by G.W. Wade and J.H. Wade
1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse



G.W. WADE, D.D. and J.H. WADE, M.A.

With Thirty-two Illustrations and Two Maps

"Upon smooth Quantock's airy ridge we roved."

London Methuen & Co 36 Essex St. Strand


The general scheme of this Guide is determined by that of the series of which it forms part. But a number of volumes by different writers are never likely to be quite uniform in character, even though planned on the same lines; and it seems desirable to explain shortly the aim we have had in view in writing our own little book. In our accounts of places of interest we have subordinated the historical to the descriptive element; and whilst we have related pretty fully in the Introduction the events of national importance which have taken place within the county, we have not devoted much space to family histories. We have made it our chief purpose to help our readers to see for themselves what is best worth seeing. If, in carrying out our design, we appear to have treated inadequately many interesting country seats, our excuse must be that such are naturally not very accessible to the ordinary tourist, whose needs we have sought to supply. And if churches and church architecture seem to receive undue attention, it may be pleaded that Somerset is particularly rich in ecclesiastical buildings, and affords excellent opportunities for the pursuit of a fascinating study.

In the production of our book we have used freely such sources of information as circumstances have enabled us to consult; and in this connection we wish to make specific acknowledgment of our indebtedness to C.R.B. Barrett's "Somersetshire," the Rev. W.H.P. Greswell's "Land of Quantock," and the "Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society." We have likewise profited by the kindness of several friends and correspondents, amongst whom we desire to mention the late R.P. Brereton, Dr F.H. Allen, Mr F.R. Heath, the Rev. C.W. Whistler, the Rev. E.H. Bates, and the Rev. J.S. Hill, B.D. (the last especially in regard to the origin of certain place-names). But our descriptions are, for the most part, based upon notes taken on the spot. Almost all the localities that are included in the alphabetical list have been visited by one or other of us: those of any interest, which from various causes we have failed to reach, can (we believe) be counted upon the fingers. We cannot expect our work to be wholly free from errors and omissions, but we have done our best to make it accurate and to render it as complete as the size of the volume allows.


















TARR STEPS, EXMOOR (From a Photograph by Messrs Valentine, Dundee)

MARKET PLACE, FROME (From a Photograph by Messrs Valentine, Dundee)

ST JOSEPH'S CHAPEL, GLASTONBURY (From a Photograph by Mr Walter Raymond)

GLASTONBURY TOR (From a Photograph by Messrs Frith, Reigate)

ALFOXDEN HOUSE, NEAR HOLFORD (From a Photograph by Messrs Frith, Reigate)

HORNER WOODS AND PORLOCK VALE (From a Photograph by Messrs Frith, Reigate)

THE HANGING CHAPEL, LANGPORT (From a Photograph by Messrs Frith, Reigate)

LUCCOMBE VILLAGE (From a Photograph by Messrs Frith, Reigate)

MELLS VILLAGE (From a Photograph by Messrs Valentine, Dundee)

MINEHEAD (From a Photograph by Messrs Frith, Reigate)

MONTACUTE HOUSE (From a Photograph by Messrs Frith, Reigate)

THE GEORGE INN, NORTON ST PHILIP (From a Photograph by Messrs Valentine, Dundee)


NUNNEY CASTLE AND VILLAGE (From a Photograph by Messrs Valentine, Dundee)

OLD BANK, PORLOCK (From a Photograph by Messrs Valentine, Dundee)

ALLERFORD (From a Photograph by Messrs Frith, Reigate)

SHEPTON MALLET CROSS (From a Photograph by Mr Walter Raymond)

NETHER STOWEY (From a Photograph by Messrs Frith, Reigate)

TAUNTON FROM THE RIVER (From a Photograph by Messrs Valentine, Dundee)

WELLS CATHEDRAL (From a Photograph by Messrs Frith, Reigate)

VICARS' CLOSE, WELLS (From a Photograph by Messrs Frith, Reigate)

THE PALACE GATEWAY, WELLS (From a Photograph by Messrs Valentine, Dundee)

WESTON-SUPER-MARE (From a Photograph by Messrs Valentine, Dundee)

NINE SPRINGS, YEOVIL (From a Photograph by Messrs Valentine, Dundee)




SOMERSET is one of the S.W. counties of England. On the N. it is washed by the Bristol Channel; on the N.E. the Avon, like a silver streak, divides it from Gloucestershire; it is bordered on the E. by Wiltshire; its S.E. neighbour is Dorset; and on the S.W. it touches Devon. Its shape is so irregular that dimensions give a misleading indication of its extent. Its extreme length is about 60 m., and its greatest width 38; but it narrows so rapidly westwards that where it abuts on Devon its average width is only 15 m. In point of size it stands seventh on the list of English counties, having an area of over a million acres, or 1633 square m. It lies between 2 deg. 10' and 3 deg. 50' W. longitude, and 50 deg. 50' and 51 deg. 30' N. latitude. Its population in 1901 was 508,104. It is one of the few counties which was originally the settlement of a single tribe, the Somersaetas, from whom it takes its name; and the fact that "Somerset" (like Dorset) is thus a tribal name is in favour of its dispensing with the suffix shire, though "Somersetshire" has been in common use since the time of the "Saxon Chronicle."


The climate is mild and equable, though from its diversified surface the county experiences some varieties of temperature. The seaboard is warm, but its considerable southward trend gives it a good Atlantic frontage, which prevents it from being relaxing. Weston is said to be ten degrees warmer than London. The breezes on the uplands are bracing but never searching. The Mendips have been considered a suitable site for a consumptive sanatorium. The central flats are damp. They lie so low that in places the coast has to be protected by sea walls, and the prevalence of large "rhines" or drains makes for humidity. The sheltered vale of Taunton Dean (for the term cp. Hawthorndean, Rottingdean) is warm and sunny. The rainfall is abundant, but, except in the neighbourhood of Exmoor, cannot be said to be excessive.


Roads.—Everywhere highways and byways are numerous, and some districts are prodigally supplied with footpaths. With the exception of Exmoor, which is best explored on foot, even the remotest parts are accessible to the wheelman. But the cyclist will find the travelling somewhat unequal. Like the curate's fabled egg, the roads are best described as "good in parts." Amongst the hills they are firm but arduous, in the plains easy but soft. The main thoroughfares, however, can be recommended both for breadth and surface.

Railways.—The Somerset railway system is extensive. The G.W.R. (the chief service of the county) unites Bath with Bristol, and throwing itself round the N.W. extremity of the Mendips, runs down an almost ideal track to Taunton and Wellington. A loop from Worle to Uphill serves Weston-super-Mare, whilst short branches, one from Bristol and a second from Yatton, afford communication with Portishead and Clevedon. Another section skirts the E. side of the county from Frome to Yeovil, and by taking a short cross-country cut from Castle Cary to Langport unites again with the trunk line near Taunton. From Taunton branches radiate to Minehead, Dulverton, Chard, and Yeovil. A branch line again connects Bristol with Frome, and access is obtained to Wells and Cheddar by a line from Yatton, skirting the W. base of the Mendips as far as Witham. The S. & D. constitutes a link between the Midland on the N. and the L. & S.W. on the S. It boldly attacks the Mendips from Bath, and after clambering over the summit at Masbury, drops down suddenly to Evercreech, from which point it diverges either westwards to Burnham (with branches to Wells and Bridgewater), or southwards to Templecombe. A light railway serves the Wrington Vale, and another connects Weston with Clevedon.


There is a prevalent belief that the picturesque part of the West of England begins with Devon and ends with Cornwall, to which Somerset is merely a stepping-stone. This opinion is no doubt fostered by the impression which the tourist derives of the county through the carriage windows of the "Cornishman." But the considerations that appeal to the railway engineer are mechanical rather than aesthetic; and, unfortunately for the reputation of Somerset for scenery, the line of least resistance is the line of least interest—the dead level skirting the coast between Bristol and Taunton. As a matter of fact, there are few districts which afford such a variety of physical features as Somerset. Hill and valley, cliff and chasm, moor and seaboard, are all to be found there; and, in addition to its wealth of scenery, Somerset is rich in antiquities of different kinds; whilst it has also been the theatre of some of the most stirring events in English history.

The physical skeleton of the county may be roughly described as consisting of three parallel ranges of hills running transversely across it—the Mendips and their outliers in the N.E., the insignificant Poldens in the centre, and the Quantocks and Exmoor in the W., with the Blackdowns occupying the S.W. corner. The intervening basins are filled with a rich alluvial deposit washed down from the hills or left by the receding sea. The Mendips spread themselves across the E. end of the county in a N.W. direction from Frome to Weston-super-Mare, where they lose themselves in the Channel, to re-appear as the islets of the Steep and Flat Holms. On their S.W. side they descend into the plain with considerable abruptness; and when viewed from the lower parts of the county, present a hard sky-line, like some enormous earthwork. On the opposite side their aspect in general is far less impressive, and towards Bath they lose themselves in a confusion of elevations and declivities. The main ridge is an extended tableland, some 25 m. long, and in places 3 m. broad. It rises to its greatest heights at Blackdown (1067 ft.) and Masbury (958). Geologically, it consists of mountain limestone superimposed on old red sandstone, which here and there comes to the surface. Near Downhead there is an isolated outburst of igneous rock. The Mendips are honeycombed with caverns, the most notable being at Banwell, Harptree, and Burrington; and a large one has been recently discovered some 4 m. from Wells. At Cheddar their W. edge is broken by a remarkable gorge, in the sides of which caves also occur. The level of the tableland is indented with "swallet holes," the chief of which are the East Water Swallet and the Devil's Punch-Bowl. The Quantocks are much less extensive, though their highest summits rise to a greater altitude. Like the Mendips, they turn their steepest flank westwards, the ascent on the E. being gradual; and on this side they are cut by a number of well-timbered and delightful combes. Few caves have been discovered in them, though there is one at Holwell near Asholt. W. of the Quantocks are the Brendons and the highlands of Exmoor, the latter extending into Devon, though their highest point, Dunkery Beacon, is included in Somerset. Dunkery is 1707 ft. above the sea-level; and other conspicuous hills in this district are Lucott Hill (1516), Elworthy Barrow (1280), Selworthy Beacon (1014), and Grabbist Hill. The Quantocks, Brendons, and Exmoor consist of older rocks than the Mendips, belonging as they do to the Devonshire series of old red sandstones. Bordering the Brendons are found the red marls of the Permian series; whilst between Dunster and Williton, and along the base of the Quantocks, in the neighbourhood of Taunton Dean, as well as in some other localities, Keuper and Rhaetic beds occur. The Blackdowns in the S.W. are not quite so elevated as their neighbours; near Otterford and Chard they consist of greensand, whilst chalk appears at Combe St Nicholas and Cricket St Thomas. The centre of the county is alluvial, and beneath it the limestone of the Mendips sinks, coming to the surface again in the W. only at a single spot, near Cannington. Out of this central plain rise several isolated, cone-like hills, the most notable being Glastonbury Tor and Brent Knoll. These belong to the lias and lower oolite rocks. The Poldens consist of lias; and the same formation constitutes the rising ground that bounds the plain on the S. and E. of the county. The southern side of the Poldens is edged with Rhaetic beds, which also extend to High Ham. Oolite rocks occur abundantly near Bath, furnishing the famous Bath building-stone; and they likewise form the prominent eminence of Dundry. Near Frome they rest upon the mountain limestone. The same series of rocks occupies the S.E. corner of the county, extending from Milborne Port to Bruton. On the E. they are flanked with the Oxford clay, which reaches from Henstridge to Witham Friary, whilst a ridge of higher ground near Penselwood consists of greensand. Near Radstock coal is found.

