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Steep Holm

Steep Holm (Welsh: Ynys Rhonech, Old English: Ronech and later Steopanreolice) is an English island lying in the Bristol Channel. The island covers 48.87 acres (19.78 ha) at high tide, expanding to 63.26 acres (25.60 ha) at mean low water. At its highest point it is 78 metres (256 ft) above mean sea level. Administratively it forms part of the unitary authority of North Somerset within the ceremonial county of Somerset; between 1 April 1974 and 1 April 1996, it was administered as part of Avon. Nearby is Flat Holm island (Welsh: Ynys Echni), part of Wales.

Steep Holm
Geography
LocationBristol Channel
Coordinates51°20′23″N3°06′35″W /51.33972°N 3.10972°W /51.33972; -3.10972Coordinates: 51°20′23″N3°06′35″W /51.33972°N 3.10972°W /51.33972; -3.10972
Length1 km (0.6 mi)
Width400 m (1300 ft)
Highest point78 m (256 ft)
Administration
England
Unitary AuthorityNorth Somerset
Ceremonial CountySomerset
Civil ParishWeston-super-Mare

The Carboniferous Limestone island rises to about 200 feet (61 m) and serves as a wind and wave break, sheltering the upper reaches of the Bristol Channel. The island is now uninhabited, with the exception of the wardens. It is protected as a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with a large bird population and plants including wild peonies. There was a signal station or watchtower on the island in Roman times, but there may have been human habitation as early as the Iron Age. In the 6th century it was home to St Gildas and to a small Augustinian priory in the 12th and 13th centuries. An inn was built in 1832 and used for holidays in the 19th century. A bird sanctuary was established in 1931 and since 1951 has been leased to charitable trusts. It is now owned by the Kenneth Allsop Memorial Trust.

In the 1860s the island was fortified with ten 7-inch rifled muzzle loaders as one of the Palmerston Forts for the coastal defence of the Bristol Channel until it was abandoned in 1898. The infrastructure was reused in World War I and II when MarkVII6-inch breech-loading guns and search lights were installed. To enable the movement of materials, soldiers from the Indian Army Service Corps initially used mules and then installed a cable-operated winched switchback railway.

Contents

Calf Rock, the south-east extent of the island

The island is formed of Carboniferous Limestone and is often described as geologically a continuation of the Mendip Hills at Brean Down; however, the dip is at a different angle to that on Brean Down. On Steep Holm the dip is about 30 degrees to the north whereas at Brean Down it is 30 degrees to the south. There are some folds and fractures with dip angles up to 75 degrees created during the final phases of the Variscan orogeny near the end of the Carboniferous Period, 300 million years ago.

The island rises to about 200 feet (61 m) from the surrounding sea and covers 49 acres (20 ha) at high tide, whereas at low tide it expands to 63 acres (25 ha) due to the tidal range of 43 feet (13 m), second only to the Bay of Fundy in Eastern Canada. There are many caves on the island, and pot holes up to 60 metres (200 ft) deep in the surrounding sea bed that are believed to be the remnants of collapsed cave systems. The caves on the islands cliffs are at two different levels: the caves in the current inter-tidal zone which are below the water table and are producing stalactites, and many others high up on the cliffs that were on the water line many thousands of years ago.

Steep Holm is protected as a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), notification having taken place in 1952. There is a large bird population, particularly European herring gulls (Larus argentatus) and lesser black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus). There has also been a small population of muntjac deer. The plateau at the top of the island has a layer of soil between 6 inches (150 mm) and 12 inches (300 mm) deep. It has a red colour from veins of iron in the rock and has arrived as sand particles less than 0.0039 inches (0.099 mm) in diameter. The island is the only site in the UK on which wild peonies (Paeonia mascula) grow, although these have been damaged by the fungus botrytis. The wild peony was introduced to the island of Steep Holm, possibly by monks, or brought from the Mediterranean by the Romans. Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) is also common along with golden samphire, buck's-horn plantain (Plantago coronopus) and wild leeks (Allium ampeloprasum). The only reptiles on the island are slowworms (Anguis fragilis).

Prehistoric to Roman

Aerial view of the island

The earliest sign of human activity on the island are prehistoric vertebrae of red deer discovered in Five Johns' Cave during an exploration in 1975. Worked flints from the Mesolithic and scrapers from the Neolithic were uncovered as part of the Priory excavations carried out between 1977 and 1992.

Roman remains, possibly a signal station or watchtower, have been identified on the island by an electrical resistance survey. Accurate exploration and interpretation of the site is difficult as it was reused by builders in both the Victorian era and during World War II. A carved stone head found on the island in 1991 is likely to be a Celtic head from the Romano-British era, but may be from the Iron Age. In addition to shards of cooking pots from the Roman era, some luxury items have been identified including Arretine ware, La Tène style brooches, and an amphora dating from between 90 and 140 AD which was made in southern Spain. There have also been shards of Castor ware. Fragments of pottery roofing and box flue tiles have been identified signifying the presence of a heating system and possibly a bath house. Roman coins from the reigns of Claudius Gothicus (268–270) and Tetricus I (271–273) have also been found.

