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Baker's Arms Holiday Cottages

South Perrott, Dorset

This is an owners own site, run by Richard and Mary Torrens.

The History of Baker's Arms

The Baker's Arms as it is now comprises several separate dwellings. Nor is The Baker's Arms isolated so this page on its history also includes other dwellings in South Perrott.
Medieval period
The site was evidently a quarry. The north end of the garden is clearly an old quarry but the south end is indeterminate. However there is good evidence of quarrying to the south of the road (A356), west of Hunter's Hatch in their entrance. There is also evidence of quarrying 50m to the east at the roadside in a lay-by which was once a bus stop. It seems likely that this area was extensively quarried to build Mohun castle and other houses as it seems to be the nearest quarrying to that. In medieval times if a suitable stone was found, for instance in the banks of a river, it would be extracted and the seam of rock taken back as far as convenient to quarry for building. This evidently happened on the banks of the Parrett in South Perrott.
Circa 1640
Mohun castle is said to have been demolished some time soon after 1644 and the material sold. See PastScape. Several local houses have items which are likely to have come from the demolition. Including in The Baker's Arms:

GateHouse has a description of Mohun Castle.

1672
British History On Line has transcribed a 1952 book "An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 1, West". There is an entry (no 20) for the house to the west, now Marden Cottage (originally two cottages named Bridge Cottage to the west then Three Farthings) which states "has a doorway with a four-centred head, label and the initials and date R and M.C. 1672."

Inscription on the lintel
Inscription on the lintel
Above one of the holiday cottages in Bakers Arms (Jasmine Cottage) is a massive stone lintel with an inscription C R M 1672. This clearly is the stone four-centred head mentioned above as being part of Marden Cottage. We have photos before 1989 which do not show this stone so it seems clear that it was incorporated when these cottages were converted in 1989-1990. The inscription is dated 1672 but the lintel itself could quite possibly have come from the demolished Mohun Castle.

The undated map on British History On Line shows entry 20 separated from entry 21. However a map on Find My Past dated 1888 shows a block of building which must have been a row of cottages including Bridge Cottage, Three Farthings, an unknown cottage then the two which are part of the modern Bakers Arms. The row of cottages at the back are on the same map and must have been small cottages with access from the small lane east of Bakers Arms. The layout is little changed on the 1939 map on the same page, when the cottages were in ruins.

Circa 1680
The two cottages which now form the western end of The Baker's Arms are said to have been built in this period. The entry above for 1672 indicates that building probably started in 1672.

However by 1938 these were in ruins and have since been rebuilt in the same style - though the internal layout of this part of the house seems to be quite random in certain places. There is evidence that much of the rebuilding was done in the 1950s to 60s as well as the 1980s and early 1990s

18th century window with Jack Arch
18th century window with Jack Arch
18th century
The 1938 record card states that the eastern section of the main house was built in the 1700s. Date unknown. Probably later part of the 18th century. One interesting feature of this part is a Jack Arch or Flat Arch (link is to Wikipedia) above a window. By 2021 this arch had deteriorated and was in need of repair. There is evidence that it has already been repaired as there is iron buried somewhere in the mortar - a magnet shows weak attraction in two places. The window is onto the road and heavy traffic passing within 2 feet is clearly not within the design intentions of such an arch.
1826 Source 2
The property, then known as Little Burnland or Higher Orchard, was bequeathed in the will of Giles Draper to his sons, Giles and Benjamin, and his daughter, Elizabeth. Benjamin and Elizabeth subsequently conveyed the property for £32 to Giles, who conveyed to Elizabeth a dwelling house in South Perrott.

It is not clear what portion of the row of cottages was thus described. Were Little Burnland and and Higher Orchard separate cottages? What was the cottage that filled the present entrance way, that housed the fireplace shown above.

1830 Source 2
Giles Draper conveyed the land to George Moss of Crewkerne under a 1000 year lease, for £38.
1841
Census records William Curtis an Inn Keeper in Lower St. This seems to be the same family recorded in 1861. it is supposition that the Inn William was keeping was in fact The Bakers Arms - Lower Street is not a modern name but can be no other than the lower end of the A35 through South Perrott.
1848 Source 2
A continuation from the 1826 entry: Moss conveyed the property to William Curtis of Crewkerne, innholder.

Clearly William had been landlord previously.

