Holcombe Rogus History

The earliest written record is in a charter dated 958 but it is probable that there was a settlement on the site for centuries before that. Early spellings varied from Holancumb (998), Holancumbe (1012), Holacumbe (1046), Holecoma (1086) and Holecumbe in 1238. The name is derived from the Saxon 'holan' (a hollow) and the ancient British 'cumb' or wooded valley. The Rogus derives from Rogo Fitz-Nigel, a knight who rented the estate from Baldwin, Earl of Devon following the Norman conquest. Rogo's descendants lived here for seven generations and adopted the surname Fitzrogus around 1100. The last Fitzrogus was Jordan. His daughter Margaret married Richard de Chesildon in whose family the estate remained until being acquired by the Bluetts through marriage in 1540. Various branches of the Bluett family held the estate until it was sold to Rev. William Rayner in 1858. The Rayer family then held the court and estate until its sale in 1939. The Court was requisitioned during the war and was occupied by the Durham Light Infantry and then the US army.

Dispersal of the Holcombe Rogus estate

Much of the estate was dispersed at a major sale in 1925. This sale included Fenton Farm, Eastbrook Farm, Higher Whipcott, Wiseburrow and Brinscott, Burrow Farm, several smaller farms, and cottages in South Street, Timewells, Twichen, Fore Street and Pound Hill. The majority of the remaining estate was broken up when the Court was sold in 1939. [caption id="attachment_156" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="South Styreet c1915"]South Street Holcombe Rogus[/caption] Mains water came to the village in 1940. Prior to that there were taps in arched alcoves around the village fed by a spring at Holcombe Court. Most of the alcoves can still be seen. The villagers' thirst was further served by 3 pubs: The New Inn (now Linfield House), The George (now The Old George) and The Prince of Wales, which is the only one still licensed. The village retains an interesting mix of buildings with many houses built from cob or stone dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Several are listed and the village centre is a conservation area.

Chair making in Holcombe Rogus

For reasons not altogether clear, the village was a centre of chair making for over 400 years. In 1841 there were 22 chair-makers, all of whom would probably have employed labourers and apprentices. They supplied chairs in their hundreds to churches and halls as far away as Bristol, Bath, Wells and Exeter. The last maker was Francis Tooze who continued at least until 1919. Acknowledgement This information was taken from MIchael Brooke-Webb's A Short Parish History which was based on A Short History of Holcombe Rogus by Andrew Gabriel and Barbara Fletcher  

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26 thoughts on “Holcombe Rogus History

  1. Very grateful for your help.

    Am sure I attended a performance by Pink Floyd (sic) at a village fete in Holcombe Rogus in July or August of either 1967 or 1968. Can recall their trade mark oil based light show- and a certain amount of indifference from the crowd. Or am I just imagining it.


    • HI Steve,
      No idea on this one. Any ‘older’ residents remember the Floyd playing Holcombe Rogus? Would be amazing if true.

    • Steve,
      I’ve been told that it was probably Renaissance and some members of Black Sabbath. Somebody tried to get a Holcombe Rogus Festival off the ground but it seems we were overshadowed by some place called Glastonbury, wherever that is.

  2. Great informative site. Came across the site while doing a little bit of family history research (as you can tell by the surname!) Hope to visit very soon and see the lovely village in all its glory in real life.

  3. Hi, update to Pink Floyd concert, I was there!! My Dad, Alfred Fowle, chairman of village hall committee, organised an annual village fundraising event to maintain and improve the village hall this included what was advertised as “A Bumper BBQ and Beat night”. This event ran for a number of years and acts performing included the local band Marsupialami and nationally known groups such as Quintessence, Greyhound and Eyes-of-Blue ……….Pink Floyd never performed at the event. If I remember correctly Quintessence were playing the night Jimmy Hendrix died. The event normally took place in a field between the church and the village wood although the first event at which Quintessence played was rained off and they ended up performing at the village hall to an appreciative audience.

  4. I found this site whilst researching for a walk along the canal – which ended in the village pub, quite by chance.

    I attended the Quintessence gig & it was indeed something special. Although I remember a fair bit of waiting around & uncertainty because of the rain, the village hall was very atmospheric, it suited the music well. Of course, the aroma in the air might have helped (Patchouli oil and…).

    Really glad to have had my memories stirred, but slightly irked that I didn’t attend any other bands !

  5. Dear All .

    My FAMILY TREE goes way back in time to Holcombe Rogus , going back to just about 1960 my brother and my-self caught a train to maybe Wellington , looking for this Village , we walked for hours and finaly came across it , the Church was locked but we looked around village and Church Yard , taking Photos , I remember it as a small quiet Village , very nice .
    I have moved several times since this and lost many photos along the way plus other items .
    My Family name is now Hagland , but it was originaly AGLAND.
    I wonder if any Aglands still live there today ?
    There were Aglands in the phone book in the phone booth when we visited , but we decided not to phone any-one in case , ( it would have been like cold calling , not knowing who who was ) .
    But after all these years , I would like to know of any stories handed down if possible , please ?
    So if any Aglands are reading this with Family tree interest , I would love to share what I have , know , and hope for info in return if possible ?
    Just found this site , I will check back later and continue to .

