Axbridge in 1835
AXBRIDGE, an ancient corporate town in the hundred of Winterstoke, county of Somerset, seated in a rich level close under the Mendip Hills, 130 miles W. by S. of London, and 10 miles N.W. of Wells. It is a place of little importance, and the only manufacture is of knit stockings. The town consists of one street about half a mile long, running in a winding direction nearly east and west. It has a good market for corn, sheep, pigs, &c. on Saturdays, and two (or according to some three) fairs in the year. The market-house and shambles are near the east end of the town, as is also the church, which stands on an eminence on the east side of the market-place. It is in the form of a cross and has a nave, a chancel, and north and south transepts ; a chapel on each side of the chancel, and a lofty tower at the western end. On the west side of the tower, in a niche, stands the statue of a king with his sceptre, and on the east side a bishop in his pontifical vest. The living is a rectory in the gift of the Bishop of Bath and Wells. The manor was once a demesne of the crown, and was given away by King John.
Near the town the river Ax is crossed by a wooden bridge supported by stone piers, the remains of a more ancient structure. Axbridge, as already noticed, is a corporate town : the members of the corporation are a mayor, recorder, town clerk, ten aldermen, and twenty-two burgesses ; out of whom are chosen a sheriff, serjeant-at-mace, and constables. Axbridge sent members to parliament in the reigns of Edward I, II, and III, and was then excused at its own desire. The population in 1831 was 998 ; and the number of houses 179, of which six were uninhabited.