Near the southern edge of Somerset is a hamlet called Dommett. My father's surname was Dommett, and it's a name particularly found in these parts, and over the Devon border too.
The Dommetts - several distinct families, I should say - were generally farmers, or in some way involved in the agricultural scene. Not all were squires and merchants. Many (whether men or women) were no more than labourers, with no money, no land, and living in tied or rented accommodation. Dad's father - the only grandparent I ever knew, albeit fleetingly and not closely - was an itinerant worker of no education or attainments. He must have been the first Dommett ever to have been photographed, and here is the only picture of him that exists, taken in 1930 or so near Kentisbeare, probably at Ponchydown Farm at Blackborough, when aged about 50:
The child in the picture is certainly not Dad, who was by then aged 10. Dad's father (I never called him Grandpa, not really knowing him) had no inclination to bring him up, and at this date (1930) had foisted Dad onto a local family, paying for his keep and just turning up when he felt like it, and not staying long. Dad did not know what a proper home was until he got married to Mum in 1946, and never knew a home with loving parents in it to look after him. No wonder he gew up very self-reliant. The Second World War was the making of him, as it was for so many.
So in strictness there is no family seat, no venerable old manor house that has been in the family for generations. Dad's branch of the Dommett family were too poor to own anything. But there is a place that would do nicely for the part, even if there is really no demonstrable connection at all, and that is Dommett Farm in this tiny hamlet. I visited it with Mum and Dad and/or M--- in 1994, 1997 and 2006. And on my own two weeks ago. It's down a steep narrow road, indicated by this signpost:
Surprisingly, it was named on Fiona's satnav display:
In 1994, it was a house that had seen better days, but still most attractive in its yellow stone. It was set on a hill, with a commanding view to the south. So far as I can tell, it isn't in my Pevsner for South and West Somerset, which is odd. But it is very out of the way, and he probably never knew it was there. The next few pictures are mostly from 1997:
By the main gate into the courtyard is a tiny portal, which I imagine was for dogs or very young children:
A most curious feature. It used to have this charming iron grille in its upper part, to look through:
Superficially it was all much the same when I went there two weeks ago, but everything had an air of neglect. Nothing had been painted for ages, the gate had fallen apart, and the little child/dog portal was a sorry sight. The house was still inhabited though. Let's not go too close. Here's general view. And Lucy, dipossessed and outcast. And her restless arab mare Fiona:
You know, I feel I should walk in, turf out the squatters and interlopers, and claim it back for the family. Who's with me?