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A-Z of Somerset: Tintinhull

T is for Tintinhull

Just to the north west of Yeovil lies the quiet village of Tintinhull. The derivation of its name is steeped in mystery – ‘tin’ meant ‘fort’ in old English and ‘examine’ in Saxon, while ‘hull’ is an old term for ‘hill’. The village sits in the lea of Ham Hill, so a combination of elements seems likely.

Tintinhull has a population of just over a thousand people, and the manor dates back to pre-Norman times. The local Saxon tribes used to avoid siting their villages on the old Roman roads, so the village sits just away from the Fosse Way (now the A303).


Most of the houses in the village are made from Ham stone – quarried from the local hill – and this gives a quaint, consistent feel to the place. A lot of the original cottages are thatched and, barring the telegraph poles and cars, Tintinhull has the typical chocolate-box feel you would expect of a West Country village.


There is not an immediate heart to the Tintinhull – the village green is surrounded by cottages – but there are plenty of gathering places, both contemporary and historic.

Opposite the new Village Hall, the old Lamb Inn has been tastefully converted to cottages and in the same stretch of road the old Working Men’s Club still bears the Toby Bitter advertising sign.

The remaining village pub – the Crown & Victoria – is set on the way to the manor house, and was obviously the stopping off point for farm workers ending their shift and returning home.


The manor house itself is now owned and run by the National Trust, and it is the connected Tintinhull Gardens that now draw people to this part of Somerset. (Sadly, due to the time of year and the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the gardens were not open at the time of visiting.)


Most of the villages I have visited on this alphabetical journey include the main elements of the manor house, a school, a gathering place and the church, and Tintinhull is no exception.

St Margaret’s Church sits away from the manor house – unusual, as they are normally intrinsically linked. As with most village churchyards, it is a peaceful place, somewhere to reflect and gather one’s thoughts.

Approached by way of a long path, you feel a sense of great reverence as you walk towards St Margaret’s; this sensation is added to by the imposing wall on the left of the path, hiding a dramatic house behind it.

Once in the churchyard itself, the extent of the building behind the wall is revealed; this is Tintinhull Court, in its medieval glory.

Originally the parsonage, it was first built by the abbot of nearby Montacute Priory; remodelled three times since its original construction, it has been designated a Grade I building.

The history of Tintinhull Court begins to make more sense of the village layout; this was the original manor house and its owners built the church next door, with window overlooking the the graveyard and the parishioners walking towards their weekly sermon.

The resident Napper family built Tintinhull House – on the other side of the village – as a dower house in the seventeenth century; close enough that the Court’s widow was in walking distance, but far enough away for her not to disturb the ongoing matters of her heirs.

The graveyard also commemorates three residents who fell on home oil during the First World War.

To find out more about the lives of Private William Newman, Stoker Henry Lucas and Boy Albert Matthews, follow the links, or head over to the CKPonderingsCWG website.


Tintinhull has a long history, and economically it has survived well; primarily an agricultural community, the village has also been a focus for glove-making, dating back as far as the thirteenth century. By the late nineteenth century, much of the village’s employment came from the industry, and it continues today, although on a much reduced level.



A Clear Path

Not every path is obvious, not every road is straight.

There are often many twists and turns to navigate, but often life is more about the journey than the destination.

When we are born, we are not provided with in-built satellite navigation.

Our journey is our own, and, after all, a direct route would be a boring one.


History Repeating

We live our lives based on what went before; and this can lead to what we have done before happening again.

While your roots are important, you need to ensure that you don’t repeat the same mistakes again.

Take a step back, identify objectively what worked and what didn’t, and try a new approach.


A-Z of Somerset: Kingsdon

K is also for Kingsdon

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.



A-Z of Somerset: Kingweston

K is for Kingweston

Okay, so a slight hiccup in the A-Z proceedings in that there is no village (or town, or city) in Somerset that begins with the letter J. So, I will skip over that, and look at K instead.

And Kingweston is the stereotype for the evolution of a village.

It’s the end of the 11th Century. You’ve supported the winning side and so, as a reward, you are given the manor of Chinwardestune. It’s good farming land, and you have a nice house there. Over time – and changes of ownership – the manor has grown strong: you have a large house, alongside which you have built a church, there are farm buildings and cottages for your workers.

And that’s it. This village, with a population of less than 150, is little more than a farm, the attached manor house and its religious building and workers cottages.


The cottages are very picturesque; higgledy-piggledy on the lane up to the manor house and farm.

Walk up the main road and you encounter the Manor House. The barrier between those that had and those that had not. A high wall rings its lands, through the trees you get a glimpse of the grandeur within, but a glimpse is all you’re going to get.

The current Kingweston House was built in the 1800s by the long-term residents, the Dickinson family. In 1946 it was bought by Millfield School and has been used by them ever since.


The Church of All Saints is of a similar age to the manor house. Set at the upper end of the village, it is an ideal space for contemplation, as it overlooks the countryside towards Glastonbury Tor.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission suggests that Major Francis Arthur Dickinson is buried in the churchyard and, while I was unable to find his headstone, he is commemorated on the Roll of Honour in the church itself.

The plaque mentions other members of the Dickinson family who died during the Great War:

Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Carey Dickinson, of the Somerset Light Infantry and King’s African Rifles, died in Dar-es-Salaam in 1918.

Lieutenant George Barnsfather Dickinson of the East Lancashire Regiment fell at Ypres in May 1915.


The village has, understandably, a community feel to it. Even though the farm workers have move on and been replaced by wealthier country folk, Kingweston has a heart and a draw to it.



A-Z of Somerset: Isle Abbotts

Tucked away deep in the countryside between Ilminster and Taunton is the picture perfect village of Isle Abbotts. Taking its name from the River Isle – which flows nearby – and Muchelney Abbey – whose lands it once sat on – Isle Abbotts is a tine village of little over 200 people.

And tucked away it is! I know I’m still fairly new to the county, but the road from Ilminster is as countrified as you get. High hedges on both sides, a strip of grass down the middle of the tarmac, battling tractors, a dog, some chickens and a Tesco lorry, it took a while to get there, but the journey was worth it.

There is a very chocolate box feel to Isle Abbotts; thatched cottages, a green, well tended gardens and cute village hall, the place is the epitome of the English country village.

There are two churches – The Blessed Virgin Mary and a baptist chapel (now a house, but the graveyard remains) – and the former is the heart of the village, as it should be. The majority of the graves are old and ornate, reminding you that the church was funded by – and therefore the domain of – the local landowners.


All the elements of a small community are there – a stone-built bus stop and information board, a hall with a stand for second-hand books, a sun-bleached telephone box, a tree planted to commemorate the Silver Jubilee in 1977.

But the bigger reminder of the connection between Isle Abbotts and the countryside around it is the farmland.

It is very easy to get right back into the countryside from the village centre, passing through farmland, you come to a bridge across the River Isle, from where a track passes to the neighbouring village of Isle Brewers.

(Smaller in population than Abbotts, Isle Brewers takes its name not from beer-making, but from the the family of William Briwere, lord of the manor in the 1200s.)

At this end of the village, the Manor Farm dominates the landscape, and you readily remember that this is what would have provided labour for the majority of the population in days gone by.

Quiet, isolated, but calm and peaceful, this is definitely a place that reminds you to get out in the sticks, get away from town and city life and enjoy the open air.