The Somerset sea-coast, though destitute of ruggedness and grandeur, possesses undeniable charm, at least at its W. and E. extremities; but it lapses into unquestioned tameness where the sea washes the central flats. The waters of the Bristol Channel as far down as Minehead are discoloured; and, with the exception of a range of low cliffs near St Andries and Watchet and a stony foreshore at Clevedon, there are no rocks worth mentioning. Brean Down and the North Hill near Minehead are the only headlands, but notwithstanding this, the watering places of Somerset are breezy and healthy. Weston-super-Mare in particular has a high reputation for salubrity, and has long been one of the most popular seaside resorts in England.

Somerset is peculiarly deficient in large rivers, for the Avon can hardly be included amongst its belongings, since it is the dividing line between the county and Gloucestershire. The Parrett is the one stream of any moment. It is a sluggish and uninteresting bit of water, rising in Dorset, entering Somerset near Crewkerne, and flowing, when it meets the tide near Bridgwater, with a wearisomely circuitous course of some 12 m. before it mixes with the Bristol Channel. The other rivers, the Frome and Chew, which join the Avon; the Axe, which rises in Wookey Hole and enters the sea near Brean Down; the Brue and Cary, which empty themselves into the estuary of the Parrett; and the Parrett's own tributaries, the Yeo, Ivel, and Tone, are unimportant. Exmoor is drained by the Exe and Barle, which, when united, flow southward into Devon.

Such, however, is the character of Somerset scenery that the absence of water in it is hardly noticed. From what has been said it will be seen that the county has much in it to arrest the attention of the traveller who can appreciate quiet beauty, and, as will appear, even more to appeal to one who is interested in his country's-past, whilst upon the affection of its sons its hold is indisputable. As one of them writes:—

"Fair winds, free way, for youth the rover; We all must share the curse of Cain: But bring me back when youth is over To the old crooked shire again.

Ay, bring me back in life's declining To the one home that's home for me, Where in the west the sunset shining Goes down into the Severn sea."


The really interesting fauna of Somerset belongs to a past age, when mammoths, elephants, and rhinoceroses, cave lions, bisons, bears, and hyaenas roamed over its surface. Their remains have been found in the caverns of Hutton, Bleadon, Banwell, and Wookey, and are preserved in Taunton Museum. Of the wild creatures which at present occur in the county, the only one which confers real distinction upon it is the red deer, which roams at large on both Exmoor and the Quantocks. Badgers are not uncommon near Dulverton and in the more uncultivated districts. The very diversified character of Somerset makes it the home of a large variety of birds, the Quantocks and Exmoor sheltering many of the predatory kinds, the long coast-line attracting numerous seafowl, and the fenny country of the centre affording a feeding ground for the different kinds of waders. Of the resident species which are comparatively uncommon elsewhere may be mentioned the hawfinch, the greater and lesser spotted woodpecker, the carrion crow, the raven, the buzzard, the hen-harrier, and the peregrine falcon. Among the regular visitors are included the white wagtail, the pied flycatcher, the nightjar, the black redstart, the lesser redpole, the snow bunting, the redwing, the reed, marsh, and grasshopper warblers, the siskin, the dotterel, the sanderling, the wryneck, the hobby, the merlin, the bittern, and the shoveller. As occasional visitors may be reckoned the wax-wing, golden oriole, cross-bill, hoopoe, white-tailed eagle, honey buzzard, ruff, puffin, great bustard, Iceland gull, glaucous gull, and Bewick's swan. Visitors that may be supposed to have reached the county only by accident have scarcely a claim to be noticed here, though perhaps allusion may be made to an Egyptian vulture seen at Kilve in 1825, and specimens of Pallas's sand-grouse observed near Bridgwater, Weston-super-Mare, and Bath.[1]

As regards the flora the elevated position of parts of the county makes it the home of a number of plants which do not commonly occur in the South of England. Thus there are found on Exmoor the crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), the parsley fern (Cryptogramme crispa), and the oak fern (Phegopteris dryopteris). Asplenium septentrionale is found at Culbone; Listera cordata grows on Dunkery and near Chipstable; and the cranberry (Oxycoccus palustris) is said to occur at Selworthy and on the Brendons. On the other hand, Somerset likewise furnishes congenial conditions for those plants that love low-lying, marshy ground, and on the peat-moors in the Glastonbury district the flowering fern (Osmunda regalis) and the bog myrtle (Myrica Gale) are met with. Within the British Isles the following are found only in Somerset: Dianthus gratianopolitanus, Hieracium stinolepis, Verbascum lychnitis, and Euphorbia pilosa. Arabis stricta occurs only on the limestone near Clifton; Helianthemum polifolium is confined to Somerset and Devon; Pirus latifolia to Somerset and Denbigh.[2]

[1] For the birds of Somerset, see a paper by the Rev. Murray A. Mathew, M.A., F.L.S., in the "Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society," vol. xxxix., from which we have borrowed.

[2] For fuller information, see "The Flora of Somerset," by the Rev. R.P. Murray, M.A., F.L.S., from which the above facts are taken.


Somerset gets its name from a Saxon tribe, but its earliest inhabitants, like those of the southern half of bur island generally, were Britons or Celts, and the Saxon invasion was preceded by the Roman. Reminders that the county was once occupied by a Welsh—speaking race occur in the constituents of many place-names, such as Pen Selwood, Maes Knoll, and the numerous combes (cp. Welsh cwm). The name of the British king, Arthur, is associated with Cadbury (near Sparkford); and the neighbouring villages of Queen Camel and West Camel recall the legendary Camelot. The earliest church at Glastonbury (Avalon) is believed to have been of British origin, and it is Arthur's reputed burial-place. In the dedication of the churches at Porlock (Dubricius or Dyfrig) and Watchet (Decuman or Tegfan) is preserved the memory of certain British saints, though these probably came on an evangelistic mission from the other side of the Bristol Channel. But of the primitive population the most trustworthy memorials are the numerous earthworks and other material remains which survive in various parts of the county, and these will be more appropriately noticed under another heading (see pp. 20-21).

Of the Roman occupation the traces are more varied. Bath and Ilchester are Roman towns, and from and through them Roman roads run across the county. In constructing these, the Romans probably used in many instances existing British trackways. The principal was the Fosse Way (as it is called), entering the county near Chard from Seaton, and leaving it at Bath for Lincoln. Within Somerset it is still a very important artery of traffic. From near Chard a road is thought to have diverged from it to the N.W., towards the Quantocks, passing by Castle Neroche. The Fosse Way was, and is, cut at Ilchester by a road coming from Dorchester and continuing to Glastonbury, and near Masbury, on the Mendips, by a second, connecting Old Sarum with Axium (Uphill, near Brean Down). At Bath it was joined by two more roads, one coming from London and the other (the Via Julia) from Aust and South Wales. The road along the Mendips was doubtless largely used for the transport of the lead which was mined at Priddy and elsewhere, and shipped at Uphill. Somerset, during its occupation by the Romans, seems to have enjoyed tranquillity, for their villas, pavements, and other remains indicative of peaceful possession are not confined to the neighbourhood of their large cities (see p. 21).

When the Saxons made themselves masters of England, Somerset became part of the kingdom of Wessex. Its subjugation was accomplished in three stages. The first is associated with the name of Ceawlin, who, after defeating the British at Deorham (in Gloucestershire), captured Bath, and by 577 reduced the northern part of the county between the Avon and the Axe. Englishcombe near Bath recalls this occupation, and the Wansdyke probably served as a barrier between Saxon and Briton. But between this conquered territory and Dorset, which was also Saxon, there still remained in the hands of the Britons a large strip of country; and from this they were not expelled until the time of Cenwealh (652), who defeated them in 658 at "The Pens" (identified by many with Penselwood), and drove them westward to the Parrett. Somerton now became the capital of the Somersaetas, the Saxon tribe that gave its name to the county (just as the Dorsaetas and Wilsaetas have done to Dorset and Wilts). The third stage of the conquest was completed by Ina (688-726), who subdued the rest of Somerset, forcing the British (whose king was Geraint) into Devon and Cornwall, and building Taunton as a fortress against them. Williton and Willsneck (in the Quantocks) perhaps preserve the name of the defeated Welsh. Ina is famous for more than his military prowess, for he was the first King of Wessex to issue written laws for the guidance of his subjects.

