14th June 2019

Seaton

The first mention of Seaton was in a Papal Bull by Pope Eugenius in 1146. Before that date it was the medieval town of Fleet, founded by a Saxon Charter of AD 1005. At the time of the Domesday Book both Fleet and Beer belonged to the Priory of Horton, which later became a part of Sherborne Abbey.

Situated at the mouth of the Axe estuary, Seaton was an important port for several centuries and it supplied ships and mariners in the time of Edward I, for his wars against Scotland and France. It was certainly known to the Phoenicians and the Romans. Shipbuilding became an important trade until the 1800’s, and Henry Akerman was an Admiralty shipwright in 1804. An important salt industry existed in the tidal estuary for many centuries and dated from the iron age.

After Sherborne Abbey surrendered to the Crown in 1539 the manor was granted to John Fry of Grays Inn and Yarty in Membury. He soon resold it to John Willoughby of Payhembury, whose grand-daughter and heiress married. Sir George Trevelyan of Nettlecombe in 1656. The manor of Seaton has remained, with this family up to the present day. It was the Trevelyans who developed the town from a pretty fishing village into a Victorian seaside resort.

The Head family were also prominent in Seaton, the first one being a blacksmith who commenced building the family fortune by dealing in property and being appointed as the Reeve by the Trevelyans. The Heads lived at Wessiters House which was built in 1843. They became landed gentry, with their own coat of arms, until the estate was sold up in 1959.

There was a substantial Fort on the seafront which was completed in 1544 and inspected by Henry VIII. Nearby was a large earth mound surmounted by a lighthouse, known as The Burrow, which was later replaced by a Martello Tower in the Napoleonic Wars. Today, nothing remains, all having been demolished to make way for The Esplanade.

The Parish Church of St. Gregory the Martyr is an ancient building standing on the site of an earlier wooden church which served the old town of Fleet. For many years it was also the parish church for Beer, and there are memorials to the Willoughby, Walrond. and Starre families. On the list of vicars is an entry for the Rev. Francis Drake, killed by smugglers on Bosshill in 1769. Jack Rattenbury, the famous smuggler, was buried in the churchyard. The Axmouth Bridge is the oldest surviving concrete bridge in England, having been built in 1877, and the old tollhouse is the oldest concrete building.The Axmouth Bridge is the oldest surviving concrete bridge in England, having been built in 1877, and the old tollhouse is the oldest concrete building.The Axmouth Bridge is the oldest surviving concrete bridge in England, having been built in 1877, and the old tollhouse is the oldest concrete building.The Axmouth Bridge is the oldest surviving concrete bridge in England, having been built in 1877, and the old tollhouse is the oldest concrete building.The Axmouth Bridge is the oldest surviving concrete bridge in England, having been built in 1877, and the old tollhouse is the oldest concrete building.