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Frome Selwood, Somerset

Historical Description

Frome, a town and a parish in Somerset. The town occupies abrupt hillocks and deep hollows on the river Frome, and has a station on the G.W.R., 107 miles from London. It stands on the skirts of Selwood Forest, 3 miles W of the boundary with Wilts, and 11 6 of Bath, and has a post office, with money order and telegraph departments. ,Frome sprang from a monastery founded in 705 by Aldhelm of Malmsbury, brother of King Ina, and it received accessions of importance from a subsequent priory and a nunnery. The monastery stood in a part of the town called Lower Keyford, and some remains of it, or of renovations of it, still exist, and have been converted into habitations for the poor. The priory stood in Hill Lane, the nunnery on Catherine Hill, and some traces of them were recently to be seen. Many other remains of ancient buildings stood within the remembrance of persons still living, but were removed on account of their being dangerously dilapidated. The town has been much improved in recent years, and presents a thriving and prosperous appearance. A five-arched bridge spans the river. The parish church is an ancient edifice, 160 feet long, with four chantry chapels attached to it, has a handsome tower and spire 120 feet high, underwent restoration in 1862-65 at a cost of about £10,000, and contains an Early English font. One of the chantry chapels belonged to the Lever-sedges, passed to the Cork family and the parishioners, has been well restored, and contains a fine monument by West-macott to the daughters of Lord Cork, and another monument by the junior Westmacott. Another of the chapels contains the tomb of Bishop Ken. St Mary's chapel wasbuilt in 1864, is in the Early English style, with semi- f octagonal chancel, and has in its interior rich carvings and ] other decorations. There are in the town or within the i parish three other churches, twelve dissenting chapels, a workhouse with accommodation for 350 persons, a grammar school, a boys' charity school, a suite of almshousesy and a girls' asylum and men's hospital. A public museum, with I library and news-rooms, was built in 1868, and is in the Italian style. There are a Literary Society, a Mechanics' Institute, two banking establishments, a large recreation ground, and a cottage hospital. The town has a head post office, i& the seat of a county court, and publishes two weekly newspapers. There is a spacious market-house. Markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and cattle and cheese fairs on 24 Feb. and 25 Nov, A cheese market is lield on the last Wednesday in each month, and a great cheese fair on the last Wednesday in September. The brewing of ale, and the manufacture of cloth, silk, and edge tools is carried on, and there are large printing works. The town is governed by a local board of 15 members. It was made a parliamentary borough by the Act of 1832, but by the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, the representation of the borough was merged in that of the county.

The parish bears the name of Frome Selwood, and includes East and West Woodlands. Acreage of civil parish, 7614; population, 11,464; of ecclesiastical, 11,219. The manor belonged to the Fitz Bernards, passed to the Braunches and the Leversedges, and went from the latter to the Earls of Cork and Orrery. Selwood Forest or Woodlands Forest formerly occupied a tract upwards of 15 miles long, but is now represented by only the woods of Longleat.½The parish, however, is still rich in trees, and it presents much pleasing scenery, and is chiefly disposed in dairy farms. Many villas and mansions are near the town, a beautifully romantic small glen, called Vallis Bottom, is about a mile to the NW, and an old mansion there, now a farmhouse, was the seat of the Leversedges. The livings of St John, Christchurch, Trinity, and Woodlands are vicarages; that of St Mary is a perpetual curacy. Gross value of St John, £600 with residence; patron, the Marquis of Bath. Gross value of Woodlands, £130 with residence; patron, the Marquis of Bath— Value of Christchurch, £50 with residence; patron, the Vicar of Frome. Gross value of Trinity, £250 with residence; patron, the Vicar of Frome. Value of St Mary, £25 with residence; patron, the Vicar of Frome.

Frome Parliamentary Division of Somerset was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 53,552. The division includes the following:-Frome-Beckington, Berkley, Buckland Dinham, Cloford, Elm, Frome Selwood, Laverton, Leigh-upon-Mendip, Lullington, Marston Bigott, Mells, Orchardley or Orchardleigh, Nunney, Road, Rodden, Standerwick, Wanstrow, Whatley, Witham Friary, Woolver-ton; Kilmersdon (part of)-Babington, Forscote, Hardington, Hemington, Holcombe, Kilmersdon, Radstock, Stratton-on-the-Foss, Writhlington; Weston-Bethampton, Batheaston, Bathford, Bath (St James), Bath (St Michael), Bath (St Peter and St Paul), Bathwick, Camerton, Charlcombe, Cla-verton, Combhay, Corston, Dunkerton, Englishcombe, Farleigh Hungerford, Freshford, Hinton Charterhouse, Kelston or Kel-weston, Langridge, Lyncombe and Widcombe, Monckton Combe, Newton (St Loe), Northstote, Norton (St Phillip), St Catherine, South Stoke, Swainswick, Tellisford or Telsford, Twiverton or Twerton, Walcot, Wellow, Weston, Woolley; Shepton Mallet (part of)-Ashwick, Batcombe, Downhead, East Cranmore, West Cranmore, Stoke Lane, Upton Noble; Bath, municipal borough.

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 parishFrome St. Peter 
Poor Law unionFrome 

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

Church Records, in association with Somerset Archives & Local Studies, have images of the Parish Registers for Somerset online.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Frome Selwood from the following:

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.