Holcombe is a small village and civil parish (population 936) in the Mendip local government district of Somerset, England. The parish contains the hamlets of Barlake and Edford. It is within easy commuting distance of both Bristol and Bath.
The original medieval village was buried at the time of the Great Plague of London, and the old parish church, which survives, is surrounded by the mounds that bear testimony to this burial. It is suggested that the rhyme 'Ring a Ring o' Roses' began there as a result. An alternative explanation relates to the drowning of five children from the village in an icy pond in 1899.
The village has two pubs: The Duke of Cumberland, which can be found at the bottom of the village's hill, and the Holcombe Inn, which recently changed its name from The Ring O' Roses to its original 1960s name. It was named as a reminder of the plague that previously destroyed the village.
Holcombe has four churches, two of which are still in use.
Holcombe was the site of several mines on the Somerset coalfield; however these are all now closed. The importance of Somerset coalfield caused a branch canal from the main Dorset and Somerset Canal to be proposed, and construction began in 1786 following a route from Coleford, Somerset to Nettlebridge through Holcombe. This intersected the main road through Holcombe around 75 m north of the Duke of Cumberland inn. However, in 1803, the entire canal was abandoned without being completed. There is limited evidence of the canal remaining, including some masonry such as bridges and retaining walls near the Duke of Cumberland.
Holcombe quarry is no longer in use and has been fenced off. However, although it is highly dangerous and despite various warnings, it remains a popular destination for teenagers to go swimming and "tombstoning" during the summer months, which have resulted in personal injuries and some deaths.
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 Mendip, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Shepton Mallet Rural District, which 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.
It is also part of 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, 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.
The old Church of St. Andrew has late Saxon-early Norman origins and was rebuilt in the 16th century. The church is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It is in general now closed; but services are held at Christmas and on the first Sunday of June, July and August. The church was used as a location in the BBC production of Poldark. The former priest's house later became a coach house to Holcombe House, and is Grade II listed.
For a time Scott of the Antarctic's parents lived at and ran the brewery in Holcombe. Members of his family are buried in a family grave, and there is a memorial accrediting Scott's interment in the Antarctic, in the Holcombe old church.
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Media related to Holcombe, Somerset at Wikimedia Commons