The village was formerly known as Rode and had a mill by 1243. During the 18th and 19th centuries there were a large number of mills set beside the Washford River. Manor Mills survives and has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building.
An Ebenezer Chapel was built in 1842, which was succeeded by the current Methodist chapel in 1907 as part of a strong temperance movement which began in 1868 under the influence of the Trevelyans of Nettlecombe. The mission church and school of St Luke were opened in the 1880s.
Administratively, Roadwater forms part of the civil parish of Old Cleeve, a village situated 3 miles (5 km) to the north. The parish falls within the West Somerset local government district and the Somerset shire county. Administrative tasks are shared between county, district and parish councils.
It falls within 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. The current MP is Ian Liddell-Grainger, a member of the Conservatives.
It is within the South West England (European Parliament constituency) which elects 7 MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.
Roadwater is a linear village, the northern section of which follows the course of the River Washford, in a deep wooded valley. In the centre of the village is a general store with Post Office. Adjacent to the store is the Village Hall and public recreation ground with Children's play area and cricket pitch.
The village is on the Coleridge Way footpath which opened in April 2005, and follows the walks taken by poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, over the Quantock and Brendon Hills to Porlock, starting from Coleridge Cottage at Nether Stowey, where he once lived.
An annual Village Fete takes place every summer on the recreation ground, to raise money for the upkeep of the Village Hall. The Village Hall hosts annual Pantomimes, and usually a play, put on by the amateur dramatics society the Roadwater Players. The village also hosts regular music events at the Hall.
The Valiant Soldier public house is a few hundred yards upriver from the store and can provide accommodation. St Luke's church is a few hundred yards down river, towards Washford.
- John Morris Roberts CBE (1928–2003) a British historian and Warden of Merton College, Oxford, died in Roadwater.
- Bush, Robin (1994). Somerset: The Complete Guide. Dovecote Press. p. 162. ISBN 1-874336-26-1.
- "Manor Mills". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
- "Roadwater Pillbox". Exmoor National Park. Archived from the original on 2007-09-23. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
- "Old Cleeve Parish". Exmoor National Park. Archived from the original on 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
- "Alphabetical List of Constituencies and Members of Parliament". House Of Commons Information Office. Archived from the original on 2008-01-17. Retrieved 2008-01-19.
- Gildea, Robert (2003-06-03). "J. M. Roberts Influential historian with a taste for academic leadership". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- Court, Glyn; Court, Clare Ann (Nov 2004). The Book of Roadwater: An Exmoor Valley Discovered. Halsgrove Parish History. Halsgrove. ISBN 978-1-84114-342-2.
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