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Wedmore: A village with a bustling high street

PUBLISHED: 12:22 19 July 2018 | UPDATED: 12:22 19 July 2018

The 16th century George Inn is situated next to St Mary’s Church (c) Stuart Watson Photography

The 16th century George Inn is situated next to St Mary’s Church (c) Stuart Watson Photography

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This month Andrea visits Wedmore

The village and parish of Wedmore is situated on a raised ridge in the Somerset Levels, between the River Axe and River Brue. Back in the day when the levels and marshes were underwater it was often referred to as the Isle of Wedmore. The name probably originates from Anglo-Saxon, meaning ‘hunting moor’, and the village grew around a Saxon square, still in evidence today. The historic Treaty of Wedmore was allegedly signed in 878 between King Alfred and the Danish leader, Guthrum and the medieval stone church, St Mary’s, is thought to be on the site where this defining point in Anglo-Saxon history took place.

St. Mary’s church dates in parts to early 13th century. Come out of the church and walk down the high street and you’ll find further nods to the village’s rich history. During medieval times it was the thriving centre for the surrounding agricultural area. Weekly markets and an annual fair were held in the village, and a 14th century market cross stands as a reminder of these times.

The roads are lined with architecturally interesting buildings. The Old Vicarage dates from the end of the 15th century, whilst the George Inn was originally a 16th century coaching inn. Georgian buildings are very much in evidence. The Old Post Office was built in 1830 by John Tonkin, from Wedmore brickworks, in the fashionable Italianate style. Now the village pharmacy, it was once the ‘Selfridges’ for rural Somerset, a department store selling everything from groceries to ladies clothing.

The bustling high street has businesses and facilities including a medical and dental practice. There is a butcher, greengrocer, fishmonger, post office, hair salons and village store. And there are also some absolute gems selling clothes, gifts, vintage home furniture accessories and a florist. And with three very different pubs and numerous cafes, it’s easy to while away a happy few hours here.

For those lucky enough to live in Wedmore (3,318 recorded in the 2011 census), there is a school, a thriving village hall and playing fields providing a variety of sports facilities. The village comes together for several festivals throughout the year including the Wedmore Arts Festival, a Real Ale Festival, a summer street fair and Wedmore by Lamplight street fair at Christmas. There is an active theatre company and Wedmore Opera stages productions of large scale classic opera. The Turnip Prize, a competition for the worst art and a parody of the Turner Prize, takes place annually at The New Inn. This village really does cater for everyone.

Did you know...?

In 1853 a hoard of 200 silver coins dating from the Saxon period was found in the churchyard.

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