East Harptree

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East Harptree
Red and grey stone building with arched windows and triangular roof. Behind is a small square tower
St Lawrence church at East Harptree
East Harptree is located in Somerset
East Harptree
East Harptree
Location within Somerset
Population644 (2011)[1]
OS grid referenceST566559
Civil parish
  • East Harptree [2]
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBRISTOL
Postcode districtBS40
Dialling code01761
PoliceAvon and Somerset
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
51°18′02″N 2°37′18″W / 51.3005°N 2.6218°W / 51.3005; -2.6218Coordinates: 51°18′02″N 2°37′18″W / 51.3005°N 2.6218°W / 51.3005; -2.6218

East Harptree is a village and civil parish in Somerset, England. It is situated 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Wells and 15 miles (24.1 km) south of Bristol, on the northern slope of the Mendip Hills overlooking the Chew Valley. The parish has a population of 644.[1] The parish includes the hamlet of Coley.


Monument to Sir John Newton (d.1568), in the Church of St Lawrence

One suggested explanation for the derivation for the Harptree name is from "hartreg", an Old English word for a grey hollow. According to Robinson it is listed in the 1086 Domesday Book as Harpetreu meaning 'The military road by the wood' from the Old English herepoep and treow.[3]

In November 1887, while searching for the source of a spring, a labourer called William Currell put his pick into a pewter vessel full of Roman coins. The jar was 6 inches (15 cm) below the surface in swampy ground. It contained 1,496 coins, five ingots of silver[4] and a ring. The coins covered the period between the reigns of Constantine the Great and Gratian.[5]

The parish was part of the Winterstoke Hundred.[6]

Around 1870-1880 the 'East Harptree Lead Works Co Ltd' mined the area around the village for lead, but this seems to have been largely unsuccessful and did not last for many years.[7] Smitham Chimney is a visible reminder of the work.


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, 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.

Along with West Harptree and Hinton Blewett, East Harptree is part of the Mendip ward which is represented by one councillor on 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 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 is also part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament which elects six MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.


Coley is a hamlet in East Harptree parish just off the B3114. It is near the Litton Reservoirs which is popular with dog walkers. The hamlet has roughly 100 people living there and has no amenities. Coley is quite often (and wrongly) mistaken to be in the Litton parish. Coley has a little bridge going through the centre which has the River Chew running under the bridge.


According to the 2001 census the Mendip ward (which includes West Harptree and Hinton Blewett), had 1,465 residents, living in 548 households, with an average age of 39.0 years. Of these, 79% of residents described their health as 'good', 22% of 16- to 74-year-olds had no qualifications, and the area had an unemployment rate of 1.5% of all economically active people aged 16–74. In the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004, it was ranked at 25,387 out of 32,482 wards in England, where 1 was the most deprived LSOA and 32,482 the least deprived.[10]


The nearby Harptree Combe is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and slightly further southwest towards Priddy are the Lamb Leer Cavern and Wurt Pit and Devil's Punchbowl SSSIs.


Clock Tower[edit]

Clock Tower

An interesting and unusual clock can be seen in the centre of the village. It was a gift of Mr W.W. Kettlewell, and was erected in 1897 to commemorate the 60-year reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Squared, irregular coursed rock-faced sandstone with stone dressings, plain tile roof and wooden bargeboards. Commemoration tablet beneath circular clock face set in chamfered stone surround with the inscription: 'TIME FLIES DONT DELAY' - each word in separate spandrels. Bargeboarded gable and has the wording 'HEAVEN'S LIGHT OUR GUIDE'. Set in prominent position at street junction. A Grade II listed building.[11]

Richmont Castle[edit]

The scanty ruins of Richmont Castle are about 14-mile (400 m) southeast of the village church. The castle was besieged in 1138 when King Stephen captured it from Sir William de Harptree, a supporter of Queen Matilda's cause in the civil war between the king and queen. The castle was also visited by King John in 1205.[12] The castle was demolished by its owner, Sir John Newton, in the reign of Henry VIII.