    All the best , Dave

    • Hi Dave
      I am an Agland by marriage. My father-in-law has been working on a family tree and his ancestor Samuel John Agland (but registered as Hagland at birth) was born here on 11/02/1867. He was the son of Samuel Agland and Sarah Ann Davey. (Family legend states that there were 20 children of this marriage.)

  6. Hi all,

    my family (paternal line) also hails from Holcombe Rogus. They were there in the late 1500’s right up to the end of the 1800’s. Does anybody know if Holcombe Court has an archive of old manorial records? If so, I imagine these would be an absolute goldmine for those researching local families. I have several old photos of the village which I can e-mail if anyone’s interested…

    Best wishes,
    Andrew Shackell

    • I would be very interested in any old pictures of the village, I’m most interested in the early 1800’s and anything connected to the Hellings (ie the Hellings Farm, Kitton Barton, etc.) or Warren (ie Frog House, Chairmaking buisness, etc.) families. Thanks!

      • Hello Judie.

        I am presently researching the family history of my children and through their mother (a Hellings) I got back to Frank Hellings born in Holcombe Rogus in 1842.

        At his wedding his father was stated to be James Hellings (born around 1816) but a census in 1851 implies that his father was Charles Hellings (born around 1822).

        His grandparents were Richard (born around 1786) and Ann (born at Tiverton around 1783).

        I’d really like to make sure I get the right ancestor for my children and am wondering if you might have any information that would help and are willing to share.

        Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.

        Tim Counihan

  7. Hello Andrew
    I am not sure about the manorial records but will enquire. Meanwhile I would love to see the photos and, if it’s OK with you, publish them on the village website.


    Richard Hussey

    • Hi Richard,

      Can you provide me with an email address? I can send the photos that way.

      I have about 5 pictures. One was taken from the church tower in about 1935 and is a good shot of the village as it then was although I don’t know if much has changed as I’m not a local.

      The others were taken in the same visit (by a distant relative of the same family who had made contact with my own branch back in the day).

      I’ll gladly send them over with as much info as I can.


  8. my great grandmother came from Holcombe rogus her name was ellen tooze can anyone tell me if there are any toozes still there

  9. Hello, My husband and I are coming to Holcombe Rogus in October. He is a direct descendent to Sir John Holcombe in the Abbey at Dorchester on Thames. Are there still any Holcomb’s in the area? This line of the family migrated to Virginia in the 1700’s.

  10. My Great Grandfather John Howe & his wife Caroline nee Norton lived in Ivy Cottage, also many other Howe’s and relations lived in and around your village, there are still people related in the area, Sampford Peveral, Greenham to name two. There are families and relations in both of All Saints church yards.

  11. My family trace back to Holcombe Rogus in the 14th century. At this time they were farming at Fenton an occupation which continued until the start of the 18th century. I am told that there is still the field which bears their name. Does anyone know if this is true and if so where this field is?
    Andy Denham

  12. My wife is descended from Samuel Frost, a wood turner and stonemason who was born at Holcombe Rogus in 1805 and died at Taunton in 1877. His father was Thomas Baxter Frost, born 1784 same place. Samuel seems to have “turned” (forgive the pun) from carving timber to limestone when he left the village to live in Taunton. His brothers were master craftsmen in timber or stone, and his son Stephen called himself a sculptor.

  13. My family are descended from the Hillmans. Alexander Hillman was gatekeeper living at Whitehall Gate in 1851. I wondered if the gate is still there and if there are any photographs?

  14. Hi
    I have been researching our family history and discovered that the following resided in Holcumbe Rogus between 1849 and 1861 before moving to Swansea. Family is as follows: William Nott Govier married Sarah Norman at At All Saints on 17/12/1849.
    Their Children: Henrietta/Chlorinda and Lilly resided Fore Street. William is described as a Tailor. Any information about the family is sought.
    Kindest Regards Karl (Swansea)

  15. Greetings from South Carolina! Just found your site…My dad was in US Army in ww2 and was involved in Normandy invasion June 1944. He died in 1992, but we’re working on documenting as much as we can about his service. I remember him talking about his unit being quartered at a manor/castle called Holcombe Rogus in the months leading up to the invasion. I remember a few stories he had about the pub in town and “the Major’s” goldfish pond at Holcombe Rogus. Just wondering if there’s any record or remembrance of US troops being there in spring/summer of 1944? His unit was the 532nd Ordnance Company, Heavy Maintenance-Tank.

  16. Very interesting, but does anyone know of the Bowermans, especially Harry who lived at the Prince of Wales pub with his family and I believe travelled to the USA to work probably in carpentry.

    • I have quite a lot of Bowerman names and dates and some information gathered while I was researching for the short history of Holcombe Rogus that I wrote in 2006, now out of print. I also have some woodworking planes and one or two other tools marked Bowerman dating from the family’s chairmaking and cabinet making involvement.

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