During the Saxon period Somerset did not escape the raids of the Danes; and in the reign of Alfred it was the scene of one of the most eventful crises in English history. Alfred, after many battles against the invaders, had at last seen Guthrum their leader retire from Wessex into Mercia. But in 878, in midwinter, Guthrum suddenly surprised Chippenham and made himself master of Wessex, and Alfred was forced to withdraw to the fens of Athelney. To the narrow limits of the "Isle of the Nobles" the Saxon dominions in the W. were for some months reduced. Here in the Eastertide of 879 Alfred, in the words of the "Saxon Chronicle," "wrought a fortress [of which perhaps the Mump at Borough Bridge is the site], and from that work warred on the (Danish) army, with that portion of the men of Somerset that was nearest."[3] Seven weeks after Easter, Alfred emerged from his place of refuge to join the men of Somerset, Wilts, and Hants, who had gathered in force at "Ecgbryhtes Stane" (Brixton Deveril in Wilts). Putting himself at their head, he covered the distance that separated him from the foe in two stages; for, halting for the night at "Iglea," the next day he defeated the Danes at "Ethandune," and then besieged and reduced their fortress or fortified camp. Guthrum, after his defeat, was baptised at Aller; and at Wedmore subsequently a treaty of peace was concluded between him and Alfred. The site of the battle of "Ethandune" is unfortunately difficult to determine. There is an Edington in Somerset on the Polden Hills; and the fact that the battle was followed by Guthrum's baptism at Aller and the treaty at Wedmore (places near the Somerset Edington) is in favour of this being the scene of the encounter. Those who accept this identification assume that the Danes had moved from Chippenham to the Poldens, and here, whilst watching Athelney, were taken in the rear by Alfred, whose single night-halt at "Iglea" on the march from Brixton Deveril is placed at Edgarley, a locality near Glastonbury.[4] But the distance between Brixton Deveril and Glastonbury seems too great to be accomplished by a large body of men along indifferent roads in a single day; and by many authorities "Ethandune" is identified with Edington, near Westbury, or Heddington, W. of Melksham, both in Wilts. However this may be, it was from the Somerset marshes that Alfred issued forth to his victory, and it was at a Somerset town that he secured the fruits of it.

The importance of Somerset during the reign of the Saxon kings who succeeded Alfred is evidenced by the many noteworthy incidents that are connected with its chief city, Bath, and its great abbey of Glastonbury. It was at Bath that King Edgar was crowned in 973; and at the same place at a later date (1013) the Danish king, Sweyn, received the submission of the western thegns. At Glastonbury were buried three of the Saxon kings, Edmund (son of Edward the Elder), Edgar, and Edmund Ironside. Here too was born Dunstan, who was so prominent an ecclesiastic in the reigns of the first Edmund and five of his successors. He was made abbot of the abbey by Edmund, and, after becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, was buried at Glastonbury (988). Two other Somerset men who filled the see of Canterbury during the Saxon period were Ethelgar and Alphege.

Under the Plantagenets the history of the county was not very eventful, though some localities suffered severely in the disturbances of the Norman period. In William Rufus' reign it was the scene of several of the movements directed against the king in favour of his brother Robert. The powerful baron-bishop, Geoffrey of Coutances, with his nephew Robert of Mowbray, after seizing Bristol, burnt Bath, but was unsuccessful in the siege of Ilchester (1088). On the death of Henry I. Somerset favoured the claims of Matilda, and the castles at Cary, E. Harptree, and Dunster were held by their owners for her against Stephen, to the no small discomfort of their respective neighbourhoods. Castle Cary and Harptree were taken by Stephen, but he seems to have regarded Dunster (defended by William of Mohun) as impregnable.

In Tudor times Somerset witnessed the attempt made on the throne by Perkin Warbeck in 1497, who was supported by Lord Audley of Nether Stowey and other Somerset gentlemen. The pretender advanced from Devonshire to seize Taunton; but when Henry VII. entered Somerset, passing in his progress through Bath, Wells (where he stayed with the Dean), and Glastonbury, to Taunton, Warbeck lost heart and fled. When captured and brought into Henry's presence he was spared; but the king's clemency did not extend to his supporter Lord Audley, who was executed on Tower Hill.

During the Great Rebellion in the 17th cent. Somerset was the field of many important operations. At the outbreak of war in August 1642, the royal cause was maintained by the Marquis of Hertford, who was supported by Lord Powlett, Sir Ralph Hopton, Sir John Stawell, and other leading gentlemen of the county. But the sympathies of the yeomen and manufacturers were with the Parliament, and Hertford had to withdraw from Wells, where he had taken up his position, to Sherborne. In 1643, however, the king's Cornish army entered Somerset, and was joined by the Marquis and Prince Maurice at Chard; and the Royalists then rapidly became masters of Taunton, Bridgwater, and Dunster. To oppose them, Sir William Waller was despatched to the West, and a cavalry skirmish between the two forces took place on the Mendips near Chewton. Waller's main army was posted at Bath; and the Royalists, advancing by way of Wells and Frome, had another skirmish near Claverton. They kept E. of Bath and reached Marshfield in Gloucestershire, 5 m. N. of the city. Then on July 5 Waller gave battle on Lansdowne Hill, and was forced to retire back to Bath, abandoning a quantity of arms and stores; but the triumph of the victors was clouded by the loss of Sir Bevil Grenville, who was killed in the fight. (The monument to him on the site of the encounter was erected in 1720.) The next year the king's cause in Somerset was less prosperous, for Taunton was lost, and repelled all the efforts of Colonel Wyndham, Governor of Bridgwater, to recover it. In 1645 the siege of Taunton was undertaken by Goring. The town was defended by Blake, who vowed (it is said) that he would eat his boots before he would surrender it, but he was saved from that extremity by Fairfax. On the approach of the latter Goring drew off from Taunton, and fixed his quarters at Langport, where he was attacked and defeated. This success on the part of Fairfax not only saved Taunton, but enabled him to besiege Bridgwater, which was defended by Wyndham with little resolution, and fell on July 23, within a fortnight of Goring's defeat at Langport. Fairfax also took Nunney Castle; and as in 1646 Dunster, the last place in Somerset supporting the king, also submitted, the entire county passed into the hands of the Parliament. Dunster was defended by another Wyndham, but he offered a much more prolonged resistance than his brother at Bridgwater, and withstood the besiegers for 160 days. After the execution of the king the small rising in favour of Charles II., under Colonel Penruddock and Sir Joseph Wagstaff, was crushed near Chard in 1655.

In the reign of James II. Somerset was the soil upon which was fought the last battle that has taken place in England. In 1680, the Duke of Monmouth, in the course of a tour through the county, greatly ingratiated himself with its people; and at Whitelackington held a great reception under a gigantic chestnut tree, which was standing as recently as 1897, when it was unfortunately blown down. When in 1685 Charles II. died, and Monmouth made his attempt to disturb the succession of James, it was to Somerset that he looked for support. After landing at Lyme, he entered the county at Chard, and passing through Ilminster, was proclaimed king at Taunton and Bridgwater. From the latter town (where he had stayed at the castle), he started on his luckless campaign, which was wholly confined within the borders of Somerset. He proceeded through Glastonbury (where some of his troops bivouacked in the Abbey), Wells, and Shepton Mallet, intending to attack Bristol, but at Keynsham he turned aside on finding the city defended by the Duke of Beaufort. He threatened Bath, but it refused to surrender; and he thereupon retired to Norton St Philip, intending to enter Wilts. There he had a skirmish with the advanced guard of the royal forces which had marched from London to meet him; and shirking a more general engagement, he withdrew to Frome. The townspeople of Frome, like those of Taunton and Bridgwater, gave him their sympathy, but nothing else; and disappointed at the lack of support, and wearied with his march along miry roads in drenching rain, he abandoned the advance into Wiltshire. A report that a rising in his favour had taken place at Axbridge decided him to return to Bridgwater. On the way he again passed through Wells, where some of his men tore the lead from the Cathedral roof to make bullets, and inflicted other damage on the building. Soon after his arrival at Bridgwater, the royalist general, Feversham, with about 4000 troops, reached Weston Zoyland from Somerton, disposing some of his forces at the neighbouring villages of Middlezoy and Chedzoy. As the royal troops were said to be in a state of disorder, Monmouth, who had about 6000 men, very badly armed, determined to attack him by night; and late on Sunday, July 5, he started from Bridgwater under cover of darkness. But in the passage of some of the "rhines" which cut up the Sedgemoor plain a mismanaged pistol gave the alarm; and in the engagement that followed his ill-equipped followers, though they fought bravely, had little chance against the regulars, and more than 1000 of them fell on the field. The battle had a sad sequel for Somerset. James knew no clemency; and Jeffreys' bloody assize left a crimson trail across the country, which even time found some difficulty in obliterating. Macaulay estimates that the number of the rebels hanged by Jeffreys was 320, and though the assize extended into Hampshire, Dorset, and Devon, most of its victims were Somerset folk. A certain poetic justice may perhaps be discerned in the fact that when, in 1688, the Prince of Orange drove James from his throne, his march took him through Somerset, and he had a skirmish with the royal troops at Wincanton. In connection with Somerset's share in the events of James's reign, it deserves to be mentioned that Bishop Ken, of Bath and Wells, was among the seven prelates who presented the famous petition against the king's Declaration of Indulgence.

The ecclesiastical history of Somerset may be briefly related. When Cenwealh of Wessex (who had been converted to Christianity by the King of East Anglia) established the bishopric of Winchester, such parts of Somerset as belonged to the West-Saxon kingdom were included in that see. Ina divided his augmented territories between two bishoprics, Winchester and Sherborne, the latter including Somerset, with Wilts, Berks, and Dorset. The first Bishop of Sherborne was Aldhelm (705), who only filled the see for four years, dying at Doulting in 709. Ina also founded Wells, but as a collegiate church of secular canons, not as the cathedral of a diocese. It was not until 909 that Somerset had a bishop all to itself, who was styled the Bishop of the Somersaetas, with his seat at Wells (the first appointed being Aethelm.) In 1088, in accordance with the policy of removing bishoprics from localities of little importance, the see was transferred from Wells to Bath, the bishop (John de Villula) at the same time becoming the abbot of the monastery. In 1192 Bishop Savaric procured for the see the rich abbey of Glastonbury, and became its abbot; and he and his immediate successor, Joceline, the builder of the W. front of Wells, were styled Bishops of Bath and Glastonbury. In 1224, however, another change was made, and the bishop took his title from Bath and Wells, as he has done ever since. Up to the Reformation the title was justified, both the monks of Bath and the canons of Wells taking part in episcopal elections; but, with the suppression of its monastery, Bath naturally lost this distinction.

