DiCamillo Companion


  • Built / Designed For: Edward Clarke of Chipley

    House & Family History: Built for Edward Clarke of Chipley (1650-1710, MP for Taunton and auditor to Queen Mary) and his wife Mary, nee Jepp (1655-1705) and their family of eight children, for whom John Locke the philosopher wrote his "Some thoughts concerning Education," which was dedicated to Edward. By January 1680-81 articles of agreement were drawn up "between William Taylor of ye Parish of St Thomas Apostle London Carpenter" and Edward, agreeing that "Wm. Taylor togather with a suffitient number of able workemen shall and will doe and performe in and about a certaine messuage or mansion house and other appurtenances intended forthwith to bee built upon a certaine parcell of ground belonging to ye sd Edward Clarke situate in ye parish of Ninehead in ye county of Somersett in ye best most workemanlike and substantiall manner now used All and singular ye Carpenters, Ruffe-Masons, Free-masons, Briklayers and Plaisterers Worke wch shall bee needfull or necessary to bee done and performed and Wm Taylor and his workemen shall and will well and substantially and in ye best and most workemanlike manner hew, saw, double-frame and lay or rayse all ye floores and summers in ye second third and fowerth storyes in ye sd intended messuage or mansion house" and that Edward "shall and will over and besides ye several rates and prises before mentioned well and truly pay or cause to bee paid to the said Wm Taylor ye full summa of one hundred pounds for his particular care and paines in and about contriveing building finishing of ye sd House and out-houses thereunto belonging, that is to say, the summa of fifty pounds at ye laying of ye foundation of ye sd house, and fifty pounds more when ye sd house shall be covered in and finished as aforesd." The first payment was completed on 17 February 1680-81 "recd then by ye handes of my wife £4 of Mr. Clarke and ten pounds more I recd of him in January last in all ye summa of fifty pounds being ye first summa payable to mee by ye Articles I say recd £50 by mee Will Taylor." Chipley was a large two-range house, 100 feet long on the north and south sides, and 96 feet on the east and west, both elegant and convenient. It had a basement, ground floor and first floor, plus four "dormar buildings" and four stacks of chimneys, and was built of brick faced with white ashlar. There was a "great muddilan cornish like that of St. Brides steepell." The main front had a "great frontispiece according to the dorick order, with such carving as the order allows," and there were frontispieces to the garden front and stable yard; these enabled the house to be used from all sides, as did the central hall. There were 28 windows with 300 lights, 11 feet high on the ground floor and 10 feet on the second, plus 16 Lutheran (lucarne) windows. The main floor had 12 doors and doorcases with mouldings at 8s a piece and four doorcases with pairs of doors at 40s each. On the upper floor there were 20 doors and cases with mouldings at 8s a piece. On the third floor the truss to hang up the floors and carry the roof cost £10. 1680 was unusually early for a brick built house in Somerset; but Edward's contract with John Kingston, brickmaker of Taunton, was signed in September 1680, Kingston covenanting to begin digging the earth a fortnight after Michaelmas, to start moulding in the spring and firing in May. He was paid 6d per thousand bricks for turning the earth, 3s per thousand for moulding and 18 pence when a thousand were burnt. By January fifty shillings had been paid for turning the earth for 100,000 thousand bricks and in February another 50 000 had been contracted for. Edward wrote various reminders to himself, e.g., "memo: to send to him Saturday next to begin and digg ye earth according to ye Agreemt." The whole estate was involved in the building, which had to be fitted in round the usual tasks of ploughing, reaping and haymaking. Edward was responsible for bringing all the necessary materials at his own cost to the building site, so a saw pit was dug and a lime kiln built in February; 42 hogsheads of lime was paid for on 19 March. The wages book shows payment to Charles Granger for sawing 1800 elm boards and William Hall receiving 17d for a 1000 lasts three feet long and 20d for 1000 four-foot-long; by July 200,000 lasts had been made. In March 10,000 tyle stones arrived costing £12, plus 30s for carriage, and in July ragg stones were brought by three horses for 3s 6d and a second lime kiln was built. On April 23, 1681 Edward and Taylor together took the "mesures of ye building from ye foundation up to ye first floore." Inside the house was a Great Hall 1245 feet x 32 feet, with a floor of polished stone and two great windows with an architrave moulding a foot high. The Great Staircase of "Wallnut Tree Wood" had 34 steps with fashionable rails and bannisters (costing £25) and there were three great pairs of back stairs and a little back stairs. All floors were of double framing 14 inches deep, except the cellar floors, which were single framing. The four trusses that hung up the floor over the Hall cost 50s a truss. There was a Little Hall with a room within it. Edward had a study and there was a drawing room on the first floor overlooking the hall and a gallery and nursery on the top floor above Mary's room. There were apartments - bedchambers with dressing room and closet, one of which was reserved for Locke's visits. The high service basement shows Chipley's modernity, for it had a "workemens" hall for the servants and groups of rooms for different needs - for food there was a kitchen, a scullery, (for washing up) pastry, (with a hot oven for baking and roasting), and a larder (for meat), for drink there was a great cellar (for storing wine and probably under one of the Great rooms), two beer cellars, a buttery for serving wine , the butler's room, and service rooms like the laboratory, milk house, and the little room. To reduce smells the kitchen was vaulted. The chimneys had to be of convenient width "without any tymber neare ye funells of them and in suche manner as they maycarry ye smoake cleare without any annoyance." Chipley was well supplied with water; the "drayne," which brought water in, was 163 feet long. Undated papers in Taylor's writing show some of the costs of the building: First story: £175 13 4, Second story: £268 18 0; Third story: £268 18 0. (This history of Chipley generously supplied by Bridget Clarke.)

  • Architect: William Taylor

    Date: 1680s
    Designed: House

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  • House Listed: Demolished

    Park Listed: Destroyed

  • Past Seat / Home of: Edward Clarke, 17th-18th centuries. William Sanford.

    Current Ownership Type: Demolished

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Demolished

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No