Holcombe Rogus


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The Manor at Greenham was held by Alric de Greenham in the time of King Edward 1, the son of Aethelred the Unready, from 1042 to 1066. Eventually Greenham Manor became the property of Simon de Greenham, a person of note and one who was a junior at Shaftesbury, concerned with the liberties of the Abbey of Glastonbury. He and his wife Julian daughter of Jordan de Rogus had one daughter Christina.

The Bluetts were already an ancient and distinguished family in England when Sir Walter Bluett married Christina Greenham, the union which brought to the Bluett Coat of Arms the three green eagles and the Greenham Manor. Sir Walter was the son of Sir Ralph Bluett of Ragland. Sir Walter Bluett was Member of Parliament for Somerset in 1311 and again in 1322 and his son Walter was also a Member of Parliament for several years. All Bluett Blazon Arms are similar, with the Arms and Argent on a chief gules, three plates. The Crest is a squirrell sejant or, in his paw an acorn vert, fructed or. The Motto is 'In Deo Omnia'.

Greenham Barton the village where the Greenham Manor is located is about five miles from Wellingon in Ashbrittle. The village is tiny and as well as the old Manor, has a church, a school and a Victorian style house, Greenham Hall, which operates as a B and B offering stylish and comfortable accommodation to guests. Mrs Caro Ayre is the Hostess. The current owner of the Manor house is Richard Willis a well known sculptor and artist. There are two resident ghosts, one in the old bathroom and one, probably a lazy ghost, who occupies a chair in the Drawing Room. The Domesday Book notes the historic Manor house in 1272. However the present house was built by John Bluett a descendant of Sir Walter and his wife Agnes, probably soon after 1403, the year of her father's death. She no doubt inherited the funds which paid for the construction of the house. It is one of the oldest surviving houses in the countryside having its origin in Bristol merchandise.

An article about the house appeared in 'The Times' on June 26th 1932.

'Somerset properties of great antiquity are appearing on the market. One is 'Greenham Barton'. Although the form of the house suggests ecclesiastical origin, its records indicate only private ownership, except when it was occupied by the Bluett family, a licence was granted to them to keep a priest on the premises, provided that the offertory at the neighbouring parish church of Kittisford did not diminish. Traces of the old altar are seen in the chapel adjoining the house. The owner of Greenham Barton was by virtue of that ownership Lord of the Hundred of Milverton.

Parts of the house, the arches and certain windows date from the reign of Richard II, but changes, almost amounting to re building, occurred in the reign of Henry VIII. Greenham Barton has a great fireplace and other old features in the kitchen and the armorial bearings of the Bluetts. A chevron between three eagles surmount the front garden doorway of the house.'

The son of John Bluett acquired Holcombe Rogus by his marriage with Maude, daughter of John Chesilden, in 1430. The families used both manors. John and Maude's son, Walter, married Jane Seymour, a cousin of the Queen of that name. Their son Nicholas, had two sons, Nicholas who inherited both manors, Greenham and Holcombe Rogus and Richard the younger who rebuit the neighbouring Cothay Manor in 1481.

Nicholas Bluett of Holcombe and Greenham died in 1523. His wife was Joan, daughter of John Fitzjames of Redlynch. The son of this marriage was Richard Bluett who married Mary, sixth daughter of Sir Thomas Grenville of Stowe in Cornwall. Richard Bluett died in 1615. His wife had died earlier, and he himself erected the elaborate alabaster monument at Holcombe in her memory. The head of his effigy on the monument is of stone and shows him an old man with a face well characterised. Her effigy, which is entirely of alabaster, is very striking, and it is suggested that the face may have been made from a life mask.

Richard's son Roger Bluett, who died in 1566, inherited Holcombe and set about to rebuild Holcombe Court, which up to his day had been a simple one storeyed manor house. He enlarged it with a tower, a porch with the Bluett Coat of Arms emblazoned in stone, a Great Hall and a charming dovecote which remains unchanged to the present day.

Roger's son John, who lived at Greenham was no doubt responsible for the three large Tudor windows in the hall at Greenham. He was married to Dorothy Blount, who was the daughter of William Blount K.G. Lord Mountjoy who died in 1534, the man who was a pupil of Erasmus and brought him to England.

Dorothy Blount's mother was Dorothy Grey, daughter of Thomas, Marquis of Dorset and the Aunt of the unhappy Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England for nine days who was executed in 1554.

Roger Bluett's grandson, another Richard, continued improving the Court in 1591, when the threat of a Spanish invasion was over. A handsome drawing room was built over the old kitchen with a fine fireplace. This room had its own separate staircase from outside and was used as a court room, with a private staircase to the Judge's room below. There is a long Gallery running the length of the building which was formed when the ceiling of the Great Hall was put in place. There are rows of cells along the gallery, thought to have been occupied by the daughters of neighbouring gentry, who came to be educated in domestic skills by the Lady of the Manor. The Court is noted for its early Tudor ceilings and chimney pieces and carving, and is an attractive example of a Tudor country house set in walled grounds.

There are records of a subsidy taken in 1524, showing 67 names for the parish of Holcombe Rogus. The total tax collected was three pounds twelve shillings and six pence, not a large amount for the time. Holcombe Rogus church records were begun in 1540 and are practically complete and in very good condition.

It was about this time that the Priest's house beside the church entrance was built. Its probably the oldest building in the village after the Court and the church. It is said to have the largest fireplace in Devon. It was used for companiesmeetings and other village events.

The house was in use until about 1700, when Robert Bluett became vicar of the parish and continued to live in the Court. The Priest's house deteriorated over the years until it was bought from the Court by the Landmark Trust in 1984, and they have carefully restored it.

Richard Bluett's son Arthur died young, and it was his grandson John who inherited Holcombe in 1614. John and his wife Elizabeth had eight daughters, none of whom could inherit, and the property went to Robert Bluett, who was descended from Sir Roger's youngest brother Francis who had gone to Cornwall.

Robert Bluett and his wife Kerenhappuch had ten children, their histories are outlined on the memorial above the choir stalls in the church.

After Robert's death in 1725, Holcombe was held by his eldest son for only a few weeks before he too died. His second son was the Reverend Robert Bluett, who died in 1749, and he was succeeded by his younger brother Buckland.

On Buckland's death because he had no sons, the property went again to another branch of the family in Cornwall, this time Peter Bluett. He died childless and was buried in a new family vault in the church porch in 1824. He was succeeded by William Bluett of Bath, then by his son, Peter Frederick who never came to Holcombe. Peter Frederick amassed large gambling debts and sold the property to the Reverend William Rayer of Tiverton in 1858. So ended the long reign of the Bluetts at Holcombe Rogus.

'And now the race is swept away all to their dusty beds, Still shall the mellow evening ray shine gaily on their heads, While other faces fresh and new shall occupy the Squire's Pew.'

Laura Jordan 1909 after visiting All Saints Church, Holcombe Rogus.

This page sent by Margaret Bluett of Cairns, Australia.

Bluett country houses at Britannia.com

A link to information on Holcome Rogus.

If you have any thing to add, make a comment using the link below or start a discussion in the forums.  You could also send me a mail at or via the contact page.

Michael Bluett