Religious foundations

The western plateau

According to legend, first recorded by John Leland in the 16th century, Saint Gildas, the author of De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae, lived on Steep Holm during the 6th century. He arrived on Steep Holm after visiting his friend Saint Cadoc, who lived on Flat Holm as a hermit. Gildas supposedly left the island, after pirates from the Orkneys carried off his servant and furniture, to become Abbot of Glastonbury. Other semi-legendary saints are also associated with the island; in John Rous's Historia Regum Angliae (c. 1480), Rous claims that Saint Dubricius, the saint said to have crowned Arthur, retired to an hermitage on the island of 'Stepeholm' in the River Severn. The Vikings took refuge on Steep Holm during the summer of 914 and then carried out raids on the coast of Somerset at Watchet and Porlock, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. At the end of the 12th century, there was a small priory of Canons Regular of St Michael on the island. The only priory building fully excavated measured 73 feet (22 m) long and 15 feet (4.6 m) wide, with the cloisters and other structures still to be identified. The date of the original foundation of the priory is unclear; however, in the early 13th century the patron was William I de Cantilupe. His family were also patrons of Studley Priory in Warwickshire. His granddaughter married Lord Robert de Tregoz who acquired the freehold of the whole island; however, endowments for the upkeep of the priory were declining, which led to it being abandoned between 1260 and 1265, the monks returning to Studley Priory. A Blue Lias memorial stone from the abbey, which has a Cross of Lorraine, was found in 1867 during the fortification of the island. It was incorporated into an armoury leading to the naming of the "tombstone battery".

Manorial ownership

The ruins of the old inn

The island seems to have been held, in association with the local manors of Uphill and Christon, by the Bek family, who granted it to Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln. Although the mechanism is unclear, it next passed to the Berkeley family with Maurice de Berkeley, the second Baron Berkeley, holding it in 1315. The site was used again by warreners in the 14th and 15th centuries. They lived in one of the ruined priory buildings which was rebuilt.

By 1453 the overlordship of the island was held by James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormond, and in 1460 the advowson was exercised by Margaret Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury. Margaret Talbot (née de Beauchamp) was a distant cousin of James Butler as both were descended from different sons of Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick. In other words James Butler (via his mother Joan Butler, Countess of Ormond (née Beauchamp) and his grandfather William Beauchamp, 1st Baron Bergavenny, whilst Margaret Talbot was daughter of Elizabeth de Beauchamp (née Berkeley) and the granddaughter of Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick. In short, James Butler's and Margaret Talbot's de Beauchamp grandparents were brothers. Of note is that Margaret Talbot was the daughter of Elizabeth Berkeley, Countess of Warwick (and her husband Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick) from which discord in the Berkeley family was to emerge (see below). Furthermore, Elizabeth Berkeley was the only daughter of Thomas de Berkeley, 5th Baron Berkeley, showing that ownership still resided to some extent in the Berkeley family since Maurice de Berkeley took over the island in 1315 - Margaret Talbot was the great, great, great granddaughter of Maurice de Berkeley.

However, in the years following, the ownership of a variety of estates, including Norton Beauchamp, to which Steep Holm was attached, was disputed. At the heart of this was the dispute from how the Barony was passed on from Thomas Berkeley, the 5th Baron. These disputes had on one side James Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley, also known as 'James the Just' (not to be confused with the other 1st Baron Berkeley Thomas de Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley who pre-dated him by 150 years). Yet it was to James whom the Barony transferred to under a new creation by writ since his uncle, the aforementioned Thomas de Berkeley (5th Baron) had no male heirs even though he had named his only daughter (Elizabeth Berkeley) as his heir. This was to be the start of a longstanding legal dispute.

On one side of the dispute originating through the line of James, the new 1st Baron, continued through his son (Sir) William de Berkeley, 1st Marquess of Berkeley in 1463, who was the first male issue from his 3rd marriage to Lady Isabel de Mowbray. This was after two previous marriages that yielded no children. On the opposing side of dispute were the descendants of the aforementioned Elizabeth Berkeley (James' the 1st Baron's, 1st cousin) and in particular through her daughter Margaret (de Beauchamp) that shows some curious tangled sub-plots.

One such sub-plot lies with John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury who took Margaret de Beauchamp as his 2nd wife. His first marriage, to a Maud Neville (the daughter of his stepfather Thomas Neville, a Baron Furnivall) and which produced Lady Joan Talbot, amongst 6 children is however notable. The same John Talbot seemingly kidnapped and imprisoned until their death in 1452, the 3rd wife of James Berkeley (the 1st Baron) and mother of the aforementioned 2nd Baron Berkeley (Sir William de Berkeley). Yet, this James Berkeley, took a 4th wife, Lady Joan Talbot (i.e. the daughter of John Talbot who kidnapped his 3rd wife!).

A further sub-plot, or extension of the previous one , centres again around John Talbot but this time as a result of his marriage to Margaret de Beauchamp. Their eldest son, John Talbot, 1st Baron of Lisle and 1st Viscount Lisle, was the father of Thomas Talbot, 2nd Baron of Lisle and 2nd Viscount Lisle. This Thomas Talbot sought to exert his claim on the lands of Baron Berkeley on the death of his grandmother Margaret de Beauchamp (daughter of the disenfranchised Elizabeth Berkeley), who in the interim had continued to press her claim to Baron Berkeley lands against James Berkeley the 1st Baron. It brought him into direct opposition with Sir William de Berkeley (2nd Baron and son of James Berkeley and came to a full head at the Battle of Nibley Green (1470), following what is described as Thomas Talbot's impetuous challenge to Sir William, which had concluded by the end of the following day with the death of Thomas Talbot and the subsequent sacking of his Manor at Wotton-under-Edge.