1855 Source 1
R Strode listed as innkeeper in the Post Office directory
1859 Source 1
R Strode listed as innkeeper
1861
The census shows the Curtis family running the inn: William and Martha with granddaughter Mercy age 19 listed as barmaid.
1868 Source 2
William Curtis sold the premises in 1868 to John Marsh Templeman of Crewkerne.
1871
The census for that date lists it as a pub, run by Lot and Hanna Collins.
1875 Source 1
Thomes Certin listed as innkeeper
1883 Source 2
By this date the Bakers Inn had been conveyed to The Crewkerne United Breweries Ltd.
1889 Source 1
Francis Wheeler listed as innkeeper
1891
The census records the Wheeler family at Bakers Arms. Francis and Mary J. with children Hedley O., Elizaeth B., William P. and Walter B.

Also listed are residents in Coombe Lane, which may have been the lane to the east of Bakers Arms, to Coombe Cottage.

1895 Source 1
Francis Purchase listed as innkeeper
1911
The April 2nd 1911 census records the Childs family living at Bakers Arms. Joseph and Mary Ann with their children Winifred, Victor Ivan and Henry James.
1915
J Childs listed as innkeeper
1927 to 1955
Brewery History Lists Baker's Arms an a pub belonging to Arnold and Hancock who were formed in 1927 and ceased trading in 1955 when the chain was sold to Usher's Wiltshire Brewery Ltd. There is no indication whether Baker's Arms belonged to this chain for the whole period. By 1957 when the pub closed it was owned by Crewkerne United Brewe
1938
A record card for the lesser secular monuments, dated 31 August 1938 states:
The inn consists of two fairly late 17th century cottages, a portion of one being ruinous and only half the other habitable, and a later 18th century addition. The W wing, originally one tenement, has the side wall standing up to about a height of 10ft, and is in ruins. In the W end are the remains of the old 17th century fireplace, with stone joints & four centred oak head. In the E end walls are the blocked remains of a smaller but similar fireplace, above which at 1st floor level is a blocked stone fireplace opening with stone jambs & four centred heads. Half of the adjoining cottage is used as the licensed premises, in which is a stop chamfered beam and an angle fireplace, dating from the 11th century, with moulded jambs, bead stop & four centred head, all in stone.

Here also are two original windows on the S elevation one three light with moulded jambs, mullion and hood mould and one similarly two light above it without hood mould.

In the unused portion of this building, abutting the ruins of the other cottage, is an original fireplace with stone jambs & chamfered oak head. A central passageway separates this tenement from the 18th century addition, in which is a small section stop chamfered beam. There are later lean-to additions to the N. elevation.

1952
British History on-line has published An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 1, West which was originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1952. Pages 176-178 cover South Perrott. There is a map of the village. Item 21 refers to The Baker's Arms: "Bakers' Arms Inn, formerly two cottages, immediately E. of (20), retains three fireplaces with four-centred heads." This page also mentions the lintel dated 1672
12 Jun 1953
The property was listed (Listing No: 1211886, NGR: ST 47182 06785). The original listing states: Former Inn, now private house. Cl7 and C18 at right hand. Ashlar stone and rubble walls. Thatch roof with a stone gable to road, coped. Brick stacks at left hand west gable, and right hand gable. 2 storeys. 3 windows, 2 and 3-light stone mullions with wooden casements. Sashes with glazing-bars at right hand. Dressed stone voussoirs over. Blocked front door on to road, now a window. Present front door on west gable wall, in C16 style, but of C20. Source: RCHM Dorset I, p178(21)

However listing prior to 1980 meant little or nothing as far as alterations to listed buildings were concerned, so the house contains much that is clearly done in the period 1957-1980. Tight control of listed buildings only started to occur in the mid 1990s.

July 1957
The 1957 song of The Baker's Arms
The 1957 song of The Baker's Arms

The Baker's Arms was closed as a public house, was turned into a private dwelling and sold. The proprietor had been Walter Gale and the pub had been owned by Crewkerne United Breweries. Today, on the wall inside The Baker's Arms, there is a framed song concerning the closure, dated July 1957 with the initials L.H.G. The text of the Song of the Baker's Arms is available.

The new owner (D T Harrison-Sleap) seems to have been done quite a a lot of alterations and additions: there are, still present in the grounds, a series of stones which clearly once formed an arch. The top stone of one column is dated 15 - 7 - 1957 and the top of the second column has the initials D.T.H.S. There is an old photo showing this arch where the modern entrance driveway now is. He also had an oval window installed in the main building, with his initials carved into the sill.

