Court - a part history
The following account of Barrs Court was written
in the 1970's
for the parish magazine. (source
Barrs Court is on the outskirts of Longwell Green,
and is on the fringe of land which was at one time
It is approached by three long drives from different
directions, and is set well back from the road.
No one lives there now - the land is farmed by Mr.
Hooper of Longwell Green, and one frequently sees
a tractor or cattle truck there, but they always
look incongruous and out of place. The building
is now going to rack and ruin with roofs and ceilings
falling in, and creepers making a curtain over all,
yet from a distance it is still beautiful. The buildings
that remain are only a fraction (possibly the servants
quarters) of the whole manor itself.
Even the farm house as it was until about fifteen
years ago was very large. There is a room with barred
windows - was this to keep prisoners in? The large
dairy has a spring running through. There was a
beautiful coat of arms, but this has now disappeared,
and there are several rumours as to what has become
It is easy for one to imagine when visiting Barrs
Court that one has slipped back in time, perhaps
to 1483, when Sir John Barr owned it and much of
the area for miles around. It was from him that
it derived its name. It passed to his wife, who
died without leaving any family, and thence into
the Newton family, to whom it belonged for many
The Newtons owning Barrs Court, were close relations
of Sir Isaac Newton. In 1540 Barrs Court is referred
to as "fayre old manor place of stone. The
forest of Kyngswodd cummys just on to Barrs Court."
In 1652 it was probably in its heyday, Sir John
Newton owned several of the nearby Manors, as well
as Barrs Court, by intermarriage.
This same Sir John, who is buried in nearby Bitton
Church, is spoken of thus on his epitaph - "a
most loving husband, careful father, faithful friend,
pious, just, prudent, charitable, salient, and beloved
of all" He was three times burgess of Parliament.
He was born in 1626 and died in 1699, being married
for fifty-five years. He had four sons and thirteen
daughters, several of whose tombs are also in Bitton
Church. His wife died aged 85.
In Bitton Church there is a stone panel bearing
the Fifth Commandmente There are tombs and monuments
of.the Newton family at Yatton, East Harptree(from
where they originated) and at Bristol Cathedral.
In the 1700's it passed into the hands of Sir Michael
Newton, who married a certain Margaret, Countess
of Coningsby from Herefordshire, and they had one
son John, who died when an infant. The story goes
that he was killed by a fall downstairs, when he
was dropped by his nurse, who saw an ape. There
were no other heirs.
It was at the time of the death of this wife
in 1746 that the manor house of Barrs Court was
destroyed. There are several theories regarding
this, but the most common one seems to be that it
was decreed in the will that as there were no heirs
the house was to be razed to the ground, and so
it was. It is said that from the air the outlines
of the foundations can be seen, and in a dry period
it is possible to make out the outline of the moat.
This description was made in the late 1700's
by people remembering Barrs Court "It was an
old house, marked by a moat with a high wall all
round the park. Niches were filled with collossus
leaden statues. The hall was large and lofty, and
richly carved. There was gilt all round the fireplace,
and a shelf supported by two figures. It was paved
with black and white marble squares - there was
a musician1s gallery, and a Chapel. It had square
stoned mullioned windows, and there was a drawbridge.
There was a porter's lodge, and a large and a small
gateway". In the British Museum is a parchment
twenty-five feet long, listing the tenants of Barrs
The reapers on the estate received twopence per
day. There is a mention of Monday lands, when the
tenant worked for the landlord on Monday. Amongst
the tenants was the Abbot of Keynsham.
There is another manuscript belonging to the
Newtons of Barrs Court, containing a record of rents
paid by the tenants from 1729 to 1740. There are
several blank pages - it got into the hands of a
Bristol haulier, Thomas Long, who used it as a log
So Barrs Court has gone on, getting smaller and
more dilapidated, but even so, it still has an atmosphere
- that of a great house.