A little old Somerset village

We’ve been going to Kewstoke quite a lot recently; husband rehearses with his sea shanty group in the New Inn there, and every other weekend i go with friends to the pub quiz. It seems that it’s quite an old village, but no-one can be quite sure how old – certainly there may have been about fifty people living there by the time the Norman conquerors took count for their Domesday Book in 1086.

On the River Kenn; manor farm on Kenn Moor. Kewstoke. Chiwestoch / stoc: Osbern from Gilbert FitzThorold. 5 unbroken mares, 18 cattle.

… and there was cultivated land, hay meadows and woodland, a fresh water spring – in those times a good place to live with everything a family could need – and the sea nearby with its riches! There is no trace, as far as I can find out, of a pre-conquest church, but when the new regime took over the country a church was built soon after, probably about the turn of the eleventh and twelfth century. It is dedicated to St Paul and has a Norman arch as might be expected, and an interesting tower built about three hundred years later. It’s interesting because its one of the first churches in the area to be built in a Perpendicular design, also known as English Gothic. When this tower was built, the rector of the church was Thomas de Banwell (Banwell is another Somerset village about five miles from Kewstoke) Thomas was also in charge of nearby Woodspring Priory, founded by a grandson of one of the knights who murdered Thomas á Becket. The Prior of Woodspring had in his charge the parish of Milton which is over the hill from Kewstoke; it’s a very steep hill, and it’s believed that brothers from the priory cut steps into the hillside to make his parochial visit easier, and they are still called Monks Steps.

In later times, during 1600’s and 1700’s, the village had need of poorhouses, like most parishes across the country – and like most poor houses, it was the parishioners who had to pay or their maintenance. By the nineteenth century the greater need was for a schoolroom, and the poorhouse was converted to make way for educating twenty village children.

Like most villages there was a village green, opposite the village pump. The village green was an important part of village life, but like many in other villages, it was divided up into plots for individual villages, thanks to an act of parliament in 1857. In the same area were Victory Cottages… and which victory did their name celebrate? That of General Wolfe defeating the french in Quebec on the Height of Abraham. No doubt further south, less than ten miles away, in the village of Hutton Canada Combe is named after the same success. In the same naming style, a hundred years later, Taganrog House was named after a village in Crimea – and built for Lieutenant Colonel Armstrong who fought in the war there.

Yes, an interesting village, Kewstoke!!

I couldn’t find a photo of Kewstoke (note to self, take camera to Kewstoke!) so this is a picture looking across from a promontory not far from Woodspring Priory, back towards where Kewstoke is at the south end of the bay, Sand Bay.

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