Village life: Nunney

PUBLISHED: 11:15 18 April 2019

A new footbridge crosses the river between the castle and church (c) David Golby

A new footbridge crosses the river between the castle and church (c) David Golby

David Golby

In our special series Andrea Cowan takes a look at village life in Somerset. This time she visits Nunney

Nunney is a village near Frome in the Mendips with a population of approximately 844 (2011 census). The name comes from Old English and means Nunna's or nun's island.

There's obviously been a fair amount of development over the years, but the heart of the village is one of the prettiest I've visited. It's a historic gem, complete with its own heritage trail and lots of listed buildings. For a start, there are little lanes lined by cottages called Millers, Weavers, Thimble – a nod towards the cloth industry that brought prosperity to Nunney. The 200-year-old watermill is now a private residence and there are still several impressive manor houses dotted around the village.

Pride of place in the heart of the village is the striking French-style moated castle, with its exterior walls still remarkably intact. It was built by a local knight, Sir John de la Mere in 1373 and is said to have been based on the Bastille in Paris.

Cross over the river by a brand new footbridge and you'll come to the Church of All Saints, a Grade I-listed building dating from the 12th century. There is a Grade II-listed market cross opposite the church, built around 1100, which once stood in the church grounds. The story goes that it was removed in 1869 as the noise of children playing on the steps annoyed the rector. It eventually found its way to its present site in 1959.

Next stop is The George at Nunney, a coaching inn which has been welcoming locals and travellers alike since the 17th century. If tea and cake is more your style, there is the Moat & Turret 'Café by the Castle'. Meanwhile, a Spar shop caters for day to day groceries.

For residents, the village hall is active throughout the year. In addition to the usual groups and societies, it also hosts the monthly Nunney Acoustic Café, providing music and food, a film night and regular productions from The Nunney Players drama group. The hall is adjacent to a children's playground and community allotments. The village has a Pre-School and a First School, and by the Old Quarry Gardens (which has a free car park), there is a very impressive BMX bike track for children.

Nunney holds several annual events including the Nunney Street Market and Fayre in August and the Nunney & District Flower Show. Meanwhile, a short stroll away, the seventh Nunney International Horse Trials will take place in June in the grounds of the Grade II-listed Southfield House.

Did you know...? Author and journalist Evelyn Waugh made persistent attempts to buy Manor Farm House, next to Nunney Castle in 1936.

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