Arthur Herbert Powell

Bridgwater Historian 1856-1928

The biographical material for Arthur Herbert Powell is taken from Jonathan Conibere and Frances Pearce, The vicars of Bridgwater, on this web-site.

Arthur Herbert Powell, Bridgwater Historian
Reverend Arthur Herbert Powell

Arthur Herbert Powell was born at Ramsgate in 1856. He was educated at Cambridge and ordained in 1880, when became Curate of Greenwich. He remained at Greenwich for two years and then became Curate at Saint James the Less, Westminster. In 1886 he moved from Westminster to Battersea and in 1890 from Battersea to Bayswater. He was Curate of Bayswater until 1893 when he was appointed Vicar of Waterloo. He remained at Waterloo for two years and in 1895 became Vicar of Maidstone in Kent.

In 1901 he exchanged livings with the Reverend Henry Bircham and on Thursday 5 December 1901 was inducted as Vicar of Saint Mary’s, Bridgwater. During his time as Vicar the present vestry was built and also the Parish Hall, both in 1902. While he was at Bridgwater he wrote two books on the history of the town The Ancient Borough of Bridgwater which was published in 1907 and Bridgwater in the Later Days published in 1908.

On 15 October 1911, without any warning, Dr Powell made the announcement during a service that he intended to resign the livings and that the sermon that evening would be the last that he would preach in Bridgwater. Many people tried to persuade him to change his mind, and a petition signed by 3000 parishioners was presented to the Bishop of Bath and Wells. This was not successful as the resignation had already been accepted.

When he left Bridgwater Dr. Powell returned to London and from 1912 until 1917 he was the Curate of Saint Andrew’s, Stamford Hill. In 1917 he was appointed Vicar of West Lulworth, Dorset, where he remained until his retirement in 1924.

Dr. Powell was married twice, first on 14 April 1885 to Jeannie Hunt and after her death he married Janet Spens on 1 August 1917. Dr. Powell spent his last years living in Edinburgh, and died there, at Nelson Street, on the 28 October 1928, aged 72 years.

Dr Powell also wrote:
Our eternal life here. (1885)
God speaking in nature; or, Sunday afternoon readings for young people. (1886)
A brief sketch of the work of the Society for promoting Christian knowledge 1890
The Sources of Eighteenth Century Deism. An inquiry… (1902)
Report on the treatment of old cottages (1919)

His son, Revd John Rowland Powell, wrote a number of books about Robert Blake:
The letters of Robert Blake, together with supplementary documents by Robert Blake, 1599-1657, for the Navy Records Society, (1937)
The Rupert and Monck letter book, 1666: together with supporting documents by Rupert, Prince, Count Palatine, 1619-1682; edited by J. R. Powell and E. K. Timings, for the Navy Records Society, (1969)
The navy in the English Civil War,(with an introduction. by C.V.Wedgwood), (1962)
Documents relating to the Civil War, 1642-1648, edited by J.R. Powell and E.K. Timings the Navy Records Society, (1963)
Robert Blake, General at Sea, (1972)

He also played a major part in the design and construction of the diorama of the Battle of Sedgemoor in the Blake Museum.

Digitised Texts


I. Early Days … 1
II. The Norman Settlement … 17
III. The Lost Church of St. Bridget … 35
IV. Bridgwater Castle … 43
V. Bridgwater Wills and Bequests … 61
VI. The Grey Friars of Friarn Street …78
VII. The Augustinian Canons of St. John’s … 94
VIII, The Parish Church— I … 103
IX. The Parish Church — II … 122
X. The Chantries and Chantry Priests of St. Mary’s … 138
XI. Reformation Changes … 157
XII. The Voyage of the Emanuel … 175
XIII, Trade and Traffic … 188
XIV. Admiral Blake … 204
XV. The Siege of Bridgwater … 242
XVI. The Monmouth Rebellion … 260
XVII. After Sedgmoor … 279
XVIII. Inheritances from Past Days … 288
Index … 302
List of Subscribers … 305

Errata and illustrations

Arthur Herbert Powell, BRIDGWATER IN THE LATER DAYS (1908)

I In the Days of Queen Anne 1
II Whigs and Tories 21
III Eighteenth-Century Beliefs and Superstitions 39
IV Seventeen Hundred and Forty-five 57
V George Bubb Doddington I 70
VI George Bubb Doddington II 90
VII The Election Sheet of 1754 111
VIII The Rebuke of Robert Browning 123
IX Coaching Days I 131
X Coaching Days II 150
XI The Inns 169
XII Fairs, Holidays, and Amusements 182
XIII The Reform Bill of 1832 201
XIV Chilton Trinity 221
XV Disenfranchisement 229
XVI Religious Expansion 242
XVII Persons and Things 251
XVIII Odds and ends 260
XIX Statistics 280

Index 287
List of Subscribers 291


Horsey Chapel, near Bridgwater‘, Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society for the year 1906, volume 52.

Tony Woolrich December 2019 and July 2020