A brief history of Clevedon Court

Clevedon Court North Somerset

Clevedon Court is an outstanding 14th-century manor house and 18th-century terraced garden.

Purchased by Abraham Elton in 1709, this remarkable survivor from the medieval period has been the ancestral home of the Elton family ever since.

Abraham Elton, 1st baronet was a self-made industrialist and manufacturer, with interests in brass and glass, and made much of his fortune in the slave trade.

As far as we can tell, Abraham never lived in the house, and was more interested in the surrounding land and acquiring mineral rights, founding a copper works in 1696. He left the house to his son, Sir Abraham II who made alterations, most notably to the Great Hall.

Brass and copper items were highly valued in Africa,and used as money by traders. Items such as pots and pans were bought by African traders to sell on, or exchanged for enslaved Africans, who were then shipped on and sold at a profit to work on plantations in the Americas and Caribbean. We know that Abraham II invested in at least three slaving voyages.

Sir Abraham III squandered his grandfather’s fortune and went bankrupt in 1745. The house remained in the family, but was neglected for many years. Eventually, Sir Abraham IV, and younger brother of Sir Abraham III paid off the debts in a series of land sales in the 1750s. As the third son, he was not due to inherit, but made his fortune as a lawyer.

Clevedon Court’s fortunes improved with Sir Abraham IV, who, unlike his predecessors did not make his money in the slave trade. He transformed the garden, which rises up the steep slope behind the house on a series of terraces.  

Sir Abraham V, a clergyman and friend of the abolitionist, Hannah More, was the first Elton to live permanently at Clevedon Court.

Today, Clevedon Court remains home to some of the Elton family’s unique possessions, including a collection of local Eltonware pottery and Nailsea glass.