The immediate site of what is now known as Rumwell Hall comprises two former properties anciently known as Homelands and Dodhouse. These lay in the tithing of Rumwell and Hundred of Hull within the manor of Taunton Deane. Formerly held by Solomon Andrewes, they passed to John Colborne and in 1670, following Colborne’s death, to his widow Grace, being known subsequently as Colborne’s.
Grace Colborne in 1671 sold the premises to John Cross, gent., of Trull who in 1701 settled them on his daughter Joan and her new husband Peter Sidon from Exeter. The Risdons bought further land in the area and Joan succeeded her husband in 1713, assigning the premises to her son, Benjamin Crosse Risdon of Trull in 1724 adding other lands in 1731.
It seems likely that in 1733 Benjamin built or rebuilt a substantial house on the site, in which year he mortgaged the estate to Sir Edward Seymour, Baronet, and eventually Risdon owed £1,500 on the property.
Sir Edward Seymour (died 1740) lived chiefly at Maiden Bradley in Wiltshire, but also owned Berry Pomeroy Castle in Devon, and it is possible that the Rumwell holding represented a convenient stopping-off point between his two estates. At all events, the mortgage being undischarged, Sir Edward seems to have taken possession in 1739 shortly before his death. The Seymours continued as occupiers until 1786, Sir Edward’s son succeeding his distant cousin as Duke of Somerset in 1750 and, on his own death in 1757, being followed by his son, also Edward. It is probably from this tenure that the story of Rumwell having been built for the Duke of Wellington stems.
Benjamin Crosse Risdon left a son, Benjamin, and three daughters who eventually took the settlement of the estate to Chancery, although the final disposition of the Risdon property did not take place until 1792, largely owing to the deaths of successive heirs. Benjamin Risdon evidently occupied the main house, while part of the estate was leased to his brother-in-law, Thomas Govier. The premises were sold in 1796 to John Cape of Wellington, although Risdon continued to occupy them until 1803-4.
John Cape was a substantial Wellington merchant and leading member of the Baptist Church in that town, dying in 1804 aged 63. His Rumwell estate was left to his nephew William Cadbury, also of Wellington, who may have been related to the Cadbury ‘chocolate’ family, originally from Exeter. Judging from the style of the present building it was clearly built by Cadbury, probably between 1805 and 1815 and christened Rumwell House.
During Cadbury’s tenure the house was leased to Col. Shapland (1834-36) and Col. Pearse (1836-39) after which the Cadburys reoccupied it. In 1841 Cadbury was living there with his wife Mary and four servants. William Cadbury, who had given the site of the present Wellington Baptist Church in 1833 and was a deacon there for 41 years, died after a protracted illness on 28 November 1847 aged 68. Mary Cadbury continued to live at Rumwell, at which time the house was known as Rumhill House, until her death in 1856. The house was then sold by her trustees to the Adjutant of the West Somerset Yeomanry, Captain (later Major) Thomas Belsey Tomlin who raised his family of two daughters and three sons and, by 1872 had renamed the property Rumwell Hall.
After nearly 30 years, Tomlin moved to Dawlish in 1885, leasing the house first to Major Samuel Martin Gully and, in 1892, to Charles Leslie Fox, J.P. The new lessee (who later bought the house) was a member of the Fox clothing manufacturers in Wellington, being great-grandson of the founder of the firm, Thomas Fox of Tonedale (1754-1821). He was educated at Cambridge and acquired Rumwell Hall to house his new bride, Lilian Pease, who he married on 12 October 1892. Fox continued at Rumwell until he died on 4 September 1933, as did his widow (died 5 June 1949). Arthur Mortimer was the occupier by 1954 until at least 1966.
History from 1966 onwards
It is our understanding that the property was converted into a Bed & Breakfast/Guest House in the late 1970’s and that it became a Hotel around the late 1980’s, when our predecessors converted the stable block and coach-house wing into 10 additional bedrooms and a Conference Room.
The Coles family took over the Hotel in August 1991 and continue to own and manage the property to the present day.