Cricket St Thomas

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Cricket St Thomas
Church of St Thomas, Cricket St Thomas (geograph 5413173).jpg
Church of St Thomas, Cricket St Thomas
Cricket St Thomas is located in Somerset
Cricket St Thomas
Cricket St Thomas
Location within Somerset
Population50 (2011)[1]
OS grid referenceST375084
Civil parish
  • Cricket St Thomas
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townCHARD
Postcode districtTA20
Dialling code01460
PoliceAvon and Somerset
FireDevon and Somerset
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
50°52′19″N 2°53′42″W / 50.872°N 2.895°W / 50.872; -2.895Coordinates: 50°52′19″N 2°53′42″W / 50.872°N 2.895°W / 50.872; -2.895

Cricket St Thomas is a parish in Somerset, England, situated in a valley between Chard and Crewkerne within the South Somerset administrative district. The A30 road passes nearby. The parish has a population of 50.[1] It is noted for the historic manor house known as Cricket House, and its estate in recent times formerly home to a wildlife park.


The name Cricket St Thomas is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "cruc," meaning a hill or ridge.[2]

Descent of the manor[edit]

The manor is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it is described as "Land of the Count of Martin" paying tax to the king for six hides, or about 720 acres (291.4 ha). It had two slaves, six villagers, five smallholders and a variety of livestock and was valued for tax purposes at 100 shillings.[3] It was at that time within the Hundred of South Petherton.[4]

In the 11th century the manor was held by the de Cricket family.[citation needed] In 1328-9 Michael de Cricket sold the manor to Walter de Rodney, who subsequently conveyed it to John of Clevedon.[5] In 1466 it was acquired by Stephen Preston, whose great-grandson and last male descendant was John Preston, whose daughter and heiress Margaret Preston (d.1672), married John Hippisley of Ston Easton in Somerset, and thus Cricket St Thomas passed to her Hippisley descendants. In 1775 Richard Hippisley-Coxe sold it to Admiral Alexander Hood, 1st Viscount Bridport, 1st Baron Bridport (1726-1814), who although having married twice died childless and thus bequeathed it to his younger great-nephew Samuel Hood, 2nd Baron Bridport (1788-1868) (who inherited his Irish barony by special remainder), the husband of Charlotte Mary Nelson, 3rd Duchess of Bronté (1787–1873), daughter and heiress of William Nelson, 1st Earl Nelson, 2nd Duke of Bronté (1757–1835), elder brother and heir of the great Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté (1758–1805). Samuel and Charlotte's son Alexander Hood, 1st Viscount Bridport, 3rd Baron Bridport (1814-1904) (Viscountcy created 1868), 4th Duke of Bronté in Sicily, sold it in 1898 to the chocolate manufacturer Francis Fry (d.1918), the estate having become heavily mortgaged.[6]

Modern governance[edit]

Today the parish council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept (local rate) to cover the council's operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny. The parish council evaluates local planning applications and works with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic. The parish council's role also includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of parish facilities, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also the responsibility of the council.

The parish falls within the Non-metropolitan district of South Somerset, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Chard Rural District.[7] The district council is responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism.

Somerset County Council is responsible for running the largest and most expensive local services such as education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, policing and fire services, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning.

It is also part of the Yeovil county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election, and part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.

Church of St Thomas[edit]

The parish Church of St Thomas, a Grade II* listed building.,[8] was almost totally rebuilt in 1819-20 by Samuel Hood, 2nd Baron Bridport, and traces of the earlier ancient Saxon and medieval building have largely been lost. The church contains monuments to the Nelson family (Earl Nelson) and its successor the Hood family (Viscount Bridport), lords of the manor, seated at Cricket House from the 18th century until 1898.


Monuments in the church and churchyard include those to:

  • Admiral Alexander Hood, 1st Viscount Bridport (1726-1814) (title created 1800), on the chancel south wall, who first acquired the estate. Designed by Sir John Soane and bearing his signature, it comprises a black marble base topped by white marble Ionic columns framing an inscribed tablet.
Monument to Alexander Hood, 1st Viscount Bridport (1814-1904), Cricket St Thomas Church
  • Alexander Hood, 1st Viscount Bridport (1814-1904) (title created 1868), 4th Duke of Bronté in Sicily, the Admiral 1st Viscount's great-great nephew. Situated in the churchyard next to the church it consists of a white marble lifesize standing figure of St Michael the Archangel. A note in the church states that for many years the statue was laid flat, as the white figure at night scared too many locals.[9]
  • John Northcote (d.1738), commemorated in the churchyard by one of two 18th-century chest tombs made from hamstone.[10]

Mounted on the north nave wall is a fragment of the altar cloth used in the Coronation Service of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.

