‘John Rutter was evidently a remarkable man’ comments Robert Dunning in his introduction to the 2009m edition of ‘Delineations of the North West Division of the County of Somerset’ originally published in 1829. It’s a fascinating book for people who live in North Somerset, a glimpse into what our county was like two hundred years ago and what educated people at the time understood and knew of its history. John Rutter was born in Bristol in 1796, and another Quaker who made a great impact on the area. His father, Thomas was a bellows and brush maker and he and his wife Hester, née Farley had seven children, John being the youngest. John’s parents died while he was still young and he was brought up by two elder sisters. He went at first into the drapery business, in Shaftsbury, but later went into printing and then topography. It seems his ‘Delineations’ may have first appeared in 1822, but the copy I have is from his 1829 edition.
It’s fascinating to read about our village of Uphill:
Uphill is two miles from Weston, sheltered by a considerable number of fine timber trees, with an abrupt hill rising from the northern side (actually it’s the southern side of the village; I’m sure Rutter was not mistaken, most likely a printer misread his handwriting) on the summit of which stands the parish church.
The side of the hill towards the village is covered with smooth turf, but the opposite side terminates in precipitous rocks, reaching nearly to the beach.
Rutter mentions riding along the beach from Weston to Uphill,
… and maybe continued to the banks of the River Axe, which empties itself in the channel between Black Rock and Brean Down.
The situation is remarkably good, and being contiguous to the northern extremity of the fine sandy beach of Weston Bay, a gentleman of this place some time since commenced an extensive range of buildings immediately opposite to the beach; but his affairs becoming embarrassed, the undertaking was relinquished.
Rutter goes on to mention that had the gentleman actually built his extensive range, then possibly Weston and Uphill would have joined and merged into one town. As it is now, Uphill is separated by a smal wood, some fields, and a private residence with large grounds – so we remain a village, separate from Weston1