Penselwood is a village and civil parish in the English county of Somerset. It is located 4 miles (6.4 km) north east of Wincanton, 4 miles (6.4 km) south east of Bruton, 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Mere, and 5 miles (8.0 km) north west of Gillingham. The south-east of the parish borders Zeals and Stourhead in Wiltshire, and Bourton in Dorset. In 1991 the parish occupied 523 hectares (1,292 acres).
The medieval form of the name was "Penn in Selwood", where pen (Brittonic for "head") probably referred to a hill and Selwood was the Selwood Forest which once surrounded the area. David Nash Ford associated nearby Ilchester with the Cair Pensa vel Coyt  listed among the 28 cities of Britain by the History of the Britons on the basis that it should be read as an Old Welsh form of 'Penselwood' (coit being Welsh for "forest"), although others view it as three separate words: Pensa or Coyt. Bishop Ussher believed the listing referred to Exeter instead.
A couple of miles north of the village amidst the trees is the remains Kenwalch's Castle, an Iron Age hill fort which may be the location of the Battle of Peonnum in 658, mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The English also made a stand here against the Viking invader Cnut the Great in 1016.
The parish of Penselwood was part of the Norton Ferris Hundred, and from the early fifteenth century until 1609 and the death of Nicholas Wadham (1531-1609), co-founder of Wadham College, Oxford with his wife Dorothy Wadham, the Manor of Penselwood formed part of the estates of the Wadham family.
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 South Somerset, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Wincanton 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 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.
Geography and amenities
Penselwood is the setting for James Long's books, Ferney and its sequel The Lives She Left Behind, which mention many of the historical events that took place in or near the village.
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- Baggs, A P; Siraut, M C (1999). Currie, C R J; Dunning, R W (eds.). "'Penselwood', A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 7: Bruton, Horethorne and Norton Ferris Hundreds". pp. 184–192. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
- Bush, Robin (1994). Somerset: The complete guide. Wimborne: The Dovecote Press Ltd. pp. 167. ISBN 1-874336-26-1.
- Nennius (attrib.). Theodor Mommsen (ed.). Historia Brittonum, VI. Composed after AD 830. (in Latin) Hosted at Latin Wikisource.
- Ford, David Nash. "The 28 Cities of Britain Archived 15 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine" at Britannia. 2000.
- Newman, John Henry & al. Lives of the English Saints: St. German, Bishop of Auxerre, Ch. X: "Britain in 429, A. D.", p. 92. Archived 21 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine James Toovey (London), 1844.
- Havinden, Michael. The Somerset Landscape. The making of the English landscape. London: Hodder and Stoughton. p. 79. ISBN 0-340-20116-9.
- Historic England. "Pen Pits (202568)". PastScape. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
- "Somerset Hundreds". GENUKI. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- Adkins, Lesley and Roy (1992). A Field Guide to Somerset Archaeology. Wimborne, Dorset: Dovecote Press. ISBN 0-946159-94-7. Cite has empty unknown parameter:
- "Wincanton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
- "Moldram's Ground". Pen Selwood. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Moldrums Ground". Natural England. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
- "The Leland Trail". Discover South Somerset. Archived from the original on 30 October 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
- Historic England. "Church of St. Michael and All Angels (1238353)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Penselwood.|
- Village website
- Description of Penselwood in 1868
- Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership (June 2003). "Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs, Land Character Assessment, Type 7: Greensand Hills, 7B Penselwood – Longleat Hills" (PDF) (PDF). pp. 183–189. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2010.