West Bagborough The small village of West Bagborough lies tucked under the western edge of the Quantock Hills. Above the village is Lydeard Hill from where you can get an amazing view of Taunton Dene and the Blackdown Hills and, on a clear day, you can even see the top of Dunkery Beacon on Exmoor.
The village houses were mainly made of the local red sandstone, or rubble stone. There is still an Inn although, in 2000, the village nearly lost it when the building was gutted by fire. The Rising Sun has since been rebuilt. The parish church of St Pancras can be found on the edge of the village next to the Manor house, known as Bagborough House. There is no longer a school or shops but there is a small industrial unit on the edge of the village as well as a beautiful playing/cricket field. The village was also the home of Quantock Pottery until the 1990’s when the pottery was converted into houses, and the Quantock pottery moved to Wellington.The village today has a population of just under 400.
Bagborough had West added to its name quite recently before which the village was just called Bagborough, and still is by most local people. One of the reasons for adding 'West' to the name was to distinguish it from the small hamlet now called East Bagborough. The meaning of the name could refer to it high position on the hills “Hill of the Beacon” Like many villages there are a number of possibilities, such as “Begas Barrow” which means badgers hill or it could stem from the name of the lord of the manor in Saxon times “Baga” and one of the old English words for hill “beorg”
The village has a long history, as was shown by the hoard of Roman coins found in 2001, it was recorded in the doomsday book as Bageberg. It lay in the hundred of Taunton Dene which had many rights and privileges, it was mentioned in a ninth century charter known as The Charter of Acthelwulf (854) and shows what a large slice of the Quantock Hills was included in this hundred. “From Lydeard St Lawrence south to the valley called Triscombe east to Bagborough, thence along a horse path over the hills to Aisholt, then past Piscis Fontem (Bishpool farm). Then across the ridge, along Buncombe to Kingston and Broomfield.”
After the conquest the holding at Bagborough was given to William de Mohum who also held Dunster. The records of Bagborough Manor show that there was friction over it's ownership, after William the estate pasted to his son-in law Robert Bozen and when his son died the grand daughter Ankaret who was married to a Wiliam de Reyney of near by Aisholt about 1243. It was in 1269 that a Sir William Reyney son of Ankaret claimed the inheritance but he was challenged by a Joan le Botlier who is reported to have been William de Reyney's mistress, for he left a deed dated 1268 in which he left her the manor and church of Bagborough. As a result of this she is said to have cut down an apple tree and given the fruit to everyone who was there, at the time it was symbolic of a new owner. Other documentation from the period records that a merchant of Bristol, Stephen de Beaumont took forcible possession and as a result was jailed in Ilminster Jail. In the 17th century the manor passed to the Stawells, who also had Cothlestone, and then to the Pophams who had holdings in North Petherton.
The manor house that you see today was rebuilt in about 1739 by the Popham family. It was used in film about Coleridge “Pandaemonium” the film used many local landmarks and a number of local people were used as extras. The house, like many fine country houses, can be booked to host your wedding and it is still lived in by ancestors of the Pophams, Diana and Philip Brooke-Popham. This fine example of a Georgian country house is just above the main village street in a spectacular setting of rolling park land with lovely distant views.
When the plague ravished the village in the 14th century the population was reduced to only 64 people over the age of 14 it was about this time that the village houses around the manor house were abandoned and disappeared - from aerial photographs you can see their remains in the parklands of West Bagborough House. Villagers were afraid of a return of the plague so new houses were built on new sites away from the infected area.
Saint Pancras Church
The church of St Pancras is next to Bagborough House. In the past it was dedicated to The Holy Trinity although when the name was changed is a bit of a mystery. The church is a lovely silvery rose now in colour due to the weather and partly to the lichens that grow on its stones. Like many of the Quantock churches it “benefited” from major restoration work by the Victorians in 1872, when many structural changes were made. The church was in a poor state and work was required, the porch was replaced, as well as a new roof for the Nave and aisle. From the north wall an large marble slab which was then about 200 years old was removed. This was cut up and used for the church steps and also for a local cottage garden, the rest together with a brass which was in the centre of the marble a memorial to a Robert Kellett, was placed beneath the alter where it too served as a step.
