Charterhouse, looking west
Charterhouse shown within Somerset
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Avon and Somerset|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Charterhouse, also known as Charterhouse-on-Mendip, is a hamlet in the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the English county of Somerset. The area between Charterhouse and Cheddar Gorge including Velvet Bottom and Ubley Warren is covered by the Cheddar Complex Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The name is believed to come from the Carthusian order of Chartreuse in France, which was established in Witham (near Frome) in 1181 and formed a cell at Charterhouse in 1283 with a grant to mine lead ore.
The lead and silver mines at Charterhouse, were first operated on a large scale by the Romans, from at least AD 49. At first the lead/silver industries were tightly controlled by the Roman military, but within a short time the extraction of these metals was contracted out to civilian companies, probably because the silver content of the local ore was not particularly high. There was also some kind of 'fortlet' here in the 1st century, and an amphitheatre. The Roman landscape has been designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
There is further evidence of mine workings in the medieval and Victorian periods, some of which survives within the Blackmoor Nature Reserve owned by Somerset County Council. There is also evidence of a rectangular medieval enclosure.
The outdoor activity centre and headquarters of the Mendip Hills AONB is based at Charterhouse, with accommodation, classrooms and offices.
The Church of England parish church of St Hugh was built in 1908 by W.D. Caroe, on the initiative of the Rev. Menzies Lambrick, from the former welfare hall for the lead miners. It is a Grade II* listed building. A cross in the churchyard and the churchyard wall are also listed buildings.
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