The following letter, concerning a complaint that some men at Evershot had been subjected to actions for trespass when attempting to practice therie archery, was published in Notes & Queries for Somerset and Dorset, Volume VIII
(Chancery Proceedings of James I. E. 7 — 33) —
These proceedings, commenced on 27th November, 1610, illustrate a prominent feature of old English village life, namely practice in shooting with the long bow. They show that the men of Evershot had, in the 16th and previous centuries (“in all ages” is the ample term employed in one part of the bill), been accustomed to carry out this practice in a close called Barrow, estimated to contain four acres. The inhabitants of the township represented by Robert Cardrow, John Edwards, James Lennard, Thomas Reade, George Hallet, John Pound, John Strowd, and John Fisher, all tenants of the manor, complain that they had been subjected to actions for trespass for entering the close in question, where “tyme out of mind ” the people of Evershot had been accustomed to “erect and maintain butts to shoote at (as by the lawes of this realme they ought to doe) and to exercise themselves in the lawfull game and exercise of shooting and of diverse other lawfull and laudable exercises and recreations.” At a court leet of the manor held the preceding Easter, the steward of the court had ordered the tenants to repair the butts which were then in decay and ruinous. This order was obeyed, and the plaintiffs say that since then the inhabitants had exercised themselves in shooting. The close called Barrow was copyhold of the manor of Evershot and held by Walter Hallet who had demised it to John Wilkins, and these two together with John Hallet (father of Walter) and Edmund Hardy, Esq., the lord of the manor, defended the suit.
The defendants admit the antiquity of the butts and of the practice of shooting there, but state that there had been no such practice for the past twenty years until the previous Midsummer, when some boys ten or twelve years old had used the butts. It is maintained that the real object of the plaintiffs was to make a “bowling place” in the close and that they had actually played bowls there on the ” Sabbath day,” as well as on other days of the week.
From this it would appear that the training of archers was continued in Dorset villages till as late as 1590. Is any field at Evershot still known by the name of ‘ Barrow ‘ ?
F. J. POPE.