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Constructed from the local Beer stone, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited houses in England.
- 1 Description
- 2 Descent of the manor
- 2.1 Wadham
- 2.2 Wyndham/Fox-Strangways
- 2.3 Masters
- 2.4 Blackburn
- 2.5 Robinson
- 3 Further reading
- 4 Sources
- 5 References
An early circular stone staircase tower is contained within the angle of the north wing so as to give access to a second floor, newly created by the addition of a raised ceiling to the great hall.
Perhaps built by Walter Branscombe, Bishop of Exeter from 1258 to 1280, the chapel occupied the present south wing, where a large rose window containing four cusped trefoils originally set within the outer gable of the west wall survives on what is now an internal wall, hidden behind a later chimney stack in the attic.
Descent of the manor
Historically, the manor of Branscombe belonged to the See of Exeter, but during the reign of King Edward III (1327–1377), the estate of Edge was acquired by the de Wadham family who took their name from the manor of Wadham, Knowstone in north Devon, and who held Edge for eight generations.
In 1618, on the death of Dorothy Wadham, widow of Nicholas Wadham, co-founders of Wadham College, Oxford, it passed with Nicholas's other possessions to the heirs general of his father, his nieces and their descendants.
John I Wadham
John II Wadham (c. 1344 – 1412)
Another, Sir John Wadham, was a Justice of the Common Pleas, from 1389 to 1398, in the reign of King Richard II (1377-1399), MP for Exeter in 1379 and for Devon in 1401, as a Knight of the Shire with Sir Philip Courtenay of Powderham.
Although Pole and Prince both stated him to be the son of John I Wadham of Edge, his modern History of Parliament biographer suggests he may have been the son, rather than the nephew perhaps, of Gilbert Wadham (c.1320-1383) of Wadham who, in 1383, quitclaimed to him a rent in the manor of Wadham.
John Wadham held extensive lands in Devon, Somerset and Dorset and in about 1400 built a moated and fortified manor house at Merryfield, Ilton near Ilminster in Somerset, on land he purchased from Cecily de Beauchamp (c.1321-1394) of Hatch and which became his principal home.
He also acquired over 300 acres of land in Branscombe, Devon, raising the possibility that during the periods assigned to John I and John II Wadham, Edge was actually held by a single John Wadham who built Edge and held it from before 1377 to 1412.
William Wadham (c. 1386 – 1452)
He married Margaret Chiseldon, a daughter and co-heiress of John Chiseldon of Holcombe Rogus, Devon, Sheriff of Devon in 1406. On her death, he married Katherine Payne, the widow of his cousin John ‘Jenkyn’ Stourton (died) 1438.
William and Margaret Wadham had eight children: John III Wadham, their heir, was born in 1405.
John III Wadham (1405–1476)
Sir John Wadham of Merifield and Edge, the eldest son and heir, added to the family possessions when he married Elizabeth Popham early in the fifteenth century, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Stephen Popham (c. 1386 – 1444) of Popham, Hampshire, five times MP, Sheriff of Hampshire in 1427, and Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1434.
John Wadham made his will, dated 6 August 1473. He had three sons and four daughters.
John IV Wadham (died 1502)
He died some time after 20 March 1501, the date of his will.
Nicholas I Wadham (c. 1475 – 1542)
Sir Nicholas Wadham of Merryfield and Edge was Member of parliament for Somerset, as a knight of the shire, in the Reformation Parliament of 1529, Sheriff of Devon in 1502 and 1515, Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset in 1498 and 1534, and Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1516.
Nicholas Wadham married four times:
His first wife, Joan Hill, was a daughter of Robert Hill (1421-1493) of Halsway, Bridport and Houndstone  and Alice Stourton, widow of Sir William Daubeney of Barrington Court. Nicholas and Joan Wadham had four sons and two daughters. Their eldest surviving son and heir was John V Wadham.
John V Wadham (before 1510 – 1578)
John Wadham (died 1578), son to Sir Nicholas by his first marriage, studied civil law at Oxford, and became heir to Merifield and Edge on the death of his elder brother, Laurence Wadham of Merifield. He was Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset in 1556 and in 1561.