29 Nov 1957
Agreement between Charles Eli Symes Vendor of Bridge Cottage - now renamed Marden) and Derek Touchet Harrison-Sleap (purchaser) for pipes and access to a septic tank. To this day there is a small isolated square of land in our neighbours garden, where the old septic tank one was, that belongs to the property. Nowadays the public sewer runs through the property to the bend in the river east of the bridge where it then does a dog-leg east into the field and runs parallel to the river. It seems likely that originally it must have simply discharged into the river at this point and was later diverted.

Apparently Bridge Cottage was one dwelling in those days, owned by a brother and sister who divided the property into two separate cottages and re-named them. It is said that the brother committed suicide.

Aerial photo of The Bakers Arms
Aerial photo of The Bakers Arms
1960
An undated aerial photograph shows the property. A simlar photograph of, and displayed in, The White Horse pub in Haselbury Plucknett is dated 1960. It seems likely that these are the same date.
1971
The 1971 Town and County Planning Act for the first time tried to control what could be done to a listed building. However little notice was apparently taken of the rules until the mid 1990s. Many alterations to the property seem to have been done in the 1970s and 1980s.
1983
Harrison-Sleape owned Bakers Arms. He did some alterations to the main building and planted many of the trees in the gardens.
1983 - 1988
Some unknown date in this period D T Harrison-Sleap sold the property to Mick Mazzeo
20 Aug 1988
Re-thatching of the whole house began. Including replacing the tiled part (west end). We have photos of the re-thatching in progress.
19 Sep 1988
Listed Buildings Consent to remove roof tiles and replace with thatch. This was applied for by Mr and Mrs Mazzeo. Before this, half the building was thatch, half tiles. This appears to be the first time any alterations had been done with official approval.
23 Feb 1989
Listed Buildings Consent to convert outbuildings to four holiday lets. The application was in the name of T Mazzeo, who was builder by trade. Tony Mazzeo was the son of Mick & Robbie Mazzeo and as well as the holiday cottage conversions he also built Riverside Orchard across the road from Baker's Arms, on land that used to belong to Hunter's Hatch. Mick Mazzeo also was a builder by trade.

This conversion work has not yet been completed. Two cottages were converted. One (The Old Bakery) was fully converted to a holiday let and one (now Jasmine Cottage) was mostly converted then used as offices. In early 2021 we are fitting a shower and a kitchenette in Jasmine to complete the conversion as well as maintenance work on The Old Bakery.

4 Jul 1990
Full consent for the holiday let conversion. This also involved constructing new vehicular access from the road thus demolishing the arch that was dated 1957. Previously vehicular access had been from the short lane at the east side of the house.
03 Aug 1990
A tree preservation order was made.
28 November 1990
As part of the change or access a wall was built across the old entrance and a small lean-to log store was added to the back corner of the house. Inside this is an inscription
"T Mazzeo built this in November 1990.
Maggie Thatcher resigned today 27.11.1990 after 11 years as Prime Minister.
Mr John Major took over on this day.
Good riddance!"
5 Nov 1992
Listed Buildings Consent to replace the original chimney to the house.
11 Feb 1994
This is the postmark on an envelope of photos of Bakers Arms sent by the estate agents (Gibble, Booth & Taylor) to Mr & Mrs Mazzeo. The photos are undated but seem to be pre 1988 as the west end of the house is tiled.
30 Mar 1994
The property was registered to the Thackwells. There is a second small plot (now the orchard) which has possessory title.
21 Jul 1996
Listed Buildings Consent to alter height of existing wails and make good other walls. This work is for the old skittle alley which by this time was in ruins.
26 Nov 1996
Listed Buildings Consent to infill existing building. This seems to be to convert what had been a second garage (which may well once have been old stables) to what is now the games room.
2016
As far as we know The Old Bakery was not used as a holiday let after 2016 until re-opened in June 2021. In the intervening years water had been ingressing from four sources due to lack of the most basic maintenance.
8 Oct 2020
We (Richard and Mary Torrens) took possession. The house and outbuildings were all covered in ivy, wisteria, jasmine and virginia creeper which, like the garden, had not been maintained properly for years. Several soffits, gutters etc. were quite badly damaged. There is a lot of maintenance to do on house, outbuildings and garden.

Data sources

  1. Pubwiki
  2. South West Heritage Trust: Somerset Archive Catalogue

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First published: 27th January 2021
Last modified: December 05 2021 08:42:53.
Written by Richard Torrens.
© 2021 - 2021 Richard Torrens.