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.
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.
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.
In the peace and solitude of the reserve, it seemed unlikely they would bump into anyone – or at least anyone they knew. They weren’t technically from the same household, but they were brothers, more than that, closer than any other platonic relationship they knew.
The silence was all-engulfing. The air was crisp, clear and held the scent of spring. So they walked. And boy did they walk. Mile upon mile, knowing they would have to walk the same distance back.
Something kept them going, though, a friendship, a camaraderie. They talked about everything and nothing, any silences between them comfortable.