Moreton, Clicket and Stoke Bottom

As part of the story I’m writing I was doing some research on vanished villages in Somerset and came across a very interesting article about three of these, Moreton, Clicket and Stoke Bottom. Sometimes small villages just fade away as people move out, going to bigger less remote places, sometimes an event occurs which ends village life forever. Such an event was the making of the Chew Valley Lake, which ‘drowned’ the old village of Moreton in the 1950’s to make a reservoir to serve Bristol. Sometimes the growth of a nearby town or village doomed a smaller place; this was the case with Stoke Bottom which had a paper mill as the main industry of the little village. As the paper mills in nearby Wookey Hole became larger and more successful, so other mills in the area began to fail and eventually, Stoke Bottom’s mill and the village itself was abandoned, and is now a ghost village.

However, the story of Clicket seems the saddest; it was a small village in a valley on Exmoor (shades of Lorna Doone?) and in the 1850’s  its mill was one of the main buildings. However, to bring the grain in, and take the flour out from the village back to the farmers or to bakers or to market was extremely difficult because of the poor trails… in fact only pack animals could be used, no carts or wains. The village itself had no facilities, not even a church or a school, let alone a shop. On Sunday the villagers walked two miles to church, whatever the weather, summer and winter, and every day the children walked the two miles to school, whatever the weather…

By the turn of the century the mill had closed and families moved away from the village. The last people to leave were an elderly couple, and this is the saddest part of the story; they were evicted from their little cottage and moved into the old mill which was now derelict. They only survived there for a year… the old man died, and his poor widow was taken to the poorhouse, a humiliation she and her husband had hoped to avoid by squatting in the mill… tough times…

My featured picture is of Oare church where J.D. Blackmore set scenes from his novel ‘Lorna Doone’.

Here is an interesting article about the three villages:

http://www.somerset-life.co.uk/out-about/events/what_lies_beneath_1_3478835

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