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.)
There is no village beginning with the letter V in Somerset, so here is another one that starts with a W.
In the north west of the county, between Clevedon and Portishead, lies the charmingly named Walton-in-Gordano. Named after the river valley in which it sits – to nearby villages of the same name – Walton-in-Gordano is a small, picturesque place.
The village has a small population – less than 300 people – but there is a real sense of community about it. While I was there, a couple of the locals were keen to know what I was photographing and why, suggesting other spots I could photograph in the area.
There is a sense of history about the place too; the old village shop may be gone, but the house that replaced it sits proud in his heritage.
The heart of the village is the local church, St Peter & St Paul. Originally a grain store, it changed use when the parish church, in nearby Walton Clevedon, was razed to the ground by fire. It was rebuilt, but by that point, the new building in Walton-in-Gordano had established itself as the main place of worship.
A short walk from the village centre is Walton Castle. Originally built as a hunting lodge in the fifteenth century, it appears from the main road like a folly on the hill, and it now available to hire out for functions.
Quiet and unassuming, Walton-in-Gordano has the charm of a small village, and the feel of a community. It also has links to the music industry, as it was the birth place of Geoff Barrow, co-founder of the influential trip-hop band Portishead (who took their name from the nearby Somerset city).
Walton-in-Gordano is certainly a pleasant place to visit, and acts as a good starting point for coastal walks south to Clevedon or north to Portishead.
Over half way through the alphabet, and it’s the last of four recaps of the alphabetical journey around Somerset so far. Lockdown 2021 means that I have been unable to complete the A-Z, but this brings us up to date with the stop offs so far.
Click on the links to see the full post for each village.
Continue up the A361 for 16 miles from Othery and you reach the surprising village of Pilton. I have driven through the village countless times over the years, and there is so much more to it than what is visible from the main road.
Situated on the top of a hill to the east on Glastonbury, the village once overlooked an inland sea that stretched to the present day Bristol Channel. This lead to the village’s original name, Pooltown, because ships were able to navigate this far inland.
The houses in the village are old, from local stone, and really fit in with the country feel. Despite the main road, laden with juggernauts, being close by, the majority of the village is in a sheltered valley, and within a matter of metres away from the A361, it can barely be heard.
The local church is St John the Baptist, which is on the north side of the valley, has a commanding view across all Pilton. Once again, the Church’s dominance is in plain sight, and it can be seen on the skyline from most of the houses.
In the churchyard is a memorial, a grave to Sapper Percy Wright Rodgers, who fell in the First World War. More information on this young man’s life can be found on the CKPonderingsCWG blog, along with more stories of the fallen of the Great War.
To the south of the village, a tithe barn stands alone and proud. Once belonging to Glastonbury Abbey, the barn once stored local farmers’ produce, of which they gave the Abbey – the landowner – one tenth.
The barn is now a Grade 1 listed building.
In the barn’s grounds is a monument to the Land Armies of both world wars; a bench in a quiet corner of an already quiet corner of the village is perfect for contemplation.
When I first made my intention of moving to Somerset known to friend, family and colleagues, the general first reaction was usually related to the annual music festival. My stock response to this was ‘no’, and, if the mood was right, this was usually followed up by the fact that the Glastonbury Festival does not actually take place in the town of the same name.
Worthy Farm, the location of the festival, is situated just to the south of Pilton, six miles from Glastonbury. It was only called Glastonbury Festival because that was the nearest town people had heard of.
If you get the chance to make a quick pitstop from your journey to the south west, Pilton is definitely worth a visit. A genuine gem of a village, hidden in plain sight, it is also a good start and end point for a wander across the Levels or over the hilltops to Shepton Mallet.
I couldn’t let the lack f a J village pass, so I have included a second K in the list.
Just to the south of Kingweston, in between Somerton and Yeovil, sits the quiet village of Kingsdon.
With a population of just over 300 people, it is a tight-knit community, somewhere where, you readily find yourself walking along quiet roads, getting welcoming nods and hellos from local resident and dog-walkers.
The village gets is name from nearby Kingsdon Hill, which in turn reflects its regal connection to Somerton, a royal estate since the Norman Conquest.
All Saints Church, to the north of the village, is a peaceful location and dates back to the 1400s. The churchyard includes two Commonwealth War Graves, which I’ll explore in later blogs.
The community feel runs throughout Kingsdon, with a local pub, a phonebox book swap facility and a village school-cum-shop.
The views south are stunning too, heightening the real sense of countryside living. And, with plenty of footpaths locally, Kingsdon works well as a start point, finish, or stopping off point for an afternoon stroll.
No, I’ve never seen the film (I know this will be a shock to a lot of cinema aficionados, but I cannot help that!). But I am familiar with the iconography, and this LP cover raised a Glastonbury smile!
‘Someday this lockdown’s gonna end’.
That’d be just fine with the boys in the flat. They weren’t looking for anything more than a way outside.
Trouble is, I’d been out there, and I knew that it just didn’t appeal anymore.
Bored of me nagging, yet?
May’s Mass Observation Project is coming up, so take a photograph based that sums up the theme COLOUR to you, however you want to interpret it.
Email the image to email@example.com by Thursday 30th April 2020.
Images should be a maximum of 650 pixels wide.
Include your name, website/blog address and a short note about the image, including where it was taken.
When times are tough, we often hark back to days when things seemed better, when life ran more smoothly.
The issue with this is that we tend to only remember the good things, not the bad – the childhood summers that seemed to go on for months, the Christmases when presents were huge and we were not left wanting.
This rose-tinted view of the past is detrimental and can reinforce our connection to what has gone before, making us even less willing too connect fully with the present and look to the future.
Back in the day you had been part of the smart set You’d holidayed with kings, dined out with starlets From London to New York, Cap Ferrat to Capri In perfume by Chanel and clothes by Givenchy You sipped camparis with David and Peter At Noel’s parties by Lake Geneva Scaling the dizzy heights of high society Armed only with a cheque-book and a family tree
You chased the sun around the Cote d’Azur Until the light of youth became obscured And left you on your own and in the shade An English lady of a certain age And if a nice young man would buy you a drink You’d say with a conspiratorial wink “You wouldn’t think that I was seventy” And he’d say, “no, you couldn’t be!”