This page, surveying all the street names of Bridgwater is a work in progress drafted through Spring and Summer 2021. There are lots of gaps in terms of dates and meanings, if you can help, have spotted and error or an omission, please get in contact and let us know.
Update March 2022: We’re currently in the process of adding in the Victorian Courts and Terraces. If you have any leads we’ll be keen to hear from you, and help would be especially appreciated trawling through the various Census, for alternative names of Streets and Courts. Full credit is always given for assistance. We would also appreciate help with the names in Chilton Trinity.
The Street Names of Bridgwater
Town Centre street names are largely medieval in origin, developing over centuries, usually from blunt descriptions and after people who lived there. Names were not officially given, but developed over time through common usage. Only in the nineteenth century did the Borough Council start to organise and formalise existing names. The naming of new streets from the Victorian expansion into the twentieth century would had have been the responsibility of the Borough Surveyor and the Town Councillors. Following the implementation of Local Government Act 1972 in March 1974, Bridgwater Borough Council was abolished, and Charter Trustees were created, drawn from the sixteen councillors elected to Sedgemoor District Council in Somerset, represented the borough wards, who maintained the continuity of the town’s legal status until such time as a parish or town council was established. Duties were limited to ceremonial activities. In Bridgwater’s case this extended to being responsible for the Town’s charters, muniments and historic silver. This evidently included being involved in the choice of street names.
The formation of the Bridgwater Town Council in 2003 meant the responsibilities for the charters, muniments and silver and later the town museum passed to it, but evidently did not extend to consultation on names. Currently names are granted at the whim of the District Council, or seem to be primarily developer-led, some of which are of doubtful quality and rarely of local relevance (Northgate ‘Yard’, for example, having been selected as being trendy, rather than having any relevance to the site; there has also been a modern fashion of using anodyne street names of birds, cows and trees, for example). Often these rootless names occupy the sites of more interesting fieldnames, and where appropriate these have been indicated.
As a general rule of thumb, new developments would be best to take the name of the fields, areas or site they were built over (so long as they have names, rather than blunt descriptions, such as ‘five acres’), data which can easily be found using the Tithe Map information in the map section of the Somerset HER.
At the bottom of this list are a number of notable omissions and suggestions for future names, relevant to the history of Bridgwater. It should be noted, for example, that very few streets are named in honour of women.
* This mark indicates one of the streets of the original medieval town and major routeways out of it.
+ This mark indicates a place outwith Bridgwater, to be added to a separate page down the line.
Can you help fill in some of the missing information here? If so please get in contact.
See bottom of page for Reference Abbreviations
The approximate scope of the project includes the major core and urban sprawl of Bridgwater Town, bounded as (clockwise): the new Little Sydenham Estate; Horsey; the outline of the M5 Motorway up to the Huntworth Junction, the new Stockmore and Willstock Estates; accross to Durleigh village, up to the meeting of Quantock Road and Sandford, then Wembdon Parish to Perry; finally to the edge of Chilton Estate. We hope to include Chilton Trinity and Huntworth in future updates.
Notable Name Omissions in the Street Names of Bridgwater
William Baker, noted local natural historian.
William Brewer/Briwere, founder of Bridgwater
Arthur Alfred Burrington – artist, friend of Monet.
John Chubb – artist, mayor and campaigner against the slave trade.
Thomas Bruce Dilks – notable Bridgwater historian, who worked tirelessly to promote the town’s history
Sydney Gardnor Jarman – notable Bridgwater historian
Jonathan Toogood – notable Bridgwater physician
Notable Bridgwater-Associated Women for Street Names
Sara Blake – mother of the famous admiral.
Maud de Braose, Baroness Mortimer – notable medieval woman, important in the second Barons’ War and owner of the Lordship of Bridgwater
Josaphine Clofullia – internationally famous bearded lady, who died in Bridgwater and was buried in a pauper’s grave.
Emelotte – widow of Robert Dod, possibly the first recorded woman living in Bridgwater c.1260s, who owned a market stall.
Saint Katherine – had an altar in St Mary’s Church before the Reformation.
Juliane/Juliana Mauger – the first recorded woman, positively dated (6 February 1268) living in Bridgwater, who gave land to the Chantry of the Blessed Virgin Mary in St Mary’s Church.
Isolda Parewastel, medieval holy woman.
Fanny Talbot – donated the first property to the National Trust.
Beatrice de Vaux – wife of William Brewer, who founded Bridgwater.
Christabella Wyndham, the wife of Col Wyndham, Royalist Governor of Bridgwater Castle in the Civil War. She was wet-nurse to Charles II. Legend suggests she took a pot shot at Oliver Cromwell during negotiations in the siege, killing a cornet by his side. (check Oldmixon for the story)
BBA: Thomas Bruce Dilks, Bridgwater Borough Archives, 4 vols – document numbers listed below.
Blake 2: Bridgwater: the Second Selection: compiled from the collections at Blake Museum (2001)
BM: Bridgwater Mercury
Ekwall: Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Placenames, fourth edition (Oxford, 1960)
Locke: Will Locke, Times Remembered of Bridgwater in the 1920s and 1930s. (1983)
Metford: Isabella Metford’s unpublished annotations in Jarman’s History of Bridgwater (1889), in posession of the Bridgwater Heritage Group.
MS: Pers Comm, Mike Searle, hon. curator, the Blake Museum.
Pidoux: I.G. Pidoux, St john the Baptist Bridgwater 1840-1962: Pictures from the Past (2000)
Squibbs: Phillip J. Squibbs, Squibbs’ History of Bridgwater (1982)
Stafford: Eric Stafford, Brick upon Brick 1944-1994: the first fifty years of the South West Co-Operative Housing Society Ltd (1994)
TAM: Tithe Apportionment map.
VCH: A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1992
David Williams, Bridgwater Inns Past & Present (1997)
Wembdon: MKP, Wembdon: Church, Village and Parish (2017)
MKP Spring/Summer 2021