What are Quantock settlements like?

Most settlements in the Quantock Hills are quite small. There are scattered farms, small hamlets, larger villages, and small towns. Each settlement is special in its own particular way.

  • Friarn sign

What counts as a village?

The first villages began when people decided it was sensible to cluster together, instead of living on isolated farmsteads. Of course, they chose the best places for their needs. Most of the Quantock villages are dotted round the edges of the hills. Here they have a natural water supply and they are more sheltered from bad weather.

Sharing

In a village, people could share some things and do some tasks together. Some places belonged to everyone, such as the village green and pond, the village well and even the village stocks. Most of these have gone now, but in some villages you can still see them. And, of course, everyone used the church, which is often the oldest surviving building in the village.

In every village you can still see buildings that are for everyone to use: shops, petrol stations, pubs, schools, bus shelters, village hall, even public toilets! Can you think of any others?

What are hamlets?

Hamlet is an old English word; it describes a place that is more than just a farmstead but not really big enough to be a village. Sometimes it is difficult to decide whether a place is a village or a hamlet. Hamlets don't usually have churches or many other shared buildings.

For example, Plainsfield, Aley, Adscombe, Friarn and Bincombe are all hamlets in the parish of Over Stowey.

  • Aley phone box
  • Aley Scout hut
  • Aley signs

"What is Red?"

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Triscombe, Heathfield, Timbercombe, Merridge, Lower Aisholt, Yarford, Clavelshay and Halsway could also be thought of as hamlets.

There was a hamlet in East Quantoxhead called Perry. Now it is just a farm.

..and I always thought hamlets were special fillings for small sandwiches!

Big villages or small towns?

Some villages grew quite big. But there is usually something extra about a place, as well as its size, that makes it a town. For example, it might have a market, or a town hall, or council offices. Towns often have more public buildings and facilities, like libraries, surgeries or cafes, but having these doesn’t necessarily make a place a town. Places can change from one to the other over the years.

People sometimes can’t decide whether a place is a small town or a large village. What do you think about these Quantock places?

  • Kingston St Mary has a busy street with shops, pub, a garage and old and new houses…
  • Crowcombe has a new hall and playing field…
  • Nether Stowey has a fire-station. Find out if they are towns or villages.

How have Quantock settlements changed over the years?

  • Students measuring the overgrown remains of old farm building, which were part of the deserted settlement of West Holcombe near Middle Hill.

    Quantock settlements have never stayed the same! In the Quantocks there are villages that grew into towns and a town that shrank into a villages again. There are villages that stayed small, and villages that moved. Some hamlets have shrunk into single farmsteads. Other places have completely disappeared.

  • Bagborough House is a fine Country House built in the 1730s for the Popham Family. It is set in parkland. Now people can book it for wedding receptions and other events.

    Some farms grew as landowners gradually gained more and more land. Some estates ended very large with areas of parkland and big houses. Some of the great estates were sold and broken up into smaller farms again.