Of religious houses Somerset possessed a fair proportion. The chief were Glastonbury, Bath, Bruton, Dunster, Muchelney, Stogursey (which were Benedictine), Cleeve, Barlynch (Cistercian), Hinton, Witham (Carthusian), Taunton, Woodspring, Stavordale (Augustinian), Montacute (Cluniac). The Templars had a preceptory at Templecombe, and the Knights of St John had establishments at Bridgwater and Mynchin Buckland (near Durston).

[3] Thorpe's translation.

[4] See a paper on "Ethandune" by the Rev. C.W. Whistler (reprinted from "The Saga-book"—"Proceedings of the Viking Club," 1898), who thinks that the Danish fortress may have been Bridgwater.


The principal antiquities of Somerset may be classified as (1) earthworks and other survivals of a primitive time; (2) the Roman remains at Bath and elsewhere; (3) the ecclesiastical and other buildings of the Middle Ages.

1. The British camps are numerous. They are probably not the sites of permanent settlements, but were used for defensive purposes in times of war. The most notable are Worlebury (near Weston), Combe Down and Solsbury (near Bath), Hamdon, Brent Knoll, Masbury, Dolbury, Stantonbury, and the three Cadburys (near Sparkford, Tickenham, and Yatton respectively). Worlebury is remarkable for having a large number of pits sunk into the ground within its rampart. (Castle Neroche and Castle Orchard, which have usually been regarded as of British origin, are now thought to owe their fortifications to the Normans.)

The remains of megalithic circles occur at Stanton Drew. There are barrows at Stoney Littleton, Dundry, and Priddy. There is a lake-village of the crannog type at Godney. Other antiquities of British origin that deserve notice are the Wansdyke and Pen Pits (the latter near Penselwood).

2. The most interesting Roman remains are at Bath, where a splendid system of baths has been brought to light. Villas and other buildings of Roman origin have been discovered at Whitestaunton and Wadeford (near Chard), Whatley (near Frome), Wellow, Newton St Loe, Bratton Seymour, Pitney, Camerton, etc. Traces of Roman mines (such as tools and pigs of lead) have been found at Priddy and Blagdon, and an amphitheatre at Charterhouse-on-Mendip. Many of the British camps enumerated above have at different times been occupied by the Roman legions.

3. The ancient ecclesiastical buildings of Somerset are very interesting. Some of them, chiefly monastic foundations, are more or less in ruins—Glastonbury, Cleeve, Woodspring, Muchelney, Stavordale, Hinton Charterhouse. Of those that are still used for religious purposes, the most conspicuous are Wells Cathedral and Bath Abbey. But the parish churches, in their way, are almost as remarkable. Their excellence is largely due to the splendid building-stone which abounds in different parts of the county, especially near Bath, Dundry, Doulting, and Ham Hill. Of Saxon architecture Somerset has no example such as Wilts possesses in Bradford, though some of the ancient fonts may possibly be of pre-Norman origin. The majority of early fonts, however, are Norman, and the number of them shows how thickly Norman churches once covered the country. But surviving instances of churches wholly or mainly Norman are rare: the best examples are Compton Martin, Christon, and Stoke-sub-Hamdon. There is herring-bone work at Elm and Marston Magna. Of Norman chancel arches and doorways retained when the body of the church has been re-constructed the examples are numerous; noteworthy are those at Glastonbury, Milborne Port, Stoke-Courcy, Lullington, Huish Episcopi, Portbury, St Catherine, South Stoke, Flax Bourton, Langridge, Clevedon, Chewton Mendip, Englishcombe. Wells Cathedral contains some splendid Transitional work, of which there are also specimens at Clutton. Complete churches of the Early English and Decorated periods are few, but many buildings preserve specimens of these styles in combination with work of a later date. The W. front of Wells is a beautiful example of E.E., and windows of this period occur at E. Stoke, Bathampton, Chedzoy, Martock, Keynsham, Somerton. There are E.E. arcades at St Cuthbert's, Wells, and further illustrations of E.E. work are furnished by Compton Bishop, Creech St Michael, Stoke St Gregory, etc. Decorated windows are found at Ditcheat, Compton Dundon, Huish Champflower, Shipton Beauchamp, Barrington, Montacute, Brympton, and very fine ones in the choir and lady chapel at Wells. In many parish churches the chancels have been retained when the rest of the building was reconstructed, with the result that, whilst they often preserve early work, and are accordingly of the greatest interest, they appear relatively to their surroundings insignificant and mean.

But it is in Perpendicular churches that Somerset is richest; and examples of this style are too abundant to require to be cited. It is, indeed, a source of wonder that funds and skilled workmen were forthcoming in sufficient quantity to erect or rebuild so many churches within a comparatively short period. It was upon the Towers that the greatest skill of the Perp. builders was lavished. They are generally lofty, are often beautifully crowned with pinnacles and embattled or pierced parapets, and not unfrequently abound with niches and statuary. The quality of the tracery, however, varies with the stone employed; and the towers W. of the Quantocks are, as a rule, inferior to those of the centre and east of the county. Most have large external stair-turrets (commonly at the N.E. or S.E. angle), which, when carried above the parapet and surmounted by spirelets, add dignity to the plainer structures, but which are less appropriate where the pinnacles are sufficiently prominent and graceful to give of themselves an adequate finish. In the case of some of the finest towers the staircase is wisely suppressed before reaching the summit. In most instances the tower is at the W. end, and is square; but a few churches have octagonal towers, which are usually central (S. Petherton, Stoke St Gregory, Doulting, N. Curry, Barrington). Spires are comparatively rare, but they occur at E. Brent, Congresbury, Bridgwater, Croscombe, Yatton, Pitminster, Castle Cary, Frome, Worle, Whatley, Porlock.

The classification of Somerset Perp. towers has often been attempted, perhaps most successfully by Dr F.J. Allen, with whom the late R.P. Brereton was in general agreement. By these careful observers they are grouped according to the number and character of the windows inserted in each stage. Adopting their principle of classification, though arranging the order of the classes rather differently, we should separate the best towers (viz. those that have two or more windows side by side on the W. front) into two main divisions, according as (I.) perpendicular, (II.) horizontal lines predominate. The first division (I.) has the windows of the belfry stage (three or two in number) prolonged as panels into the stage below. The group is a small one, but includes, perhaps, the finest towers in the county (Batcombe, Evercreech, Wrington, St Cuthbert's, Wells). The second division (II.) has the stages clearly marked off by string-courses or horizontal tracery, and may be subdivided into subordinate classes according as there are (i.) three windows in two tiers, the belfry and the stage below (Mells, Leigh-on-Mendip, Ilminster); (ii.) three windows in one tier (belfry) only (Bruton, Shepton, Cranmore, Winscombe, Banwell, Weston Zoyland, etc.); (iii.) two windows in three tiers, the belfry and two stages below (St Mary's, Taunton); (iv.) two in two tiers, the belfry and one stage below (Chewton Mendip, St John's, Glastonbury); (v.) two in one tier (belfry) only (St James', Taunton, Bishop's Lydeard, N. Petherton, Staple Fitzpaine, Huish Episcopi, Kingsbury Episcopi, Ile Abbots, etc.). A few towers have only one window in the belfry stage, but two in the stage below (Hemington, Buckland Denham). Among the towers with a single window in the belfry should also be noticed a few where the window is long enough, or placed low enough, to break the string-course that divides the topmost stage from the one beneath (Hinton St George, Norton-sub-Hamdon, Shepton Beauchamp, Curry Rivel).

Many Somerset churches are remarkable for their carved pulpits and churchyard crosses, or for their woodwork. Fine stone pulpits are found at Kewstoke, Hutton, Wick St Lawrence, Worle, Locking, Loxton, Shepton, Cheddar, St Catherine. Crosses with carved heads or shafts survive at Bishop's Lydeard, Crowcombe, Spaxton, Doulting, Broadway, Barton St David, Chewton Mendip, Stringston, Horsingtoo, Wedmore. Fine screens are to be found at Dunster, Norton Fitzwarren, Long Ashton, Bishop's Lydeard, Long Sutton, Halse, Minehead, Banwell, Croscombe, Kingsbury. There are carved oak pulpits at Trull and Thurloxton; remarkable Jacobean pulpits at Croscombe and Long Sutton, and quaint bench ends at many places, especially at Bishop's Lydeard, S. Brent, Trull, Crowcombe, Spaxton, Milverton, Bishop's Hull, Stogumber, Broomfield. The finest wood roof is at Shepton Mallet; there are others of great merit also at Somerton, Long Sutton, Martock, St Mary's, Taunton, Evercreech.

Good examples of ancient glass occur at Trull, Nettlecombe, Curry Rivel, Winscombe, Broomfield, E. Brent. Interesting brasses are preserved at Banwell, Hutton, Middlezoy, Tintinhull, Yeovil, Dowlishwake, St Decuman's, Beckington, Bishop's Lydeard.

Besides its stately churches, Somerset possesses some interesting specimens of mediaeval and Tudor domestic architecture. Amongst the best are Lytescary, Meare (fish house), Martock, Clevedon Court, S. Petherton, Barrington, Brympton, Dodington, etc. Ancient hostelries survive at Norton St Philip, Glastonbury, and Dunster. Castles are infrequent in the county, the chief remains being at Taunton, Dunster, and Nunney, and a few fragments at Stoke-Courcey, Harptree, Farleigh Hungerford, and Nether Stowey.


