Blagdon with the lake in the foreground
Blagdon shown within Somerset
|OS grid reference|
|Unitary authority||North Somerset|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Avon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Blagdon is a village and civil parish in the ceremonial county of Somerset, within the unitary authority of North Somerset, in England. It is located in the Mendip Hills, a recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. According to the 2001 census it has a population of 1,116. The village is about 12 miles (19 km) east of Weston-super-Mare.
- 1 History
- 2 Governance
- 3 Geography
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Transport
- 6 Religious sites
- 7 Culture
- 8 Famous residents
- 9 Listed buildings
- 10 References
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 External links
According to Robinson it was owned by James William Plumb for many years. He called it Blachedon in the 1086 Domesday Book and the name comes from the Old English bloec and dun meaning 'the black or bleak down'.
There was a Roman presence in Blagdon from about 49 AD until the end of the Roman occupation of Britain. Several Roman coins and fragments of Roman pottery have been found in the village. There were lead and silver workings in Charterhouse, about a mile and a half uphill to the south, so it is likely that the wealthier supervisors had their houses away from the toxic smoke in the village. Wade and Wade in their 1929 book Somerset suggest traces of Roman mines such as tools and pigs of lead have been found at Blagdon.
Norman feudal barony
Blagdon is believed to have been the caput of the feudal barony held by Serlo de Burci (d. circa 1086), who is recorded as holding the manor in the Domesday Book of 1086. However the caput may have been Dartington. The Domesday Book recorded a land area for Blagdon approximating to 2,000 acres (8 km²), including 200 acres (0.8 km²) of woodland. Serlo died without male progeny and his daughter Geva was his sole heiress. She married twice: firstly to "Martin" (d. pre-1086), to whom she bore a son and heir Robert FitzMartin (d.1159), and secondly to William de Falaise. In 1154 Robert FitzMartin gave St Andrews Church and other land from around the East End of the village to Stanley Abbey in Wiltshire. He also gave land at Blagdon to the Knights Templar which became known as the Temple Hydon Estate. Robert's son was William I FitzMartin (1155–1209), whose own son and heir was William II FitzMartin (d. pre 15 February 1216). Next to inherit was Nicholas FitzMartin (1210–1282) whose son Nicholas II (d.1260)predeceased him, but had married the sole heiress of the feudal barony of Barnstaple, Maud de Tracy (d. pre-Michaelmas 1279), daughter and sole heiress of Henry de Tracy (d.1274). Nicholas II's son William III FitzMartin (d.1324) thus inherited Barnstaple from his mother and Blagdon from his grandfather. On the death in 1326 of William III's son William IV without progeny, his co-heirs were his surviving sister Eleanor and James Audley (d.1386) the son of his deceased sister Joan FitzMartin (d.1322). Eleanor FitzMartin (d.1342) died without progeny, albeit having married twice. James Audley, 2nd Baron Audley (d.1386) was the Joan's son by her second husband Nicholas Audley, 1st Baron Audley (d.1316) of Heleigh Castle, Staffordshire. James Audley thus in 1342 inherited his childless aunt Eleanor's moieties of the two baronies of Barnstaple and Blagdon, thus giving him possession of the whole of each.
The Blagdon Controversy
In the late eighteenth century, the famous writer and educational pioneer Hannah More, shocked at the poverty and ignorance to be found in Mendip villages, was active establishing schools in the area. In 1795 she founded a Sunday School in Blagdon, in the building now called Hannah More House. About this time she wrote to William Wilberforce, the anti-slavery campaigner, about her school, "Several of the grown-up youths had been tried at the last assizes; three were children of a person lately condemned to be hanged — many thieves! Of this banditti we have enlisted one hundred and seventy; and when the clergyman, a hard man, who is also the magistrate, saw these creatures kneeling around us, whom he had seldom seen but to commit or punish in some way, he burst into tears".
However, Mr Bere, the curate referred to in this letter, soon became implacably opposed to the school and after years of pressure it was forced to close. Nevertheless, the furore created made the "Blagdon Controversy" a milestone of national importance in the development of education for the labouring classes.
There are several houses in the village dating from medieval times and earlier. The houses facing on to Bell Square in the north corner of the West End date from the fourteenth century. The shape of some of the existing fields suggest they are of medieval origin.
Blagdon in the twentieth century
In 1901 the Wrington Vale Light Railway reached Blagdon. It closed to passengers just 31 years later in 1932. Part of the line remained for freight only, but this closed in 1962.
The parish council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept (local rate) to cover the council’s operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny. The parish council evaluates local planning applications and works with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic. The parish council's role also includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of parish facilities, such as the village hall or community centre, playing fields and playgrounds, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also of interest to the council.
Blagdon and Churchill Ward is represented by one councillor on the unitary authority of North Somerset which was created in 1996, as established by the Local Government Act 1992. It provides a single tier of local government with responsibility for almost all local government functions within its area including local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection, recycling, cemeteries, crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism. It is also responsible for education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning, although fire, police and ambulance services are provided jointly with other authorities through the Avon Fire and Rescue Service, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and the Great Western Ambulance Service.
North Somerset's area covers part of the ceremonial county of Somerset but it is administered independently of the non-metropolitan county. Its administrative headquarters is in the town hall in Weston-super-Mare. Between 1 April 1974 and 1 April 1996, it was the Woodspring district of the county of Avon. Before 1974 that the parish was part of the Axbridge Rural District.