His wife, Joan Tregarthen, was a daughter and co-heiress of John Tregarthen of Cornwall, and widow of John Kelloway of Cullompton. John Wadham died in 1578, and was buried in the Church of St Mary, Ilminster.
His widow retired to Edge, which seems to have become the dower house of the family, where she died in 1583. She was buried in Saint Winifred’s Church, Branscombe.
Nicholas II Wadham (1531–1609)
Nicholas Wadham, their only surviving son, and heir of Merifield and Edge, was co-founder with his wife Dorothy Wadham of the college that bears their name, and was the last male descendant in direct succession of the senior line of the Wadhams.
He was born in 1531, and according to all accounts was educated at Oxford, in most likelihood at Corpus Christi. He is probably the same 'Nicholas Wadham, of Brimpton, Somerset,' who entered himself at the Inner Temple on March 9, 1552.
In 1555, at the age of twenty-three at St Botolph's, Aldersgate, Nicholas married Dorothy, daughter of Sir William Petre (1505-1572), of Ingatestone Hall and Writtle in Essex. Nicholas Wadham "entered the courtly life for a moderately long time", but he and Dorothy seem to have retired early on to lead a country life at Merifield where they lived with Nicholas's father. He served as a Commissioner of the peace, and in 1585 Nicholas Wadham was Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset. Nicholas and Dorothy were to die without progeny. After the death of her husband, Dorothy Wadham retired to Edge where she died in 1618.
Edge, with Nicholas Wadham's other possessions, passed to the heirs of his father, that is to his three sisters and their descendants, of which Joan Wadham (1533-1603) first married Sir Giles Strangways (1528–1562) of Melbury five times MP for Dorset and then Sir John Young (died 1589) of the Great House in Bristol, Margaret Wadham married Nicholas Martin or Martyn (c. 1550 – 1595) of Athelhampton, Dorset, and Florence Wadham (1538-1596) married Sir John Wyndham (1516-1572) of Orchard Wyndham in Somerset.
Following the death of Dorothy Wadham in 1618, Edge passed into the families of the sisters and co-heiresses (at least in their issue) of Nicholas Wadham; namely, the Martyns of Athelhampton, Dorset, the Wyndhams of Orchard Wyndham, Somerset, later Earls of Egremont at Petworth House in Sussex, and the Fox-Strangways of Melbury House, Dorset, later Earls of Ilchester, who retained ownership until 1933 and in the interval let Edge to a series of tenant farmers.
Edge was at one point occupied as tenants by the Langdons, of Chard in Somerset, and was described in the eighteenth century as 'derelict in appearance'.
Early in the twentieth century it was tenanted by a Mr. Richards, of Sidmouth, who was born in Branscombe.
Edge was finally purchased in 1933 by Captain Frank Masters, an architect, in a decayed state and with the former chapel being used as a dairy. He began extensive renovations in 1935, but did not live to complete the work.
The renovations begun by Captain Masters were completed by Robert Blackburn, an aeronautical engineer.
Who owned the property for a short time to try and run it as an outward bound school.
Did extensive modernisation and decorations
Lived at Edge with their family, Who built the current conservatory for which there was placed a 15th century french gargoyle, did extensive landscape work to the gardens, restoration to the reception room on the ground floor, rethatched the barn. Yvonne (Neuman) was honored as guest of honour at the Dorthy Wadham dinner Oxford University. Both boys Aravinda Neuman and Arjuna Neuman who grew up at Edge attended Winchester College. Mithra Neuman did over 200 building renovations in the Devon area. Many of them listed buildings. Some: Trews Weir Mill Exeter, Kings Wharf Exeter, Whirligig Taunton, Harry Hems Buildings Exeter. Yvonne Neuman founded the Charity Vital for Children, did famous Ted Talk, 'Why Do you Care'
The Robinsons established a link with Wadham College and in June 2010, to mark the 400th anniversary of the College's foundation, they entertained Sir Neil Chalmers, Warden of Wadham College and a number of the Fellows at Edge.
