Visit the village that people never want leave
- Credit: Martin Jones
Martin King has lived in West Bagborough all his life and he understands why people want to make the village their home
‘This is the most beautiful place you can dream of,’ says Martin.
Tucked on the western edge of the Quantock Hills and with far-reaching views across the vale of Taunton Deane to the Blackdown Hills, this rural village is only 20 minutes from Taunton. Although many residents commute from home, it still retains a strong sense of community.
'This is a friendly and kind village,' says Martin. At one time, many villagers worked at nearby Triscombe quarry. ‘As a boy, my grandfather used to take a horse and cart to the quarry to get stone for the village roads,’ Martin continues.
There used to be a shop and school and there was even a tailor’s shop, recalls Martin. West Bagborough still has its 16th century pub, The Rising Sun, which has enjoyed an excellent reputation, and now has new owners, Paul and Michelle Fabian, who are excited about opening as soon as government restrictions allow.
It also has a mini ‘industrial estate’ where, much to the delight of passing dog walkers, wafts of lavender essential oil float across from one of its units. Ben Bryant of Boo Cottage Botanicals enjoys a view across fields to the hills from his workshop window.
‘It’s an industrial estate by name, but not by appearance,’ he points out. Ben and his wife Nichola, who make natural, plant-based beauty products, live a short distance away but treasure the scenery on their drive to work. ‘Dropping down Lydeard Hill, we see the views across the vale and it’s absolutely perfect.’
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They run workshops, including some at the village hall. ‘People come from Kent, London, the Cotswolds and South Wales and they are always so blown away by the location and setting.’
Popham Hall is the community venue at the heart of the village, where activities range from quiz nights and coffee mornings to concerts. It also hosts talks organised by the much-loved Gardening Club, whose success is no doubt helped by having Triscombe Nurseries in the parish, a family-run business which has been growing and selling plants since the 1950s.
The history of West Bagborough has entranced resident Wizz Appleton, who moved to the village 25 years ago. She runs her food business, Plum Duff & Stuff (famed in particular for its Christmas puddings), from her home, which was at one time the laundry for the local manor, Bagborough House. It was also part of the King Estate – G W King being linked to the quarry and well-known for his collection of steam engines.
Wizz loves to regale stories she’s heard, including war-time snippets that involve Home Guard drills in her back garden and US soldiers camping out in the nearby woods.
A village institution is the 111-year-old cricket club. ‘It’s one of the most picturesque grounds in Somerset,’ declares Martin, and has a first team and two youth squads.
West Bagborough is home to the Quantock Staghounds and it’s a destination for general horse-riding. Quantock Trekking is situated in the heart of the village and offers both riding trails and accommodation.
The village is a haven for those on foot too, says Jenny Taylor, who retired to West Bagborough with her husband Stafford five years ago. The village stretches up a hill, and one of its loveliest features are the little rivulets that flow off the hills and run down past buildings and fields to bigger streams in the valley.
‘We have lots of footpaths and you can walk up onto the Quantock Hills - the air is so fresh here.’
Martin feels that West Bagborough has as strong a sense of community as it had 30 years ago. ‘For a little community, it is marvellous what people put in. I consider myself honoured to have lived here all my life.’
The parish church
The parish church of St Pancras is situated on the hill, alongside Bagborough House.
Its features include lovely stained glass, a 200-year-old organ and it’s noted for being beautifully decorated in the 1920s by the architect Sir Ninian Comper.
The church’s separation from the main village was apparently due to the Black Death, which caused devastation in the 14th century and led to the survivors abandoning the original settlement and re-building away from the church.
St Pancras whas been awarded a £25,000 lifeline grant from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund to make essential repairs to its leaking roof. Water had been seeping through, damaging the timber structure and 200-year-old masonry.
358 (2011 census)
Where to stay
West Bagborough is well-served for places to stay. Bashfords Farmhouse offers bed and breakfast accommodation in a 17th century farmhouse in the centre of the village.
Opposite the pub is the tiny bolthole for one or two, Dibbles Den, available on Airbnb and there are luxury self-catering cottages and shepherd’s huts at Tilbury Farm.
Rock Farm and Foxcombe Lodge cater for large groups.
Did you know?
A metal detectorist discovered a hoard of Roman coins at West Bagborough in 2001. The find included 670 coins and 72 pieces of hack silver.