Somerset is par excellence an agricultural county. With the exception of its share in Bristol, it has no large manufacturing centre. Its commercial insignificance, however, is quite a modern characteristic. It once took a leading place in the manufacture of cloth, and its productions were held in high esteem. Dunster, Watchet, and Shepton were especially noted for their fabrics. Many quaint country villages were once thriving little towns, and almost every stream had its string of cloth mills. The introduction of steam, and the more enterprising spirit of the North, stole the trade, and this former era of prosperity is now hardly remembered. Cloth mills, however, still survive at Frome, Tiverton, and Wellington. Collars are made at Taunton; gloves are stitched at Yeovil and Martock. There are shoe factories at Street and Paul ton. Crewkerne manufactures sailcloth. Chard has a lace factory. Frome possesses a large printing establishment and art metal-works. Bridgwater, besides abounding in brick-fields, is the only seat in the country of the bath-brick, industry. Coal is extensively mined in the Radstock district, and iron used to be obtained from the Brendons, though operations now seem to have ceased, and the mineral railway which brought the ore to Watchet for shipment is now disused. Quarries are numerous. The Mendips in the N., Street in the centre, and Ham Hill in the S., all afford plenty of material for the stone mason. There are large breweries at Shepton, Oakhill, Frome, and Wiveliscombe. Paper is made at Wookey, furniture is manufactured at Yatton, and there is a large bacon factory at Highbridge. Extensive orchards in the neighbourhood of Glastonbury and Taunton feed a large number of cider presses. In the agricultural world Somerset is chiefly known as a grazing ground. It is especially renowned for its cheese. Cheddar cheese is held universally in high repute, and the "pitch" of cheese at the Frome annual fair is said to be the heaviest in the kingdom.

In spite of its extent of seaboard Somerset has few ports. Apart from the share it may claim to have in Bristol, it possesses only three, Portishead, Bridgwater, and Watchet. Portishead, like Avonmouth on the other side of the Avon, is subsidiary to Bristol. Bridgwater lies 12 m. up the Parrett, though only half that distance from the sea in a direct line. Watchet serves the district, between the Quantocks and Brendons. Minehead has a little harbour, but is of no mercantile importance.


The roll of Somerset worthies, either natives of or residents in the county, is long and illustrious. The Church, law, literature, philosophy, arms, science, politics, and adventure are all represented. The following alphabetic list contains the most important names, with dates and brief particulars.[5]


Alphege or Aelfeah, b. 954, at Weston near Bath; successively Bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of Canterbury; killed by the Danes, 1011; canonised.

Bacon, Roger, b. about 1214, at or near Ilchester; became a friar of the Franciscan Order; studied natural philosophy and wrote, besides other works, the "Opus Majus" (described as "at once the 'Encyclopaedia' and the 'Organon' of the 13th century"); d. 1294.

Bagehot, Walter, b. 1826, at Langport; economist and author of "The English Constitution"; d. 1877.

Beckington, Thomas, b. about 1390, at Beckington; successively Bishop of Salisbury and Bishop of Bath and Wells; d. 1465.

Blake, Robert, b. 1599, at Bridgwater; took part in the Great Civil War on the Parliamentary side, and defended Lyme and Taunton; made admiral of the fleet, and fought against Holland and Spain; d. 1657.

Coleridge, Hartley, b. 1796, at Clevedon; poet and biographical writer; d. 1849.

Coryate, Thomas, b. 1577, at Odcombe; travelled, first on the Continent (his journal, entitled "Coryat's Crudities," was long the only handbook for Continental travel), and subsequently in the East; d. at Surat, 1617.

Cudivorth, Ralph, b. 1617, at Aller; Professor of Hebrew and Master of Christ's College, Cambridge; author of "The True Intellectual System of the Universe"; one of the "Cambridge Platonists"; d. 1688.

Dampier, William, b. 1652, at East Coker; explorer and scientific observer; author of "A Discourse on the Winds" (said to have value even now as a text-book); d. 1715.

Daniell, Samuel, b. 1562, probably near Taunton; poet and prose writer (there appears to be no authority for the belief that he succeeded Spenser as poet-laureate); d. 1619.

Dunstan, b. 924, at Glastonbury; successively Abbot of Glastonbury, Bishop of Worcester and London, and Archbishop of Canterbury; d. 988; canonised.

Fielding, Henry, b. 1707, at Sharpham, near Glastonbury; novelist (best known work, "Tom Jones"); d. 1754 at Lisbon.

Hood, Samuel, b. 1724, at Butleigh; admiral (Nelson wrote of him as "the best officer, take him altogether, that England has to boast of"); made a viscount; d. 1816.

Hooper, John, b. 1495 (place unknown); Bishop of Gloucester and Worcester; burnt at the stake, 1555.

Irving, Henry (real name John Henry Brodribb); b. 1838, at Keinton-Mandeville; actor; knighted; d. 1905.

Kinglake, Alexander William, b. 1809, at Taunton; wrote "Eothen" and "Invasion of the Crimea"; d. 1891.

Locke, John, b. 1632, at Wrington; philosopher; author of "Essay on the Human Understanding," and works on education and the currency; d. 1704.

Norris, Edwin, b. 1795, at Taunton; Oriental scholar; d. 1872.

Parry, William Edward, b. 1790, at Bath; Arctic explorer; knighted; d. 1855.

Prynne, William, b. 1600, at Swainswick; Presbyterian pamphleteer; wrote "Histriomastix" (directed against stage-plays); several times pilloried; d. 1669.

Pym, John, b. 1584, at Brymore, near Cannington; politician; one of the five members of the Commons whom Charles I. sought to arrest; d. 1643.

Quekett, John Thomas, b. 1815, at Langport; microscopist and histologist; conservator of the Hunterian Museum; d. 1861.

Speke, John Hanning, b. 1827, at Ashill; African explorer; discovered Lakes Tanganyika and Victoria Nyanza; accidentally shot, 1864.

Young, Thomas, b. 1773, at Milverton; scientist, and Egyptologist; described as the founder of physiological optics, and one of the first to interpret the hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone; d. 1829.


Church, Richard William, Rector of Whatley from 1852 to 1871.

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, resided at Clevedon (1795) and Nether Stowey (1796-98).

Ken, Thomas, Bishop of Bath and Wells from 1684 to 1691; wrote the morning and evening hymns, "Awake, my soul, and with the sun," and "Glory to Thee, my God, this night."

More, Hannah, resided for many years between 1786 and 1833 at Barley Wood, near Wrington, and did much to spread education and religion among the Mendip miners.

Smith, Sydney, the humorous Canon of St Paul's, and one of the founders of the Edinburgh Review, held from 1829 till his death in 1845 the living of Combe Florey.

Wolsey, Thomas, the famous cardinal, held for a time the living of Limington. Whilst here he is said to have been put in the stocks by Sir Amyas Poulett of Hinton St George for drinking too much cider. When he became Chancellor of England he revenged himself on the knight, who was Treasurer of the Middle Temple, by forbidding him to quit London without his leave.

Wordsworth, William, resided in 1797 at Alfoxden, a house near Holford.

For distinguished persons who have resided at Bath, see p. 46.

[5] Chiefly derived from the "Dictionary of National Biography."


N.B.—The following abbreviations are adopted:—

Norm. = Norman (1066-1190). Trans. = Transitional (1145-1190). E.E. = Early English (1190-1280). Dec. = Decorated (1280-1377). Perp. = Perpendicular (1377-1547).

[Proofreader's Note: Additional abbreviations found in the text are: G.W.R. = Great Western Railway S.& D. = Somerset and Dorset Railway.]

Abbot's Leigh, a village 4 m. W. from Bristol. The church, which stands at the bottom of a long lane, is, with the exception of the tower, entirely modern, the original fabric having been destroyed by fire in 1848. Near the S. porch is the base of an old cross. The churchyard commands a good view of the mouth of the Avon. Leigh Court is a modern residence. A former mansion was one of the many hiding-places of Charles II. when a fugitive.

Aisholt (or Asholt), 8 m. W. of Bridgwater, is a little village on the E. slope of the Quantocks. The church is hidden away in a small combe, and its tower looks most picturesque against the green background of Asholt Wood, but it is not in itself interesting. Note, however, (1) little plain stoup and niche in the S. porch, (2) large squint (now blocked) in the S. aisle, (3) old font. S. of Aisholt is Holwell Cavern, a cave of considerable extent, and containing stalagmites and stalagtites, but rather inconvenient of access.

Alford, a small village on the river Brue, 1-1/2 m. S.W. from Castle Cary. In the fields on the S. side of the road is a mineral spring, which once enjoyed a short-lived local popularity. The church stands in the grounds of Alford House. It is a 15th cent. Perp. building, and contains (1) some ancient benches, (2) old glass in one of the N. windows, (3) a slender Perp. screen, (4) a pulpit dated 1625, (5) piscina. Note massive corbels in chancel. The shaft of a cross with a modern head stands in the churchyard.

Aller, a village 2-1/2 m. N.W. from Langport, lying at the base of High Ham Hill. Aller witnessed the sequel to two stirring events. Here Guthrum was baptised at Alfred's insistence after his defeat at Ethandune (879), and here the Royalists made their last but ineffectual rally after their rout at Langport in 1645. The church stands apart from the village on a knoll rising from the marshes. It contains (1) an ancient font, (2) an effigy of Sir W. Botreaux (1420) on the N. side of choir. The internal arrangements of the tower are peculiar. It has three arches, those on the N. and S. being apparently purposeless.

Angersleigh, a small parish 5 m. S. of Taunton (follow the Honiton road to the fourth milestone, then turn to the right). It has a very small church, perhaps originally Dec., but altered into Perp. It contains a good carved oak reading-desk and lectern.

Ansford, or Almsford, a village 1/2 m. N. from Castle Cary. Restoration has robbed the church of most of its interest; its tower has some good gargoyles. A memorial-stone on the roadside near the church marks the scene of a sudden death.

Ash, a parish including several small hamlets, 1 m. N.E. from Martock. The church is modern.

Ash Priors, a small village 1 m. N.W. of Bishop's Lydeard Stat., owes its name to the fact that it once belonged to the Priory of Taunton. The church contains nothing of interest, though the N. pier of the chancel arch preserves its squint.

Ashbrittle, 7 m. W. of Wellington (nearest stat. Venn Cross, 3 m.), a parish standing on very high ground. The second element in the name is a personal description, derived from the Norman Brittel de St Clare. The parish church has been completely restored, and is devoid of interest.

Ashcott, a parish on the Poldens, 3 m. S.W. of Glastonbury, with a station (S. & D.J.R.) two miles away. The church has a W. embattled tower with a carving on the W. face representing the sacred monogram, a mitre, and a pastoral staff. There is a stoup in S. porch, but no other feature of interest.

