St Andrews Church
|Dowlish Wake shown within Somerset|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||TA19 0|
|Police||Avon and Somerset|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Dowlish Wake is a small village and civil parish in Somerset, England, situated 2 miles (3 km) south of Ilminster and 5 miles (8 km) north-east of Chard in the South Somerset district. The village has a population of 277 and is home to several thatched houses.
The village is situated on Dowlish Brook, which is crossed by a 17th-century packhorse bridge (widened in the 1990s) and a road bridge dating from the 18th century. There was a flour mill on the brook in the 17th century but only the Mill House survives today. Until the early 1990s parts of the village were regularly cut off by floodwaters between two fords which cross the main road, however this has largely been prevented by recent drainage improvements.
The village was a centre for the manufacture of silk and there are the remains of several limestone quarries. It was on the route of the Chard Canal, which was built around 1835–40 and was intended to be part of a ship canal between the Bristol Channel and the English Channel, but this was never built.
The sports pavilion on the Lawrence Kellett recreation field was rebuilt in 2007, but then destroyed by arson in October 2016. The designated committee is currently working to raise funds to rebuild yet again.
As a civil parish Dowlish Wake has its own parish council with 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 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 is part of the South Somerset local government district within the wider Somerset County Council, having previously been part of Chard Rural District.
Yeovil is a 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. The constituency covers the towns of Yeovil, Chard, Crewkerne and Ilminster in Somerset. Until 1983 Somerset was split into four constituencies and Yeovil constituency also contained the towns of Ilchester, Martock and Somerton but they were moved into the newly created constituency of Somerton and Frome. From the next election, Yeovil constituency will contain Ilchester once again to equalise the populations of the Somerset constituencies. The Boundary Commission for England estimate the electorate of Yeovil constituency after the pending boundary changes to be 77,049. The current MP is David Laws, a member of the Liberal Democrats.
Residents of Dowlish Wake also form part of the electorate for the South West England constituency for elections to the European Parliament, which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.
The village is the home of the cider produced at Perrys Cider Mill, manufacturers of several award-winning Ciders. The barn which is used as the cider mill, and now also contains a museum, has 16th-century origins, and may originally have been used as a smithy. A cafe opened at the cider mills in 2008.
The hamstone Manor House has 11th-century origins, with the present building being from all periods from the 15th century. It was known as Dowlish Farm by 1688, having been held by the Wake family from the 12th century; it passed through marriage to the Speke family at the end of the 15th century; they sold it in 1920.
The Dower House dates from 1664 and was leased to female members of the Speke family during the later 18th century giving the building its name.
Church and hall
The hamstone Norman Church of St Andrew includes fragments of the chancel dating from the 13th century, a 14th-century tower and aisles added in 1528; however, most of the church was rebuilt in 1861–62. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building.
Speke Hall, next to the church, was used as the day and Sunday school from its erection by William Speke in 1840 until 1949. It now serves as the village hall, hosting regular social functions.
The Manor was the home of the family of John Hanning Speke who took part in 3 expeditions to Central Africa from 1854-1862, the last two in search of the source of the Nile. He discovered Lake Victoria and maintained that it was the source of the White Nile. On his 3rd expedition Speke identified Ripon Falls, the outlet of Lake Victoria, as the source of the Nile; this was confirmed by Henry Morton Stanley in a later expedition. Speke was killed in Neston Park in Wiltshire by his own gun while hunting with his cousin on 18 September 1864; Dr David Livingstone and Sir Roderick Murchison, President of the Royal Geographical Society attended his funeral. There is a life-size bust of Speke and a memorial to him in the church.
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Media related to Dowlish Wake at Wikimedia Commons