Wade and Wade in their 1929 book Somerset described it; "On an inaccessible tongue of land at the far end of the gorge are the remains of Richmont Castle, one of those lawless strongholds which in the days of Stephen were a terror to the country side. In 1138 it was strongly garrisoned by its owner, William de Harptree, on behalf of the Empress Matilda, but was taken by Stephen by the ruse of a feigned repulse. Now, only a fragment of the keep overlooks the glen."[13]

By the 1540s the castle was described as ruinous.[14]

Harptree Court[edit]

Grade II listed building[15] Harptree Court was probably built in the late 18th century. It has a Greek Doric four-column portico probably added around 1820.

Eastwood Manor and farm[edit]

Eastwood Manor is a Grade II listed house built in 1871.[16] The neighbouring farm includes Eastwood Manor Farm Steading which is a Grade I listed building built in 1860.[17]

Religious sites[edit]

Stile in St Lawrence churchyard

Following his death in 1568 Sir John's huge, canopied tomb stands in the Norman porch of the Church of St Lawrence, which itself is a Grade II* listed building,[18] parts of which date from the 12th century. Two stiles in the churchyard are also listed.[19][20]

Further information and images of this church are available from:

Other Grade II listed buildings[edit]

  • The Old Rectory[21]
  • Gates and piers at Upper Lodge[22]
  • Church Farmhouse and attached garden wall and gate piers[23]
  • Bridge, 50 metres north of Harptree Court[24]
  • K6 Telephone kiosk[25]
  • Manor Farmhouse[26]
  • Aqueduct in Harptree Combe[27]


  1. ^ a b "East Harptree Parish". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  2. ^ http://www.eastharptreeparish.org/
  3. ^ Robinson, Stephen (1992). Somerset Place Names. Wimborne: The Dovecote Press Ltd. ISBN 1-874336-03-2.
  4. ^ Catalogue of Late Roman Coins from Arcadius and Honorius to the Accession of Anastasius. Harvard University Press. 1992. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-88402-193-3.
  5. ^ "The numismatic chronicle and journal of the Royal Numismatic Society". Royal Numismatic Society. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  6. ^ "Somerset Hundreds". GENUKI. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
  7. ^ Gough, J.W. (1967). The mines of Mendip. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. https://www.amazon.co.uk/o/ASIN/B0000CNKWB.
  8. ^ "The Avon (Structural Change) Order 1995". HMSO. Archived from the original on 30 January 2008. Retrieved 9 December 2007.
  9. ^ "Clutton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Neighbourhood Statistics LSOA Bath and North East Somerset 021D Mendip". Office for National Statistics 2001 Census. Retrieved 25 April 2006.
  11. ^ Historic England. "Village Clock Tower (1129556)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  12. ^ Dunning, Robert (1983). A History of Somerset. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. ISBN 0-85033-461-6.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Dunning, Robert (1995). Somerset Castles. Tiverton: Somerset books. p. 18. ISBN 0-86183-278-7.
  15. ^ Historic England. "Harptree Court (1136425)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  16. ^ Historic England. "Eastwood Manor (1136374)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  17. ^ Historic England. "Eastwood Manor Farm Steading (1129549)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
  18. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Laurence (1312831)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  19. ^ Historic England. "Stile, 15 metres north-west of tower (1136389)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  20. ^ Historic England. "Stile, 8 metres north-east of chancel (1129551)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  21. ^ Historic England. "The Old Rectory (1129552)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  22. ^ Historic England. "Gates and piers at Upper Lodge (1129555)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  23. ^ Historic England. "Church Farmhouse and attached garden wall and gate piers (1312797)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  24. ^ Historic England. "Bridge, 50 metres north of Harptree Court (1129558)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  25. ^ Historic England. "K6 Telephone kiosk (1136668)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  26. ^ Historic England. "Manor Farmhouse (1136410)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  27. ^ Historic England. "Aqueduct in Harptree Combe (1129583)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 April 2006.

External links[edit]