At the foot of the Mendip in North Somerset there is the village of Blagdon. Sheltering from the prevailing South Westerlies on the Bath to Weston road, to many people it is just that place with a ‘nice view’ of the lake and remarkable church tower, also with the frustrating narrow winding road that has ignored any compromise to the anxious flow of modern traffic. It is in fact strangely unique and has character that requires you to stop and think.
There is very little recorded history of Blagdon itself - it is as elusive as the lake mist of an early summer’s morning. But the evidence of a vibrant past remains in the landscape and in the dwellings. It is in the layout of the older houses in the village, in three notably different areas – ‘Ends’ as they are called; it is also in the medieval names of the fields all around the village and those between the ‘Ends’ like Kirkard, Clennon, the Pony, the Score and many more. The Ends, West End, East End and Street End, are connected by a web of footpaths that link old homesteads with each other and allow quick access to places of work, faster on foot than many other forms of transport, even in this busy age. These are the routes hard bitten lead miners would take to their ‘gruffy’ or ‘groovy’ grounds up around Charterhouse. Or they are the routes from farms to abodes that etched on the landscape the flow of the local economy. Money spent in Blagdon, stayed in Blagdon. Passing from hand to hand for years.
That history is manifested in the character of the local people and the tales they have to tell of times within living memory; memories that need to be recorded and contained in whatever means there is at our disposal. Because the frail patchwork of information that goes back further in time has suffered from being largely unrecorded. Now is the time to address this. To make a quilt of our stories and lay it out for everybody to see and hear.
Blagdon as a settlement has a history that probably goes back to at least Roman times. It is included in the Domesday Book under the name Blachdone. Although evidence from those days is rare. The legacy of more recent times is all around us, if you know where to look.
At the beginning of the last century our village was a rural community with a majority of households depending on agriculture for their livelihoods. After WW1, and even more so after WW2, life changed very considerably.
Blagdon Local History Society (BLHS) exists to help people discover the fascinating history of our village, and to promote an appreciation and enjoyment of our heritage, including putting our knowledge into a wider local context.
We held monthly talks, followed by refreshments, on subjects of local interest. But these are generally held online via the miracle of 'Zoom' for the time being.
These are usually on the 2nd Wednesday of the month but look out for posters and entries in local news sources for more information. See also here for updates of the current programme. Visitors are always most welcome to these meetings.
Do also look out for other occasional exhibitions or other activities.
These include researching the houses in Church Street, foundation of the village school and service in WW1. The Street End area is our current area for research. If you live in Street End and/or could be of assistance do please let us know.
The Society is based at Court Lodge
which includes an archive room full
of documents, photographs, books,
maps, recorded memories and a
digital record of huge amounts of
local information collected over the
last twenty years.
We are always learning – there is so much material to sift through. People are often able to let us see old documents and photos handed down through their family or acquired with a house purchase, that help us fit another piece into this fascinating jigsaw. If you do have anything of interest or would like to help with research please do get in touch.
How can we help you?
Perhaps you would like to know more about the history of your home or a particular family or individual? Using our local knowledge and archive we can often provide information or help members further their own research. We are always pleased when people express interest or contact us.
Publications by the Society include five volumes of the History of Blagdon in which can be found articles or chapters by many authors on a wide variety of subjects. Reading these would provide an excellent source of local insights into the village's past.
Volume 1 has being amended and republished this year with a particular feature article by our patron, Mary Mead - founder of Yeo Valley Organic.
The books are complemented by an oral memories CD, Mendip Voices.
Newly republished in 2021, a Blagdon Trail booklet with a map and pointers to aspects of historical interest on the route provides a very interesting introduction to the village.
These publications are all available from Blagdon Stores or the Society.
2020/21 annual membership is £12 single or £20 double. Visitors are always most welcome at £2.50 a session. Membership secretary: Andrew Barnes
For further information please contact our secretary Pip Riley@talk21 or phone 462120.
For further details and a link to the membership form go to the Membership and Contact us page.
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