Village Life: Winscombe
PUBLISHED: 13:50 18 February 2019
In our special series Andrea Cowan takes a look at village life in Somerset. This month she visits Winscombe
Winscombe is a village in North Somerset on the western edge of the Mendip Hills. It is also a parish, made up of several other small villages and hamlets including Sandford, home to Thatchers Cider.
Prior to the 19th century, Winscombe was mainly centred around the parish Church of St James, a beautiful Grade I-listed building with 13th century origins. It has a 15th century 100ft high Somerset tower, a lovely example of the distinctive Gothic church towers built at that time. The churchyard is also home to a magnificent yew tree, thought to be over 500 years old.
The village has grown over the centuries, absorbing hamlets such as Woodborough. In 1896 a railway station was built with the newly constructed Cheddar Valley line, also nicknamed the Strawberry Line, which ran from Yatton to Wells. Because of its position, it was originally named Woodborough station but was soon renamed Winscombe station. The railway closed in 1963 but in 1997 a group of local residents put a plan together to regenerate the derelict station. The subsequent Millenium Green was developed, providing a great site where a variety of village events can take place including the annual May Fair. The old railway line itself now provides a great track for walking or cycling. There is currently an ambitious project, the Strawberry Line Path, which aims to create a continuous 30-mile traffic-free path from Clevedon to Shepton Mallet.
Winscombe is packed with a wide range of shops and businesses, including invaluable services which are used by the neighbouring hamlets in the parish such as a post office, building society and library. It is refreshing to see so many independent shops including a wine shop and several gift and home interior shops. There are also great cafes and a bakery which has been on the same site since the 19th century. And not forgetting the free parking next to the popular Woodborough Inn - a bonus for shoppers.
Sports is plentiful with a lawn bowling club and a large recreational ground catering for cricket, tennis, hockey, football (Winscombe AFT) and a rugby union team (Winscombe RFC). There’s a children’s playground and skate park. The village is home to a branch of the RNLI and the local headquarters of the Royal British Legion is in Winscombe Club, with a bar offering live music, skittles, pool and darts. Between the club and the Winscombe Community Centre which is housed in the old village school (Winscombe Primary School has moved to a new site), there is an impressive list of clubs and societies available, from salsa to bridge. This village really does tick all the boxes.
Did you know...? In 2015 the village was voted the second best place in the country for families to live by family finance specialists OneFamily.