Ashill, a parish 3-3/4 m. N.W. of Ilminster, situated on rising ground on the Taunton and Ilminster road. The church is interesting by reason of the Norman work that it contains, including N. and S. doors and triple chancel arch (restored). There are two effigies in recesses in the nave wall, one representing a woman and her six children. At Capland, 1-1/2 m. off, there is a chalybeate spring.

Ashington, 3 m. E.S.E. of Ilchester, has a small church dedicated to St Vincent. It is remarkable for the large square bell-cot over the W. gable (cp. Brympton and Chilthorne Domer) which is supported by a massive buttress in the middle of the W. front. Within the building note (1) the three lancets at the E. end; (2) the foliated interior arches of the chancel windows (two of which are very small lancets); (3) the pulpit, dated 1637. The glass in some of the windows is good.

Ashton, Long, is a straggling village, noteworthy for its court and church. Ashton Court, the seat of Sir J.H. Greville Smyth, was erected by Inigo Jones in 1634, and is surrounded by a beautifully-wooded park. Long Ashton church contains a fine screen, gilded and painted (the old colours being reproduced), and a 15th cent. tomb (in the N. chapel) with two effigies, belonging to Sir Richard Choke and his wife. There are also two mutilated effigies, preserved in the N. porch, which are supposed to belong to the de Lyons family, who once owned the park.

Ashwick, 2 m. S.E. of Binegar. There is no village, but merely a group of houses. The church has a graceful late Perp. tower, with spirelet: this is the only original part of the fabric, the rest having been rebuilt in 1825. Ashwick Grove is a prettily-situated mansion, said to contain a good collection of pictures.

Athelney, included within the parish of Lyng (with a stat.), is the spot historically famous for having harboured Alfred in 878 when he had to escape before a sudden inroad of the Danes (see p. 12). It was once an island (the name means "isle of the nobles"), and in wet weather must even now almost resume that condition. Alfred, after having defeated the Danes at Ethandune, founded a monastery here, of which all traces have unhappily disappeared. A small monument (best approached from the main road between Lyng and Borough bridge) was erected in 1801 by Mr John Slade, the owner of the estate, to commemorate the events connected with the locality; but the inscription is misleading in giving 879 (instead of 878) as the year when Alfred took refuge here, and in stating that he lay concealed for a whole year (instead of a few months). The neighbourhood abounds in osier and reed-beds, producing materials for basket-work.

AXBRIDGE, 10 m. N.W. of Wells, is an ancient town, which still preserves an air of antiquity. It is situated in a neighbourhood largely devoted to market gardens, in which quantities of strawberries are grown. It was a borough as early as the reign of Edward the Confessor, but its corporation was abolished in 1886. Its most notable feature is the church of St John the Baptist. It is a large cruciform structure with a central tower, having three windows in the belfry, and rather shallow buttresses. The figure on the W. face of the tower is supposed to be Henry VI. or Henry VII., that on the E. St John. Within the church note (1) the roofs, that of the nave plaster with pendants (1636), those of the aisles oak (15th cent.); (2) the carved capitals of the S. arcade and squint in the S.E. tower pier; (3) the mural monument to William Prowse in the N. aisle; (4) the altar before the tomb of Anne Prowse (in S. aisle), covered with a cloth worked by her own hands (1720); (5) brass in N. aisle to Roger Harper (1493); (6) in S. wall of sanctuary piscina and sedilia. In the N. wall is a curious hole, apparently connected with an external cell (where there are the remains of a broken piscina). The purpose of this cell is a great puzzle. The church seems to have possessed two rood-lofts (cp. Crewkerne); and has a two-storied building on the S. of the W. door, which is thought by some to be a treasury.

In the town there are some old houses with projecting upper storeys. One of them, called The Old Manor House, deserves a visit for the sake of a fine ceiling in one of its rooms. In the Town Hall are preserved the old stocks, the apparatus used in bull-baiting, and a money-changer's table, dated 1627.

Babcary is a village a short distance E. of the Fosseway, 6 m. N.N.E. of Ilchester (nearest stat., Sparkford). The first syllable of the name is a personal appellation which doubtless appears in Babbicombe; the second is derived from the neighbouring stream. There is a church of ancient origin, but since its restoration it exhibits little of interest except a piscina (with credence shelf) and a good Caroline pulpit (1632).

Babington, 1 m. S. of Mells Road station. There is no village. The church dates from the reign of George II. Babington House is a mansion of some age but little beauty.

Backwell, 1-1/2 m. S.E. of Nailsea station, a parish which perhaps owes its name to the back or ridge on which it stands. It has a spacious church, prettily situated. The Perp. tower has double belfry windows, and elaborate pinnacles, but the summit seems to have been injured and rebuilt, for the upper lights are enclosed within an ogee moulding which breaks the line of the parapet; and one of the pinnacles is of unusual character. At the S. door note stoup, and within the church observe (1) the 15th cent. screen; (2) the squints, high up in the chancel pillars; (3) the E.E. sedilia on the S.; and (4) the chapel on the N. side of the sanctuary. In front of the chapel is a large tomb with a full length effigy of a knight in armour (probably a Rodney); whilst within there is a mural brass and other memorials. The chapel is the resting-place of Elizabeth, successively wife of Sir Walter Rodney and of Sir John Chaworth, who died 1536.

Badgworth, 3 m. S.W. of Axbridge, lies a little way off the Bristol and Bridgwater road. The church is dedicated to the saint that has given his name to Congresbury, St Congar. It has a fair tower (with a good open parapet), which contains two pre-Reformation bells, but the interior contains little of note. The piscina looks like E.E. with a restored drain.

Bagborough, West, 3-1/2 m. N. of Bishop's Lydeard station, is a parish pleasantly situated on the S.W. side of the Quantocks. The church (St Pancras) adjoins Bagborough House, and preserves its former stoup and piscina. There are a few carved bench ends.

Baltonsborough, a village on the Brue, 4 m. S.W. of Glastonbury. It possesses a 5th cent. church (St Dunstan's) containing a few features of interest in the chancel, among them being the cornice, the piscina and aumbry, and an old chair dated 1667. The screen is modern. The nave retains a number of the old 15th cent. benches; to the end of one of them is hinged a seat which, when raised, projects into the aisle, perhaps to accommodate some youthful but unruly member of the congregation. The old door and lock deserve a passing notice.

Banwell, a large village 1-1/2 m. W. of Sandford and Banwell station, was once the site of a Saxon monastery, bestowed by Alfred upon Asser, and is now famous for its church and caves. The place gets its name from its large pond, fed by a copious spring, though the meaning of the first syllable is obscure (perhaps from bane, ill, implying that the spring was thought to have remedial qualities). The church has a tower with triple belfry windows, which is lofty and finished with pinnacles and spirelet. It should be compared with Winscombe, both being spoilt by the flatness of the buttresses. It is regarded as early Perp., and assigned to about 1380. The figures on the W. front are the Virgin and St Gabriel; note the lilies (there should be only one, as at Winscombe). The nave is lofty, with clerestory and plaster roof (coloured like oak); the effigy at the W. is St Andrew. There is a very fine rood-loft (1521) with fan-tracery both in front and rear: the present colours are believed to reproduce the original; curiously, the choir seats are outside the screen. Note (1) the font (Norman) with unusual carving on the bowl; (2) Perp. stone pulpit, attached to one of the pillars of the arcade; (3) the seat ends and oak benches (the original width of the latter may be seen in the last pew on the S. side); (4) the brasses, three on the floor before the chancel, and another (of John Martok, succentor of Wells, and physician to Bishop King) in the vestry. This vestry contains some old Flemish glass (brought from Belgium in 1855), depicting the story of Tobit; and there is more ancient glass belonging to the church in the E. windows of the aisles. Originally there was only a N. aisle, and the tower buttresses can still be seen within the S. aisle.

Banwell Court, near the church, contains some remains of a manor house, built by Bishop Beckington. In a shed near the fire brigade station are (1) two old thatch-hooks (1610), used to drag burning thatch from the roofs of houses; and (2) an old fire-engine of the same date.

On the hill which rises above the church (in a field entered near the junction of the roads) a large cross is traced on the surface of the ground, and raised in relief to the height of 2 ft., the limbs being between 50 and 70 ft. long. It is surrounded by a low stone or earth fence, and its purpose is problematical. On the hill there is also a camp, where flints of Neolithic date have been found; and near it is an ancient track-way known as the Roman Road.

The caves (two in number) are in private grounds belonging to Mrs Law. They have probably been created by the action of water, and when discovered were filled with the bones of wild animals (many of them now extinct) embedded in silt, which had been washed into them. In one of them there is now stacked a quantity of these bones, whilst a selection of them is deposited in Taunton Museum. The caves are shown by some of the outdoor servants of the house. Unlike the caves at Cheddar and Burrington, they open upon the summit of the hill instead of into a ravine.

Barrington, a village 4 m. N.E. of Ilminster, is worth visiting for the sake of its church and its interesting Elizabethan house called Barrington Court. The church is cruciform, with an octagonal central tower. The tower arches are E.E., with plain chamfered piers; but there is a good deal of Dec. work in the transepts (note windows and the fine canopy over one of the piscinas). The E. window is Perp.: observe the piscina and niches in the chancel, and the large squints. The N. porch has an ogee moulding, and contains a niche with figures of the Virgin and Child.

Barrington Court (now a farm) is a magnificent E-shaped building, with numerous twisted chimneys, turrets, and finials. It was built by Henry Daubeny, the first Earl of Bridgwater, (d. 1548); and passed successively into the possession of the Phelipses (afterwards of Montacute) and the Strodes. It was here that William Strode in 1680 entertained the Duke of Monmouth. Recently an effort has been made to purchase it for the nation.

