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Stone bridge with six arches over water.
Bridge over the River Barle
Withypool is located in Somerset
Location within Somerset
Population201 (201)[1]
OS grid referenceSS845355
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townMinehead
Postcode districtTA24
PoliceAvon and Somerset
FireDevon and Somerset
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
51°06′26″N 3°39′04″W / 51.107125°N 3.651191°W / 51.107125; -3.651191Coordinates: 51°06′26″N 3°39′04″W / 51.107125°N 3.651191°W / 51.107125; -3.651191

Withypool (formerly Widepolle, Widipol, Withypoole) is a small village in Somerset, England, near the centre of Exmoor National Park and close to the border with Devon. The word Withy means "willow". The civil parish, known as Withypool and Hawkridge, covers 3,097 hectares (7,653 acres), includes the village of Hawkridge and has a population around 201.[1]

Withypool is in the Barle Valley on the River Barle. The village lies on the route of the Two Moors Way and the Celtic Way Exmoor Option.

To the southwest of the village lie Withypool Common and Withypool Hill.


The area around Withypool has been inhabited since the Bronze Age and the Withypool Stone Circle can still be seen on top of Withypool Hill. The Brightworthy barrows lie on the Common; of three original, two survive.[2][3]

Withypool is mentioned in the Domesday Book as being tended by three foresters: Dodo, Almer and Godric.[4] The parishes of Hawkridge and Withypool were part of the Williton and Freemanners Hundred.[5]

In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer was in charge of the village in his duties as forester of North Petherton.

The red sandstone Withypool Bridge (or New Bridge) carries a small road over the River Barle. It was built in the 19th century and is a Grade II* listed building.[6][7][8]


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 Somerset West and Taunton, which was established on 1 April 2019. It was previously in the district of West Somerset, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, and part of Dulverton Rural District before that.[9] 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.

As Withypool falls within the Exmoor National Park some functions normally administered by district or county councils have, since 1997, fallen under the Exmoor National Park Authority, which is known as a ‘single purpose’ authority, which aims to "conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Parks" and "promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the Parks by the public",[10] including responsibility for the conservation of the historic environment.[11]

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.


2 miles upstream of the village, the River Barle passes under a late medieval five-arch stone Landacre Bridge.[12]

The Royal Oak Inn[edit]

The village's Royal Oak Inn has seen its share of history since its construction in the late 17th century. R. D. Blackmore wrote part of Lorna Doone in the bar, and artist Alfred Munnings had a studio in the loft. In the 1930s, the inn was owned by Gwladys and Maxwell Knight, a spy-ring leader and radio broadcaster upon whom Ian Fleming based the character of James Bond's boss, M. During World War II, the nearby Woolacombe beach was used to simulate the invasion of Normandy, and General Dwight Eisenhower planned some of the operation from the Royal Oak.[13]

Religious sites[edit]

The late medieval Church of St Andrew is a Grade II* listed building. The tower was rebuilt in the early 17th century, restored and refitted in 1887, and restored extensively and rebuilt again in 1902.[14]

The Norman Church of St Giles in Hawkridge has 14th-century origins.[15]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Statistics for Wards, LSOAs and Parishes — SUMMARY Profiles" (Excel). Somerset Intelligence. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Brightworthy Barrows". Modern Antiquarian. Retrieved 18 October 2008.
  3. ^ "Withypool circle". Megalithic Portal. Retrieved 18 October 2008.
  4. ^ "Withypool". Everything Exmoor. Retrieved 18 October 2008.
  5. ^ "Somerset Hundreds". GENUKI. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Withypool Bridge at NGR SS 8452 (1057969)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  7. ^ "MSO8671 - New Bridge, Withypool". Exmoor Historic Environment Record. Exmoor National Park. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  8. ^ Historic England. "New Bridge (35757)". PastScape. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Dulverton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  10. ^ "The Authority". Exmoor National Park. Archived from the original on 24 December 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
  11. ^ "Exmoor National Park NMP". English Heritage. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
  12. ^ Historic England. "Landacre Bridge (1058006)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 18 October 2008.
  13. ^ "History". Royal Oak Inn. Archived from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2008.
  14. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Andrew (1057968)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 18 October 2008.
  15. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Giles (1174221)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 18 October 2008.
  16. ^ IMDb Database retrieved 07 June 2020

External links[edit]

Media related to Withypool at Wikimedia Commons