Cricket House[edit]

Cricket House

The surviving grade II listed[11] Georgian manor house, known as "Cricket House", was built in 1786 by Admiral Alexander Hood, 1st Viscount Bridport (1726-1814), to the designs of the architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837).[6][12] The Admiral had purchased the estate in 1775 from Richard Hippisley Coxe. It is unknown whether the new house incorporated elements of the earlier 14th century house or whether it was completely new.[13] Soane completed further alterations in 1801–7. The Georgian orangery attached to the house was later turned into a parrot house but is now used for bowling by Warner holiday guests.[14] In the grounds is a small garden house known as "The Admirals Seat".[15] In 1999 the house was developed into a Warner Leisure Hotels resort.

Fictionalised as "Grantleigh Manor"[edit]

Cricket House was filmed as the fictitious "Grantleigh Manor" in the British sitcom television series To the Manor Born, broadcast from 1979 to 1981 and written by Peter Spence whose father-in-law was then the owner of the house. Despite the closeness depicted on screen, the Manor and Lodge are in fact about one mile (1.6 km) apart.[16] The Lodge was given additional features such as gateposts to give the impression it was a gatehouse, following various previous alterations.[17] The house was again used as "Grantleigh Manor" in a 25th anniversary special of To The Manor Born shown in 2007.

Heritage at Risk Register[edit]

In 2009 the estate was added to English Heritage's Heritage at Risk Register due to pressure from the development of the hotel and leisure facilities. Its vulnerability is now classed as 'Medium'.[18] Some parts of the grounds have been restored through Natural England's Environmental Stewardship Scheme.[19]

Wildlife park[edit]

Wildlife Park at Cricket St Thomas

The former deer park of the house, known as "Cricket Park", were designed by D.D (David) Davis, a noted horticulturist at the start of the 19th Century,[20] and were later turned into a wildlife park. the wildlife park was home to 600 rare and endangered species including lemurs, primates, camels, reptiles and wildfowl.[21] Questions were raised in the UK parliament in 1995 after a rare Asian elephant was euthanised at the park.[22][23] The wildlife park closed in 2009 and most of the larger animals were moved to other zoos around the country. Some of the smaller animals, such as the lemurs, were kept and the park was returned to gardens and lakes, re-opening in mid-2010.[24] The park has since closed again and very little remains of the enclosures or buildings.

Crinkley Bottom theme park[edit]

In 1994 the grounds also became home to Crinkley Bottom, a theme park created by the broadcaster Noel Edmonds themed on the "Mr Blobby" character from his hit BBC television series Noel's House Party. The project was short-lived and closed within four years, shortly after Noel's House Party went off air.[25] when the grounds reverted to their previous use.

Mr Blobby's house, named 'Dunblobbin' was situated at the rear of the park. Other attractions at the park included a TV-themed dark ride and a walkthrough exhibit of Noddy's Toyland Adventures.[26] Remains of the house and its 'blobbyland' theme park could still be seen until 2014,[25] overgrown and strewn with fallen leaves and mud. Mr Blobby's house was demolished late 2014.[27]


  1. ^ a b "South Somerset population estimates for 2002" (PDF). Somerset County Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 November 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2009.
  2. ^ Bush, Robin (1994). Somerset: The complete guide. Wimborne: Dovecote press. ISBN 1-874336-27-X.
  3. ^ "Cricket St Thomas Hotel". Haynes Motor Museum World Forum 2007. Archived from the original on 8 April 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
  4. ^ "Somerset Hundreds". GENUKI. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  5. ^ Victoria County History, Somerset, 1978, quoted by
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ "Chard RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  8. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Thomas (1056183)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
  9. ^ Historic England. "Nelson monument in churchyard, in angle between nave and south transept, Church of St Thomas (1177121)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
  10. ^ Historic England. "Two monuments in churchyard, about 3 metres west of porch, church of St Thomas (1056184)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
  11. ^ Listed building text
  12. ^ Historic England. "Cricket House (1177146)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
  13. ^ English Heritage
  14. ^ Historic England. "Former orangery, about 30 metres south-west of Cricket House (1366402)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
  15. ^ Historic England. "The Admiral's Seat, about 650 metres north-north-east of Cricket House (1177160)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
  16. ^ "British Sitcom Guide Page".
  17. ^ Historic England. "West Lodge (1366401)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
  18. ^ retrieved 21 January 2013
  19. ^ "Cricket House, Cricket St. Thomas / Winsham - South Somerset". Heritage at Risk. English Heritage. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  20. ^ "Cricket St Thomas Overview". Warner Breaks. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
  21. ^ "Take a Walk on the Wild Side!". Warner Breaks. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
  22. ^ "Killing of an elephant at Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Centre". Parliament UK. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  23. ^ "Sahib Fridolin at Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park". Elephant database. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b "Look what's happened to the house that Blobby built". Chard and Ilminster News. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  26. ^ "Crinkley Bottom Park History". Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  27. ^ Cooke, Emma (8 January 2020). "The fascinating stories behind Britain's forgotten theme parks. 5 Blobbyland, Somerset". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 April 2020. The buildings were left to decay for years, growing over with moss, until the site was demolished in 2014 in an attempt to stop break-ins.

External links[edit]