Axbridge News: update on the Oakhouse Hotel in Axbridge following issues over it’s apparent closure and attempts to book it for weddings


 FEB 12, 2024

By Harry Mottram: In the last few weeks there have been a number of comments online on various social media platforms about problems booking rooms and events such as weddings at the Oakhouse Hotel in Axbridge.

Residents know it has not been open on a regular basis for some weeks although there have been occasional wedding receptions. Various rumours have circulated about it being in administration, being up for sale along with a plan to mothball it until trade picks up.

Readers may recognise this pervious owner Charles Donovan of the restaurant – back in the day when he ran it with Nick Barrington – info from Susan Forsdyke-Bishop

The hotel is not up for sale as the owner Steve Jenkins has made plain on the Axbridge Community FaceBook site. He wrote: “Hi all, I own the building and confirm there are no plans to sell the Oakhouse. However, the current tenants have clearly decided to close the business, from what I can tell, indefinitely. I am working on resolving the situation asap and am hopeful the hotel and bar will re-open in Spring. I suggest anyone with a booking reach out to the email addresses and any mobile numbers they currently have for the existing tenants. Unfortunately, I cannot help with this, as I have no legal authority to influence any business decisions in relation to the hotel company nor share its data. This is the responsibility of the tenants and directors. I assure you I feel as passionately about the the Oakhouse as anyone does and will update you further in due course.”

The hotel in the 1970s

A look on the Government’s Companies House website that lists all limited companies and gives details shows that at the moment it is not in administration – information that is in the public domain.

There have been a number of officers and owners of the hotel over the years but at present they are Luke and Melanie Sturman who it is understood hold a lease. Luke’s correspondence address is in Wareham in Dorset and Melanie’s is at the Oakhouse. A confirmation statement was made on 3rd January this year while Melanie made a change of details to Companies House last summer with an indication she was ‘a person of significant control’.

The Oakhouse even served petrol at one stage in the early 20th century

The Grade II listed building and hotel has had a number of transformations over the years – originally constructed as two houses and in the early 20th century it was for a time a petrol station. It dates back to (according to most sources) to the 11th century – but only in parts such as a fireplace and the well – one of the hotel’s most interesting features. However, the property was rebuilt and much of the building dates from the 17th and 18th centuries with later modernisations.

To echo Steve Jenkins’ comments – we all hope the hotel and restaurant will reopen soon as it is one of the town’s finest buildings set in a wonderful location and part of Axbridge’s business community.

Axbridge News is edited by Harry Mottram and is published for the interest of himself and fellow residents.

Harry is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc


Axbridge News: remembering Johdi Russell with the annual Purple Ball that raises awareness of sudden death from epilepsy with SUDEP Action


 JAN 14, 2024

By Harry Mottram: The Purple Ball commemorates the life of Johdi Russell from Cheddar – organised by her family and friends – and raises cash for SUDEP Action – the charity dedicated to raising awareness of epilepsy risks and tackling epilepsy deaths including Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy.

Johdi Russell was just 17 when she suddenly died in October 2017. In a BBC article by Emma Elgee written at the time Johdi’s mum Tanya said: “Johdi was amazing and absolutely hilarious, she was one of those girls who always went above and beyond for people. I always describe her as like sunshine on a rainy day.”

Emma wrote: “Since then Mrs Russell, who also has epilepsy, has campaigned to change processes in hospitals and GP surgeries to make sure families with children with epilepsy are informed about SUDEP. She also hosts a yearly ball to raise money for SUDEP charities and support other bereaved families.”

SUDEP is a rare condition which affects around one in every 1,000 adults with epilepsy each year. According to SUDEP Action, the cause of SUDEP is not yet known, with researchers investigating a range of possibilities such as the effect of seizures on breathing and the heart.

Their services include bereavement support, counselling, help with understanding the inquest process and in collaboration with UK research teams, the involvement of bereaved families and professionals in research through the Epilepsy Deaths Register. See

The Purple Ball is an impressive event raising thousands of pounds for SUDEP Action – and features a three course meal, music, dancing, entertainment, a raffle – and above all a great night out. This year the event is on Saturday, October 5th, 2024, at the Winter Gardens in Weston-super-Mare. Tickets are now available – scan the QR code on the poster or visit

If you have been affected by an epilepsy death, please contact our support team on 01235 772852. Visit for more information and see Johdi’s story at

To read Emma’s article see


Axbridge News: Axbridge Progressive Supper donates £500 to the Cheddar Foodbank, Axe Valley Men’s Shed and the Axbridge Blackberry Carnival

From left: Margaret Cowie of the Axbridge Progressive Supper, Barbara Wells of the Axbridge Action Committee and Penny Cooke of the Cheddar Food Bank

By Harry Mottram: Last year’s Axbridge Progressive Supper raised £1,542 in a combination of the tickets for the starters, mains and sweets plus the raffle organised by Margaret Cowie. As a result the committee of Kirsty Edwards, Zoe Hebden, Margaret Cowie, Sarah Boundy and Harry Mottram have been able to award £500 each to three local charities: Cheddar Food Bank, Axbridge Carnival and the Axe Valley Men’s Shed. The charity supper is under the umbrella of the Axbridge Action Committee – with the £42 being held over to the next progressive supper which is on Saturday 30th November 2024.

