Bishop Sutton

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Bishop Sutton
The roofs of many houses can be seen in a green valley with several trees.
A view of Bishop Sutton, taken from Knowle Hill
Bishop Sutton is located in Somerset
Bishop Sutton
Bishop Sutton
Location within Somerset
OS grid referenceST587597
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBRISTOL
Postcode districtBS39
Dialling code01275
PoliceAvon and Somerset
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
51°20′05″N 2°35′32″W / 51.3348°N 2.5921°W / 51.3348; -2.5921Coordinates: 51°20′05″N 2°35′32″W / 51.3348°N 2.5921°W / 51.3348; -2.5921

Bishop Sutton (grid reference ST587597) is a village on the northern slopes of the Mendip Hills, within the affluent Chew Valley in Somerset. It lies east of Chew Valley Lake and north east of the Mendip Hills, approximately ten miles south of Bristol on the A368, Weston-super-Mare to Bath road between West Harptree and Chelwood. Bishop Sutton and the neighbouring village of Stowey form the civil parish of Stowey Sutton.

The village has a large village hall, a public house (The Red Lion), an organic culinary school and bed and breakfast (Meadow View), a small supermarket, several shops including a Post Office within the village store, a tennis club and a caravan park. Next to the village hall are sports pitches where Bishop Sutton F.C. play. The lake is a popular place for children, adults and the elderly alike with beautiful views and entertainment such as fishing and sailing. There is a museum and tea shop on one side of the lake and a restaurant on the other.

The main industry in the village was a coal mine owned by J. Lovell & Sons from 1835 to 1929, which was part of the Somerset coalfield. There was also a large flour mill, part of which was converted into flats.


Coal mining[edit]

Much of the exploratory survey work which identified the geology of the area was carried out by William Smith, who became known as the "Father of English Geology", building on earlier work in the same area by John Strachey, who lived at Sutton Court.[1]

The Pensford coal basin lies in the northern area of the Somerset coalfield around Bishop Sutton, Pensford, Stanton Drew, Farmborough and Hunstrete.

The date for the first pits around Bishop Sutton are uncertain but there was at least one before 1719.[2] By 1824 a collection of four bell pits were identified in field tithe No 1409, and four shaft pits in field tithe No 1428, but they were no longer working.[2]

The Old Pit (ST587597), which was also known as Sutton Top Pit or Upper Sutton Pit, was dug before 1799 and owned by Lieutenant Henry Fisher, who sold it in 1821 to Robert Blinman Dowling and several seams of coal were identified and exploited. After Dowling's death the Old Pit was sold to Mr. T.T. Hawkes in 1852,[2] but he defaulted on the payments and it was sold in 1853 to William Rees-Mogg (an ancestor of William Rees-Mogg) and his associates.[3] The shaft reached a depth of 304 feet (93 m),[4] but went out of production by 1855,[2] when the "New" Pit which had been sunk in the early 19th century but then closed, was reopened and deepened to exploit deeper seams. The New Pit (ST587597) had two shafts of 4 feet (1.2 m) diameter, one for winding and one for pumping. In 1896 it was owned by F. Spencer, New Rock Colliery,[5] and in 1908 by Jesse Lovell and Sons.[6] The pit finally closed in 1929.[2][7]

Government and politics[edit]

Bishop Sutton, along with Stowey, makes up the Stowey Sutton Parish council, which has some responsibility for local issues and is part of the Chew Valley South Ward, 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.

The parish falls within the unitary authority of Bath and North East 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.

Bath and North East 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 Bath. Between 1 April 1974 and 1 April 1996, it was the Wansdyke District and the City of Bath of the county of Avon.[8] Before 1974 that the parish was part of the Clutton Rural District.[9]

The parish falls within the 'Chew Valley South' electoral division. Bishop Sutton is the most populous area of the ward but this stretches north and west to Nempnett Thrubwell. The total population of the ward as at the 2011 census was 2,377.[10]

The parish is represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom as part of North East Somerset. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. It was also part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament prior to Britain leaving the European Union in January 2020, which elected seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.


Folly Farm[edit]

Folly Farm is a traditionally managed visitable farm and nature reserve run by the Avon Wildlife Trust. The farm house is 17th century and the surrounding land includes neutral grassland, flowery meadows and woodlands with splendid views. Much of Folly Farm is designated as a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest. The SSSI comprises two adjacent areas, the meadows (19.36 hectares) and Dowlings Wood (9 hectares). The site is situated on a curved ridge of land on neutral soils derived from the underlying Keuper Marl. The soil is of the Icknield Association with dark brown, moist but moderately well-drained clay. It attracts a wide range of birds. The pasture is of a kind now rare in the area. A number of scarce species of fly are listed from the site.[11][12]

The site was purchased from the Strachey family who were lords of the manor of the nearby Sutton Court in 1987.[13]

Burledge Hill[edit]

Burledge Hill is on the southern edge of the village of Bishop Sutton. The site comprises a mixture of flower rich grassland, scrub and mature hedgerows. Three fields are designated as Burledge Sidelands and Meadows a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI),[14] and, since November 2005, as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) covering 48.7 ha.[15]

Burledge hillfort is a univallate Iron Age hillfort.[16][17] The site was investigated three times: in 1955 by the University of Bristol Spelaeological Society and in 1959 and 1966 by field investigation.[18] In 1955, the excavating archaeologists found evidence of post or stake holes, ditches, pits, and gullies inside the fort. They also found artifacts like a part of an iron fibula, animal bones, and pottery. One find which evidenced that metalworking was done at this site was the discovery of iron slag.[19]


According to the 2001 census, the Chew Valley South Ward (which includes Bishop Sutton and Stowey) had 1,222 residents, living in 476 households, with an average age of 40.3 years. Of these, 76% of residents described their health as 'good', 25% of 16- to 74-year-olds had no qualifications; and the area had an unemployment rate of 1.9% of all economically active people aged 16–74. In the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004, it was ranked at 28,854 out of 32,482 wards in England, where 1 was the most deprived LSOA and 32,482 the least deprived.[20]


Church & Primary School

The Church of the Holy Trinity in Wick Road is the Anglican parish church. The building dates from 1848 and is a Grade II listed building.[21] During 2006 a grant of £64,000 was received from English Heritage to replace the roof of the church.

