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Stone Age Celtic Roman Saxon Medieval
Tudor Stuart Georgian Victorian Modern

Shop and Post Office c1930

The Shop and Post Office c1925. Courtesy of Jeff and Ann Ford.

The village shop, now called Lynda’s Loaf is still in the same place but there is no longer a post office in the village. The post office shown in the picture closed in 1929 and moved to Bathway. Business
Stone Age The stone age was not just a time of brute strength and ignorance. The hunter gatherers who first populated the area must have been involved with trading with people from other areas to obtain the flint they used to make the tools and weapons that have been found in the area.Stonehengeis an example of the sophistication in transport and construction that was achieved at an early age. People who could not hunt or forage for food would not have survived unless they had some other skills that the rest of the clan valued. The new stone age is defined by some as the beginning of farming and religion.Chewton Mendip sits on a path that links that ceremonial centre with the lesser known, and smaller version, at Stanton Drew. This suggests that the main orientation of the paths was roughly East-West. Water sources also had a spiritual, as well as practical, value so Chewton Mendip may have been on a path running north-south that linked the hot springs at Bath with the colder springs at Wells. Return to the top of the list.
Celtic The bronze Age long barrows are evidence that people were buried in Chewton Mendip and the proximity of the hill forts near modern Chilcompton and Widcombe/Bishop Sutton suggests that Chewton Mendip was on the boundary of at least two ‘clans’. Priddy with its concentration of ceremonial structures completed a triangle of Bronze Age communities with Chewton Mendip near the centre. His could have made Chewton Mendip a vulnerable ‘border town’ or a profitable trading centre that relied upon neutrality to survive. Everybody would have had the basic skills to survived specialised trades such as metalworkers were already established. Some people may have specialised in providing all of the ‘comforts of home’ to weary travellers some of whom may have come from the middles east to trade with the locals for lead and other minerals. Return to the top of the list.
Roman Mendip lead was one of the objectives of the Roman invasion and the Romans crushed military resistance but absorbed spiritual beliefs. Chewton Mendip may have just been a ‘watering stop’ used by traders going to the lead mines at Charterhouse but recent finds have shown that there was industrial type activity within the modern boundaries of Chewton Mendip parish. Return to the top of the list.
Saxon Chewton Mendip must have been a significant place to deserve a specific mention in the will of Alfred the Great and to be in royal ownership at the time of the Norman conquest. The Doomsday Book describes a society dominated by agriculture and related industries. Lead mining is not mentioned leading some people to state that it had ceased on the Mendips during Saxon times. Priddy is not mentioned either so perhaps the known ore deposits had run out and the Priddy village was no longer viable and had been abandoned.The economic centre of the village was probably focused on the site of the church where there was reasonably flat, dry land. The valley bottom near Chew Head would have been irregular and boggy before quarrying extended the flat land at Dumpers Lane and drainage channelled the water from the numerous springs. The sophistication of the legal and financial systems used in Saxon England has been underestimated. Return to the top of the list.
Medieval The Doomsday book provides detailed accounts of the economic activity and names of people of relatively lowly origin but the detail can be deceptive. Many people did not have second names as we known them but may have been known by their trade, where they came from, the name of their father or some nickname.This was not the time of celebrity Chef’s so it is unlikely that a cook’s wife would have been awarded a manor. Somebody called Manasseh the cook’s wife was given a manor in Ston Easton at the time of the Norman Conquest. It is unlikely that a lowly servant would have received such a gift or manage it if she was rewarded for ‘services rendered’ to a powerful lord.The medieval records are full of transactions linked to farming, milling and related trades. Sheep farming was the main activity which meant that weaving and other cloth related trades were practiced. Clerics were some of the few people who could read or write in the mediaeval period and so they were involved in such secular activities as recording commercial transactions, possibly including runing the local pub! Henry FitzRoger, the Lord of the Manor of Chewton Mendip, was given a charter to hold a market or fair in Chewton Mendip in 1348. Unfortunately this was the beginning of the ‘black death’ but the market continued into the modern era. Return to the top of the list.
