These days with having a dog we are always on the lookout for different places to go to enjoy a nice walk. We went a little further afield today to south Somerset, almost as far as the border with Dorset, to Yeovil. Yeovil gets its name from the River Yeo which was originally the Celtic name for a forked river, gifl; in fact it was originally called the River Gifle. On the outskirts of Yeovil is Ninesprings Country Park, and that is where we went for our walk.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out where Ninesprings got its name from, and indeed there are lots of pools, ponds, streams, waterfalls, tumbling through the hilly area covered in broadleafed and coniferous trees. These watery features send their contents down into the Yeo, but are a lovely feature, and very cooling on a hot day like today. Originally what is now the country park belonged to a Mr John Batten who developed the area as an ornamental park for the Aldon estate in nineteenth century; as was fashionable there were ornamental bridges, grottoes and ‘picturesque’ thatched cottage as well as its beautiful natural features.
I think Mr Batten might be the person who appears in the 1851 census, a thirty-six year old Oxford graduate and attorney at law, born in 1815 living on Aldon Farm. His wife is Grace, two years younger and born in Bath, and they have a number of children with what must have been then very fashionable names plus second names, John Mount, Eleanor Harriot, Henry Butler, Cicely Alice and Herbert Cary, They also had three servants – two housemaids and a footman. Later John snr became a justice of the peace for Somerset and Dorset, a magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant of the county. His son John Mount Batten, became the Lieutenant of the County – his father would have been so proud!
I didn’t have my camera, so have no photos, but here is a link to the Francis Frith Collection and a picture of the old cottage: