St Martin's Church

North Perrott, Somerset

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The Hoskyns Family

A younger son of the Hoskyns family of Herefordshire (see Burke’s Peerage) moved to Dorset in the time of Henry VIII. This branch of the family prospered, and William Hoskins (the family had changed the spelling of their surname), who was born c. 1679, married at North Perrott Church and was living in the adjoining village of Haselbury Plucknett when his son William II was born in 1703. William II first bought land in North Perrott in 1742. His son William III, who was born at Haselbury in that year, married Elizabeth Addington, daughter of Dr Addington, the physician to George III, and sister to Henry Addington, the first Viscount Sidmouth, who was an undistinguished Prime Minister (from 1801 to 1804). Canning made of him the famous remark, ‘As Pitt is to Addington so London is to Paddington’.

 

William III built a substantial house in North Perrott, known as North Perrott House, in 1782, and moved there from Haselbury. In 1790 he bought the Lordship of the Manor of North Perrott and the Patronage of the Living. He died in 1813, and his eldest son William IV succeeded to the estate at North Perrott; his second son Thomas inherited his house and land at Haselbury. The third brother, Henry, was ordained, and in 1814 was given the Living of North Perrott by his brother; he was to be Rector there for 62 years. He married Mary Phelips, the sister of the squire of Montacute nearby, and when her brother married a Miss Hoskyns of the Herefordshire Hoskyns family the two branches of the family became reacquainted, and Henry’s son Henry William eventually reverted to the original spelling of the name. William Hoskins IV never married, and as Thomas had no children Henry became eventually the squarson (both squire and parson). Henry brought up his seven children at the Rectory;  on his death in 1876 he was to be succeeded as squire by his eldest son Henry William and as Rector by his second son Charles. Charles was to be Rector for 32 years until 1908; he and his father between them held the living for 94 years. Henry’s third son Haviland died tragically at 14, probably from leukaemia, and there is a moving series of letter from his parents to their eldest son Henry at Oxford, charting the progress of his illness. The fourth son Anthony became an admiral ; the fifth, Arthur, married an heiress and bought King Ina’s Palace, the Manor House at South Petherton nearby.

 

When Henry William inherited from his father he decided to build a Manor House in a better position than that built by his grandfather, and the original house was pulled down; joinery and fireplaces from the old house were incorporated in the new one, which was designed by T.H.Wyatt and completed in 1878. It incorporated modern conveniences such as electricity (powered by the River Parrett) and a number of bathrooms.

 

Henry William Hoskyns was succeeded by his eldest son Henry William Paget (known as Paget). Paget’s son Henry William Whitby (known as Hal), who was born in 1899, was fortunate in escaping the fate of some of his contemporaries at school who joined up in 1918 and were killed in the last months of the First World War. Hal went on a training course preparatory to becoming a gunnery officer, and never got into the trenches. As he had been a serving officer he was, however, allowed the privilege of keeping a car in Oxford when he went up to the university in 1919.

 

Paget died in 1921 so Hal became the squire at the age of 22. In the 1930s he started a fruit farm to provide work for those unable to find it in the difficult period between the wars, and this remains the main part of the estate to this day. In 1938, convinced that war was inevitable, he made an agreement with a preparatory school in Surrey that in the event of war the school would evacuate to North Perrott and take a lease on the Manor House for the duration. In 1939 Hal and his family moved out of the Manor and subsequently made their home in the Manor Farm. After the war the Manor House was leased to Mr Gerald Grundy to found a new  preparatory school, and eventually sold; Perrott Hill School continues to flourish to this day. Hal Hoskyns died in 1974, and was succeeded by his son Henry William Furse (Bill), who combined running the estate with a notable sporting career as a fencer. He was the first British athlete to compete in six Olympic Games  and won two silver medals; he was world champion at Epee in 1958. Bill Hoskyns died in 2013, and his son Jonathan now runs the estate.