Tudor Henry VIII motivation for taking control of church property was as much to do with economics as the need for divorce. The dissolution of the monasteries meant that places of learning and what would now be called social services were destroyed. Poor laws were introduced to put the onus of care onto the parishes. The majority of the land in the parish was owned by absentee landlords so the ‘ordinary’ people took control of the village.The church and legal professions continued to use Latin but parish registers and other document used by common people were in English and some of these documents survive. Taxes, rates and tithes were still mainly based on land so the details of other trades are not as common. Family names were now stabilised but spelling was still left to the discretion of the writer, or frequently, the printer.Common law courts were growing in importance and strength compared with the ecclesiastical courts but lawyers tended to be churchmen by training. Schools and Universities were still dominated by the clergy but some ‘public’ schools were established in other parts of the country. Return to the top of the list.
Stuart The trades practiced in the 17th century, and up to the Victorian era, had not changed much from the medieval period. Many place names from the 17thcentury has remained long after the people who gave the place its name left or the eponymous activity ceased.The Kingsmills, who were to become the Lay Impropriators of the village sometime in the 17th century, were involved in the beginning of the British Empire that was to affect the economy of area. Religious dissention and economic factors lead to the English Civil War and the Monmouth Rebellion but pragmatic commercial interests took precedence from the late 17th century. Return to the top of the list.
Georgian What would now be called the ‘professions’ such as accountancy, law, and medicine had split from their ecclesiastical but the term ‘clerk’ covered a number of roles. A set of poor ;aw administration (Vestry Committee) records provide details of everyday life in Chewton Mendip. The records include lists of the people who were the proprietors of land and how much they paid.The Vestry Committee decided who should receive support and what form of assistance should be given. Sometimes cash was paid but often goods and services were provided which show who was performing trades such as carpentry and who was tending to the sick.The poor law records also provide details of children who were apprenticed to the wealthier people so the poor children could learn a trade. The Vestry Comittee also identified the fathers of illegitimate children so they paid for the upkeep of their child rather than the parish. The Vestry Committee would have people deported or ‘removed’ from the parish if they did not have the right of settlement. There were probably three or four pubs in the village at the time, six if you include the Ploughboy at Green Ore and the Miners Arms near Priddy which are both within the modern parish boundary.It is difficult to define the number of shops and other businesses because many people combined farming with running pubs or selling their produce directly to the public. Sheep were being replaced by cereals and dairy cows as the science of farming improved. A number of people made and sold dairy produce.The combination of building trades and undertaking was established and would remain common place until the 20th century. Return to the top of the list.
Victorian The 1801 census was the earliest independent record of the people who lived in the village and what they did. This date was probably close to the zenith of Chewton Mendip as an economic centre. Coal mining replaced lead mining as the main alternative to farming and the near-by cities of Bristol and Bath lured some people away to the factories and other trades.Somersetwas spared the clearances and potato blight that depopulated parts of Ireland and Scotland but the population fell dramatically anyway. Emigration to the colonies and other parts of the world attracted some people away from the village.The current school was built sometime in the middle of the century but there were other schools of various types in the village.There were at least two blacksmiths and agricultural wagon builders.  Mendip Motors flourished in Cutler’s Green for a while at the end of the 19th century and into the early part of the 20th. Return to the top of the list.
Modern The population in 1901 was roughly half that of 1801 and the decline continued until after World War 2. Increases in regulations ended a number of other businesses and completion from supermarkets has made running the last remaining shop and pub difficult but at least they are still there which is more than can be said for many villages. The school is still thriving and some new business have moved into the village. Farms may now house a computer business or other ‘knowledge based’ activities as a dairy farmer. Return to the top of the list.

Please refer to the acknowledgements page for a list of the contributors to this website.

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