In the 16th century Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and brother of Jane Seymour (3rd wife Henry VIII) took over, and then lost, large estates including Brean, to which Steep Holm was allied. The marriage of his sister Jane and Henry VIII in 1536 coincided with him being made Viscount Beauchamp, potentially linking back to ancestral marriage between Sir Roger Seymour (c.1308 – Before 1366), who married Cicely, the eldest sister and heir of John de Beauchamp, 3rd Baron Beauchamp. This may be related to the feudal Barony of Hatch Beauchamp, Somerset, previously held by his father Sir John Seymour.

The Seymour descendants recovered the estates, owning them into the 17th century, although the only activity on Steep Holm seems to have been the employment of gull watchers and fishermen. In 1684 the Norton Beauchamp estate (possibly in Kewstoke, Somerset, near Sand Bay, north of Weston-Super-Mare) was sold to Edward Ryder. It appears to have been auctioned by decree of the Court of Chancery 11 years later in 1695, possibly because of difficulties in maintaining sea defenses along the Somerset coast; however, this seems to have been disputed in the light of outstanding mortgages. In 1699 the estates, including Steep Holm, were sold to Philip Freke of Bristol, whose descendants held it for the next 130 years. Freke's granddaughter married into the family of John Willes, who was Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas and Member of Parliament. During their ownership, probably around 1776, a new cottage was built on Steep Holm for fishermen. It was built using stones from the ruined priory. In 1830 the island was sold again, according to some sources this was to a cousin of John Freke Willes named William Willes; however, other sources suggest it was to a solicitor in Weston-super-Mare named John Baker.

In 1832 the island was leased to Colonel Tynte of Halswell House, who established an inn for sailors. The inn was run by the Harris family, using rum and tobacco bought from ships. They claimed that the island was outside the jurisdiction of the excise men until a court case in 1884. After the Harris family, the inn was run by Mr W. L. Davies, who offered fishing, shooting and boating holidays. To make landing on the island easier, a new pier was built close to the inn. In 1835 clergyman John Ashley from Clevedon voluntarily ministered to the population of the island and the neighbouring Flat Holm. Ashley created the Bristol Channel Mission in order to serve seafarers on the 400 sailing vessels which used the Bristol Channel. The mission would later become the Mission to Seafarers, which still provides ministerial services to sailors in over 300 ports.

Palmerston Fort

Split Rock Battery

Both Steep Holm and Flat Holm were fortified in the 1860s as a defence against invasion. They form part of a line of defences, known as Palmerston Forts, built across the channel to protect the approaches to Bristol and Cardiff. The island was fortified following a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to France, where they had been concerned at the strength of the French Navy. The Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom, under the direction of Lord Palmerston, recommended fortification of the coast, and the island formed part of this strategic coastal defence system. Construction began in 1865 and was completed in 1869 by John Perry of Weston-super-Mare. The work involved the creation of a perimeter road around the summit plateau and a lime kiln for the manufacture of lime mortar to build the barracks and gun emplacements with their ammunition stores.

The concrete gun emplacements were called Summit Battery, Laboratory Battery, Garden Battery and Tombstone Battery. Along with the barracks they have been designated as Grade II listed buildings. The facilities installed included a master-gunners house, a small inn, and a water tank holding 49,000 imperial gallons (220,000 l; 59,000 US gal) of rainwater. The water tank is beneath the barracks and collects rainwater from its roof. The brick tank is 16.7 metres (55 ft) long, 4.8 metres (16 ft) wide and 4.5 metres (15 ft) high with a vaulted roof. Armaments included ten 7-inch rifled muzzle loaders Mk III spread between six batteries. These were later replaced with Armstrong 6-inch RML guns. Some of the gun batteries are scheduled monuments, and there are the remains of a centralised group of brick-built barrack blocks. In 1898 test firing by HMS Arrogant, an Arrogant-class cruiser, on Rudder Rock battery showed that the fixed gun emplacements used on Steep Holm and other sites were susceptible to attack by modern warships, and the site was no longer active. The military control on the island was maintained until 1908 when it was leased to James Sleeman and his family. In 1927 the first test of the RAE Larynx (from "Long Range Gun with Lynx engine") an early pilotless aircraft, to be used as a guided anti-ship weapon, took place just off Steep Holm.

World wars

World War II observation post at Rudder Rock

These facilities were updated in both World War I and World War II. From 1915 to 1919 the island was requisitioned by the Admiralty as a coastguard station. After the war the Sleemans returned to carry out farming and fishing and played host to occasional tourists. In World War II, search light batteries were built on Steep Holm. In 1940 the island's warden, Harry Cox, who had developed the island into a bird sanctuary since 1931, was appointed as a coastguard and was supported by Local Defence Volunteers from Weston-super-Mare. In 1940 and 1941 the battery was refortified by soldiers from the Indian Army Service Corps using mules to transport guns and equipment up the steep cliffs. The armament included MarkVII6-inch breech-loading guns taken from World War I naval vessels which had been scrapped, and also included Lewis automatic machine guns against air attack. The Garden Battery was built over two Victorian stone gun emplacements. Engineers from the Royal Pioneer Corps improved the infrastructure including importing sheep to feed the soldiers and, after a case of typhoid fever, shipping drinking water from south Wales. To enable the movement of equipment, the engineers built a new jetty. This was linked to the plateau with a cable-operated winched switchback railway using prefabricated 60 centimetres (24 in) gauge lines which had been captured from the Germans in World War I. The Steep Holm batteries were also connected, by underwater telegraph cable, to the Brean Down Fort batteries, but parts of the cable were stolen for scrap after the end of World War II.

