North Cadbury was one of several estates that were owned by the Newman family. Others included Fifehead Manor (in Dorset), Evercreech Park, Sparkford Manor (both in Somerset), North Lease Park and Thornbury Park in Gloucestershire. The North Cadbury estate (also in Somerset) is located in the village of North Cadbury a few miles to the north-east of Yeovil, just east of the village of Sparkford. South Cadbury estate also came into the ownership of the Newman family at the same time as North Cadbury.
The Cadbury estates date back at least to the Domesday census of 1086. It appears that the Court itself was constructed in 1581 by Sir Francis Hastings who inherited the estate from his father in 1544. He sold the estate to Matthew Ewens who died in 1598, leaving it to a nephew who died in 1629. Sometime around then (dates range from 1610 to 1640 - see discussion below) the estate came into the possession of a Richard Newman. Again there is conflicting information as to whether it was Col. Richard Newman (1620-1695) or his father Richard Newman of Fifehead (1584-1664). Taking into account their ages at the time of the purchase, it may be assumed that it was the father, Richard Newman of Fifehead who made the purchase.
The Cadbury estates remained in the Newman's possession for over 150 years, when (around 1783 or a little later) they were mortgaged to cover the debts of young Francis Newman in the late 18th Century and thereafter sold (c.1796) to the Bennett family who owned it for the next 100 years.
In 1890 CadburyCourt remained vacant for a few years before the house (and estate) were bought by Sir Archibald Langman, whose daughter owned and resided in it until around 2010. As it 2013, it has been converted into a function centre with its own website at www.northcadburycourt.com/.
The building was originally constructed in the Tudor style, with a large courtyard on the south side with a tower containing a spiral staircase on the north-western corner. Sometime around the end of the 18th century or early 19th century, this courtyard was enclosed to form a huge ballroom on the ground floor with bedrooms above. The entire facade on the south side was rebuilt at the same time in the Georgian style, the north side retaining its Tudor windows and gabled roofs. The past owner (who knew a lot about the history of the house), wasn't sure whether it was the Newmans or the Bennetts who made the alterations since they would have been done around the time of the change of ownership. However, local antiquarian, Sam Miller, is confident that it was the Bennetts who made the changes and added the south facade.
A lengthy description of North Cadbury and its history appears in "The history and antiquities of Somersetshire Vol 1, Parts 3-6" by William Phelps where on page 394 it states that
... after the death of Sir Francis ??? in 1610, "by some family arrangement the manors and estates of North and South-Cadbury were sold to Richard Newman, Esq. High-Steward of Westminster. This gentleman was the firm and attached friend of Charles I. whom he attended in his difficulties, and supplied with large sums of money. For his loyal conduct, Charles II. when he was restored to the throne of his ancestors, granted this Richard Newman of Cadbury an augmentation of the family arms. viz. Guiles, a protcullis crowned Or. He previously bore, Quarterly Ermine and Argent, in first and fourth quarters three mullets of the Second.
The manor and estate descended from father to son to Francis Newman Esq. who died in 1768 without issue, and by his will entailed the manors of North and South-Cadbury on Francis and Henry, the two sons of his brother Henry [this is incorrect - Francis and Henry were sons of his brother Charles], and their male issue in succession. The former of these enjoyed the estates until 1796 when he died, leaving three daughters, Jane, wife of Wm Walter Yea, eldest son of Sir Wm. Yea, Bart.; Catherine, married James Rogers, D.D. rector of South Cadbury; and the eldest Frances-Charlotte, married her first cousin Francis, the eldest son of Henry Newman, on whom the estates were entailed.
Francis Newman the younger, during his uncle's life, sold his reversionary interest in the property to James Bennett, Esq. of London, viz. the two Cadbury's in 1790, and Sparkford in 1793. On his uncle's death, Mr Bennett succeeded to the estates. He served the office of Sheriff in 1799, and died in 1815, leaving North and South Cadbury to his eldest son James; and Sparkford to his youngest son Henry, who is also Rector of that parish and of South Cadbury."
It is said that after taking possession of the house, James Bennett expunged all traces of the Newman's prior ownership for reasons that are long-forgotten, but which may be linked the egregious reputation of Francis Newman, the last Newman to live there. However, in a letter to my father dated 15th July 1957, Barbara Girvan wrote: "I have seen over N. Cadbury Court, and found it enchanting - beautifully presented, and the Newman coat of arms still over the doorway. It was found in one of the stables by the present owners and and reinstalled." However, the crest over the main entrance (see 2003 photo below) does not appear to be that of the Newman family.
More information on the history of the Court can be found in Sam Miller's book "From Parsons Quarter to Purgatory, A History of North Cadbury, Woolston and Galhampton - three villages, one parish" Castle Cary Press 1988.
More photos of Cadbury Court can be found (under password protection) through this link.
See also extensive description of North Cadbury and the Barony of North Cadbury on Wikipedia.
The lovely North Cadbury church which must once have been the private chapel to the estate, is located on the western side of Cadbury Court, and dates back to 12th or 13th century. The delightful porch-entrance to the churchyard faces the main driveway into the Court.
