King John's Hunting Lodge, Axbridge

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King John's Hunting Lodge
King John's Hunting Lodge, Axbridge.jpg
King John's Hunting Lodge, Axbridge is located in Somerset
King John's Hunting Lodge, Axbridge
Location within Somerset
General information
Architectural style Timber-frame
Town or city Axbridge
Country England
Coordinates 51°17′14″N 2°49′07″W / 51.287167°N 2.818510°W / 51.287167; -2.818510
Completed c. 1460
Technical details
Structural system Jettied

King John's Hunting Lodge is a wool-merchant's house of around 1460 in Axbridge a town in the English county of Somerset. It is a Grade II* listed building.[1]

The jettied three storey timber-frame building occupies a corner plot on the town square. It was originally a merchants house, but deteriorated until the 20th century when it was bought by Miss Ripley an antique collector who bequeathed it to the National Trust, and repairs were then undertaken.

It is owned by the National Trust who lease it to Axbridge and District Museum Trust who operate it as a local museum. It includes exhibits relating to local geology and history.


In 1340 a building with shops occupied the site on which the building now stands; it belonged to John Oldeway and was called "the stockhouse".[2]

The current building, jettied on two adjacent sides, which was constructed around 1460, comprised shops on the ground floor, living areas and workshops on the first floor, and storage and sleeping areas on the second floor. Jettying is a building technique used in medieval timber-frame buildings in which an upper floor projects beyond the dimensions of the floor below. On the first and second floors curved brackets can be seen which support the floor above.[1] The structure is based around a single wooden post, known as a king post which supports horizontal beams and floor boards at each level.[3]

Sculpture of the Kings Head

This house is the finest of a number of wood-framed houses in the High Street and The Square. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the building housed a succession of shops and underwent various changes which contributed to its physical decline. It was saved from probable destruction thanks to a Miss Ripley, who bought it and bequeathed it to the National Trust, who in turn undertook the works necessary to make it fit for visitors.[2]

In overhauling the structure of the premises in 1971, the National Trust restored its medieval character by recreating on the ground floor the appearance of arcaded stalls opening onto the street, and the sixteenth-century decoration of the upstairs windows,[4] although this did cause some dilemmas as it required the removal of fine 18th century windows.[5]

The origin of the name is unclear as it was not built until long after the reign of King John, who died in 1216. Its present name first appeared in a 1915 publication, The Heart of Mendip by Francis Knight, when it was being run as a saddler's shop. The royal part of the name may have come from the fact that a carved king's head was on the building, but whether this represented John or another king is not known, although it came from The King's Head Inn which was part of the building.[2] The head was attached to one corner of the exterior,[6] but is now inside the building,[1] and a replica placed on the outside.


Axbridge Nail

The property is owned by the National Trust and run as a local history museum by Axbridge and District Museum Trust with support from Somerset County Museums Service and Axbridge Archaeological and Local History Society. Until 2011 funding was received from Sedgemoor District Council, however this was withdrawn and an entry charge introduced to help pay for the running costs.[7][8]

The museum aims to illustrate the history, geology and community of Axbridge and the surrounding area (the area of the old Axbridge Rural District, which included many neighbouring villages such as Cheddar, Wedmore, Mark and Winscombe). There is a core of long-term and permanent exhibits, reviewed regularly for possible changes, updates, and revised displays and information, and there is a programme of temporary exhibitions to reflect many aspects of local life and heritage.[9]

Each room has a specific theme. Several aspects of local history are detailed, one focuses on local life during World War II, another aspects of law and order. Geology is also covered along with finds from local caves.[9] The exhibits include a fine flint flake which was among several found has been identified from the neolithic occupation of Ebbor Gorge.[10] There are also paintings of local scenes and objects including a clock made by John Bilbie of the Bilbie family, who lived in Axbridge, and a "nail" similar to those outside The Exchange in Bristol which were made with a flat top and raised edges which prevent coins from tumbling onto the pavement, as convenient tables at which merchants could carry out their business.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "King John's Hunting Lodge (Axbridge Museum)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Museum". Axbridge Town Council. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Ground floor". The Axbridge and District Museum Trust. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "King John's Hunting Lodge". Axbridge and District Museum. Retrieved 25 August 2006. 
  5. ^ Reid, Robert Douglas (1979). Some buildings of Mendip. The Mendip Society. ISBN 0-905459-16-4. 
  6. ^ "The Medieval Burgh of Axbridge". Time Retrieved 25 August 2006. 
  7. ^ Egginton, Steve (May 2011). "Town rallies round its museum". Mendip Times. 
  8. ^ "King John's Hunting Lodge — National Trust". Culture 24. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Exhibitions". The Axbridge and District Museum Trust. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  10. ^ Bond, Clive Jonathon (2013). "The later upper palaeolithic open sites and settlement trajectories. The evidence from the Mendip Hills, south-west Britain". Notae Praehistoricae 33: 179–192. 
  11. ^ "Gallery". The Axbridge and District Museum Trust. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 

External links[edit]