Post war

MV Balmoral in front of the old barracks

In 1953 the island was leased by the Steep Holm Trust supported by four local organisations: the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, Bristol Naturalists Society, Mid-Somerset Naturalists and the Bristol Folk House Archaeological Club. They repaired some of the buildings and established a bird ringing programme. In 1974 their lease expired and was taken over by the Kenneth Allsop Memorial Trust, a registered charity formed in memory of the broadcaster and naturalist Kenneth Allsop. The Trust purchased the island in 1976. The mission statement of the Trust is: "To protect, preserve and enhance for the benefit of the public the landscape, antiquities, flora, fauna, natural beauty and scientific interest of the island of Steep Holm in the County of North Somerset and to advance the education of the public in the natural sciences."

Visits can be made to the island. The trust runs day-long boat trips from Weston-super-Mare. One barrack block is in use to provide visitor facilities. In 1980 the Bollywood film Shaan was set and partially filmed on the island.

The island is the focal point of the 2018 crime thriller Arcam, by Jason Minick.

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Steep Holm
Steep Holm Language Watch Edit Steep Holm Welsh Ynys Rhonech Old English Ronech and later Steopanreolice 1 is an English island lying in the Bristol Channel The island covers 48 87 acres 19 78 ha at high tide expanding to 63 26 acres 25 60 ha at mean low water 2 At its highest point it is 78 metres 256 ft above mean sea level Administratively it forms part of the unitary authority of North Somerset within the ceremonial county of Somerset 3 between 1 April 1974 and 1 April 1996 it was administered as part of Avon 2 Nearby is Flat Holm island Welsh Ynys Echni part of Wales Steep HolmGeographyLocationBristol ChannelCoordinates51 20 23 N 3 06 35 W 51 33972 N 3 10972 W 51 33972 3 10972 Coordinates 51 20 23 N 3 06 35 W 51 33972 N 3 10972 W 51 33972 3 10972Length1 km 0 6 mi Width400 m 1300 ft Highest point78 m 256 ft AdministrationEnglandUnitary AuthorityNorth SomersetCeremonial CountySomersetCivil ParishWeston super Mare The Carboniferous Limestone island rises to about 200 feet 61 m and serves as a wind and wave break sheltering the upper reaches of the Bristol Channel The island is now uninhabited with the exception of the wardens It is protected as a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest SSSI with a large bird population and plants including wild peonies There was a signal station or watchtower on the island in Roman times but there may have been human habitation as early as the Iron Age In the 6th century it was home to St Gildas and to a small Augustinian priory in the 12th and 13th centuries An inn was built in 1832 and used for holidays in the 19th century A bird sanctuary was established in 1931 and since 1951 has been leased to charitable trusts It is now owned by the Kenneth Allsop Memorial Trust In the 1860s the island was fortified with ten 7 inch rifled muzzle loaders as one of the Palmerston Forts for the coastal defence of the Bristol Channel until it was abandoned in 1898 The infrastructure was reused in World War I and II when Mark VII 6 inch breech loading guns and search lights were installed To enable the movement of materials soldiers from the Indian Army Service Corps initially used mules and then installed a cable operated winched switchback railway Contents 1 Geology and ecology 2 History 2 1 Prehistoric to Roman 2 2 Religious foundations 2 3 Manorial ownership 2 4 Palmerston Fort 2 5 World wars 2 6 Post war 3 References 4 Bibliography 5 External linksGeology and ecology Edit Calf Rock the south east extent of the island 4 The island is formed of Carboniferous Limestone and is often described as geologically a continuation of the Mendip Hills at Brean Down 5 however the dip is at a different angle to that on Brean Down On Steep Holm the dip is about 30 degrees to the north whereas at Brean Down it is 30 degrees to the south There are some folds and fractures with dip angles up to 75 degrees created during the final phases of the Variscan orogeny near the end of the Carboniferous Period 300 million years ago 6 7 The island rises to about 200 feet 61 m from the surrounding sea and covers 49 acres 20 ha at high tide whereas at low tide it expands to 63 acres 25 ha due to the tidal range of 43 feet 13 m 8 second only to the Bay of Fundy in Eastern Canada 9 10 11 12 There are many caves on the island 13 and pot holes up to 60 metres 200 ft deep in the surrounding sea bed that are believed to be the remnants of collapsed cave systems 14 The caves on the islands cliffs are at two different levels the caves in the current inter tidal zone which are below the water table and are producing stalactites and many others high up on the cliffs that were on the water line many thousands of years ago 15 Steep Holm is protected as a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest SSSI notification having taken place in 1952 16 There is a large bird population particularly European herring gulls Larus argentatus and lesser black backed gulls Larus fuscus 17 There has also been a small population of muntjac deer 18 The plateau at the top of the island has a layer of soil between 6 inches 150 mm and 12 inches 300 mm deep It has a red colour from veins of iron in the rock and has arrived as sand particles less than 0 0039 inches 0 099 mm in diameter 19 The island is the only site in the UK on which wild peonies Paeonia mascula grow 20 although these have been damaged by the fungus botrytis 21 The wild peony was introduced to the island of Steep Holm possibly by monks 22 or brought from the Mediterranean by the Romans 23 24 25 Alexanders Smyrnium olusatrum is also common along with golden samphire buck s horn plantain Plantago coronopus and wild leeks Allium ampeloprasum 26 27 The only reptiles on the island are slowworms Anguis fragilis 28 History EditPrehistoric to Roman Edit Aerial view of the island The