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Harold the stag THE HISTORY OF SHARPHAM PARK 

Sharpham Park is a 300 acre historic park close to Glastonbury in Somerset, dating back to the Bronze Age. 

The first known reference to Sharpham Park is a grant by King Edwig to the Thegn (Minister) Aethelwold in 957.  In 1191 the park was given to the Abbots of Glastonbury by King John I who remained in possession of it until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.
 
For the next 100 years it was the subject of a continual battle for control between rival noblemen.  From 1539 to 1707 the Park was owned by The Duke of Somerset, Sir Edward Seymour, brother of Queen Jane third wife of Henry VIII; Sir Edward Dwyer, the Elizabethan poet; the Thynne family of Longleat; the renowned legal family of Sir Henry Gould and the famous novelist Henry Fielding, author of Tom Jones, who was born there in 1707. 

In the late 1700’s the Gould family failed to produce a male heir and the estate passed to the Earl of Cavan through marriage.  He in turn rented it to a succession of gentleman farmers, including the irascible Thomas Hawkins, a great palaeontologist who discovered the first fossils of the ichthyosaurus. 

In the 1830’s large parts of the original mansion, including the chapel, were pulled down.  By 1890 it was regarded as one of the best farms in Somerset, employing over 40 farm labourers, with a focus on wheat, dairy, beef cattle and sheep.


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