Wraxall, Somerset

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This article is about the village in Somerset, England. For other uses, see Wraxall.
Stone building with square tower. In the foreground are gravestones
All Saints Church, Wraxall
Wraxall is located in Somerset
 Wraxall shown within Somerset
OS grid reference ST495715
Civil parish Wraxall and Failand
Unitary authority North Somerset
Ceremonial county Somerset
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BRISTOL
Postcode district BS48
Dialling code 01275
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Avon
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Woodspring
(North Somerset
from next general election)
List of places

Coordinates: 51°26′25″N 2°43′41″W / 51.4402°N 2.7280°W / 51.4402; -2.7280

Wraxall is a village in North Somerset in England. The parish of the same name also included Nailsea and Flax Bourton until 1811. It is now within the parish of Wraxall and Failand.


The origin of the name Wraxall, which is shared with other villages in Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset, is thought to be "a nook of land frequented by Buzzards".[1]

Earthworks of an oval defended settlement surrounded by a bank and ditch indicated the site of an Iron Age defended settlement 400 metres (1,300 ft) south of Manor Farm.[2]

Wraxall Court was the original manor house. After the Norman conquest the Manor belonged to the De Wrokeshale family until it passed to the Moreville and then Gorges family by marriage. The parish of Wraxall was part of the Portbury Hundred.[3] In Victorian times the Ford family lived at Wraxall Court, which was taken over by the Admiralty during the Second World War, and became a Hall of Residence for Bristol University afterwards.[1]

Earthworks from a deserted medieval settlement 300 metres (980 ft) east south east of Wraxall House indicate houses, enclosures and possibly a watermill which were occupied in the Middle Ages.[4]

The only waterwheel still operating on the Land Yeo is at Watercress Farm. The 6 feet (1.8 m) diameter wheel, which was built before 1885 and is housed in a small brick building is used as a water pump. The other mill in the parish of Wraxall operated in the 18th and 19th centuries. It fell out of use by 1885 and was ruin by 1950. The mill was demolished in 1961 to allow for the road widening and straightening of Wraxall Score,[5] the only remains are crumbling walls by the entrance to Wraxall House.[6]

An area known as "The Rocks" stretches north from The New Battle Axes to Failand, its many quarries being the source of some of the local building stone (oolitic conglomerate).[1] Failand once had a chapel of ease, but now has the Victorian Church of St Bartholomew; the village is relatively modern.

Wraxall Cross Tree used to be a large elm tree situated at in the small triangle of land where Wraxall Hill meets with the Bristol Road (B3130). The original large elm tree had become hollow and local children were often seen climbing inside the tree. The elm tree eventually succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease and was felled in May 1977.[7] the children in Wraxall School were given the day off to see the spectacle of the tree being craned and transported to Watercress Farm where it was burned as part of a large barbecue. An oak tree has been planted in its place.

A whole new housing estate was added onto Nailsea and is now referred to as Lower Wraxall. Much more housing has been built since then, Wraxall becoming a dormitory town for Bristol.

In April 2007 a new children's hospice opened at Charlton Farm, part of the Tyntesfield Estate associated with the medieval Charlton House. Children's Hospice South West provides in-patient palliative care for eight children and their families, plus outpatient and day-care facilities for a number of other children.[8] The opening follows years of fund raising in the Bristol and Somerset area.


Tomb of Sir Edmond Gorges(d.1512) and his wife Ann Howard, Wraxall Church, north wall of east end of chancel

The parish church of All Saints was built in the 12th century, with tower, clock and bells being added in later centuries. There are painted stone figures of Sir Edmond Gorges and his wife in the chancel. The church has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.[9] The nearby rectory was built in the 17th century. The large churchyard contains several monuments to the Tynte family which gave its name to the nearby Tyntesfield Estate, which was purchased in 2002 by the National Trust following the death of Baron Wraxall.[10] The church tower has a peal of eight bells in the key of E flat. The oldest bell was cast in Chew Stoke in the early 18th century.[11] The heaviest bell (tenor) is just over 1.1 tonnes.

In the south east corner of the church yard, next door to the village blacksmith, Wraxall had a public house called "Remember Lot's Wife."[12]


An archaeological dig was undertaken at Tower House Farm towards the lower end of Tower House Lane. A Roman encampment was found.[13] There are other Roman features scattered throughout the valley. Cadbury Camp is located just over 2.5 km away.

The Battleaxes[edit]

The Battleaxes free house, which was previously known as the Widdicombe Arms, was built in 1838 and is a grade II listed building. It was built originally as the meeting house for the workers at Tyntesfield Estate.[14][15]

Tyntesfield Estate[edit]

Two large manor houses were situated on the estate before the estate was split after Baron Wraxall's death in 2002:

Tyntesfield is a Victorian Gothic Revival house which used to be part of a much larger estate. The National Trust bought the house in 2002 after the death of Baron Wraxall.