earliest sign of human activity on the island are prehistoric vertebrae of red deer discovered in Five Johns Cave during an exploration in 1975 29 Worked flints from the Mesolithic and scrapers from the Neolithic were uncovered as part of the Priory excavations carried out between 1977 and 1992 30 Roman remains possibly a signal station or watchtower have been identified on the island by an electrical resistance survey 21 31 Accurate exploration and interpretation of the site is difficult as it was reused by builders in both the Victorian era and during World War II 32 A carved stone head found on the island in 1991 is likely to be a Celtic head from the Romano British era 33 but may be from the Iron Age 34 In addition to shards of cooking pots from the Roman era some luxury items have been identified including Arretine ware La Tene style brooches and an amphora dating from between 90 and 140 AD which was made in southern Spain There have also been shards of Castor ware 35 Fragments of pottery roofing and box flue tiles have been identified signifying the presence of a heating system and possibly a bath house 36 Roman coins from the reigns of Claudius Gothicus 268 270 and Tetricus I 271 273 have also been found 37 Religious foundations Edit The western plateau According to legend first recorded by John Leland in the 16th century Saint Gildas the author of De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae lived on Steep Holm during the 6th century He arrived on Steep Holm after visiting his friend Saint Cadoc who lived on Flat Holm as a hermit 38 Gildas supposedly left the island after pirates from the Orkneys carried off his servant and furniture to become Abbot of Glastonbury 39 40 Other semi legendary saints are also associated with the island in John Rous s Historia Regum Angliae c 1480 Rous claims that Saint Dubricius the saint said to have crowned Arthur retired to an hermitage on the island of Stepeholm in the River Severn 41 The Vikings took refuge on Steep Holm during the summer of 914 and then carried out raids on the coast of Somerset at Watchet and Porlock according to the Anglo Saxon Chronicle 42 At the end of the 12th century there was a small priory of Canons Regular of St Michael on the island 43 The only priory building fully excavated measured 73 feet 22 m long and 15 feet 4 6 m wide with the cloisters and other structures still to be identified 44 The date of the original foundation of the priory is unclear however in the early 13th century the patron was William I de Cantilupe His family were also patrons of Studley Priory in Warwickshire His granddaughter married Lord Robert de Tregoz who acquired the freehold of the whole island however endowments for the upkeep of the priory were declining which led to it being abandoned between 1260 and 1265 the monks returning to Studley Priory 45 A Blue Lias memorial stone from the abbey which has a Cross of Lorraine was found in 1867 during the fortification of the island It was incorporated into an armoury leading to the naming of the tombstone battery 46 Manorial ownership Edit The ruins of the old inn The island seems to have been held in association with the local manors of Uphill and Christon by the Bek family who granted it to Henry de Lacy 3rd Earl of Lincoln Although the mechanism is unclear it next passed to the Berkeley family with Maurice de Berkeley the second Baron Berkeley holding it in 1315 47 The site was used again by warreners in the 14th and 15th centuries They lived in one of the ruined priory buildings which was rebuilt 48 49 50 By 1453 the overlordship of the island was held by James Butler 5th Earl of Ormond and in 1460 the advowson was exercised by Margaret Talbot Countess of Shrewsbury Margaret Talbot nee de Beauchamp was a distant cousin of James Butler as both were descended from different sons of Thomas de Beauchamp 11th Earl of Warwick In other words James Butler via his mother Joan Butler Countess of Ormond nee Beauchamp and his grandfather William Beauchamp 1st Baron Bergavenny whilst Margaret Talbot was daughter of Elizabeth de Beauchamp nee Berkeley and the granddaughter of Thomas de Beauchamp 12th Earl of Warwick In short James Butler s and Margaret Talbot s de Beauchamp grandparents were brothers Of note is that Margaret Talbot was the daughter of Elizabeth Berkeley Countess of Warwick and her husband Richard de Beauchamp 13th Earl of Warwick from which discord in the Berkeley family was to emerge see below Furthermore Elizabeth Berkeley was the only daughter of Thomas de Berkeley 5th Baron Berkeley showing that ownership still resided to some extent in the Berkeley family since Maurice de Berkeley took over the island in 1315 Margaret Talbot was the great great great granddaughter of Maurice de Berkeley However in the years following the ownership of a variety of estates including Norton Beauchamp to which Steep Holm was attached was disputed At the heart of this was the dispute from how the Barony was passed on from Thomas Berkeley the 5th Baron These disputes had on one side James Berkeley 1st Baron Berkeley also known as James the Just not to be confused with the other 1st Baron Berkeley Thomas de Berkeley 1st Baron Berkeley who pre dated him by 150 years Yet it was to James whom the Barony transferred to under a new creation by writ since his uncle the aforementioned Thomas de Berkeley 5th Baron had no male heirs even though he had named his only daughter Elizabeth Berkeley as his heir This was to be the start of a longstanding legal dispute On one side of the dispute originating through the line of James the new 1st Baron continued through his son Sir William de Berkeley 1st Marquess of Berkeley in 1463 who was the first male issue from his 3rd marriage to Lady Isabel de Mowbray This was after two previous marriages that yielded no children On the opposing side of dispute were the descendants of the aforementioned Elizabeth Berkeley James the 1st Baron s 1st cousin and in particular through her daughter Margaret de Beauchamp that shows some curious tangled sub plots One such sub plot lies with