BURTON PYNSENT MONUMENT

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Burton Pynsent Monument, clad in Portland Stone, is about 43 m (140 ft) high. Although it is in the parish of Curry Rivel, it is perhaps the most noticeable of landmarks from Stoke village, seen across West Sedgemoor. It was built in 1767 and is a Grade I listed building. It stands about 700 m from Burton Pynsent House. It was designed by Capability Brown and built by Philip Pear, a Curry Rivel builder, at a cost of £2,000, for William Pitt as a monument to Sir William Pynsent. Burton Pynsent was left to the politician William Pitt by Sir William Pynsent. Pynsent’s only son had died in 1754, and Sir William developed an interest in politics later in life. Disillusioned by Pitt’s dismissal from government, and angered by Lord Bute's 1763 proposal for a tax on Somerset cider supported by Lord North, husband of his expected heiress, Sir William made a new will in 1764 bequeathing the estate to Pitt. Pynsent died aged 90 in 1765, and despite challenges to the will mounted by relations (left 1,000 guineas each - equivalent of over £3.5 million today), which continued until 1771, Pitt immediately travelled to inspect the estate, writing to his wife that 'I propose to pass the rest of my days there if I find the place tolerable

Political commitments prevented Pitt, who was created Earl of Chatham in 1766, from taking up residence until 1767, but as early as September 1765 he had commissioned Capability Brown to design a column commemorating Sir William Pynsent's benefaction.  After Pitt's death his widow, Lady Chatham, and his granddaughter, Lady Hester Stanhope lived at Burton until Lady Chatham’s death in 1803.

In June 1948 it was reported that a heifer climbed the 172 steps to the top of the monument, but was later returned safely to her hillside pasture.

The tower was restored in the 1990s by the John Paul Getty Trust and English Heritage.

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