The Somerset Lloyds - Part 3

Muchelney Parish, its Church and Village

You have now reached the road junction where stand the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, the Priest's House and the 15th century Cross. The road to the south leads to Muchelney Village where the Lloyd (Loyde) ancestors of John Lloyd Symonds lived and worked for at least three generations. The earliest contact is with William Loyde who was my 4xGGFather. He was not only the Parish Carpenter but also the Parish Clerk for Muchelney. He was born around 1751 in Somerset but so far the place of his birth is not known. He died in 1822 aged 70. His son William, born in 1777 as one of eight children to William and Grace nee Taylor, was a carpenter in Muchelney also. William, 3xGGF, married Ann Baulch in 1802 and they had nine children of whom the eldest was Joel Loyde born in 1804.

As with his Grandfather William, Joel became the Muchelney Parish Clerk and Parish Carpenter and eventually a Churchwarden as well. Joel was married at the Muchelney Parish Church to Sarah Gillard of Huish Episcopi, born in Drayton 1813. They had two sons, William and Frederick, and it was William Lloyd born 1836, my GGF, who emigrated to South Australia in 1855 to set up a farm at Armagh just to the west of the town of Clare. Samuel Lloyd, a cousin of Joel, was already established in his farm and vineyard on the south-east side of Clare.

Visits to the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul and to the village of Muchelney will present a view of the places where the Lloyds lived and worked. Joel and Sarah Lloyd lived in one of the cottages in the centre photo and Sarah operated a shop in the village area where Silver Street crosses over the road running to the south from the Church. Joel's uncle Joseph lived in one of the cottages shown in the photo on the right. In this latter land, they had a large carpentry and a blacksmith shop behind the cottage, according to the Tithe Apportionment Map of about 1842.

The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul
at Muchelney
The Village of Muchelney
Silver Street - north side
Joel Lloyd and family
lived in a cottage
about centre of the photo.
Silver Street - south side
Joseph Lloyd and family
lived in a large cottage
with carpentry and blacksmith shops
alongside and behind.

The Parish of Muchelney

The parish of Muchelney lies betwen the converging rivers Yeo and Parrett, a mile and a hlf SSE of Langport which we mentioned in the previous page. These two rivers flood the low-lying countryside around them at times as much of the land lies below the 25 ft. contour. Some slightly higher ground rises from the marsh and these were known as 'islands', three of which are Muchelney (Great Island), Midelney and Thorney, all named in the 11th century. Other smaller 'islands' include Horsey, Nidney or Netney, Isley (the latter two being in Thorney Moor to the south of Muchelney) and the Down, north east of the church. In times of the frequent flooding only are the 'islands' obvious. Apparently, Muchelney was often known as an island rather than a parish until the 17th century.

Muchelney Abbey

Probably as a result of permanent settlement on Muchelney, an Abbey was founded early in the 8th century. The Charter of Kynewulf in 762 A.D. mentions Muchelney Abbey and Edwold its Abbot. The most recent excavations have revealed the Saxon Crypt of the Abbey, all giving strong support to the tradition that the Abbey was founded by King Ine about 697 A.D. By the 16th century, the abbey complex included not only the Abbey Church and the associated buildings but also the desmesne farm barton, the almonry, the parish church and its vicarage, and the 15th century Cross which was moved in 1829-30 to its present position in the meeting of the roads outside the parish church.

At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 A.D., the Benedictine community of Muchelney owned Muchelney, Midelney and Thorney islands, forming part of the demesnes of the Abbey probably from the time of its foundation. In the survey, it was stated that:
The Church of St. Peter of Micelenye has 4 carucates of land which never paid geld in these islands; Michelenie, Midelenie and Torelie. There is demesne and 2 ploughs and 1 arpent of vineyard. There are 4 serfs and 18 bordars with 2 ploughs. There are 1 riding horse and 21 beasts and 6 swine and 30 she-goats. There are two fisheries paying 600 ells, and 25 acres of meadow and 12 acres of woodland and 100 acres of pasture.

It was then worth 3 pounds! When the monks surrendered the monastery early in 1538, they also surrendered their house and possessions and all the land that went with it. The Crown granted the whole property, with the manor, rectory and advowson, to Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and later to become Duke of Somerset. It reverted to the Crown on Seymour's attainder and his execution in 1552.

No part of the abbey church has been left standing though the Abbot's House in the southernmost section of the abbey buildings still exists and remains under the National Trust. The buildings are used these days for art exhibitions and music festivals. Many houses in the village bear witness to their builders' use of the abbey ruins as a stone quarry, as stated in The Victoria History of the Counties of England; County of Somerset. This history is worth reading for the detail not only about Muchelney and its neighbouring town and villages but also for its wonderful coverage of the history of the county as a whole.

[Ref: The Victoria History of the Counties of England; Vol III, Somerset; Oxford University Press 1974]

a, Almonry;
b, Barn;
c, Cross;
d, Priest's House;
e, Parish Church;
f, Monastic Church;
g, Infirmary;
h, Abbot's House

The Remains 1992
of the Abbey Buildings
from the north side.
Foundations of the Abbey
in the foreground

The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul

The Parish Church appears to have been dedicated only to St Peter in 1543, taking its dedication from the Abbey Church. As seen in the site plan, it stands to the north of the Abbey ruins and dates from the early 15th century. That an earlier church stood in the same area is evident from the mention of a Vicar of Muchelney in a 1228 charter.The two-storeyed north porch entrance is balanced on the south side by a 19th century vestry. There is a tower on the west side, seen in the above photograph, and it houses five bells dating to 1626, 1692, 1707, 1847 and 1872, all with known casting manufacturers.

The Church is almost unique in Britain for the waggon roof of its nave which is painted in panels depicting angels (wearing Tudor costume) and cherubs, surrounded by clouds and stars in a firmament with a sun in the centre. The work possibly dates from the early 17th century but the name of the painter is not known.

In the gallery above the vestry is the Barrel Organ, built by Messrs Gray and Davison about 1835-40. It has three barrels and four stops and was in regular use in the Church until 1872. It is still in good condition and can be set to play 25 hymn tunes and 3 double chants.

The Parish Church
of St Peter and St Paul

[Left] Detail in
the Painted Nave Ceiling

[Right] The Barrel Organ
above the Vestry

More information is being prepared about the Muchelney Parish Records and the involvement of Joel Lloyd in Vestry work, first as Parish Carpenter, then as Parish Clerk and finally as a Parish Churchwarden until his death in 1870. As we will see further on, he was much loved and admired by the parishioners.
Meanwhile, if you would like to see who makes up the family tree, you can inspect it in the form of The Descendant Charts.

You can also go on to read about the Muchelney Parish and its Records

Or you can go back to: [Page 1:From Somerset to South Australia] or [Page 2:At the Somerset Record Office] or to [ the Homepage].

The page was constructed in this form by John Lloyd Symonds on 17 May 1997 and modified on 10 November 1997.