John Talbot 1st Earl of Shrewsbury who took Margaret de Beauchamp as his 2nd wife His first marriage to a Maud Neville the daughter of his stepfather Thomas Neville a Baron Furnivall and which produced Lady Joan Talbot amongst 6 children is however notable The same John Talbot seemingly kidnapped and imprisoned until their death in 1452 the 3rd wife of James Berkeley the 1st Baron and mother of the aforementioned 2nd Baron Berkeley Sir William de Berkeley Yet this James Berkeley took a 4th wife Lady Joan Talbot i e the daughter of John Talbot who kidnapped his 3rd wife A further sub plot or extension of the previous one centres again around John Talbot but this time as a result of his marriage to Margaret de Beauchamp Their eldest son John Talbot 1st Baron of Lisle and 1st Viscount Lisle was the father of Thomas Talbot 2nd Baron of Lisle and 2nd Viscount Lisle This Thomas Talbot sought to exert his claim on the lands of Baron Berkeley on the death of his grandmother Margaret de Beauchamp daughter of the disenfranchised Elizabeth Berkeley who in the interim had continued to press her claim to Baron Berkeley lands against James Berkeley 51 the 1st Baron It brought him into direct opposition with Sir William de Berkeley 2nd Baron and son of James Berkeley and came to a full head at the Battle of Nibley Green 1470 following what is described as Thomas Talbot s impetuous challenge to Sir William which had concluded by the end of the following day with the death of Thomas Talbot and the subsequent sacking of his Manor at Wotton under Edge In the 16th century Edward Seymour 1st Duke of Somerset and brother of Jane Seymour 3rd wife Henry VIII took over and then lost large estates including Brean to which Steep Holm was allied The marriage of his sister Jane and Henry VIII in 1536 coincided with him being made Viscount Beauchamp potentially linking back to ancestral marriage between Sir Roger Seymour c 1308 Before 1366 who married Cicely the eldest sister and heir of John de Beauchamp 3rd Baron Beauchamp This may be related to the feudal Barony of Hatch Beauchamp Somerset previously held by his father Sir John Seymour The Seymour descendants recovered the estates owning them into the 17th century although the only activity on Steep Holm seems to have been the employment of gull watchers and fishermen 52 In 1684 the Norton Beauchamp estate possibly in Kewstoke Somerset near Sand Bay north of Weston Super Mare was sold to Edward Ryder It appears to have been auctioned by decree of the Court of Chancery 11 years later in 1695 possibly because of difficulties in maintaining sea defenses along the Somerset coast however this seems to have been disputed in the light of outstanding mortgages In 1699 the estates including Steep Holm were sold to Philip Freke of Bristol whose descendants held it for the next 130 years 53 Freke s granddaughter married into the family of John Willes who was Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas and Member of Parliament During their ownership probably around 1776 a new cottage was built on Steep Holm for fishermen It was built using stones from the ruined priory In 1830 the island was sold again according to some sources this was to a cousin of John Freke Willes named William Willes however other sources suggest it was to a solicitor in Weston super Mare named John Baker 54 In 1832 the island was leased to Colonel Tynte of Halswell House who established an inn for sailors The inn was run by the Harris family using rum and tobacco bought from ships They claimed that the island was outside the jurisdiction of the excise men until a court case in 1884 After the Harris family the inn was run by Mr W L Davies who offered fishing shooting and boating holidays 55 To make landing on the island easier a new pier was built close to the inn 56 In 1835 clergyman John Ashley from Clevedon voluntarily ministered to the population of the island and the neighbouring Flat Holm Ashley created the Bristol Channel Mission in order to serve seafarers on the 400 sailing vessels which used the Bristol Channel 57 The mission would later become the Mission to Seafarers which still provides ministerial services to sailors in over 300 ports 58 Palmerston Fort Edit Split Rock Battery Both Steep Holm and Flat Holm were fortified in the 1860s as a defence against invasion They form part of a line of defences known as Palmerston Forts built across the channel to protect the approaches to Bristol and Cardiff The island was fortified following a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to France where they had been concerned at the strength of the French Navy The Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom under the direction of Lord Palmerston recommended fortification of the coast and the island formed part of this strategic coastal defence system Construction began in 1865 and was completed in 1869 by John Perry of Weston super Mare 59 60 The work involved the creation of a perimeter road around the summit plateau and a lime kiln for the manufacture of lime mortar to build the barracks and gun emplacements with their ammunition stores 61 The concrete gun emplacements were called Summit Battery Laboratory Battery Garden Battery and Tombstone Battery Along with the barracks they have been designated as Grade II listed buildings 62 63 64 65 66 67 The facilities installed included a master gunners house a small inn and a water tank holding 49 000 imperial gallons 220 000 l 59 000 US gal of rainwater 68 The water tank is beneath the barracks and collects rainwater from its roof The brick tank is 16 7 metres 55 ft long 4 8 metres 16 ft wide and 4 5 metres 15 ft high with a vaulted roof 69 Armaments included ten 7 inch rifled muzzle loaders Mk III spread between six batteries 12 70 These were later replaced with Armstrong 6 inch RML guns 71 Some of the gun batteries are scheduled monuments 72 73 and there are the remains of a centralised group of brick built barrack blocks In 1898 test firing by HMS Arrogant an Arrogant class cruiser on Rudder Rock battery showed that the fixed