II

drive

pond

Island Pond.

pond

Orchard Pond.

kitchen garden

Feature created: 1828

Designation status: English Heritage Listed Building Designation Grade II

gateway

stable block

Feature created: 1792

Designation status: English Heritage Listed Building Designation Grade II

garden building

Feature created: 1820

The Garden Cottage.

Designation status: English Heritage Listed Building Designation Grade II

water feature

A stone-edged leat, with a quartz cascade and quartz and millstone bridges, runs through the centre of the pleasure grounds.

spring

gate piers

Feature created: 1790 to 1799

Two stone gate piers, the east of which is surmounted by a lead sculpture of the head and forelegs of a rearing white horse.

grove

The Flagstaff or Jenny's Grove, a small enclosure of mixed exotic trees formerly containing a flagpole.

waterfall