Representatives of all three charities were on hand for photographs to mark the donations on Saturday, 3rd February 2024, during the monthly Farmers’ Market in Axbridge Square. The Annual Progressive Supper has raised cash for local charities for the last four or more decades with all the cash going to the chosen charities and is a voluntary run event with all the cash going to charities. New people are always welcome to join the committee (please email to join – it’s a lot of fun and you get to meet lots of new people). In already in 2024 new members Barbara Wells and Anna Dawson have joined.

Barbara Wells and Margaret Cowie with the chaps from Axe Valley Men’s Shed – from left Mark Parnell, Roger Cowie, Andy Laken, George Marshall, Mike Belch, Frank Ferguson and Clive Jenkins 

Axe Valley Mens’ Shed is a registered charity and member of the UK Men’s Sheds Association. If you want to help support their work to improve the mental health and wellbeing of local men and the restoration of the former Axbridge Railway Station as their new HQ, then please make a donation on our GoFundMe page. For details visit

From left: Margaret Cowie of the Axbridge Progressive Supper, Barbara Wells of the Axbridge Action Committee and Penny Cooke of the Cheddar Food Bank

Cheddar Food Bank is a part of the Trussell Trust, the charity that works to end the need for food banks in the United Kingdom. It “is based on, shaped, and guided by Christian principles” and supports a network of over 1,200 food bank centres to provide emergency food and compassionate, practical support to people in crisis, while campaigning for long-term change to the structural issues that lock people into poverty. It is located at Unit 8, Wessex Business Centre, Cheddar BS27 3EJ. To enquire about how to obtain a food parcel, or to make a food donation, please contact the foodbank by phone on 07922 309369, or by email at For more details and to help or donate visit

Margaret Cowie, Anna Dawson and Barbara Wells of the Progressive Supper with Di Owen, George Marshall, Karen Healey and

Axbridge Carnival Committee organise the Annual Blackberry Carnival in September which coincides with Blackberry Fun Fair in the Square. It takes a lot of work to put on this popular and long running community event so they are always in need of extra hands, donations and sponsors. In recent years there has been increased rules over carnival events which increase the costs of running Axbridge’s family event – hence the need to fundraise. Their Face Book page is at

The Axbridge Progressive Supper is held every year near the end of November or the beginning of December and features three courses chosen by diners out of a hat – so they have no idea where they will sit down for their three courses – each in a different location. For details visit the Face Book page at

The next progressive supper is on Saturday 30th November 2024.


Axbridge Review: it’s official – the next Axbridge Pageant is set for 2029 to mark the 800th anniversary of the town’s Plantagenet charter – so mark your diaries

By Harry Mottram: To celebrate the awarding of the town’s 13th century charter, the next Axbridge Pageant slated for 2030 has been brought forward by 12 months by the Axbridge Pageant Trust to 2029. The new date will see the huge community play held in the town square staged over the August bank holiday weekend of Saturday-Monday, August 25-27, 2029, daily at 3pm.

In 1229 a charter granted by King Henry III (800 years before 2029) freed Axbridge traders from tolls and recognised the town as an important market centre in the county. Wool had become one of the town’s wealth generating industries as sheep on the Mendips became big business. Guilds were established to protect the commerce in Axbridge making it a centre for the lucrative trade and for the Crown a vital source of taxation and revenue. It is also the 750th anniversary of the charter granted by Edward I in 1279 allowing Axbridge to hold a fair.

The Axbridge Pageant Trust and the town crier Nigel Scott said it was important to mark the year as the charters gave the town an independence and a prosperity which began the process of leaving behind the constraints of medieval England.

Nigel Scott said: “The pageant has come to define the town since its inception in 1967 when the history play was created in the town square to celebrate the opening of the bypass which freed the narrow streets from through traffic. From that humble beginning the pageant has become globally famous with live streaming on social media, plus television and radio coverage, the subject of a social research project by universities and its cast of hundreds of local people. It was repeated in 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 and again in 2022 – having been put back two years by the Covid crisis. People travel from around the world to see the three-day event complete with associated live music concerts – and so it seems appropriate to mark the 800th anniversary of the Plantagenet charter.”

The pageant trustees said more details will be announced in the coming months but asked residents and fans of the pageant to mark their diaries for August Saturday-Monday, 25-27, 2029.

Photo: Nigel Carson


Axbridge Review: the annual carnival proves a success with fine weather, large crowds and of course… Barbie and Ken

By Harry Mottram: The annual Axbridge Blackberry Carnival was a huge success on Saturday 23rd September, 2023, and was blessed with fine weather. Large crowds lined the route and with plenty of entries the procession passed through the Square packed as usual with the rides of the fun fair.

