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Axbridge, Somerset

Historical Description

Axbridge, a small town and a parish in Somerset. The town stands near the river Axe, on the G.W.R., 136 miles from London, at the NW end of the Mendips, 10 miles NW of Wells. It is an ancient place, and Roman roads went from it to Portishead and Ilchester. It consists chiefly of a tolerably neat street, running in a winding manner from east to west, and is practically no more than a village. The town-hall and market-house stands at the east end, and is a modern edifice, rebuilt at a cost of about £1800. The parish church stands on an eminence near the market-house, is a large, cruciform, Perpendicular structure, with a handsome tower, and contains old monuments to the family of Prowse. It was greatly restored in 1879, and completed in 1887, costing between £5000 and £6000. The town has two banking-offices, and is a seat of petty sessions. A cattle market is held on the second Tuesday in every month, and fairs on 3 February, 25 March, and second Tuesday of October. Axbridge was formerly a borough by prescription, and sent members to parliament during the reigns of the first three Edwards, but was afterwards excused on the ground of poverty; it was then governed, under charter from Queen Elizabeth, by a mayor, a bailiff, and 10 aldermen; but the corporation was abolished in 1886 by the Unreformed Corporations Act. The late corporation property is now managed by a town trust, in place of the former mayor and corporation. There is a sanatorium (called St Michael's Home), close to the railway, which was built and endowed by the late Mr. Gibb of Tyntesfield, at a cost of about £120,000. There is also a workhouse and police station. A tract adjacent to the town was so improved by drainage of the Axe, about the year 1800, at a cost of £70,000, that land which previously was worth only about 2s. 6d. yearly per acre, is now rented at £4: and £5. The parish comprises 528 acres; population, 732. There is a post, money order, and telegraph office. It is noted for its early market-garden produce. The town is sheltered from the north-east winds by the Mendip Hills, the climate in winter is very mild, and the country round is one of the finest grazing districts in the county. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Bath and Wells; net value, £60. Patron, the Bishop of Bath and Wells. There is a chapel for Wesleyans.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySomersetshire 
Ecclesiastical parishAxbridge St. John the Baptist 
Poor Law unionAxbridge 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The register dates from the year 1562., in association with Somerset Archives & Local Studies, have images of the Parish Registers for Somerset online.


Church of England

St. John the Baptist (parish church)

The church of St. John the Baptist, standing on an eminence, is a large and handsome cruciform edifice in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel with north and south chapels, nave, transepts, aisles, south porch and a fine tower with angle buttresses, terminating in crocketed pinnacles and a richly pierced parapet: the tower contains 6 bells and a clock with chimes, provided in 1892 at a cost of £126 10s.; on the west side is a canopied niche, inclosing a crowned figure carrying a sceptre, and possibly representing King Henry VII. who probably rebuilt the tower; and on the east side is a figure of St. John the Baptist holding the "Agnus Dei": the windows are fine examples of Perpendicular work: the nave roof is curiously divided by projecting ribs, with a fleur-de-lis at each intersection, and a row of immense pendants along the centre, on one of which is the date 1636, at which time considerable repairs were effected: in a pew under the pulpit was found a singular painting of Our Saviour on oak panelling, and conjectured to date from the latter part of the 14th century: there are numerous marble monuments to the Prowse and other families: in the north aisle there is a brass, in good preservation, with kneeling effigies of Roger Harper, merchant of Axbridge, ob. 22 August, and Joan, his wife, ob. 22 July, both in 1493: in 1879, the whole of the exterior and interior stone work of the nave and aisles was restored and the church reseated, at a cost of £3,192, of which Charles Edwards esq. J.P. of The Grove, Wrington, gave £1,000: the chancel was afterwards restored at a cost of £856: in 1884 a further sum of £140 was raised and spent on the restoration of the north transept, at which time a new organ of the value of £245 was placed there: and in 1881 the work was completed at a cost of nearly £1,300, when the stained east window was given by Sidney Hill esq. of Langford: in 1888 a beautiful low metal screen was presented by H. F. Tiarks esq. and four carved oak screens from designs of the late Mr. J. D. Sedding, architect, were erected at a cost of £280: the total cost exceeded £5,500: there are 400 sittings.

St. John the Baptist, AxbridgeNave of St. John the Baptist, Axbridge


Wesleyan Chapel, High Street

There is a Wesleyan chapel in High street, with about 250 sittings.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Axbridge from the following:


Online maps of Axbridge are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Somerset papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Somersetshire, 1623 is available on the Heraldry page.

RegionSouth West
Postal districtBS26
Post TownAxbridge

Compton Bishop