gun emplacements used on Steep Holm and other sites were susceptible to attack by modern warships and the site was no longer active 74 75 The military control on the island was maintained until 1908 when it was leased to James Sleeman and his family 76 In 1927 the first test of the RAE Larynx from Long Range Gun with Lynx engine an early pilotless aircraft to be used as a guided anti ship weapon took place just off Steep Holm 77 World wars Edit World War II observation post at Rudder Rock These facilities were updated in both World War I and World War II From 1915 to 1919 the island was requisitioned by the Admiralty as a coastguard station After the war the Sleemans returned to carry out farming and fishing and played host to occasional tourists 78 In World War II search light batteries were built on Steep Holm In 1940 the island s warden Harry Cox who had developed the island into a bird sanctuary since 1931 79 was appointed as a coastguard and was supported by Local Defence Volunteers from Weston super Mare In 1940 and 1941 the battery was refortified by soldiers from the Indian Army Service Corps using mules to transport guns and equipment up the steep cliffs 80 The armament included Mark VII 6 inch breech loading guns taken from World War I naval vessels which had been scrapped and also included Lewis automatic machine guns against air attack The Garden Battery was built over two Victorian stone gun emplacements 81 Engineers from the Royal Pioneer Corps improved the infrastructure including importing sheep to feed the soldiers and after a case of typhoid fever shipping drinking water from south Wales 82 To enable the movement of equipment the engineers built a new jetty This was linked to the plateau with a cable operated winched switchback railway using prefabricated 60 centimetres 24 in gauge lines which had been captured from the Germans in World War I 83 The Steep Holm batteries were also connected by underwater telegraph cable to the Brean Down Fort batteries but parts of the cable were stolen for scrap after the end of World War II 84 Post war Edit MV Balmoral in front of the old barracks In 1953 the island was leased by the Steep Holm Trust supported by four local organisations the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society Bristol Naturalists Society Mid Somerset Naturalists and the Bristol Folk House Archaeological Club They repaired some of the buildings and established a bird ringing programme In 1974 their lease expired and was taken over by the Kenneth Allsop Memorial Trust 85 a registered charity 86 formed in memory of the broadcaster and naturalist Kenneth Allsop The Trust purchased the island in 1976 2 The mission statement of the Trust is To protect preserve and enhance for the benefit of the public the landscape antiquities flora fauna natural beauty and scientific interest of the island of Steep Holm in the County of North Somerset and to advance the education of the public in the natural sciences 87 Visits can be made to the island 88 The trust runs day long boat trips from Weston super Mare 89 One barrack block is in use to provide visitor facilities 90 In 1980 the Bollywood film Shaan was set and partially filmed on the island 91 The island is the focal point of the 2018 crime thriller Arcam by Jason Minick 92 References Edit Proceedings of the Bristol Naturalists Society 1935 Archived from the original on 8 November 2021 Retrieved 18 January 2020 a b c Legg 1995 Fifth periodical report Volume 4 Mapping for the Non Metropolitan Counties and the Unitary Authorities PDF The Boundary Commission for England 26 February 2007 p 7 Archived PDF from the original on 7 June 2013 Retrieved 6 September 2007 Steep Holme Island Ordnance Survey 25 Inch maps 1892 1905 Archived from the original on 30 November 2012 Retrieved 30 November 2017 Coysh Mason amp Waite 1977 p 2 GCR block Variscan Structures of South West England Joint Nature Conservation Committee Archived from the original on 12 July 2016 Retrieved 3 May 2015 Legg 1993 pp 24 25 Severn Estuary Barrage UK Environment Agency 31 May 2006 Archived from the original PDF on 30 September 2007 Retrieved 3 September 2007 Chan amp Archer 2003 p 151 Coast Bristol Channel BBC Archived from the original on 6 June 2013 Retrieved 27 August 2007 Legg 1993 p 24 a b Steep Holm Island PDF Victorian Forts Archived PDF from the original on 3 March 2016 Retrieved 11 July 2015 Coysh Mason amp Waite 1977 pp 75 76 Legg 1993 p 25 Legg 1993 p 29 Citation Steep Holm PDF English Nature Archived PDF from the original on 26 September 2007 Retrieved 6 September 2007 Lewis Stanley 1936 Birds of the Island of Steep Holm PDF British Birds xxx 219 223 Archived PDF from the original on 12 July 2015 Retrieved 12 July 2015 Smith 2006 p 4 Legg 1993 p 33 Steep Holm Island Somerset The Wildlife Trusts Archived from the original on 12 July 2015 Retrieved 11 July 2015 a b Discover Steep Holm and its history Western Daily Press 10 May 2014 Archived from the original on 13 July 2015 Retrieved 11 July 2015 Payne 2011 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 p 15 The Steep Holm Peony Weston super Mare Archaeological and Natural History Society Archived from the original on 4 March 2016 Retrieved 12 July 2015 Steep Holm A peony mystery Peony Society Archived from the original on 4 March 2016 Retrieved 12 July 2015 Atthill 1976 p 44 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 p 39 Toulson 1984 p 127 Legg 1993 p 35 Legg 1993 pp 35 36 Roman watchtower on Steep Holm discovered by Bristol University archaeologists Western Daily Press 25 April 2014 Archived from the original on 27 April 2014 Retrieved 12 July 2015 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 18 21 Green Miranda 1993 Notes Britannia 24 241 242 doi 10 2307 526730 JSTOR 526730 Archived from the original on 22 July 2015 Retrieved 11 July 2015 Historic England Monument No 1456111 Research records formerly PastScape Retrieved 12 July 2015 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 12 14 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 15 16 