Welcome

Bridgwater History and Heritage

Bridgwater Heritage aims to provide a broad range of historical sources and articles relating to Bridgwater and the district around the town, ancient, medieval and modern. It is very much a work in progress, with much to be added over time.

The Bridgwater Heritage Group website was founded by the late Dr Peter Cattermole in October 2012. It was re-formed in March 2016 and is intended to complement the work and collections of the Blake Museum, and the work of the Bridgwater and District Archaeological Society, the Bridgwater and District Civic Society and the Friends of the Wembdon Road Cemetery. We welcome contributions from local historians, as well as memoirs about the town (see our Notes for Contributors page).

When this Group began, much emphasis was given to publishing illustrated accounts of the historic sites and buildings of Bridgwater, but since then the scope has broadened to cover historic texts about the town. These have been digitised from original sources and edited in A4 format, and are PDF documents so that readers can download and print them for further study. The goal has been to create an educational resource for the town, of value not only for local historians, but also for school pupils and college students. Aspects of the Town’s history have been well covered in recent years with books appearing on Carnival, Railways and Pubs, but there are conspicuous gaps. These include the various cultural groups: choirs, dramatics and the arts generally. Bridgwater shops. Sport. Education. Dissenting churches. Manufacturing generally. There are certainly more topics that might be added.

The site is entirely free to use, with no adverts. However, if you enjoy Bridgwater Heritage and the town’s history, you can support us here, or buy a book from the store. All proceeds go towards the cost of maintaining this website. Similar groups in other communities are very welcome to adapt this approach to recording their town’s history. Any interested in doing so are invited to make contact via the web-site to discuss methods.

We also research and write videos for the Town Council’s annual History Day

The logo/banner image at the top of the page is of Bridgwater Stone Bridge, a nineteenth century engraving by Thomas Hair, after John Chubb, (1746-1818).

Recent Updates

26 November 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 26 November 1832 – notice on the Burnham on Sea Lighthouses, poem by C, letter about John Browne dismissing the church clock keeper.

21 November 2022: Thomas DeQuincy tracks down Samuel Taylor Coleridge at John Chubb’s House in 1807.

20 November 2022: There were two videos submitted for the Bridgwater History Day yesterday. First is a History of the Town’s Street Names here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pv2JBH106nU Second is a History of the Stained Glass in St Mary’s Church, most of the donors being buried in the Anglican side of the cemetery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9cnIxsD0hM

19 November 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 19 November 1832 – auction of the property of Mr Thomas Mullins of Goathurst, Messieurs Crawcour to visit Bridgwater to fill teeth, death of Charles Day of Broomhill.

12 November 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 12 November 1832 – Mrs Philipps returns from London again, poem by a County Elector, Festivities described at Stogursey and Fairfield for the christening celebrations for the daughter of Sir Peregrine Palmer Acland. Infirmary fundraiser results.

5 November 2022: History of the Bridgwater Collegiate School, c.1871-1946.

5 November 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 5 November 1832 – in which two men are injured making fireworks, voter lists are completed and a poem by C.

30 October 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 29 October 1832 – Voter list reforms, dispute with the Sherbourne Journal, traffic accident at Cossington, killing a baby of Chilton Polden.

22 October 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 22 October 1832 – report on the Bridgwater Quarter Sessions, Meeting of the Freemasons and Voter List Revisions.

16 October 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 16 October 1832 – Two Shipwrecks of coal vessels bound for Bridgwater in the Bristol Channel, another poem by C, land to let at Chedzoy.

10 October 2022: New material and pictures added to the biographies of Thomas Clark and John Clark.

9 October 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 8 October 1832 – Report on St Matthew’s Fair, advert for James Stockham builder, sale of Hamp Nursery Garden, new mayor sworn in.