The village also possesses a Methodist Chapel that dates in part from the 1780s and it is thought that John Wesley the founder of Methodism may have preached there.[22]

The Elms[edit]

The Elms on Sutton Hill Road is a detached house dating from the early 18th century which has Grade II listed building status.[23]


The village school has 115 pupils aged 4–11 years on the roll. It dates back to 1842[24] and was originally a school for pupils up to the age of 14. At one time it was a Church school but no longer has this status. The building today consists of the original Victorian school and three detached classrooms.[25]

After the age of 11, most pupils attend Chew Valley School

Sport and leisure[edit]

Bishop Sutton A.F.C. were officially established in 1977, although it is actually a reformed version of a club that dated from the early 1900s. Bishop Sutton joined the Western Football League in 1991 after playing in the Somerset County League and prior to that the Bristol and Avon League. A title in the 1997–98 season in Division One earned the club a promotion to the Premier Division, where they have played ever since. They reached the 3rd round of the FA Vase in the 1995-96 season, losing to AFC Lymington.

There is also a tennis club in the village.[26]

In 2011, residents of Bishop Sutton and surrounding villages banded together to form a new charity, the Chew Valley Youth Trust,[27] to combat the declining provision in leisure and recreational activities for young people in the region. In response to the closure of local Youth Clubs and declining state support for local transport, the charity combats issues of rural isolation and provides young residents with recreational activities.

Notable residents[edit]

  • Dr Liam Fox, a Conservative MP and former member of the cabinet, used to live in Bishop Sutton but sold his house in 2005/6.
  • The former professional footballer Andy Williams was brought up in Bishop Sutton


  1. ^ "Smith's other debt". Geoscientist 17.7, July 2007. The Geological Society. Archived from the original on 24 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13.
  2. ^ a b c d e Williams, W.J. (1976). Coal Mining in Bishop Sutton North Somerset c. 1799–1929.
  3. ^ Durham, I. & M. (1991). Chew Magna and the Chew Valley in old photographs. Redcliffe Press. ISBN 1-872971-61-X.
  4. ^ Down, C.G.; A. J. Warrington (2005). The history of the Somerset coalfield. Radstock: Radstock Museum. ISBN 0-9551684-0-6.
  5. ^ "Peak District Mines Historical Society Ltd". Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  6. ^ "List of Mines in Great Britain and the Isle of Man, 1908". Coal Mining Resource Centre. Retrieved 12 November 2006.
  7. ^ "Colliery lists". The Mines of the Bristol and Somerset Coalfield. Archived from the original on 6 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-12.
  8. ^ "The Avon (Structural Change) Order 1995". HMSO. Archived from the original on 30 January 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  9. ^ A Vision of Britain Through Time : Clutton Rural District Archived 23 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Chew Valley South ward 2011". Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  11. ^ English Nature SSSI citation sheet Archived 19 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Gibbs, David J. (2002) Scarcer Diptera found in the Bristol region in 1999, 2000 and 2001 Dipterists Digest (second series) 9:1-13
  13. ^ Ewart, Alan W.; Douglas C. Baker; Glyn C. Bissix (2004). "3". Integrated Resource and Environmental Management. CABI Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-85199-834-3.
  14. ^ "Burledge Hill". Avon Wildlife trust. Archived from the original on 26 September 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
  15. ^ "Burledge Sidelands and Meadows" (PDF). English Nature. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 October 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2006.
  16. ^ "Burledge Hillfort". PastScape. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  17. ^ "Mendip Hills An Archaeological Survey of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" (PDF). Somerset County Council Archeological Projects. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  18. ^ "Burledge Camp". Fortified England. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  19. ^ ApSimon, A. M. (1955). Archaeological Notes (PDF) (Report). University of Bristol Spelaeological Society. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  20. ^ "Neighbourhood Statistics LSOA Bath and North East Somerset 021C Chew Valley South". Office for National Statistics 2001 Census. Retrieved 25 April 2006.
  21. ^ Historic England. "Church of the Holy Trinity (1320762)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 May 2006.
  22. ^ "Bishop Sutton Methodist Church". North East Somerset and Bath Methodist Circuit. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  23. ^ Historic England. "The Elms (1136622)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 May 2006.
  24. ^ "Propectus" (PDF). Bishop Sutton School. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
  25. ^ "Bishop Sutton Primary School". Bishop Sutton Primary School. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
  26. ^ "Bishop Sutton Tennis Club". Bishop Sutton Tennis Club. Archived from the original on 30 June 2006. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
  27. ^ "Chew Valley Youth Trust". Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2006.


  • Durham, I. & M. (1991). Chew Magna and the Chew Valley in Old Photographs. Redcliffe Press. ISBN 1-872971-61-X.
  • Janes, Rowland (ed.) (1987). The Natural History of the Chew Valley. ISBN 0-9545125-2-9.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Ross, Lesley (ed.) (2004). Before the Lake: Memories of the Chew Valley. The Harptree Historic Society. ISBN 0-9548832-0-9.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • Dews, Karen & Henon, Andrew, eds. (2008) Water Memories Making History; with young people of Bishop Sutton Youth Centre. Nesa Publications ISBN 978-0-9557079-1-9

External links[edit]