The parish is represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom as part of the Weston-super-Mare constituency. It is also part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament.
When describing Blagdon the names of the three former separate settlements that merged to form Blagdon are usually used: West End, East End, and Street End.
The West End has much of the facilities and services of Blagdon, including its Fire station, Village Shop and Post Office, Butcher, Body & Soul Beauty Salon, Doll's House Shop (Cobblers Collectables), Haircuts shop, clothes shop and coffee parlour, The Mead and Children's Play area, tennis courts and football and rugby union pitches. In the East End there is Blagdon Primary School and the former Blagdon Police Station.
As of March 2010, Blagdon has three pubs open for business: the Seymour Arms. the New Inn, and the Queen Adelaide. (The former Live and Let Live has been demolished and turned into social housing and the new road serving the housing is named Baynard Close after the Lord of the Manor of Blagdon who founded the forerunner of the current village school in 1687. Additionally, the Village Club has a bar and is a social centre. The New Inn is a Grade II listed building.
According to the 2001 Census, the Blagdon and Churchill Ward had 1,423 residents, living in 594 households, with an average age of 41.9 years. Of these 75% of residents describing their health as 'good', 19% of 16-74 year olds had no qualifications; and the area had an unemployment rate of 1.2% of all economically active people aged 16–74. In the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004, it was ranked at 24,228 out of 32,482 wards in England, where 1 was the most deprived LSOA and 32,482 the least deprived. The 2011 Census highlights that the population had dropped to 1, 116 within 737 hectares of land.  Statistics show that 938 of these people were of working age and 155 of these people had no qualifications. 
Blagdon is served by several bus services going to Bristol, Bath, Wells and Weston-super-Mare. A Blagdon Minibus is available for groups to use at a small charge. The A368 to Bath goes through Blagdon. The nearest railway station is Yatton.
St Andrew's Church (Church of England) has a 116-foot tower with pinnacles and a cusped lozenge pattern parapet, with a stair turret spirelet in the north-east corner. The tower dates from the 15th century and is one of the tallest in Somerset. The remainder of the church was rebuilt in 1907–09 by Lord Winterstoke (of the Wills tobacco family) The tower contains a bell dating from 1716 and made by Edward Bilbie of the Bilbie family. It is a Grade II* listed building The lychgate to the east of the church is also a Grade II listed building in its own right. Above the door are four primitive Norman carvings which survived three rebuildings.
There is also a Baptist chapel, the former Methodist chapel having been converted into residential housing.
Blagdon has many clubs and organisations including:
- The local History Group
- Luncheon Club
- Rainbows ~ www.blagdonrainbows.co.uk, Brownies and Guides
- Tennis, football, cricket and rugby clubs
There are several Grade II listed buildings:
- Aldwick Court at Images of England
- Lodge to south-west of Woodlands at Images of England
- Stables and Archway at Aldwick Court at Images of England
- Woodlands at Images of England
- Bay Trees at Images of England
- Hannah More House at Images of England
- The Old Rectory and Wing Cottage at Images of England
- Fir Tree Farmhouse and attached outbuildings at Images of England
- Blagdon Court and Court Cottage at Images of England
- Blagdon House at Images of England
- Court Farmhouse at Images of England
- Walnut Tree House at Images of England
- Coombe Lodge at Images of England
- Gate Lodge and Gates south of Coombe Lodge at Images of England
- Gauge House at Images of England
- Masonic Lodge at Images of England
- Mill House at Images of England
- "2011 Census Profile" (Excel). North Somerset Council. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
- Robinson, Stephen (1992). Somerset Place Names. Wimborne, Dorset: The Dovecote Press Ltd. ISBN 1-874336-03-2.
- "Somerset Hundreds". GENUKI. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
- Sanders, I.J., English Baronies, Oxford, 1960, p.15, Blagdon
- Faith, Juliet. The Knights Templar in Somerset. The History Press. pp. 91–94. ISBN 9780752452562.
- Sanders, pp.15, Blagdon; p.104, Barnstaple
- "History". Blagdon Stores. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
- "Hannah More House". National heritage list for England. English Heritage. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- Clarke, James Freeman (1836). The Western Messenger. Western Unitarian Association. p. 26.
- Collingwood, Jeremy; Margaret Collingwood (1990). Hannah More. Lion Books. pp. 95–99. ISBN 978-0745915326.
- "Mendip Hills: An Archaeological Survey of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty". Somerset County Council Archaeological Projects. Retrieved 28 October 2006.
- "The Avon (Structural Change) Order 1995". HMSO. Retrieved 9 December 2007.
- "Axbridge RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
- "Baynard’s Educational Trust". Blagdon.org. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- The New Inn at Images of England
- "Neighbourhood Statistics LSOA North Somerset 024D Blagdon and Churchill". Office for National Statistics 2001 Census. Retrieved 25 April 2006.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1958). The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-071013-2.
- Mason, Edmund J. & Mason, Doreen (1982). Avon Villages. Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN 0-7091-9585-0.
- Moore, James; Roy Rice; Ernest Hucker (1995). Bilbie and the Chew Valley clock makers. The authors. ISBN 0-9526702-0-8.
- (Church of St Andrew at Images of England)
- (Lychgate at Images of England)
- Atthill, Robin (1976). Mendip: A new study. Newton Abbot, Devon: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-7297-1.
- Blagdon Village Website
- Blagdon Village Plan Document
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