2 October 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 1 October 1832 – Outrages at a Vestry Meeting, unpleasant effluvia in Eastover and sewer building there, 1st anniversary meeting of the Bridgwater Cricket Club, Richard Anstice elected mayor, inquests for Lucy Ann Woodward and Elizabeth Spiller.

25 September 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 24 September 1832 – Auction of Mrs Cooze Castle Street interiors – Auction of Cossington Manor’s interiors – Bridgwater Turnpike Tolls to be let – inquest of the body of a drowned mariner found at Steart – Poem contributed by C – precauctions against Cholera at St Matthew’s Fair.

18 September 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 17 September 1832 – Extensive report on the 19th Anniversary Meeting of the Bridgwater Infirmary. Evidence of Vincent Stuckey on banking in Somerset.

14 September 2022: Tony Woolrich’s contribution to the 2021 Bridgwater History Day now published on YouTube: Is Killing in an Union Workhouse Criminal if sanctioned by the Poor Law Commissioners?

13 September 2022: Monumental Inscriptions in St Mary’s Parish Church

13 September 2022: Revised ‘Entertainment in Bridgwater’ added to Studies in Bridgwater section.

11 September 2022: Studies in Bridgwater History: Introductory guides and summaries of parts of the town’s story.

11 September 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 10 September 1832 – 19th Anniversary Meeting of the Bridgwater Hospital, Petition to set up a Mendicity society, discussion on Somerset Natural History, auction of the goods of Thomas Leigh of Combwich.

4 September 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 3 September 1832 – subscription advertisement for Phelps’ History of Somersetshire, detailed report on the reopening of Ashcott Church.

2 September 2022: Notes on Bridgwater’s Telephone Exchanges added to the ‘Utilities’ section of the website.

28 August 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 27 August 1832 – Results of the Bridgwater Races, Infirmary Report, Somerset Assizes Verdicts, Thomas Woodward complains of vagrants.

20 August 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 20 August 1832 – Cholera at Taunton, Bridgwater Races, Poem by C ‘the Picture’.

17 August 2022: Clement Trenchard, the Siege of Bridgwater, 1929

14 August 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 13 August 1832 – Reaction to Toogood’s Cholera instructions, description of Weston super Mare, fossils and geology of the Polden Hills, James Evans builder of the Quay advertisement, notice of Miss Tratt’s ‘Seminary’ in Blake Street.

7 August 2022: Bridgwater’s Electricity Supply, 1896-1948

7 August 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 6 August 1832 – Letter from Jonathan Toogood regarding the possibility of Cholera and recommended treatments. Also ridicule of Dr Kingslake for dancing in the street in Taunton.

31 July 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 30 July 1832 – Mention of the West Somerset Archers meeting at Maunsel House, inquests of Elizabeth Prior, George & John Bloaden and the death of Ann Symes of Sydenham Farm.

30 July 2022: Additional notes on William Parr Greswell’s chapter on Robert Blake in Powell’s History of Bridgwater, 1907.

24 July 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 23 July 1832 – mostly political editorials, a poem contributed by ‘C’ entitled ‘Lisetta, the Betrothed’.

22 July 2022: Robert Blake, Admiral and General-at-Sea: A Sketch, probably by William Parr Greswell, circa 1908.

20 July 2022: Mr Newcomen’s Friend: Dr John Allen (1660-1741), by Tony Woolrich.

17 July 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 16 July 1832 – mention of the EUPHROSYNE to sail to Canada and the auction of Mrs Coles of Cannington. The local news section given over to political adverts.

16 July 2022: Inauguration of the New Carbonising and Coke Screening Plant at the Bridgwater Gasworks, January 1940

16 July 2022: Notes on Bridgwater Crested China.

10 July 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 9 July 1832 – Meeting in the town to react to an assassination attempt on William IV, reports on political campaign meetings, report on the injury of a man named Hodges and the need to amputate his leg.

3 July 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 2 July 1832 – Auction of property in St Mary Street including the Crown Inn, Editorial critiquing the Whigs’ agents in Bridgwater for hypocrisy concerning slavery.

