Church of St Andrew, Old Cleeve
|Area||20.92 km2 (8.08 sq mi)|
|• Density||80/km2 (210/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Avon and Somerset|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Old Cleeve is a village 5 miles (8 km) south east of Minehead in the West Somerset district of Somerset, England, and also a civil parish. The civil parish of Old Cleeve covers an area of 2,092 hectares (5,170 acres) and includes the villages of Old Cleeve, Blue Anchor, Roadwater and Washford as well as hamlets such as Bilbrook, Chapel Cleeve, Golsoncott and Leighland Chapel. Approximately half the parish lies within the Exmoor National Park. In 2011, the population of the parish was 1,672.
The name Cleeve means cliff or hill and became known as Old Cleeve to distinguish the principal village north of the main A39 road from the later site of Cleeve Abbey to the south. The parish of Old Cleeve was part of the Williton and Freemanners Hundred.
Old Cleeve was also near the route of the West Somerset Mineral Railway which ran from the ironstone mines in the Brendon Hills to the port of Watchet on the Bristol Channel. The old Mineral line railway station which was built in 1861 is now a store, and there is also a bridge remaining from this line.
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 West Somerset, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Williton Rural District. The district council 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 Bridgwater and West Somerset 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.
Between Old Cleeve and Watchet is Cleeve Hill a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest which covers a moderate to steeply sloping south face of the Washford River Valley. It supports a rich and diverse calcareous grassland community with associated mixed woodland and scrub. The site contains two species of plant which are nationally rare in Great Britain, Nit-grass (Gastridium ventricosum) and Rough Marsh-mallow (Althaea hirsuta).
The parish extends to the coast of Bridgwater Bay between Blue Anchor and Watchet, in an area previously known as Cleeve Bay, on the Blue Anchor to Lilstock Coast SSSI a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest. It provides an outstanding series of sections through the Early Jurassic Lower Lias, spanning the Hettangian and Pliensbachian Stages and named the "Lilstock Formation". The Triassic cliffs have geological interest for the variety of fossils and is on the South West Coast Path. There is the remains of a Lime Kiln complex which was used in the 18th century. Bridgwater Bay consists of large areas of mud flats, saltmarsh, sandflats and shingle ridges, some of which are vegetated. It has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and is designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
The parish church of St Andrew dates from the 12th century and has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building. The floor of the porch was cobbled with alabaster stones from the beach below the village and set in the shape of a heart during the 17th century.
Cleeve Abbey in Washford village, is a medieval monastery founded in the late twelfth century as a house for monks of the austere Cistercian order. In 1536 Cleeve Abbey was closed by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the abbey was converted into a country house. Subsequently, the status of the site declined and the abbey was used as farm buildings until the latter half of the nineteenth century when steps were taken to conserve the remains. In the twentieth century Cleeve Abbey was taken into state care; it is now looked after by English Heritage and is open to the public. Today Cleeve Abbey is one of the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monastic sites in Britain. While the church is no longer standing, the conventual buildings are still roofed and habitable and contain many features of particular interest including the 'angel' roof in the refectory and the wall paintings in the painted chamber.
Binham Farmhouse was built in the 15th century as the grange to the abbey.
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Media related to Old Cleeve at Wikimedia Commons