Village life: Babcary
PUBLISHED: 13:54 03 June 2019
Red Lioin/Clare Garrard
In our special series Andrea Cowan takes a look at village life in Somerset. This month she visits Babcary
Babcary is an attractive village and parish in South Somerset, situated between Somerton and Castle Cary. It is recorded in the Domesday Book as Babba Cari - thought to translate as 'an estate on the River Cary held by a man called Babba'.
It is a sought after village, conveniently positioned just off the A37 and close to the A303. It is mostly built up around a road meandering through beautiful countryside, including Babcary Meadows, a Site of Special Scientific Interest now managed by Somerset Wildlife Trust.
This is one of England's few remaining areas of traditionally managed, unimproved neutral grassland. As well as being rich in herbs and flora, including six different types of orchid, the meadows are apparently home to fairy rings - fungi that create distinctive circular patterns in the grass that can be aged by their size. A 30m wide ring is estimated to be over 100 years old.
If you'd like to check out the meadows, there is a two mile circular walk around the reserve. It starts from The Red Lion Inn, a charming, thatched pub and restaurant dating back to the 17th century that sits In the middle of the village. Flagstone floors, wood burners, comfy sofas - this is a traditional pub but with some quirky touches. It is very much a focal point for the locals, hosting monthly pub quizzes and regular music events, but the restaurant also attracts diners from far and wide. An alfresco pizza bar opens during the weekends for the summer, with an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven (check the website for opening times).
The pub is also gaining a reputation as an idyllic wedding venue - helped, no doubt, by the beautiful 14th century Church of the Holy Cross a stroll away. In addition to a host of features, the Grade II-listed church boasts a bell made in 1753 by Thomas Biblie, a member of the Biblie family responsible for more than 1,350 bells hung in churches all over the West Country dating from the late 17th century.
There might not be many amenities in Babcary, but it's a short distance to Castle Cary for schools, shops and even a mainline station. And for a relatively small village (a population of just 248 according to the 2011 census), there is lots going on. It has a well-used recreation ground with a community tennis court. The Hut, effectively the village hall, is situated on the edge of the playing field and it houses a Saturday shop selling local produce. Charity concerts and talks are held in the church, and there are plenty of annual events including the Babcary Road Race, Sports Day, Bonfire Night and so the list goes on.
Did you know…?
In 1764 James Woodforde, the author of The Diary of a Country Parson, was the curate at Babcary.