The small hamlet of Triscombe lies about a mile from West Bagorough and Crowcombe and is on the Quantock Greenway. It consists of an Inn, a few houses and a plant nursery as well as a small tea room. The Quarry at Triscombe closed in 1999 and the area that made up the quarry has been settling and regenerating to create a unique habitat for the Quantock Hills as it is slowly being taken over by wild plants and animals . The quarry was extracting Hangman Grit stone, which are among the oldest rocks of the Quantocks. These hard rocks were formed, under water from 490 million years ago and underlie the wilder northern part of the hills. .
Above the village is Triscombe Stone which is thought to date to the Bronze Age, and could mark an ancient meeting place between the 'Drove' Road and the Triscombe Plainsfield track. It was one of the places used in the filming of The Belstone Fox, as well as being a popular meeting place for the huntsmen of the Quantocks. One of the legends surrounding the stone is that it was the place for Lovers to meet and also if you go around the stone clockwise three times your wish will be granted. It was also the place where a Cleric met Sir Francis of Doddington Hall in the English Civil war time and was shoot when he was asked was he for King and the cleric relied that he was for God.
The word 'Tris' is believed to be the Celtic word for 'meeting'. Many People and-traders have used the Drove road since earliest times to trade or move livestock, this was most likely to avoid the wet wooded lowlands on each side of the hills. Along side the Drove road you will see many cairns and barrows/loose piles of stones or mounds that sometimes mark the graves of the early Bronze Age settlers.
Triscombe House was burnt down in the 1990’s and has been rebuilt and today the gardens of the manor house form part of Triscombe Nursery.
William Winter (1774-1861)
William was a fiddle player from West Bagborough. He worked as a shoemaker in the villages of Lydeard St Lawrence and West Bagborough and played in a church band and for country dances. He had several children one a son who was also called William who also lived in the village during his younger days when he moved to Taunton in about 1840. In 2007 Halsway Manor published a song book of William’s work which can be purchased from the manor. http://www.halswaymanor.org/publications/winter/index.html
Mr H B Wimbrush 1858 -1943
Henry Wimbrush, married to Emily, was an artist who exhibited at the Royal Academy. He was one of Raphael Tuck's most prolific artists and his postcards are easily recognised. He married for the second time in 1927 to Mrs Emily Dremel and moved to her family home, Triscombe House, near West Bagborough, where he lived until his death in 1943.
During his time in Somerset Wimbrush, through his wife’s interest in hunting, became involved with The Quantock Stag Hounds. Emily was master of the Hounds from 1931to her death at 82 in 1954. She was the first woman master of the hounds.
The sale of one of his watercolours, of Windsor, for £1,200 at Christie's in 1982 may indicate a belated recognition of his talent by the art world.
“He was most active in painting between 1881 and 1908 when he lived at various addresses in London. Like many of his contemporaries in the Tuck stable, he toured Britain for inspiration and his coverage was far more comprehensive than many of the other Tuck illustrators. His watercolours were published by Tuck between 1904 and 1908, the majority in the "Oilette" series, although a few do appear as "Aquarettes". The Wimbush postcards are distinctive, characterised by soft colours and lines. He had a liking for water, and some of his finest work appeared as seascapes and river scenes” (http://www.henrywimbush.co.uk/id29.htm)
Triscombe house was built by Emily’s father Mr. Francis Henry Cheetham, circa 1890. They had originally lived at Tetton House near Kingston St Mary and for a time at Combe Florey, but their new house was to be Emily’s main home. Emily was originally married to a Army officer, Col. Dremel, with whom she travelled the world before the first World War - but home was the imposing Triscombe House with its now pink-washed façade. Emily came back to live full time after her second marriage to H Wimbrush in 1927.
“Throughout, she had excellent field masters, but she was never very far away from the Hunt herself, though not a rider to hounds, and for a couple of decades there was no more familiar car in the district than the veteran high-powered Austin, which, with the late Mr. George Whan at the wheel, carried the Master in the wake of the chase over road and rough track. Mrs. Wimbush spared neither purse nor energy in ensuring that the country was run on as near model lines as possible and her admirers included many non-hunting people who appreciated what she was trying to do for the sporting life of the district.” (http://www.henrywimbush.co.uk/id112.htm)