Category Archives: Monochrome

An A-Z of Somerset Villages

With everything else that has been going on in the world, it’s taken a while to get there, but here is the complete list of alphabetical Somerset villages posts. What started out in August 2020 as something of a lockdown photographic project, helping me explore parts of my new home county that I might normally bypass, became much more than just something to challenge my satnav.

Twenty six villages, each with their own individual personalities and traits. Each came into being in different ways, for different reasons, but each brings something different to the county, adding different stories to the county’s history.

(The previously mentioned disclaimers apply to the alphabetical journey. There are no villages in Somerset beginning with a J or a V, so K and W are doubled up. Zeals is technically not in Somerset, but is within a few hundred yards of the border, so I have taken the liberty of including it in the list, as there are no other places in the county starting with that letter.)

Click on an image to visit the village post.


Ashcott

Baltonsborough

Charlton Mackrell

Dinder

Evercreech

Farrington Gurney

Godney

Haselbury Plucknett

Isle Abbotts

Kingweston

Kingsdon

Lydeard St Lawrence

Milverton

North Curry

Othery

Pilton

Queen Camel

Rodney Stoke

Stanton Drew

Tintinhull

Ubley

Withypool

Walton-in-Gordano

Exton

Yatton

Zeals

A-Z of Somerset: Zeals

Okay, so another small liberty with this one. As discussed on previous posts there are no villages in Somerset beginning with the letters J or V. The county is also devoid of any locations starting with a Z, but, a few hundred yards over the border into Wiltshire is the village of Zeals.

Recorded as Sele in the Domesday Book, the name derives from the old English term for willow, and likely relates to the settlement being in the ancient Forest of Selwood.

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw the area become a centre for flax working, and the population increased significantly. With cheap imports flooding the market in the early 1800s, the cottage industries in the are ran out of work, and employment became limited to agriculture.


Nowadays, the village has a population of less than 700, and, while within spitting distance of the main A303, is sheltered enough to feel remote.

The bulk of the old village is focused on the central green, and the dwellings are mainly stone-built and slate roofed.


To the east of the green are the Zeals Almshouses. Built by local resident and Member of Parliament William Chafyn-Grove in the 1860s, these five one-bedroom cottages are there to cater for retired, single of married people from the village or surrounding area.


Overseeing the spiritual guidance of the community is the church of St Martin. Built in the 1840s, money for the organ, bells and spite was given by Julia Chafyn Grove (daughter of William).


Every village has a meeting point, and for Zeals it is this Bell & Crown pub. as historic as any of the other buildings in the village, its setting adds to the ambiance; nestled beside rolling Wiltshire fields, it would have been an ideal stopping off point for local farmers at the close of their working day.


It may not technically be in Somerset itself, but Zeals is as good an end point as any for the alphabetical meander around the county. With easy access to the towns of three counties – Meare (Wiltshire), Wincanton (Somerset) and Gillingham (Dorset) – it is an ideal place to stop awhile.