Stoke St Mary
The earliest recorded mention of Stoke St Mary is in a Saxon charter dated 854 AD, when a West Saxon king gave the clearly defined lands at ‘Stoc’ to the minster church at Taunton.
The Church of St Mary in Stoke St Mary was built in the 13th century and is a simple stone building with battlemented tower. It remains largely unchanged today and the tower is one of the few remaining 13th-century towers in the county. Agriculture has always been the main occupation in Stoke St Mary but in the 17th century the cloth industry became important in the village and limeburners were common, most working quarries on Stoke Hill. The parish of Stoke St Mary also became famous for its cider and although it is no longer produced in the village, Taunton remains well known for it. Over the last 20 years the village has changed dramatically with the decline of agriculture and it has become mostly a dormitory village. The village has also grown with the building of new houses, which continues.
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 Taunton Deane, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Taunton 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 Taunton Deane 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.
Despite its rural setting, Stoke St Mary is very well-connected. It is about a mile from the A358 which heads east and only two miles from the M5. The nearest railway station is two miles away in Taunton, which is on the mainline between Exeter and Bristol and has a line going directly to Reading.
- "Statistics for Wards, LSOAs and Parishes — SUMMARY Profiles" (Excel). Somerset Intelligence. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
- "Somerset Hundreds". GENUKI. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- "Taunton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- "Taunton Deane". BBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
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Windows Live Local Aerial photo of the village