26 June 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 25 June 1832 – Inquest of William Wippell of the Bristol Arms, Highway Robbery at North Petherton, Annual Ball at Stowey.

25 June 2022: News from the Bridgwater and District Archaeological Society: a walking tour of historic Bridgwater will be conducted by David Baker and Chris Sidaway on Saturday 2nd July 2022 2.00pm. Meet in King Square, Bridgwater. To register for the talk please contact the SANHS office manager at: office@sanhs.org
There will be a charge of £5 for this event, ayable on the day (cash only please).

19 June 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 18 June 1832 – Addresses to the Electors of West Somerset by Tory MPs.

12 June 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 11 June 1832 – Account of the Annual Examinations in the King Square Grammar School.

6 June 2022: Hearty congratulations to the efforts of Bridgwater Carnival at yesterday’s Jubilee Parade [external link]. Also see here with commentary.

5 June 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 4 June 1832 – King’s Birthday Celebration display by the Bridgwater and Stowey Yeomanry, Inquest on the death of Thomas Drew, found drowned at Penny’s Hook, Dinner of the ‘Mayor of Eastover’, Vestry concerning galleries in the church.

3 June 2022: An incident on Mull: Robert Blake and Maclean of Duart, 1580.

2 June 2022: In wider Bridgwater History News, see the videos for the recent book launch for Dave Chapple’s Bridgwater Somerset, 1983 to 2004: a working class, left wing, rebellious town?

29 May 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 28 May 1832 – Mention of burning an effigy of the Duke of Wellington in either Bridgwater or Taunton; a poem on Ferdinandea Island by ‘C’ and notes on the shipping list.

22 May 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 21 May 1832 – Money allocated for a gallery in St Mary’s, and a drain in Eastover. Libel against Jonathan Toogood, Infirmary report.

16 May 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 7 May 1832 – Mrs Philipps’ fashionable dresses, William Lewington steals from Brown and Champion, Isaac Harrison steals Robert Crane’s trousers and inquest for toddler Ellen Bale. Also Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 14 May 1832 – Mrs Heard’s fashionable dresses. John Browne accused of corruption in his office of churchwarden, Inquest into the death of George Edolls.

15 May 2022: The Friends and Associates of John Chubb, a work in progress.

2 May 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 30 April 1832 – Election of the Churchwardens of St Mary’s Church descends into party political chaos, and responses to written attacks on Bowen. Poem entitled ‘The Crisis’ by C. Report on the Infirmary.

30 April 2022: Obituary for Derek Gibson, MBE, 1927-2022

25 April 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 23 April 1832 – auction of ‘Cames’ Twelve Acres’, Wembdon; ‘Cree’ in Durleigh and ‘Great South Mead’ in Cannington, with other auctions. Inquest into the suicide of James Mansfield, carpenter. Death of John Kinsey of North Petherton.

24 April 2022: The Spelling of Bridgwater.

18 April 2022: How tall is St Mary’s Church? Postscript added to the notes on the spire.

18 April 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 16 April 1832 – Details from the Bridgwater Borough Sessions, mentions of BOND, NICHOLLS, MATTHEWS, HIGHSTONE and HUNT.

11 April 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 9 April 1832 – Reports on the Taunton Assizes.

4 April 2022: Bridgwater Alfred Monday 2 April 1832 – Reports on the emigration to Quebec from Bridgwater on 29 March. Sailed the EUPHROSYNE with 208 passengers, the MEDUSA with 98 passengers and the CYBELE with 38 passengers. Detailed report of one hopeful emigrant becoming the victim of two con-artists, left drugged and robbed.

28 March 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 26 March 1832 – Comments on the Reform Bill, Convictions, Infirmary Report

21 March 2022: Memories of Selina Bater Lane and Elsie Bater, by Steve Bater, added to ‘the story of three Bridgwater midwives’.

