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Historic England Research Records

Watermeadow System

Hob Uid: 1099668
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Exmoor
Grid Ref : SS7567836812
Summary : A substantial watermeadow system known locally as a catchwater meadow, was built at Emmetts Grange during the 1840s-1850s. It was most likely constructed by Robert Smith, land agent for the Knights and expert on water meadows, when the farm was a show piece to impress the other tenants of the Knight farms. A series of approximately parallel gutters were used to distribute flowing water evenly over the surface of the meadow in order to prevent freezing in winter and encourage early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock. This system appears to be connected to the farmyard at Emmetts Grange, suggesting that this was an integrated system which also distributed liquid manure as fertiliser to the fields. A number of different water sources were utilised, mostly springs, boggy patches and water from Kinsford Water, a leat being taken when the road crosses the stream. The remains of the dams and culverts can still be seen although eroded.
More information : A substantial watermeadow system known locally as a catchwater meadow, was built at Emmetts Grange during the 1840s-1850s. Centred at approximately SS 7520 3680, the syustem consists of a number of leats and gutters which roughly follow the slopes of the valley above Kinsford water. The gutters stretch across numerous fields, covering a total area of some 53 hectares, and range from 37 to 920 metres in length.
Catchwater meadows used a series of approximately parallel gutters to distribute flowing water evenly over the surface of the meadow in order to prevent freezing in winter and encourage early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock. This system appears to be connected to the farmyard at Emmetts Grange, suggesting that this was an integrated system which also distributed liquid manure as fertiliser to the fields. A number of different water sources were utilised, mostly springs, boggy patches and water from Kinsford Water, a leat being taken when the road crosses the stream. The remains of the dams and culverts can still be seen although eroded.
This particular system was most likely constructed by Robert Smith, land agent for the Knights from 1848, who was considered an expert on water meadows. Emmett's Grange was a show piece to impress the other tenants of the Knight farms, and most have some form of catchwater meadow. This vast system at Emmetts was likely the first constructed by Smith (1-5).

Sources :
Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF CPE/UK/1980 4446-4448 11-APR-1947
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Source Number : 3
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/96559 008-010 07-MAY-1996
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Source Number : 4
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Cook, H. and Williamson, T. 2007 "Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation" Windgather Press, Cheshire page(s) 1-7, 28-29
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Source Number : 5
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Orwin, C.S. 1929 "The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest" Oxford University Press, London page(s) 55, 77
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Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Francis P A Survey and description of the catch meadow irrigation systems
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 1850
Monument Start Date : 1840
Monument Type : Water Meadow, Dam, Culvert, Leat
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 34363
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : HER Number (Exmoor National Park)
External Cross Reference Number : MSO6926
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 73 NE 30
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1486641
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1569538
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2007-04-01
End Date : 2009-07-01