Local antiquarian, Sam Miller, has made a list of baptisms and burials from the church records which includes the following entries for Newmans:
|Charles, son of Francis Holles Newman||John, son of Francis Holles Newman|
|Henry Mompesson, son of Francis Holles Newman||Francis Holles Newman|
|John, son of Francis Holles Newman||William Newman son of Francis Holles Newman|
|William, son of Francis Holles Newman||Henry Newman son of Francis Holles Newman|
|Eleanor, daughter of Francis Holles Newman||Charles Newman|
|Ann, daughter of Francis Holles Newman||Dorothy wife of Francis Newman of North Cadbury|
|Eleanor Mompesson, daughter of Charles and Mary?||Richard Newman (of Horsington)|
|Francis, son of Francis Newman||Francis Newman of North Cadbury|
|Henry, son of Francis Newman||Mary Newman widow of Richard of Horsington|
|Frances Charlotte, daughter of Francis Newman||Francis Newman son of Francis and Frances (see below)|
|Augusta Catherine, daughter of Francis Newman||Ann Newman of Cerne, Dorset?|
|Henry Newman son of Francis and Frances|
|Jane, wife of Francis Newman|
|Augusta Catherine daughter of Francis and Frances|
Baby Francis Newman (son of Francis and Frances) may be the only Newman to have an extant memorial in North Cadbury church. Sam Miller pointed it out to me in Sept 2003, in the stone floor in front of the pews on the south side of the nave. Young Francis lived only a few weeks. He was baptized in North Cadbury on May 28th 1779 and buried there on June 18th of the same year. However, according to "The history and antiquities of Somersetshire Vol 1, Parts 3-6" by William Phelps (page 398), there is also a flat stone within the church dedicated to "Richard Newman, Gent. died 5th April 1767, aged 37. Also, Mary his wife, died July 31st, 1773, aged 79 years". This must be Richard Newman of Horsington and his wife Mary (née Bull).
Sam believes most or all the other Newmans buried at North Cadbury lie in a crypt below the chancel floor.
Researcher Di Clements provided me with the following information about the Newman's ownership of the Cadbury estates:
The Newmans seem to have owned the Cadburies from 1610 "when Sir Francis Hastings died having no children sold both Cadburies to Richard Newman Esq. who was High Steward of Westminster,and was imprisoned by Oliver Cromwell for his attachment to King Charles I whom he attended in his troubles and supplied with sums of money: in consideration of which services, King Charles II granted the family an augmentation of their Arms, viz. Gules a portcullis..... From this Richard descended Sir Richard and Sir Samuel Newman of Fifehead in Dorsetshire, where many of his family lie buried. The lineal descendant and present representative of this ancient family is Francis Newman Esq. who is Lord of both Manors of North and South Cadbury." From Collinson.
A later historian has this to add: "The Manor and estate descended from father to son to Francis Newman, Esq. who died 1768 without issue, and by his will entailed the Manors of North and South Cadbury on Francis and Henry, the two sons of his brother Henry and their male issue in succession. The former of these enjoyed the estates until 1796 when he died leaving three daughters............ the eldest Frances Charlotte married her first cousin Francis, the eldest son of Henry Newman on whom the estates were entailed. Francis Newman the younger, during his uncle's life sold his reversionary interest in the property to James Bennet Esq of London, viz the two Cadburies in 1790 and Sparkford in 1793. On the uncle's death Mr Bennet succeeded to the estates." Phelps 1861.
If Di's information about the purchase date is correct, then the estates must have been purchased by Richard Newman of Fifehead and not his son Col Richard Newman as I had hitherto understood to have been the purchaser, though this is confused by the statement that this Richard became High Steward of Westminster, since this implies that it was indeed Col. Richard Newman who bought the estates. (All very confusing.)
My father's version of the story (below) might appear to mix up the ownership of Cadbury and Fifehead estates which adds to the confusion. In fact after Col. Richard Newman's death, the Evercreech, Fifehead and Thonbury estates passed to the more senior branch of the family descending from Col. Richard's elder son Richard Newman, while the Cadbury, Sparkford and North Lease estates passed to the junior branch descending from Col. Richard's younger son Francis Holles Newman. My father's version is consistent with this where he wrote: "...the younger son of Colonel Richard, Francis Holles Newman, baptised at Fifehead on 13th February 1672 inherited the North Cadbury estate and was Sheriff of Somerset in 1745. After Sir Samuel's death in 1745, Fifehead Manor was sold to the then vicar of the parish, but North Cadbury remained in Newman hands until 1799 when it was sold to James Bennett of London to pay the debts of another Francis Newman, a spendthrift and a gambler, who was committed to the High Court, found guilty and migrated to America where he died in 1817 without male issue*. James Bennett caused the erasure of all Newman memorials in North Cadbury church, but a later owner of the manor found a stone replica of the Newman arms and incorporated it on the manor porch".
*This information has subsequently been proved wrong. Francis enjoyed a very full life in the USA and has many descendents living there.
What is confusing, is the wide range of dates given for the sale of Cadbury (and Sparkford) to the Bennett family. Phelps (1861) states that "Francis Newman the younger, during his uncle's life sold his reversionary interest in the property to James Bennet Esq of London, viz the two Cadburies in 1790 and Sparkford in 1793. On the uncle's death Mr Bennet succeeded to the estates". In fact, his uncle Francis Newman moved to the nearby village of Piddletrenthide shortly before his death in 1796 (or early 1797), presumably when the Cadbury and Sparkford estates were passed into the hands of the Bennetts. This is inconsistent with both Phelps and with my father's statement that North Cadbury remained in Newman hands until 1799. (See also Phelps reference to Sparkford Manor.)
Francis Newman's Will does nothing to clarify this confusion. It was dated 25 October 1794, yet refers not only to his estates in Sparkford and Cadbury, but also to his wife who reportedly died in August 1794 (or perhaps 1784).
The map below shows the location of both North and South Cadbury, bisected by the A303 to the west of Wincanton. The map shows the relative location of several other Newman homes, including Fifehead Magdalen (far right of map), Sparkford, Sturminster Newton, Sherborne, Charlton Musgrove and of course, Yeovil. Below further are some older illustrations of the house.