Barrow Gurney is a small village, prettily situated (1 m. from Flax Bourton stat.), with a church about a mile away. Near the church there once existed a Benedictine nunnery (said to have been founded before 1212); and what is now the S. aisle was formerly the nuns' chapel, and it still retains an early doorway and a few other vestiges of antiquity. At the W. end of the aisle is an enclosure with a number of tiles, supposed to be the burial-place of one of the sisters. With the exception of this S. aisle, the church has been entirely rebuilt and enlarged. Note the mural monument to Francis James (of Jacobean date), and the old bell beneath the tower. The churchyard contains a restored cross. Adjoining the church is Barrow Court (H.M. Gibbs) a fine Elizabethan building. In the village is a house of the date 1687. Some reservoirs of the Bristol waterworks are close by.

Barrow, North, a small village 2-1/2 m. N. from Sparkford Station (G.W.R.). The church, rebuilt 1860, is without interest, except for a very curious font of uncertain date, standing on a modern pedestal.

Barrow, South, is a village 1 m. N. from Sparkford. The church, a small aisleless building, contains (1) ancient bench ends; (2) piscina and aumbry in sanctuary; (3) brass to R. Morris on floor of nave. A fragment of Norman work will be noticed over the N. door. The font, dated 1584, has a curious E.E. look.

Barton St David, 5 m. S.S.E. of Glastonbury, 4 m. N.E. of Somerton, gets its name from its church, dedicated to the Welsh bishop (who was buried at Glastonbury hard by). The plan of the church is cruciform, the tower (which is octagonal) being placed in the angle formed by the N. transept and the chancel. The N. doorway is Norman, the arches of chancel and transepts E.E. The chancel windows are lancets with foliated heads and interior foliations. Note (1) the squint; (2) the piscina. In the churchyard there is a headless cross, with the figure of a bishop in his mitre on the shaft (perhaps St David).

Barwick, a small village 1 m. S. from Yeovil. The church—a rather large building for so small a place—has the tower oddly placed at the E. end of N. aisle (cp. E. Coker). The N. aisle is richer and evidently later than the S. aisle. Observe the panelling of the arches of the arcade and the external battlements. The character of the arcade on both N. and S. is peculiar (cp. Shepton Mallet). The chancel has been rebuilt, but it retains the original piscina. The church has some fine bench ends (1533). The initials W.H. on the door of the reading-desk are said to be those of William Hope, the patron of the living early in the 16th cent. Note (1) position of Dec. piscina in S. aisle and dwarf doorway, showing raising of floor; (2) squint and rood-loft stairs on N.; (3) square fluted font with cable moulding; (4) consecration crosses on jamb of W. door, on chancel buttresses, and on wall of S. aisle (cp. Nempnett); (5) arched doorway into tower from chancel, made up of a sepulchral slab with incised foliated cross.

Batcombe, a small village equidistant (3 m.) from Cranmore, Evercreech, and Bruton stations, has an interesting church. The tower, one of the finest in Somerset, is of marked individuality, combining features belonging to two distinct types. It resembles Shepton in the arrangement of its buttresses, and Evercreech and Wrington in the character of its triple windows. The absence of pinnacles and of superfluous ornamentation lends to it considerable dignity and impressiveness. Note the figure of our Lord and censing angels on W. front, as at Chewton. On exterior of church observe (1) debased S. porch; (2) crucifix on E. gable of nave. The interior is disappointing. The clerestory is spacious, and the roof fair, but a general sense of bareness pervades the whole building. The shabbiness of the chancel in particular is enhanced by a casement which does duty for an E. window. Note (1) Dec. windows to aisle; (2) rood-loft stair; (3) curious quatrefoil piscina in sanctuary; (4) some fragments of old glass in E. window of S. aisle. At the W. end is a handsomely-carved font, and the remains of another font from Spargrove Church (now destroyed) are under the tower. An ugly monument to the Bisse family stands in one of the S. window sills. The vestry is a nondescript chamber reached from the chancel by a flight of stone steps.

BATH. A city and parliamentary borough on the Avon, 107 m. W. from London, with a population (in 1901) of 52,751. It has stations both on the G.W. and the Midland lines. Few cities are more romantically situated than Bath, but it is not its situation which has given to it its celebrity. Its prosperity has from time immemorial depended upon its possession of the remarkable mineral springs in which the fashionable world has at different periods discerned so many healing and social virtues. The popular story of their discovery by the legendary King Bladud is too trite to need re-telling. The real history of Bath begins as early as A.D. 44, when it is known to have been a Roman station. Its Latin name was Aquae Sulis, Sul being a local divinity, whose name appears on several inscriptions in the Museum, and may have some connection with the neighbouring hill of Solsbury. A temple to this goddess existed on the site of the present Pump Room, and the extensive ruins of the contiguous bathing establishment bear eloquent testimony to the use which the Romans made of the waters. Here, too, converged three of their chief highways, the Fosseway, from Lincoln to Axminster, the Via Julia, which connected it with S. Wales, and Akeman Street, the main thoroughfare to London. The after-history of Bath is chequered. In 676 King Osric founded here a nunnery (eventually transformed into a monastery), and in 973 it was the scene of Edgar's coronation. After the Conquest it was a bone of contention in the Norman quarrels, and was burnt to the ground by Geoffrey of Coutances. After being harried by the sword, Bath passed under the hammer. Its ecclesiastical importance begins when John de Villula purchased it of the king, and transferred hither his episcopal stool from Wells (see further, p. 19). In mediaeval days Bath was a walled city, and fragments of its fortifications, crowned by a modern battlement, may still be seen in "Borough Walls"; and two round-headed arches of the old E. gate are visible in a passage behind the Empire Hotel, leading to the river. The battle of Lansdown gives Bath a place in the annals of the Great Rebellion. But the fame of Bath is social rather than historical. It was not until the 18th cent. that the city reached the zenith of its importance. The creator of modern Bath was the social adventurer Nash. By sheer force of native impudence Nash pushed himself into the position of an uncrowned king, and exercised his social sovereignty with a very high hand. His rule was certainly conducive to the better government of the city. From a mere haunt of bandits and beggars, Bath became at a bound the most fashionable city in the kingdom, and a school for manners to half England. Nash, though very much the beau, was very little of the gentleman. To a hump-backed lady who declared that she had "come straight from London," Nash replied, "Then you must have picked up a d—d crook by. the way." But polite society was not squeamish, and took him at his own valuation. His assemblies became the rage, his social despotism was eagerly acquiesced in, and the improvements he demanded were ungrudgingly supplied. The social labours of Nash were admirably seconded by the work of two architects called Wood (father and son). Terraces, squares and crescents sprang up in generous profusion to accommodate the crowds of visitors who were drawn into the vortex of fashion. The prosperity of Bath did not decline with the fading fortunes of its favourite, for it was not until the peace of Amiens opened up the continental watering places that the fashionable world forsook Bath and went elsewhere. But though its proud pre-eminence has passed for ever, Bath still retains something of its former splendour. It can boast of several natives of note, and a roll of still more distinguished residents. The birds of passage, whose stay shed a transient glory on the gay city, are legion. Amongst those who claim Bath as their birthplace are William Edward Parry, the Arctic explorer, John Palmer, the postal reformer, and William Horn, the author of the Every Day Book. The list of famous residents includes Quin, the actor, R.B. Sheridan, Beckford, Landor, Sir T. Lawrence, Gainsborough, Bishop Butler (who died at 14 Kingsmead Square), Gen. Wolfe and Archbp. Magee. Nelson and Chatham, Queen Charlotte, Jane Austen, Dickens, Herschell and Thirlwall, are to be numbered amongst the visitors.

The general plan of Bath is easily grasped. The river throws itself round the city like an elbow, and in the corner of land thus embraced the streets are laid out something in the manner of an irregular chess board. One main thoroughfare runs from the S. gate, and climbs by a gradual ascent northwards; and as it goes, expands into the spacious shopping quarters of Milsom Street. Another good string of streets runs from the Abbey also northwards, and on its course extends a long arm eastwards across the river to the suburb of Bathwick.

The chief sights, the Abbey, Pump Room, Roman Baths and Guildhall, lie grouped together in convenient proximity. The imposing terraces, squares and crescents of the once fashionable residential quarters are to be found chiefly on the N. and W. sides of the city. A pretty view of Pulteney Bridge with its singular parapet of shops may be obtained from the terrace at the back of the Municipal Buildings.

The chief public buildings are the Pump Room, rebuilt in 1796, and considerably extended in recent times; the Guildhall, built in 1768-75, containing some good portraits; the Upper Assembly Rooms (1771); the Royal Institution (1824), on the site of the old Assembly Rooms, the scene of Nash's triumphs; the Mineral Water Hospital (1737); and the Holbourne Art Museum (containing a large number of pictures, many of which are unfortunately not the "old masters" they profess to be, some good porcelain, and a fine collection of "Apostle" spoons). Hetling House in Hetling Court was once a mansion of the Hungerfords. The public grounds are the Victoria Park, Sydney Gardens, Henrietta Park, and the Institute Gardens (subscribers only).

Roman Baths. The waters from which Bath gets its fame are believed to owe their origin to the surface drainage of the E. Mendips, which percolates through some vertical fissure, perhaps at Downhead, to the heart of the hills, and are conducted by some natural culvert beneath the intervening coal measures, washing out as they go the soluble mineral salts, and whilst still retaining their heat emerge again at the first opportunity at Bath. The Romans were the first to make use of this natural lavatory, and with their unrivalled engineering skill founded here a magnificent bathing establishment. Though the fact of their occupation of the site was long known, the extent and magnitude of their arrangements have only lately been laid bare. Thanks to the skill and intelligence with which a thorough investigation of the site was made by the city architect in 1881, every visitor to Bath has now an opportunity of examining the finest extant specimen of a Roman bathing station in the world. The entrance to these antiquities is through a corridor to the left of the Pump Room (admission 6d.). This passage opens upon a modern balcony overlooking the great central basin. To investigate the ruins, a descent must be made by the staircase to the basement. The Great Bath is a rectangular tank 111 feet by 68 feet, originally lined with lead 1/4 inch thick. It was surrounded with dressing-rooms, from which steps led down to the water. The great hall which contained it was covered in with a roof of hollow bricks and concrete (plentiful specimens of which lie scattered about), supported by carved columns. On the left is another square bath with a semi-circular tank at each end, and a series of vapour chambers behind it. The greater part of this bath was unfortunately destroyed in the 18th cent., to furnish material for the construction of a new bath. To the right of the great bath is a fine stepped circular bath, and beyond this again are sudatories. Still further on, extending beneath the street, in a part not always shown to the public and somewhat difficult of approach, is a third rectangular basin of considerable size. Even this does not complete the full tale of the bathing accommodation once provided. Buried beneath the basement of the Pump Room itself has been discovered the masonry of a large oval bath, the outline of which is still marked out in the flooring. The huge Roman reservoir into which were poured the healing waters as they bubbled up fresh and fervid from the bowels of the earth cannot now be seen, for it lies immediately beneath the floor of the King's Bath, but the visitor can still inspect the overflow conduit which conveyed the surplus waters to the Avon. The character of the lead and brick work should be carefully examined if justice is to be done to the skill of the Roman workmen. The specimens of the tessellated pavement that once formed the flooring of the great hall are worthy of passing notice. The King's Bath, the great bathing place of the fashionable world in Nash's day, is open to the air, and may be seen from one of the windows of the corridor. The various modern baths must be inquired for on the spot. Medicinal bathing is obtained at the New Royal Bath, in connection with the Grand Pump Room Hotel. The spring which keeps the whole of this vast array of bathing appliances going yields three hogsheads per minute, and issues from the earth at a temperature of 117 deg. Fahr. The chief constituents of the waters are calcium sulphate, sodium sulphate, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate, and sodium chloride, and there are traces of other minerals.

