This description of Nunney, Somerset in 1891 was published in Somersetshire, part of the County Topographies series edited by E.R. Kelly.
NUNNEY is a parish and village, 120 miles from London, and 3½ west-south-west from Frome railway station, in the Eastern division of the county, Frome hundred, union, and county court district, rural deanery of Frome, Wells archdeaconry, and diocese of Bath and Wells, situated on a small stream that joins the river Frome.
The church of St. Peter is an ancient stone building, in the Early English style: it has a chancel, nave, aisles, transepts, and octangular embattled tower with clock and 6 bells: the north transept was formerly the burial-place of the lords of the manor, wherein are five recumbent figures on altar-tombs, one of which represents Sir John de la Mere, the founder of the castle, with a figure of a lion at his feet; the next tomb represents a knight in armour, with his lady by his side; on the third tomb are similar effigies, all of members of the same family: the chancel was rebuilt in 1874, and the interior thoroughly restored and reseated with open benches. The register dates from the beginning of the sixteenth century. The living is a rectory, yearly value £374 tithe, with residence, and 58 acres of glebe land, valued at £90 per annum, in the gift of the Rev. John Louis Challen, who is at present curate in charge. A School Board, composed of five members, was formed here in 1874, to whom a lease of the National school has been granted by the Earl of Cork, and the board school is now carried on, wherein ten boys are educated free, clothed, and receive 1s. 6d. per week for maintenance out of Turner’s Charity, and when sufficiently old receive £20 each for apprenticing them, with free permission to choose their own trades and masters; there are also Sunday schools for boys and girls held in the schoolroom. Here are chapels for Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists. There are charities of £420 yearly value. Thomas Harris, of Bristol, who died in 1797, left £1,000, the interest of which to be given yearly to married women, natives of this parish. Thomas Turner, a native of this parish, who died the 21st of May, 1839, by will left £14,000, the interest of which to be applied for ever to the instruction of youth, the alleviation of suffering and infirmity, and the solace of old age. There are several other small charities.
The manufacture of edge tools is carried on here, and there are several limekilns, limestone being very plentiful in the parish. In April, 1873, a mine of iron ore was opened here, and is now being worked by the Furzeham Iron Ore Company : the ore is carted hence to the Frome railway station, and carried by rail into Staffordshire. A fair is held on the llth of November yearly for cattle. In 1874 this parish was thoroughly drained.
The remains of a Roman tesselated pavement, in good preservation, were discovered some years ago on the property of J. H. Shore, esq., of Whatley House: there are also the remains of a Roman encampment near the village. Here are the ruins of Nunney Castle, now covered with ivy, for many ages the seat of the De la Mere family : in the time of King Richard II., the castle passed into the family of Paulet, ancestor to the Dukes of Bolton; in the time of Queen Elizabeth the first Marquis of Winchester sold it, and after passing through several families it has become the property of James Theobald, esq., the present lord of the manor: the walls now standing are of great strength, the side walls being 7 feet 6 inches in thickness, and those of the tower 7 feet; passages and staircases were carried up in the walls, which greatly diminished its strength; a moat, 22 feet wide and 10 deep, which communicated with the stream ‘that flowed near its side, surrounded the whole building: during the civil wars in the time of Charles I. it was garrisoned for the King, and was besieged by the troops of Cromwell; after a determined resistance it surrendered, on the condition that the garrison should go to their own homes; the building was then dismantled, and is now fast going to decay.
James Theobald, esq., who is lord of the manor, the Earl of Cork and Orrery, and the Duke of Somerset, are chief landowners. The soil, which is not of great depth, is various; the subsoil, is clay and limestone. The land is chiefly in pasture for dairy purposes. The acreage is 2,421; rateable value, £4,992; the population in 1871 was 1,123.’
TRUDOXHILL is a hamlet, distant one mile and a quarter south-east, with an Independent chapel; HOLWELL is half a mile south-west, and RIDGWAY, three-quarters of a mile east from the village.