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 p 17 Rutter 1829 p 95 Clay 1914 p 9 Toulson 1984 p 64 Rous John 1745 Historia Regum Angliae Fletcher and Pote p 59 Legg 1993 pp 54 55 The Bleadon Hills Brean Down and Steep Holm Mendip Council Archived from the original on 30 January 2016 Retrieved 12 July 2015 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 p 37 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 54 57 Legg 1993 pp 63 64 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 58 59 Murphy 2009 p 174 Historic England Steepholme Priory 191342 Research records formerly PastScape Retrieved 12 July 2015 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 60 61 Archived copy Archived from the original on 8 November 2021 Retrieved 9 January 2021 CS1 maint archived copy as title link Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 67 71 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 76 79 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 85 94 Coysh Mason amp Waite 1977 pp 69 70 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 95 96 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 99 100 Farr 1954 p 49 Worrall D H Surtees P R 1984 Flat Holm an account of its history and ecology South Glamorgan County Council 18 19 Cite journal requires journal help Saunders 2000 p 19 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 123 127 Historic England Tombstone Battery 1320678 National Heritage List for England Retrieved 24 July 2015 Historic England Garden Battery 1137955 National Heritage List for England Retrieved 24 July 2015 Historic England Laboratory Battery 1137930 National Heritage List for England Retrieved 24 July 2015 Historic England Summit Battery 1129739 National Heritage List for England Retrieved 24 July 2015 Historic England Two Palmerstonian gun batteries on Steep Holm 1005415 National Heritage List for England Retrieved 24 July 2015 Historic England The Barracks 1320677 National Heritage List for England Retrieved 24 July 2015 van der Bijl 2000 pp 41 42 Legg 1991 p 32 Saunders 2000 p 14 Phillips 2013 Steep Holm PDF Severn Estuary Partnership Archived from the original PDF on 24 September 2015 Retrieved 11 July 2015 Historic England Two Palmerstonian gun batteries on Steep Holm 1005415 National Heritage List for England Retrieved 12 July 2015 van der Bijl 2000 pp 42 43 The Bombardment of the Steep Holm Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser 24 August 1898 Retrieved 12 July 2015 via British Newspaper Archive Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 159 163 Legg 1991 pp 69 70 Rendell amp Rendell 1993 pp 163 167 Coysh Mason amp Waite 1977 p 71 Steep Holm Willys MB WW2 Transport Archived from the original on 14 August 2015 Retrieved 12 July 2015 Historic England Garden Battery Steep Holm South 1456114 Research records formerly PastScape Retrieved 12 July 2015 Brown 1999 pp 23 31 Holland 2010 p 100 van der Bijl 2000 p 101 Coysh Mason amp Waite 1977 p 76 KENNETH ALLSOP MEMORIAL TRUST LIMITED registered charity no 270059 Charity Commission for England and Wales Steep Holm The Kenneth Allsop Memorial Trust Archived from the original on 3 March 2020 Retrieved 12 July 2015 Explore the Bristol Channel s Holm Islands M W Marine Archived from the original on 13 July 2015 Retrieved 11 July 2015 Getting to Steep Holm Steep Holm Archived from the original on 12 July 2015 Retrieved 11 July 2015 Welcome Steep Holm Archived from the original on 3 March 2020 Retrieved 11 July 2015 Legg 1993 pp 140 141 Minick Jason 2018 Arcam DCI Robson J Minick Books ISBN 978 1999662004 Bibliography EditAtthill Robin 1976 Mendip A new study David amp Charles ISBN 978 0715372975 Brown Donald 1999 Somerset v Hitler Secret Operations in the Mendips 1939 45 Countryside Books ISBN 978 1853065903 Clay Rotha Mary 1914 The Hermits and Anchorites of England PDF Methuen amp Co London p 9 Retrieved 23 January 2010 Chan Marjorie A Archer Allen William 2003 Extreme Depositional Environments Mega End Members in Geologic Time Boulder Colorado Geological Society of America ISBN 978 0813723709 Coysh A W Mason E J Waite V 1977 The Mendips 4 ed Robert Hale ASIN B00AXGVL1I Farr Grahame 1954 Somerset Harbours London Christopher Johnson Holland Julian 2010 Amazing amp Extraordinary Railway Facts David amp Charles ISBN 9780715334294 Payne John 2011 The West Country A Cultural History Andrews UK Limited ISBN 9781908493514 Phillips Alan 2013 Castles and Fortifications of Wales Amberley Publishing Limited ISBN 9781445624846 Legg Rodney 1989 Steep Holm Wild Life Dorset Publishing Company ISBN 978 0948699115 Legg Rodney 1991 Steep Holm at War Dorset Publishing Company ISBN 978 0948699603 Legg Rodney 1992 Steep holm Allsop Island Wincanton Press ISBN 978 0948699610 Legg Rodney 1993 Steep Holm Legends and History Dorset Publishing Company ISBN 978 0948699597 Legg Rodney 1995 Steep Holm Guide 2 ed Dorset Publishing Company ISBN 978 0948699498 Murphy Peter 2009 The English Coast A History and a Prospect A amp C Black ISBN 9781847251435 Rendell Stan Rendell Joan 1993 Steep Holm The Story of A Small Island Sutton Publishing Ltd ISBN 978 0750903233 Rutter John 1829 Delineations of the north western division of the county of Somerset G Olms p 95 flat holm saint cadoc Saunders A 2000 Guns Across the Severn Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales ISBN 9781871184259 Smith Howard 2006 Steep Holm Diary Garret Press Somerset ISBN 978 0954154660 Toulson Shirley 1984 The Mendip Hills A Threatened Landscape Victor Gollancz Ltd ISBN 978 0 575 03453 2 van der Bijl Nicholas 2000 Brean Down Fort Its History and the Defences of the Bristol Channel Cossington Hawk Editions ISBN 978 0 9529081 7 3 Minick Jason 2018 Arcam J Minick Books ISBN 978 1999662004 External links EditWikimedia Commons has media related to Steep Holm Steep Holm Island and the Kenneth Allsop Memorial Trust Victorian Forts data sheet Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Steep Holm amp oldid 1054179419, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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