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Parish Council

 Parish Council 2005This was Chewton Mendip Parish Council in 2005. The picture was taken to celebrate the long service provided by Gerry Bricewho supplied a copy of this photograph. It was first published in 2005 in the Wells Journal.The people shown in the photograph are listed below, starting with the back row, left to right.A brief history of the Parish Council is described below.
 Dave Memory,  Duncan Green, Richard St John and  Dave Baber.
 Betty Clothier, Michael (Benny) Hill, Gerry Brice, Robert Uphill and Tim Lenihan
 The parish priest was probably the only person who could read and write in Saxon and Medieval villages so he was the only form of local government official. This changed with the dissolution of the monasteries which meant there was nobody to care of the poor and sick. It also put a lot of literate clergymen ‘on the job market’.
 Elizabeth I enacted a number of laws that made the parishes responsible for the care of the poor and sick in their parish.  proprietors of land were elected to join churchwardens and the local clergyman to raise rates to pay for the support of the needy in the village. They met in the vestry of the church so they were known as the vestry committee.
The Chewton Mendip Vestry committee was at the height of its powers in the 18th century. The reform of the tithe system and the creation of ‘Poor law unions’ in the 1830s reduced their power. The creation of the police force at around the same time also removed most of  the responsibility for maintaining law and order from the vestry committee.
 This system persisted until the Local Government Act of 1894 finally abolished the Saxon system of tithing and hundreds and replaced the vestry committee with the Parish Councils that operate today.
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