21 March 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 19 March 1832 – A dentist to visit Bridgwater, Wares committeed for assaulting Lee, Snook thowing water over Denner, Poem supplied by C.C.

20 March 2022: Additional notes added to the St Margaret’s School Page.

14 March 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 12 March 1832 – Borough Boundary Changes.

7 March 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 5 March 1832 – Chubb premises on Fore Street/Back Quay to let; inquest of William Gaynor.

28 February 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 27 February 1832 – drapery shop in St Mary Street, house to let in Friarn Place, complaint about traffic in Eastover, letter from a slave plantation overseer.

25 February 2022: The Morganian Vol.25, no.3 July 1949

22 February 2022: Stained Glass in St Mary’s Church

21 February 2022: Bridgwater Alfred 20 February 1832 – Miss Rawlings to leave King’s Square School, Dwelling house for sale by the Fairfield.

21 February 2022: New Bridgwater History book now released Bridgwater Somerset, 1983 to 2004: a working class, left wing, rebellious town? By Dave Chapple. Read more here.

19 February 2022: The Morganian Vol.24, no.2 April 1948

14 February: 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 13 February 1832 – Mostly political editorials. Mr Vale’s book sale ongoing.

12 February 2022: Horsey Chapel, near Bridgwater by A.H. Powell, 1906

11 February 2022: A Lost Church of St Bridgit?

7 February 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, 6 February 1832 – Mrs Comer brings new dances from London; another ship, the Cybele, due for Quebec; reward offered for the apprehension of Francis Wride for blasting a gun through people’s windows.

5 February 2022: Houses Surrounding St Mary’s Churchyard, described in 1779

3 February 2022: Bridgwater Alfred 30 January 1832 – J.Vale antiquarian bookdealer to visit Bridgwater, reflections on the execution of the Bristol Rioters.

30 January 2022: Halesleigh Tower: The Quantock Gateway

27 January 2022: From old wives’ tales to modern midwives: the story of three Bridgwater midwives, kindly supplied by Clare Spicer, Hilary Southall and Jill Trethewey

26 January 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 23 January 1832 – accounts of the Bridgwater and North Somerset Savings Bank, bankruptcy sale of the property of Mr James Fisher, grocer.

15 January 2022: Bridgwater Alfred 9 January 1832, featuring notes on the Bridgwater Quarter Sessions, and Bridgwater Alfred 16 January 1832, featuring an advert for the sailing of the Euphrosyne to Canada.

14 January 2022: The Morganian, July 1947

7 January 2022: Our Ancient Meeting House: Some Account of the Fabric of Christ Church, Dampiet Street, Bridgwater, by Clement Edwards Pike, about 1911.

3 January 2022: Bridgwater Alfred, Monday 2 January 1832 – features a report of a special session of the Justices of the borough and parish for the appointment of special constables.

2021

29 December 2021: Notes on the Blew Anchor, 17 North Street. Also, notes on the South Gate Almshouse.

27 December 2021: Bridgwater Alfred for Monday 26 December 1831 – list of trustees appointed to the Bridgwater Turnpikes, letter and response regarding the laws of nature, science and the existence of a Creator.

19 December 2021: Bridgwater Alfred for 12 December 1831 – mostly political editorials – small report on court decisions, and 19 December 1831 – editorial attach on the ‘Bridgwater Political Union for Promotion Freedom of Election’.

18 December 2021: Additional materials relating to Bridgwater Coronation Celebrations.

8 December 2021: Materials relating to the Docks in the Blake Museum, also see our new Bridgwater Ships page.

5 December 2021: School Photograph of Dr Morgan’s School, May 1947. Part of the Russ Collection.

4 December 2021: Bridgwater Alfred Monday 5 December 1831 – Further news on the subscription – £50 allocated to buy blankets and rugs for the poor. Notice for householders to improve their drains. Political editorial attacking Unitarian schoolmasters. Death of a poor Irishman called McCarthy returning from Rio de Janeiro on his way to Bristol to sail to Ireland.

