Bridge over the River Barle
Withypool shown within Somerset
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Avon and Somerset|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||Bridgwater and West Somerset|
Withypool (formerly Widepolle, Widipol, Withypoole) is a small village in Somerset, England, near the centre of Exmoor National Park and close to the border with Devon. The word Withy means Willow. The civil parish, known as Withypool and Hawkridge, covers 3,097 hectares (7,653 acres), includes the village of Hawkridge and has a population around 201.
The area around Withypool has been inhabited since the Bronze Age and a stone circle can still be seen on top of Withypool Hill. The Brightworthy barrows lie on the Common; of three original, two survive.
Withypool is mentioned in the Domesday Book as being tended by three foresters: Dodo, Almer and Godric. The parishes of Hawkridge and Withypool were part of the Williton and Freemanners Hundred.
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, 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 the responsibility of the council.
The village falls within the Non-metropolitan district of West Somerset, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Dulverton Rural District. The district council is responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism.
Somerset County Council is responsible for running the largest and most expensive local services such as education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, policing and fire services, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning.
As Withypool falls within the Exmoor National Park some functions normally administered by district or county councils have, since 1997, fallen under the Exmoor National Park Authority, which is known as a ‘single purpose’ authority, which aims to "conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Parks" and "promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the Parks by the public", including responsibility for the conservation of the historic environment.
It is also part of the Bridgwater and West Somerset county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election, and part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.
2 miles upstream of the village, the River Barle passes under a late medieval five-arch stone Landacre Bridge.
The Royal Oak Inn
The village's Royal Oak Inn has seen its share of history since its construction in the late 17th century. R. D. Blackmore wrote part of Lorna Doone in the bar, and artist Alfred Munnings had a studio in the loft. In the 1930s, the inn was owned by Gwladys and Maxwell Knight, a spy-ring leader and radio broadcaster upon whom Ian Fleming based the character of James Bond's boss, M. During World War II, the nearby Woolacombe beach was used to simulate the invasion of Normandy, and General Dwight Eisenhower planned some of the operation from the Royal Oak.
The late medieval Church of St Andrew is a Grade II* listed building. The tower was rebuilt in the early 17th century, restored and refitted in 1887, and restored extensively and rebuilt again in 1902.
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Media related to Withypool at Wikimedia Commons