Notable Villages of Somerset in 1841.
Long Ashton (population in 1831, 1,423) and Brislington (population 1,294) are distant about three miles, one south-west, the other south-east of Bristol. Long Ashton has iron-works and collieries. There are. in the parish two remarkable camps, on the hills over-looking the Avon, opposite Clifton, and a neat and elegant church of perpendicular character. Brislington has a very extensive and complete private lunatic asylum.
Backwell, just under Broadfield Down (population in 1831, 1,038), has collieries.
Nailsea, eight miles west by south of Bristol (population in 1831, 2,114), gives name to the adjacent coal-field, the pits of which employ a considerable number of men ; there are also stone-quarries and important crown-glass works.
Clevedon (population in 1831, 1,147) and Portished (population 800), on the Bristol Channel, one 12 or 14 miles west by south from Bristol, the other nearer, are resorted to as bathing-places.
Pill, or Crockern Pill, in the parish of Easton-in-Gordano (population in 1831, 2,255), is a pilot-station on the Avon below Bristol. Several Roman antiquities have been found here : there are an episcopal chapel and several dissenting meeting-houses.
Keynsham (population in 1831, 2,142), nearly midway between Bath and Bristol, was formerly a market-town. It has a spacious church of perpendicular character, which exhibits some good portions. There are flax-manufactories, which in 1831 employed 79 men, and some copper-mills near the town. It has an almshouse and an endowed school.
Bathwick (population in 1831, 4,033) and Lyncombe, and Widcomb (population 8,704), are suburbs of Bath, and by late acts are included both in the parliamentary and municipal boundaries. Bathwick is separated from Bath proper by the Avon, which is here crossed by Pulteney Bridge. By the extension of the buildings in later years, some of the finest parts of Bath (Pulteney Street, Laura Place, and Sydney Gardens) are in Bathwick. The Kennet and Avon Canal out the Great Western Railway run through the parish. Many Roman antiquities have been found at Bathwick. Lyncombe and Widcomb parish is separated from Bath by the Avon : it contains a number of streets, which may be considered as forming the manufacturing part of Bath ; and a number of detached villas or rows of good private houses, rather more distant from the town. The valley of Lyncombe is very beautiful, and, considering its proximity to so large a city, remarkably secluded. The woollen-manufacture in 1831 employed 565 men.
Bath Easton (population 1,783) is about two miles north-east of Bath, on the London road. The church has a beautiful embattled tower, 100 feet in height.
Weston (population 2,560) is about the same distance west-north-west of Bath.
Twiverton (population 2,478), about the same distance west of Bath, on the south bank of the Avon, and on the road to Bristol, is the seat of a considerable cloth manufacture, which in 1831 employed 284 men.
Beckington (population in 1831, 1,340),three miles north-north-east of Frome, Road (population 954), five miles distant in the same direction, and Berkeley (population 531), two miles east of Frome, are all engaged in the woollen manufacture, of which Frome is the centre.
Mells (population 1,259), three miles north-west of Frome ; Kilmersdon (population 2,129), Radstock or Radstoke (population 1,165), Midsummer Norton (population 2,942), Camerton (population 1,326), Timsbury (population 1,367), High Littleton (population 911), Paulton (population 1,784), Clutton (population 1,287), Chew Magna (population 2,048), are all more or less inhabited by the colliers of the Mendip coal-field, which in 1831 gave employment in these and the adjacent places to nearly 1,800 men, beside boys, of whom several were employed.
North Petherton (population in 1831, 3,566), about three miles south of Bridgewater, is one of the largest villages the county : it was formerly a market-town, and though the market is disused, it retains two important cattle-fairs.
Huntspill (population 1,503), near the right bank of the Parret, seven miles north of Bridgewater, was formerly a market-town : it has three fairs.
