Our parish history is entwined with Wells Cathedral. King Edward the Confessor gave Whitchurch and Binegar to Giso, Bishop of Wells in 1065. In 1140, Bishop Robert created the Dean and Chapter setting aside property – Prebends – for its foundation. Binegar and Whitchurch supported the Cathedral Canon appointed Whitchurch Prebendary. His seat is still in the Chapter House.


The Parish comprised the two Manors from 1065-1937 and stretched to Paulton. Then they reorganised and Whitchurch went to Ston Easton. The Prebendal house, though, is still there at Whitchurch Farm. This page aims to give you all we have about our history.


Scroll down and click the titles to read the articles. If you have a contribution, do send it in.

The Big Picture

What’s in a name Binegar and Gurney Slade – meanings and crest

Of Prebends and Prebendaries – things you will need to know

Binegar: a short history – Binegar Women’s Institute, 1974

The Barrington Papers – Delia Barrington’s research papers for A Short History

The Barrington photographs – the collection of pictures


Guest Essays

Charles Uphill and the search for the stained glass window
Jeff Parsons on an Australian’s donation to Holy Trinity’s East window, 1912

Binegar and the Blücher
Harry Crowley on prisoners of war and the German Navy’s armoured battle cruiser

A Country Fair – reminiscences of High Drowsy (Binegar) Annual Fair
Charles Hippesley Meade, 1866-1939, childhood memories (courtesy Mrs J Hill)


Dig deeper for tales of our parish – of murder, mayhem, highway robbery, sanctuary from justice and more.  You will meet great men – lawyers, playrights, judges and brilliant churchmen.  Judge Bracton’s words are carved in stone on Harvard University Law School Library.  Richard Courtenay lies in Westminster Abbey in the same grave as King Henry V.  John Claymonde was a close friend of those Renaissance Men Saint Thomas More and Erasmus. And there are thieves and vagabonds too. We have an entertaining and interesting history!


Digging Deeper

From ancient times to the Norman invasion of 1066

From 12,000BC via ancient Celtic Britons, Romans and Saxons to Edward the Confessor

Secondary neolithic and Roman site at Binegar, Somerset by E K Tratman

Roman road from Whitnell Corner to Midsomer Norton by E K Tratman


From the Norman Conquest to the Black Death 1066-1348

1066 – Normans, our parish, Domesday and the sad fate of the Saxon nobles

1080 – So, who on earth was living here on the Mendips 900 years ago?

1140 – The Whitchurch Prebend and its (scandalous) first Prebendaries

1250 – Henry de Bracton – the greatest of all our Prebendaries

1257 – William and Cicely de Wynchalse seek Sanctuary in Holy Trinity Church

1342 – Richard de Thormerton – an unlucky and absent Prebendary

1348 – The Black Death and how that Divine Wrath could be cured and prevented


From the Black Death to the English Reformation, 1348-1530

1349 – The Wells Holy Cross Fair moves to Binegar and stays 600 years

1370 – Thomas Waryn – our lost Rector found again

1374 – Richard de Courtenay – our fairest Prebendary and King Henry’s mate

1381 – Dangerous times in Somerset as the peasants revolt (and the “gentry”)

1401 – A Welsh Rector and murmurings of discontent about the state of the Church

1410 – More bad feeling about the Church with absentee rectors and prebendaries

1425 – A tough vocation for a dedicated man- a priest’s life in the 1400s

1450 – With so many absentee clerics, who did care for the souls of parishioners?

1463 – Thomas Chaundler – our clear-sighted playright Prebendary

1509 – John Claymonde – the life and fateful times of a Renaissance Man and Prebendary

1527 – William Knight and John FitzJames – divorce negotiator and Reformation legislator


From the Reformation to the English Civil War, 1530-1650

1534 – Reformation begins brutally and led by Thomas Cromwell, Dean of Wells

1535 – Rector John Dun is sued by the Dean of Wells

1543 – Highway robbery of Thomas Foxe on his way home from Binegar Fair

1548 – Bad Bishop Bill Barlow and his bounteous bequest

1599 – Bishop Still grabs Binegar Fair’s profits and writes a comedy about a needle


From the English Civil War to Victoria, 1650-1832 – the yet to be tackled


From Victoria to today, 1832 onwards

1888 – Thomas Hardy’s Binegar Fair