Cricket St Thomas
|Cricket St Thomas|
Cricket House (Grantleigh Manor in To the Manor Born), now used by Warner Breaks for holiday accommodation
Cricket St Thomas shown within Somerset
|OS grid reference|
|Civil parish||Cricket St Thomas|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Avon and Somerset|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
The estate is mentioned 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 also had two slaves, six villagers, five smallholders and a variety of livestock — all valued at 100 shillings.
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. 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.
The parish church is dedicated to St Thomas. It is based on Saxon and medieval origins, but was almost totally rebuilt in 1819 to 1820 for Samuel Hood, 2nd Baron Bridport. The church contains monuments to the families of Hood (Viscount Bridport) and their predecessors the Viscounts Nelson, who gained the title through Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson. These include, on the chancel south wall, a commemoration of Alexander Hood, who died in 1814, which was designed and signed by Sir John Soane, with a black marble base topped by a white marble monument on Ionic columns framing the memorial plaque. Mounted on the north nave wall is a fragment of the altar cloth used in the Coronation Service of Queen Elizabeth II. The church is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building.
In the churchyard is a white marble monument, dating from the early 20th century, showing a figure of St Michael. It commemorates Alexander Nelson Hood, 4th Duke of Bronté, 2nd First Viscount Bridport (created in 1868) who died in 1904. 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. There are also two 18th-century chest tombs, made from hamstone, one of which commemorates John Northcote, who died in 1738.
Cricket St Thomas manor house, known as Cricket House, has 14th-century origins, but was rebuilt and considerably modified at the beginning of the 19th century for Sir Alexander Hood under the direction of Sir John Soane. The 19th-century orangery attached to the house was later turned into a parrot house but is now used for bowling by Warner holiday guests. In the grounds is a small garden house known as The Admirals Seat.
The house was used as "Grantleigh Manor", the setting for the television series To the Manor Born which aired from 1979 to 1981. The Manor House was then owned by the father-in-law of the writer Peter Spence. Despite the closeness depicted on screen, the Manor and Lodge are in fact about one mile (1.6 km) apart. The Lodge was given additional features such as gateposts to give the impression it was a gatehouse, following various previous alterations. The house was again used as "Grantleigh Manor" in a 25th anniversary special of To The Manor Born shown in 2007.
In 2009, the estate was added to English Heritage's Heritage At Risk register due to development pressures from various businesses connected with the estate. Its vulnerability is now classed as 'Medium'.
The grounds of the house, known as Cricket Park, were designed by D.D (David) Davis, a noted Horticulturist at the start of the 19th Century, and later turned into a wildlife park. The grounds also became home to Crinkley Bottom, a theme park created by Noel Edmonds around the Mr Blobby character from his hit television series Noel's House Party. The project was short-lived and was later abandoned. The grounds reverted to their previous use and the wildlife park was home to 600 rare and endangered species including lemurs, primates, camels, reptiles and wildfowl. Questions were raised in the UK parliament in 1995 after a rare Asian elephant was euthanised at the park. 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. The park has since closed again and very little remains of the enclosures or buildings. The manor house was developed into a Warner Leisure Hotels resort in 1999.
As a result of pressure from the development of the hotel and leisure market, it has been added to the Heritage at Risk register; despite areas being restored through Natural England's Environmental Stewardship scheme.
Mr Blobby's home
Cricket Park was also the home of BBC television's Mr Blobby's house, named 'Dunblobbin' situated at the rear of the park. Mr. Blobby, the house and its gardens appeared as an attraction in the park in 1994, but it closed within five years, shortly after Noel's House Party went off air. Remains of the house and its 'blobbyland' theme park could still be seen until 2014, overgrown and strewn with fallen leaves and mud. Mr Blobby's house was demolished late 2014
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- "Look what's happened to the house that Blobby built". Chard and Ilminster News. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
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