The Abbey Church. The Abbey, though somewhat hemmed in by meaner buildings, stands in a commanding position in the centre of the city. Without any claims to be regarded as an architectural gem, it has sufficient merit to adorn its situation. Its career has been a series of vicissitudes. Though Bath takes precedence of Wells in the official title of the see, it has seldom been the predominant partner. John de Villula, with the intention of making the city the bishop's seat, built here a church so spacious that the nave alone would swallow up the existing building. Of this Norm. church there still survive (1) bases of clustered pillars under a grating in N. aisle of choir, (2) a single pillar in same aisle, (3) round arch and pillar in vestry, S. of choir, (4) bases of pillars at exterior of E. end. With his successors' change of plans, Villula's church fell on evil days, and was allowed to decay. In 1495 Bishop Oliver King beheld, like Jacob, the vision of a heavenly stairway and climbing angels, and heard a voice saying, "Let an olive establish the crown, and let a king restore the church." In consequence he, in imitation of the patriarch, vowed a "God's house" upon the spot. With the help of Prior Bird, he projected the present edifice, and the west front still commemorates his dream. But whilst the building was in course of construction the Reformation intervened and put a stop to the work. The monastery was dissolved, and the Crown offered the church to the townspeople for 500 marks. The citizens, however, declined the bargain, and the building passed from the hammer of the auctioneer to that of the house-breaker. Stripped of all that was saleable, the shell passed into the possession of one Edmund Colthurst, who made a present of it to the town. For forty years it remained practically a heap of ruins. Episcopal attention was again drawn to its unseemliness, not this time by ascending angels, but by the more prosaic instrumentality of a descending shower. Bishop Montague, seeking shelter one day within its roofless aisles from a passing thunderstorm, was moved by the discomfort of the situation to undertake the completion of the fabric. He finished the work in 1609, but on somewhat economical lines. He vaulted the roof with plaster, and it has been left to the modern restorer to make good his work in stone. Externally the church is a cruciform building with a central tower, characterized by two tiers of double windows and spired octagonal turrets at the corners. The tower is a rectangle, the N. and S. sides being shorter than the E. and W., and the transepts are correspondingly narrow. Though somewhat stiff and formal, the general design derives a certain impressiveness from the lofty clerestory, the immense display of windows, and a profusion of flying buttresses. The fantastic reproduction of Jacob's Ladder, with its beetle-like angels, on the W. front, should be carefully observed, and note should also be taken of the elaborately carved wooden door and the figures above and on either side (Henry VII. and SS. Peter and Paul). The two ladders are flanked by representations of the Apostles, whilst below the gable is the figure of our Lord, with adoring angels beneath. The interior has something of the appearance of an ecclesiastical Crystal Palace—one vast aggregate of pillars and glass. The details are poor (note the absence of cusps in alternate windows of nave), and the fan tracery (original in choir only) is exuberant. In some of the clerestory windows are fragments of old glass, and the very unusual feature of pierced spandrels to the E. window should be noted. The one really beautiful thing in the interior is Prior Bird's Chantry at the S.E. of the choir. The delicate groining of the roof, the foliage, and the panelling will be generally admired. Note the constant reiteration of the Prior's relics, with mitre, though priors did not wear mitres. There is an effigy of Bishop Montague under a staring canopy between the columns of the N. aisle. In the sanctuary is the tomb of Bartholomew Barnes, and a brass to Sir George Ivey. The oak screen across the S.E. aisle is in memory of a former rector (Rev. C. Kemble) who did much to restore the Abbey. As a reminder of Bath's once fashionable days, the walls of the aisles are covered with memorials of local celebrities; amongst them there is a tablet to Nash (S. wall near S. transept). The tomb of Lady Waller in S. transept, and Garrick's epitaph on Quin (N. aisle of choir) should perhaps also be noticed. As Dr Harington's sprightly epigram suggests, this portentous display of mortality is not an inspiring study for visitors who come to Bath to take "the cure,"

"These walls, adorned with monument and bust, Show how Bath waters serve to lay the dust."

Among objects and places of interest in the outskirts of the city that deserve a visit are Sham Castle, an artificial antique on Bathwick Hill; Widcombe Old Church (built by Prior Bird); the chapel of St Mary Magdalen in Holloway (built by Prior Cantlow in 1495); Beckford's Tower on Lansdowne, and Combe Down (where a portion of the Wansdyke may be examined).

Bath gives its name, with sometimes more and sometimes less justification, to quite a number of articles, including Bath stone, Bath buns, Bath olivers, Bath chaps, Bath chairs, and Bath bricks (for the last, see pp. 26, 64).

Bathampton, a prettily situated village, 2 m. N.E. of Bath. Its church is in the main Perp., but the chancel arch is E.E., and the E. window consists of three lancets. There are two recumbent figures of the 14th cent., a knight and a lady, at the W. end of the S. aisle; but the most remarkable feature of the building is a still earlier effigy, much defaced, within a niche in the exterior wall of the E. end. It seems to represent a bishop, since there are traces of a crosier, though some have taken it for a prioress. Some small remains of a priory are still to be found at the rectory near the church.

Bathealton, a parish 3 m. S.E. of Wiveliscombe. The church has been rebuilt, and is of no antiquarian interest.

Batheaston, a large parish on the Avon, 2-1/2 m. N.E. of Bath (nearest stat. Bathampton, 1/2 m. away). The church has been restored, but it retains its well-proportioned Perp. tower. One of the bells dates from pre-Reformation times, and has the inscription Virginis egregiae vocor campana Mariae. To the N.E. of the village is Solsbury Hill, with a British camp on the summit. It probably gets its name from the British goddess Sul, who seems, from the inscriptions in Bath Museum, to have been identified by the Romans with Minerva.

Bathford is a village 3-1/2 m. E.N.E. of Bath (nearest stat. Bathampton), standing on a hill sloping to the Avon, which was here in Roman times crossed by a ford that gave its name (formerly Ford) to the place. The church (ded. to St Swithin) is of E.E. origin, but has been enlarged and modernised. The font is Norm.; some Norm. work remains in the N. porch, and there is a Jacobean pulpit.

Bawdrip, a small village, 1 m. from Cossington, and 3-1/4 m. N.E. of Bridgwater. It possesses an interesting little cruciform church, with a central tower supported on E.E. or Early Dec. arches. There are three piscinas, one in the sanctuary, the others in the transepts, that of the N. transept being on the sill of the squint in the chancel pier. In this N. transept is the effigy of a knight in plate armour under a foliated canopy, said to be that of Joel de Bradney, d. 1350.

Beckington, a large village on the Bath road, 3 m. N.E. from Frome. It was once famous for its cloth, and the number of old houses which it possesses and its general appearance of spaciousness bear testimony to its former importance. The church stands back from the main street, and is well worth a visit. It is chiefly Perp., but has a Norm. W. tower with Perp. windows, and a richly groined vault. A fine octagonal E.E. font stands in the S. aisle. Note (1) squints, (2) piscinas in sanctuary and S. aisle. The monuments are—(1) in N. wall of chancel, the effigy of a knight in armour, supposed to be J. de Evleigh (1360-70) and wife; (2) a little higher up, effigy of lady, Mary de Evleigh (1380-1400); (3) brass on chancel floor to John St Maur and wife (1485), though the lady, who, after John St Maur's death, married Sir John Biconyll, lies elsewhere; (4) brass on S. pier of chancel arch bearing a merchant's mark (said to belong to John Compton, d. 1510); (5) in N. aisle, slab and bust to S. Daniell (1619), reputed to have been poet-laureate (but see p. 29). Bishop Beckington of Wells (1443-65) was born here. At the corner of the lane leading to the church is Beckington Castle, a fine old gabled house with mullioned windows. Standerwick Court, a Queen Anne mansion, is a mile away; and in the neighbourhood is Seymour Court, a farmhouse, once the abode of Protector Somerset.

Beer Crocombe, a small village 1-1/2 m. S.E. from Hatch Beauchamp Station (G.W.R. branch to Chard). The church (Perp.) is uninteresting. The prefix Beer (thought to be a personal name) occurs in several Dorset and Devon place-names.

Berkley, a small village, 2-1/2 m. N.E. from Frome. It possesses a "classical" church—a very unusual thing for a country village—date 1751. It is an odd little building, with a balustraded W. tower and a small central dome, said to have been copied from St Stephen's, Walbrook. Within is a monumental slab tracing the descent of the Newboroughs, from the time of the Conquest till 1680. Berkley House dates from the time of William III.

Berrow, a parish 2 m. N. of Burnham, where there are good golf links. The church is close to the shore, and contains little of interest. Note, however, (1) stoup in S. porch, (2) curious piscina in chancel, (3) small Jacobean pulpit, (4) gallery dated 1637. Outside of the S. wall are two slabs with much defaced effigies, probably from an earlier building.

1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse