Village Life: Chilcompton
PUBLISHED: 16:03 10 July 2019
In our special series Andrea Cowan takes a look at village life in Somerset. This time she visits Chilcompton
Chilcompton is a growing village in the Mendip Hills, a couple of miles south of Midsomer Norton.
It is a large village, with a population of approximately 2,000. It began as a cluster of houses around the Manor House and the church, but agriculture and the mining industry both helped the village to grow. There has been substantial development over the past century but parts of the village have managed to retain a rural feel.
The River Somer is formed from series of springs on the western side of Chilcompton, and flows through the village. It has played a key role in Chilcompton's industrial heritage, including several water mills which utilised the fast flow. Just down the road from one of the village's two pubs, The Redan Inn, there is a well which has lent its name to the road. A plaque reads 'Fry's Well c.1700 Renovated 1987'.
A disused railway line, part of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway, joins the river in bisecting the village. It closed in 1966 but thankfully there is a relatively good bus service which links the village to surrounding towns and out to Bath. The old railway track now provides a great place to walk high above the village, providing glimpses of the Grade II listed Church of St John The Baptist. Dating from the 15th century, it is one of few village churches to have a peal of 12 bells in the church tower. Meanwhile, the yew tree at the far end of the churchyard is listed as 'Ancient and Venerable' in the Tree Register of the British Isles.
Just by St John's Church is Manor Farm. Barns have been converted into offices as part of an agricultural diversification scheme, successfully encouraging a number of small companies to move to Chilcompton. The Holy Cow Cafe has opened on the 'estate' to provide great locally- sourced food and drink for the businesses - as well as passers-by. It was really buzzing when I visited, with tables occupied by a large group of cyclists enjoying the beautiful scenery.
For day to day essentials there is a Co-op and post office, a doctor's surgery and garage. The primary school, St Vigor and St John, has an Outstanding Ofsted rating and there is a wide choice of good state and private school options close by. Children are well catered for with a couple of recreation grounds, a skate park and some great sporting facilities housing popular tennis, football and cricket clubs.
Chilcompton Village Hall also hosts a variety of clubs. And, with a nod to the vibrant character of the village, there is even a milk vending machine in the hall car park.
Did you know...?
The bell ringing team at St John's Church came third in the 2018 South West 12 Bell Striking Competition.