Village Life: Priddy
PUBLISHED: 15:30 24 July 2017 | UPDATED: 15:30 24 July 2017
This month Andrea Cowan visits Priddy - think circles, barrows and Mendip wallfish. Not forgetting the folk festival
‘Priddy - like The Archers But On Acid’ – not my words I hasten to add. It was written on a blackboard in the village’s Queen Victoria Inn. However, I understand where it’s coming from. Farms and stables a-plenty, a village green, friendly pub, farm shop and lots of quirky things thrown in for good measure.
It is a geographically large parish, high in the Mendips, although it has relatively few inhabitants (approximately 625), half of which live within the main village area.
With plenty to explore, it attracts lots of visitors. For those with an archaeological interest, there is Priddy Nine Barrows (burial mounds), part of a Bronze Age cemetery. These are visible on the horizon, but can also be visited via a footpath from the village green. The mysterious nearby Priddy Circles are also significant: four circular earthwork henges, each almost 200m across, in a linear arrangement, considered to be Neolithic (2500 BC - 2180 BC).
If caving is more your thing, then there are a number of major cave systems around the village including Swildon’s Hole, the longest cave on the Mendips with more than five miles of passages.
At the heart of the village is the green with the iconic thatched structure of ash sheep hurdles. Although not the originals, these are a nod to the Priddy Sheep Fair, which was moved from Wells to Priddy in 1348 because of the Black Death. It continued each August until 2014.
It has now been replaced in significance by the Priddy Folk Festival, which began as a PTA school fund raiser in the village hall. Held every July it has grown steadily and now takes place on the village green. Remaining true to its roots, it is run by a group of volunteers dedicated to bringing good music into Priddy and is still a major contributor to the local school.
Putting visitors to one side - this is a living, breathing village with a strong community. It is fortunate to have a successful primary school located next to the 13th century Church of St Lawrence, attended by 33 children from the village, with a popular pre-school held in the village hall.
Priddy is also blessed with a fabulous, family run farm shop, selling its own beef and other local meat, as well as possibly the tastiest homemade sausage rolls and scotch eggs I’ve eaten in a while. It makes the suggestion of a full English breakfast in the new farm shop café extremely appealing.
Another culinary claim to fame has to be the Mendip Wallfish, the local name for snails. Former restaurateur, Bob Reynolds, apparently served up around 4,000 snails a year in the late 1990s at the local Miners Arms.
The pub has since closed, and with it the popularity of this dish. But with the current renovation of The New Inn on the edge of the green underway, perhaps Mendip Wallfish will return to a Priddy menu. In this characterful Somerset village, nothing would surprise me.