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26 May 2020
Mells in Somerset is referenced in the Domesday Book of 1086 as ‘Mulne’, which means several mills. Iron ore was extracted from the area from the 1300s, and in the 1500s a foundry was constructed.
By the 19th century a large ironworks, operated by James Fussell, was situated by the river with coal being supplied to the furnaces from the nearby coalfields. In its heyday over 250 people were employed at various sites around Mells, Somerset but by 1895 production had ceased, mainly due to the decline of English agriculture and the failure to convert from water to steam power.
All that remains now are the ghostly ruins of a once- flourishing business, which has since dissolved into the landscape.
There is plenty to explore here — the walk to the ironworks is a must — but make sure you also visit the church and 16th-century Grade I listed manor house, now the residence of Lord Raymond Asquith, 3rd Earl of Oxford and Asquith. The local café (which doubles as a post office) and The Talbot Inn (a former coaching inn) both make a great place for lunch.
Walk or Cycle a little.
The Mells River valley walk to the disused Fussells Ironworks is an easy, flat, one- to two-hour amble through a densely wooded valley.
Look out for ivy-clad ruins and some enchanting views of the Mells River. The Colliers Way cycle path, which also intersects Mells, covers 37 km from Limpley Stoke to Frome.
LITTLE JACK HORNER
The origins of this well-known children’s nursery rhyme are said to be in Mells. While that is open to conjecture, there is no doubt that in 1543, one Jack Horner bought the manor house.
The suggestion has been made that he discovered the deeds on his way to London in a pie he was given by the last Abbot of Glastonbury.
No. 35 Somerset Fascinating Facts - It is referenced in the Domesday Book of 1086 as ‘Mulne’, which means several mills. Iron ore was extracted from the area from the 1300s, and in the 1500s a foundry was constructed.