Banwell (population 1,623), three or four miles north-west of Axbridge, is pleasantly situated under the northern slope of the Mendip Hills. Two remarkable caverns have been discovered, one filled with diluvium, in which were embedded various fossil bones, the other covered with here with beautiful stalactites. There was on abbey at Banwell during the existence of the West Saxon kingdom. Alfred gave the abbey to his best friend Asser : it was destroyed in the Danish wars. There are considerable remains of an episcopal palace of the bishops of Bath and Wells, now converted into a private residence ; and a modern cottage belonging to the same prelates.
Burnham (population 1,113), on the Bristol Channel, near the mouth of the Parret, has a church whose lofty tower is used as a sea-mark, and a lighthouse. The altar-piece of the church, sculptured in white marble, was designed by Inigo Jones.
Wedmore (population 3,557) is on a gentle elevation, rising out of the flats between the Mendip and the Polden hills ; it was the occasional residence at one time of the West Saxon kings, and retains, in the power of choosing, at the manorial court, a portreeve and water-bailiffs, traces of former municipal organisation.
Wrington (population 1,540), on the bank of the river Yeo, which drains the valley between Broadfield Down and the Mendips, was formerly a market-town, and had one yearly fair, but both market and fair have fallen into disuse within the last fifty years. Barley Wood, the residence of the late Hannah More, is in the parish.
Congresbury (population 1,327), two miles west of Wrington, had anciently a market, now disused.
At Merriot (population in 1831, 1,405), two miles north of Crewkerne ; East Coker (population 1,330), three miles south of Yeovil ; Montacute (population 1,028), three miles, Stoke-under-Hamden (population 1,365), five miles, and Martock (population 2,841), seven miles west of Yeovil :- about 200 men are employed in glove-making or in weaving sail-cloth, sacking, and girth-web. East Coker has a fine cross church and a row of almshouses. The remains of a Roman villa were found here in the middle of the last century in a field ; but the site has been ploughed up, and the fragments dispersed. Montacute has extensive quarries. Martock was formerly a market-town, but the market has fallen into disuse within the last fifty years. In the market-place are the former market-house with an assembly-room over it, and a fluted column supporting a dial. Martock church has a tower 90 feet high, and a handsome alter-piece, but of a character not in harmony with the Gothic architecture of the church.
Curry Revel (population in 1831, 1,378) has quarries of lias, and two cattle and sheep fairs. In this parish, on a commanding eminence, is Burton Pynsent, the seat of the great earl of Chatham, to whom a monument was erected in the park by his widow.
Portlock (population in 1831, 830) is in the hilly district which occupies the western extremity of the county, six miles west of Minehead. The Saxons gave to this place the name of 'Port-locan,' the locked or enlocked harbour ; but as this title would by no means apply to the shallow bay near which Portlock stands, it is probable that the line of coast has undergone considerable change by the retreat of the sea. The principal part of the village, consisting of two streets of mean straggling houses near the church, is now above a mile from the sea. The Danes were repulsed in an attack on this place, in 918 ; but it was burnt, and the neighbourhood plundered by Harold, in the revolt of his family against Edward the Confessor, in 1052. There is an old but unfinished camp not far from the town, supposed to have been formed about this time. Porlock Quay is two miles north-west of the village, on the shore : a small harbour is here formed by means of a pier. A very few small sloops which import coal and lime from Wales, and some fishing-boats, belong to the place. The market formerly held has been discontinued. There are three yearly fairs for cattle and sheep. The ancient market-cross is still standing.
Old Cleeve (population in 1831, 1,347) is about two miles west of Watchet : the parish extends northward to the cliffs which here line the Bristol Channel. There are the ruins of an ancient Cistercian monastery ; the remains, which are extensive, have been converted into a private house ; the architecture is, to a considerable extent, of perpendicular character. The revenue of the monastery at the dissolution was £155, 9 shillings and 5 pence. An old cross with four steps, the pedestal and pillar almost entire, stands in the church-yard of the parish church. The hamlet of Blue Anchor in this parish is a little resorted to as a bathing-place.
Stogumber (population in 1831, 1,294), between Watchet and Taunton, was formerly a market-town : it has still two yearly fairs.