History

Although it is believed the Mendips have been inhabited since pre-historic times, there are no records as far as is known of settlement such as the Hill fort at Dolebury, the tumuli on Blackdown, or the stone circle at Stanton Drew, in the village of Blagdon.

There was a Roman settlement at Charterhouse where lead was mined, and a roadway ran between Charterhouse and Blagdon. M.E. Board records that Roman remains were found in Park Fields – probably the Park Batch area below the large spring by Spring Cottage.

There is evidence of settlement by the end of the third century in the Yeo valley area – at Butcombe – and it has been suggested that similar settlement could exist in Blagdon.

The village and boundary was clearly defined in Saxon times: Blagdon was sandwiched between the villages of Wrington and Ubley. “Merecombe” – to the east – literally means boundary valley. The southern boundary was marked by pre-historic barrows on the hill top, the northern boundary by the River Yeo. To the west, the village was bounded by the stream which runs through Rickford. The name ‘Blagdon’ derives from the Saxon – Blac, or Blaec (cold, bleak) and Dun (hill, down).

In Norman times the name is spelt Blachedone. After the Conquest Blagdon, together with other estates, is recorded as belonging to Serlo de Burci on behalf of the King (William the Conqueror). Serlo de Burci came from Bercy, near Vire in Calvados, between Falaise and Contances. Domesday records Blagdon as comprising land in excess of 2,000 acres, including 200 acres of wood. Some while after the Conquest the manor of Blagdon, together with other lands, passed to William Martin of Falaise, son-in-law of Serlo de Burci. Blagdon became the head of their large baronry.

In 1154 Robert FitzMartin, son of William Martin, gave Blagdon church and lands in the East end of the village to the monks of Stanley in Wiltshire: the West end of the village remained in secular ownership. The Street End area of Blagdon probably first developed from common land shortly after medieval times.

Blagdon developed gradually as a village, and altered very little until the end of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. At this time the railway arrived, only to cease in the mid-twentieth century. But the greatest change was the construction of Blagdon Lake as a reservoir. The valley floor of the River Yeo was marshy and not inhabited. The land was excavated to a depth of 150 ft in places, and the river dammed. By 1904 the lake was filled.

From the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries the history of Blagdon is documented in the extensive Church records and the Church Wardens Accounts, including the baptisms marriages and burials registers. These Parish records are all lodged with the Somerset County Records office in Taunton.

A Mendip village in the middle of everywhere

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