29 November 2021: Various resources relating to John Chubb (1746-1818), including manuscript and letter transcriptions & a sketch family biography.

26 November 2021: Bertha, the docks dredger, and George Watkins on the Telescopic Bridge.

25 November 2021: Bridgwater Alfred 28 November 1831.

25 November 2021: Gallant Little Ships of the Past The Bridgwater Coasters by W.A. Sharman
1934

23 November 2021: Danger on the River Parrett 1840-1860, kindly supplied by Jillian Trethewey, Hilary Southall and Clare Spicer

21 November 2021: The Irene of Brigwater

21 November 2021: Robin Hood of Bridgwater

2 November 2021: Festival of Remembrance November 1936 kindly supplied by Cerrie Williams

30 October 2021: Photographs of the dramatic fire of August 1973 at the Bowerings Mill, kindly supplied by Brian Hunt, with additional notes, added to the Oil and Cake Mill Page.

22 October 2021: Durleigh, by Rev. Edward H. Smith

13 October 2021: Bridgwater Alfred, 21 November 1831

5 October 2021: Bridgwater Alfred, 14 November 1831. Includes a mention of a meeting for Cholera precautions

22 September 2021: Bridgwater Alfred, 7 November 1831

21 September 2021: Is killing in an union workhouse criminal, if sanctioned by the Poor Law Commissioners? by John Bowen, 1839

19 September 2021: Bridgwater Alfred, 31 October, 1831

8 September 2021: Bridgwater Alfred, 24 October, 1831

7 September 2021: New pictures and additional notes added to The Telescopic Bridge research page. Images kindly supplied by Jon Gridley.

31 August 2021: Bridgwater Alfred, 17 October 1831

29 August 2021: Bridgwater Alfred, 10 October 1831

15 August 2021: Notes on St Margaret’s School, Northfields

15 August 2021: Bridgwater Alfred, 3 October 1831

31 July 2021: St Mary’s church and the Bridgwater newspapers 1868-1879

31 July 2021: To the Independent Electors of Bridgwater, 1818

30 July 2021: The Stained Glass of St Mary’s Church, Bridgwater

26 July 2021: Draft List of the Streets of Bridgwater and the Names

17 July 2021: The Bristol Road Cemetery, 1878

17 July 2021: The Ship and Castle Inn, West Quay (later, the Watergate Hotel)

17 July 2021: Bridgwater Castle in The Topographer, May 1790, Volume 2, number 5

15 July 2021: St Marys in the Bridgwater Newspapers, 1846-1856

13 July 2021: The Bridgwater Alfred, 26 September 1831

12 July 2021: St Mary’s Church in the Bridgwater Newspapers 1831-1833

12 July 2021: The Symbolism of St Mary’s Descent from the Cross

3 July 2021: Members of the Lords Committee of enquiry of 1838 into the 1834 Poor Law Act

3 July 2021: Opening of the YMCA, Friarn Avenue, Thursday 20 November 1969

3 July 2021: The Bridgwater Alfred, 17 September 1831

26 June 2021: A Timeline of the Bridgwater Infirmary

15 June 2021: The Bridgwater Alfred, 12 September 1831.

14 June 2021: The Northgate Union Workhouse

6 June 2021: The Bridgwater Alfred, 5 September 1831.

28 May 2021: John Angel’s War Memorials, kindly supplied by David Baker

25 May 2021: The Bridgwater Alfred, 29 August 1831.

24 May 2021: John Bowen’s The Reform Poor Law; with some account of its working in the Bridgwater Union, 1837

22 May 2021: The Bridgwater Alfred, 22 August 1831.

12 May 2021: The Bridgwater Alfred, 15 August 1831.

11 May 2021: The Bridgwater Alfred, 10 August 1831.

10 May 2021: John Bowen’s Letter to His Late Majesty; containing a refutation of some of the charges preferred against the poor 1835