The house and some of the grounds are slowly undergoing renovations and restoration. Local trades people have questioned the way in which the National Trust is managing the restoration projects.[16]

During the 1940s "Tyntesfield Camp" was built as an American hospital with a vast network of centrally heated hot water radiators. After the war it was returned to the fields which remain there now.[1]

The lesser known Belmont House situated about a kilometre to the east. Belmont House contains a Real Tennis Court.[17]

Noah's Ark Zoo[edit]

Along with Tyntesfield another tourist attraction in the village is the Noah's Ark Zoo Farm. This zoo has a large collection of animals, with hands on experience and also includes many play areas for kids. The zoo also promotes creationism religious views.[18][19][20] It has also had allegations of animal cruelty on more than one occasion,[21] and now has to undergo six monthly inspections by an independent veterinary surgeon.[22]

North Somerset Show[edit]

Main article: North Somerset Show

On every May Day bank holiday, there is an agricultural fair at the North Somerset Showground. This used to be held in Ashton Court until the mid-1990s when the show committee moved it to the current location. The show was formed in 1840 out of the North Somerset Ploughing Society and its purpose was to further agricultural development by communicating agricultural issues and providing a showpiece to the local, general public.[23]


A dame school was recorded as early as 1801 and several schools followed, the present one being built in 1856. This is the current school, Wraxall CoE (VA) School, which educates children between the ages of five to twelve years old. Across the road from this was the Village Smithy, and nearby was the stocks and whipping post, for centuries the site of the annual "Stumps Fair".[1] This area is locally referred to as Wraxall Cross Tree. The old boys school was located just over 350 metres towards Bristol. The school was built in 1856 on land donated by Sir G Smyth with building expenses donated by William Gibbs.[24] The boy's school closed in 1938,[25] it became a private residence and has remained a private dwelling ever since. Another school in the village is the private Downs Preparatory School, which occupies Charlton House.

Swimming pool[edit]

On the southern side of the B3130 opposite the old American Hospital a natural spring has been captured to create a cold bathing pond which was built around 1890. Very few people are aware of this example of Victorian construction. The construction comprises two pools of concrete, undressed and dressed natural stone. The small north pool is about two feet deep and feeds the southern pool which is about five feet deep. The southern pool has an iron handrail.[26] The pool has not been used for decades and has been allowed to fall into disrepair. The south pool is mostly full of organic matter. The ordnance survey refers to it as 'Bathing Pond Wood.'


The nearest railway station is Nailsea and Backwell.

The 354 bus serves Bristol Road while the 361 service carries passengers along the Clevedon Road. Both bus services are operated by First

The nearest airport is Bristol Airport.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Wraxall". Bristol & Avon Family History Society. Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  2. ^ "Iron Age defended settlement 400m south of Manor Farm". National Heritage List for England. English Heritage. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "Somerset Hundreds". GENUKI. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Deserted medieval settlement 300m ESE of Wraxall House". National Heritage List for England. English Heritage. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "Nailsea a handbook of dates and events" (PDF). Nailsea and district local history society. p. 33. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Bodman, Martin. "Mills on the Land Yeo" (PDF). Nailsea and District Local History Society. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Nailsea a handbook of dates and events" (PDF). Nailsea and district local history society. p. 35. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "Our hospices". Children's Hospice South West. Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
  9. ^ "All Saints Church". Images of England. Retrieved 18 July 2007. 
  10. ^ Siddique, Haroon (5 August 2008). "Bombs, bears and a carved coconut: inside a neo-Gothic treasure trove". The Guardian. p. 8. Retrieved 5 August 2008. 
  11. ^ http://www.wraxallwithfailand.org.uk/bells.htm
  12. ^ "Nailsea a handbook of dates and events" (PDF). Nailsea and district local history society. p. 21. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  13. ^ "Some ideas on Roman roads in Bristol and North Somerset" (PDF). University of Bristol Speleological Society. p. 168. Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  14. ^ "Minutes of meeting 12 March 2013" (PDF). Wraxall and Failand Parish Council. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  15. ^ "The Widdicombe Arms". National Heritage List for England. English Heritage. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  16. ^ http://www.tyntesfieldestate.com/stone.html
  17. ^ "Belmont House and Racquets Court". English Heritage. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  18. ^ "Darwin Has Done a Lot of Damage". Evening Post (Bristol News and Media). 23 September 2008. Retrieved 3 November 2009. 
  19. ^ Russell, James (2 January 2006). "James Russell: A fun day out for all the creationists". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2009. 
  20. ^ PRV. "BCSE : Noah's Ark Zoo Farm". British Centre for Science Education. Retrieved 17 February 2009. 
  21. ^ "CAPS expose zoo breeding tigers for circus owner". The Captive Animals' Protection Society. October 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2009. 
  22. ^ "Zoo cruelty claims are rejected". BBC News. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  23. ^ http://www.nsas.org.uk/history.ihtml
  24. ^ "Nailsea a handbook of dates and events" (PDF). Nailsea and district local history society. p. 20. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  25. ^ "Nailsea a handbook of dates and events" (PDF). Nailsea and district local history society. p. 30. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  26. ^ "Open-air bathing pond". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 22 November 2010. 

External links[edit]