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Axbridge

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Market Town

Axbridge Church and square

Address/Location

Axbridge
Somerset
BS26 2AJ

Contact

Tel: 01278 436495

Half-timbered buildings lean towards each other across a narrow street leading from the medieval square in the centre of this picturesque town. Once a river port and valued for its wool production, Axbridge is on the edge of the Mendips; overlooking the Levels and Bristol Water’s Reservoir. The town supports a number of independent shops and places to eat and drink.


Pride of place in the square goes to King John’s Hunting Lodge which is a National Trust property housing a Museum of local history run by Axbridge and District Museum Trust. Despite its name, the building is actually early Tudor with wonderful uneven floors! It contains the village stocks among other curiosities.


In fact Axbridge can trace its history even further back - to the time of King Alfred - when it was one of 30 places fortified to defend Wessex against the Vikings.  It was close to the Royal Hunting Forest of Mendip and was granted a Royal Charter by King John in 1202 allowing it to hold markets among other privileges.


Its prosperous past is reflected in the quality of the buildings in Axbridge, particularly the fine 13th century St John’s Church which is the oldest to survive, dating back to 1245. Not all residents were well off as the Axbridge Union Workhouse behind West Street testifies. Well into the 19th century it was customary once a year for a bull to be chased out of The Square and butchered to feed the poor.


The Cheddar Valley Railway Line, which became known as ‘The Strawberry Line’ for taking the local fruit to London, is now a foot and cycle path linking Yatton and Cheddar with plans for it to continue to Shepton Mallet.  Nearby is the 200 year old stone built Ashton Windmill.
 

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