28 April 2021: Facts Connected with the Medical Relief of the Poor in the Bridgwater Union, 13 November 1837

26 April 2021: Transcripts of all 19 days’ hearings of the House of Lords Select Committee on the working of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act in Bridgwater, 1838

21 April 2021: John Bowen’s biography of William Baker, 1854

19 April 2021: Parishes in the Bridgwater Poor Law Union

12 April 2021: John Bowen’s The Union Work-House and Board of Guardians System, 1842

30 March 2021: General Index to the Bridgwater Poor-Law Union evidence to the Lords select Committee of 1838 concerning the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act.

29 March 2021: Blacklands

28 March 2021: Introduction, List of Witnesses and List of Poor Law Districts Bridgwater Poor-Law Union evidence to the Lords select Committee of 1838.

28 March 2021: In Commemoration of Admiral Robert Blake, June 1956

21 March 2021: The ‘Old Armoury’, Unitarian Schoolroom and Burial Ground, Friarn Street

7 March 2021: Full transcriptions of Bowen’s Twelve Letters concerning the Poor Law in Bridgwater, 1837-8

28 February 2021: Summary Investigation of the Sion Chapel site from 2008 by kind permission of Bill Moffat

26 February 2021: Notes on the direction of Dr Morgan’s School, 1860

26 February 2021: The opening of the United Methodist Chapel, Monmouth Street

23 February 2021: Introduction to Bowen’s Twelve Letters to the Times about Poor Law Reform

22 February 2021: The West Street School and the Ragged School, kindly supplied by Clare Spicer

14 February 2021: The Opening of Westfield House, 1965

5 February 2021: Notes on the Lower Bath Road Market

4 January 2021: List of pew sittings in St. Mary’s Church, Bridgwater, compiled by John Bowen, 1830

2020

30 December 2020: The belfry chimes of St Mary’s Chuch

28 December 2020: John Chubb, a friend of Coleridge, by Berta Lawrence

13 December 2020: T.H. Hair’s High Cross and Old Bridge Illustrations

6 December 2020: Coronation Celebrations in Bridgwater

5 December 2020: Forgotten Soldiers of the First World War

22 November 2020: The Cole/Anstice Clock

10 November 2020: John Chubb and Music

2 November 2020: Penlea House

25 October 2020: The Russian Cannon

25 October 2020: Mary Chubb: A Forbear and his Hobby

24 October 2020: The Cockmoyle Prison and Bow Lane

21 October 2020: Bridgwater Poets now added to Bridgwater Heritage main menu.

25 September 2020: St Mary’s Church Rood Screen

22 September 2020: The Missing Masonic Memorial

20 September 2020: The Swan Inn

30 August 2020: The Organs of St Mary’s Church 1448-Now

30 August 2020: Bailey’s Directory, 1784 and Universal British Directory 1791-8

16 August 2020: George Cass, Bookbinder

3 August 2020: Picture of St Mary’s Choir, 1920.

23 July 2020: Bridgwater in the Later Days added to Rev. Powell’s research page

5 July 2020: The Technics of Coal-Gas Manufacture

28 June 2020: The Process of Rope Making

27 June 2020: John Creedy, a Prisoner of His Times kindly supplied by Clare Spicer

18 June 2020: A Reference Index to Bridgwater History

10 June 2020: The Bridgwater Wire Rope Works kindly supplied by Paul Berryman

7 June 2020: George Parker’s Ancient History of Bridgwater

30 May 2020: A High Street Plague Pit?

30 May 2020: The Oldmixon Tomb

26 May 2020: Brickmaking in 1852

21 May 2020: The Last Burial in St Mary’s, 1866

16 May 2020: The White Horse Inn, Penel Orlieu

15 May 2020: The Lamb Inn, High Street

13 May 2020: The King Street Wesleyan Chapel

13 May 2020: New Website Begun. Visit the old here.