The Warden and his wife stayed the night in Dorothy Wadham's bedroom. "Dorothy is quite a cult figure at the College" stated Mr Robinson "and our visitors were delighted to see where she'd come from".
- Clifford, H. Dalton, "A Manor House Restored", Country Life Magazine, August 30, 1962
- Thomas Graham Jackson, Wadham College, Oxford, its Foundation, Architecture and History, with an Account of the Family of Wadham and their Seats in Somerset and Devon, Oxford, 1893
- Rogers, William Henry Hamilton, Memorials of the West, Historical and Descriptive, Collected on the Borderland of Somerset, Dorset and Devon, Exeter, 1888, pp. 147–173, The Founder and Foundress of Wadham.
- Branscombe Parish: Some Notable Houses (www.branscombe.net)
- See listed building text
- Sir William Pole, Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, p. 141
- Listed building text
- A fine chapel at Edge in 1290 is mentioned in The Three Edwards, Prestwich, p.20. Transactions of the Devonshire Association; quoted by Ronald Branscombe <http://www.branscombe.net/genealogy/timelines/1200.HTM>. Also, see <http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-88678-edge-barton-manor-branscombe-devon> Finally, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner dates the rose window from the early fourteenth century
- Listed building text; www.branscombe.net
- Devon heraldry
- T.G. Jackson, Wadham College Oxford
- Pole, p. 141
- William Pole, p. 141; T.G. Jackson, Wadham College Oxford, p. 4, & Wadham Pedigree, p. 26; and John Prince, Worthies of Devon, p. 748; William Wyndham in The Wadhams and Merrifield, (1934), hazards a guess at 1377. Nicklaus Pevsner in his Buildings of Devon (1952) suggests a Wadham presence at Edge from 1317 but gives no reference.
- Roger Virgoe, historyofparliamentonline, Sir John Wadham (died 1412).
- According to John Hutchins (antiquary) History and Antiquities of Dorset; 1st pub. 2 vols. 1774, 4 vols 1861-1873.
- Pole, Sir William (died 1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, List of Sheriffs, regnal date 20 Henry VI; Rogers, William Henry Hamilton, Memorials of the West, Historical and Descriptive, Collected on the Borderland of Somerset, Dorset and Devon, Exeter, 1888, pp. 147–173, The Founder and Foundress of Wadham, p. 156;
- Somerset Wills; pp. 225, 6
- see biography of his son Sir Nicholas Wadham MP by Roger Virgoe at historyofparliamentonline
- Wadham pedigree in T.G. Jackson's Wadham College, Oxford; p. 28.
- From http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1509-1558/member/wadham-sir-nicholas-1472-1542
- Roger Virgoe, historyofparliamentonline - Sir Nicholas Wadham (died 1542)
- A tour to the Isle of Wight: illustrated with eighty views..; Charles Tomkins, 1796.
- [The Visitations of the County of Somerset, In the Years 1531 and 1573, together with additional pedigrees, chiefly from the visitation of 1591] ed. F.W. Weaver, pub. Exeter, 1885; and, Pedigree of Champernowne:<www.tudorplace.com.ar>
- The Visitations of the County of Somerset, p. 6., Berkley of Stoke Gifford, Glos.
- Referred to at the historyofparliamentonline biography of his cousin the MP; WADHAM, John (by 1520-1584) of Catherston Lewestone, Dorset.
- His will (Gen. Prob. Reg., 14, Langley) is proved in Prerogative. Court of Cant., 15 March 1577/8.
- T.G.Jackson, Wadham College Oxford
- T.G.Jackson, Wadham College Oxford; p. 7
- T.G.Jackson, Wadham College Oxford; p. 9
- Strangways, Sir Giles II (1528–62), of Melbury House, Melbury Sampford, Dorset.
- Listed building text: "It was occupied by tenant farmers 1618–1933"
- Sidmouth Herald Newspaper, 12 June 2010, erroneously stating Mrs Robinson's name as "Dawn"
- See 1988 New Year Honours list
- Sidmouth Herald Newspaper, 12 June 2010 & 1 July 2010