The parish includes the village of Vobster, which had a coal mine of the same name on the Somerset coalfield and a quarry, both of which are now disused. The old quarry is now used as a diving centre. The Church of St Edmund, at Vobster by Benjamin Ferrey, dates from 1846 and is a Grade II listed building. Vobster Inn Bridge, which carries the lane over the Mells River, is dated 1764, and is Grade II listed.
History and description
During the 19th and early 20th centuries Mells and surrounding villages had several coal mines on the Somerset coalfield, much of which may have supplied the iron works of James Fussell. The Old Ironstone Works is a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the population of Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats. The site is a ruined iron works, which mainly produced agricultural edge-tools which were exported all over the world, and is now, in addition to its unique and major importance in relation to industrial archaeology. The block of buildings adjacent to the entrance is listed Grade II* and most of the rest of the site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It is included in the Heritage at Risk Register produced by English Heritage.
Mells War Memorial is a grade II* listed building. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is one of several structures in the village by the same architect. The memorial was unveiled in 1921 by Brigadier-General Arthur Asquith, whose brother—killed in action in the First World War—is listed on the memorial. The Asquith family have a long association with the village.
Close to the church is the Grade I listed 16th-century Manor House, formerly in the Horner family and now the residence of Raymond Asquith, 3rd Earl of Oxford and Asquith. The other large house, Mells Park, was largely rebuilt by Lutyens in 1923; Pevsner calls attention to its ashlar masonry, Doric pilasters and hipped roof. The Talbot Inn, a former coaching inn, dates from the 15th century and is Grade II* listed. It was voted Sunday Times Hotel of the Year in 2013.
The Mells Post Office and Shop was refurbished and reopened in 2009 as a community social enterprise, following the retirement of the postmaster the previous year. The attached Mells Café was opened in 2011 by The Great British Bake Off star Mary Berry.
The Walled Garden, part of a former monastery, is now a cafe, shop and plant nursery.
Mells Church of England First School, on the edge of the village green, was established in the mid-nineteenth century. It serves Mells and nearby villages and had 71 children on the roll in 2016. Mells Nursery School provides full day care for children from two years old to school age in a dedicated building which has been constructed adjacent to the school.
Mells Manor was purportedly procured by Jack Horner upon discovering the deed in a pie given to him to carry to London by Richard Whiting, the last Abbot of Glastonbury. This act is referenced in the popular nursery rhyme "Little Jack Horner". An alternative explanation is that the manor was bought in 1543. After successive generations Thomas Strangways Horner moved out of the manor house in the village and commissioned Nathaniel Ireson to build Park House within Mells Park.
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 Frome 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 the Somerton and Frome 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 village's most notable feature is St Andrew's Church, a Grade I listed building praised by Pevsner and predominantly from the late 15th century. The tower, which reaches 104 feet (32 m), dates from the mid 16th century. The centre of the chapel is dominated by an equestrian statue of Edward Horner (who fell at the Battle of Cambrai in 1917) by Sir Alfred Munnings. A number of benches are Jacobean. There is a large piece of embroidery in the pre-Raphaelite manner, made by the Mrs Horner who was a friend of Burne-Jones.
There is also a memorial, designed by Edwin Lutyens, to Raymond Asquith, who died in France in 1916. The churchyard is the last resting place of the poet Siegfried Sassoon and the Roman Catholic priest and writer Ronald Knox.
There is a small Roman Catholic chapel in the grounds of the Manor House.
- Sir Frank Beauchamp, owner of coalmines in the Somerset coalfield was born in Mells.
- Tim Burt, British geographer and Master of Hatfield College, Durham
- Jenson Button, the Formula One racing driver, comes from Vobster.
- Christopher Hollis, author.
- Annunziata Rees-Mogg, journalist.
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- "Church of St Andrew". Images of England. Retrieved 13 May 2006.
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