The organisers said: “Thank you to everyone who took part and to those who volunteered to marshal the route – with who we could not hold the carnival. Once again Axbridge came good to make the carnival a wonderful family event. And everyone who put an entry in is a winner in our eyes. The creativity and originality of the entries never ceases to amaze us – so thankyou to everyone involved and to those who spend so much time making the costumes and dressing the floats.

“The wonderful Carnival Queen and Princesses (and their parents), the Town Crier and the Mayors who very kindly open the carnival for us. Thanks to the amazing people in the community who help us with moving planters and street furniture, putting out road signs and traffic cones and clearing the decks for the big day. Plus, the wonderful people who put on their high vis to become stewards on the day to help us to keep everyone safe and photographer Toby. And the brilliant first aiders, the traffic marshals, the clean-up crew who put everything back to how it was. Thanks to the local council and traffic management for keeping us on track health and safety wise – the Post office staff who help us hand out entry forms and risk assessments, plus the local pubs, cafes and Coop for keeping us fed and watered.

“Also thanks to the Judges who give up their time on the day, and Ben who provides us with the PA, Harry for providing us with lots of publicity, Vick’s Mum for doing the posies, and Toby and Stellan for being our official photographers for the day. And not forgetting the lovely fairground team who come to Axbridge every year to add to the fun and excitement of Carnival Day.

“Our Chairman Robin Mace who oversees everything and keeps us on the straight and narrow. Mel and Sophie who smash the procession organisation, Vicky who smashes the town hall proceedings and Di Owen who holds us all together. And a very special mention to our newest committee member who only joined us about three months ago but has had no choice but to hit the ground running and has got us all organised and on track – not always an easy task and we couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you Karen!”

A funding appeal has been launched to raise cash to pay for next year’s carnival – to donate go to Just Giving and search for Axbridge Carnival. With increased paperwork and costs from the County Council it is a huge task for the small group of people on the carnival committee to ensure the event continues with a target of £5,000.

The procession was led by the civic party known as ‘the chain gang’ with the Axbridge Mayor Councillor Frankie Mitton, the town councillors, the mace bearer, town crier Nigel Scottand, the bailiff plus mayors and civic leaders across the county who accompanied them.

The results for Axbridge Blackberry Carnival 2023 are: Overall Winner, Barbie and Ken; Wackiest Entry, Barbie and Ken; Best Entry on Wheels, Thunderbird; Walking Juniors, 1st place – Rhythm Fever, 2nd place – Saxons Supporters Club; Open Walking, 1st place – Surfers against Sewage, 2nd place – The Government Inspector, 3rd place – Frolicking Fairies; Junior Trailers, 1st place – Hakuna Matata, 2nd place – Buzzing Brownies; Open Trailed, 1st Axbridge Harvest Home; Best Dressed Driver, Liz Scott.

The Castle Cary Majorettes known as the Cygnets also provided a spectacular aspect to the procession, plus there were some colourful entries that raised a smile including George Tyte’s tractor pulling the Harvest Home float, the Carnival Queen and her princesses, the Only Fools and Horses entry with a three-wheeler, several classic cars and motorcycles, chopper 70s cycles and of course the many walking entries including the Adams Family, witches and Laurel and Hardy – featuring the former mayor Edith Channon.

The Axbridge Blackberry Carnival has a long history and has seen a revival in recent years with more entries, large crowds and rain-free passes from the weather gods. There is plenty more on their Facebook site – but they always need more help in organising and of course fundraising. Without the work of the likes of Bev Davies in the past ant Di Owen, Andy Corp, the Caple family, Cath Frith the chairman Robin Mace, and many more – it would not happen – so do lend a hand – or at least visit the Just Giving site and chip in a few quid.

Next year’s carnival is slated for Saturday 21st September, 2024, although the date is to be confirmed.


Axbridge Review: a report on the Swiss Air Disaster 50th Anniversary Memorial Service at St John The Baptist Parish Church on April 10, 2023

By Harry Mottram: A packed church with standing room only for the 50th Anniversary Memorial commemoration for the Swiss Air Disaster witnessed a dignified and reflective service led by the Reverend Ken Brown.

On April 10th, 1973, the Invicta International Airlines Flight 435 flight from Bristol Lulsgate (as it was known then) crashed into a forested and snow-covered hillside near Hochwald, Switzerland, while on its way to Basel-Mulhouse Airport. It had onboard 139 passengers and six crew members with a large portion of the passengers from Axbridge, Cheddar, Winscombe, Wrington, Yatton and Congresbury. Only 37 people survived with many suffering injuries while 108 died. The passengers included members of the Axbridge Ladies Guild, women from the Cheddar Mums’ Night Out group, skittles players from Wrington and Congresbury, plus friends and relatives.

The service was introduced by the former Vicar of Axbridge Ken Brown who welcomed the congregation with these words: “It is appropriate we remember those who died and for those who survived today.” His brief reminder of why the service was held was followed by the hymn O God, our help in ages past.

The Mayor of Axbridge and town councillor Pauline Ham spoke (at times with emotion in her voice) about the way the disaster had socially ‘impacted on Axbridge and the surrounding villages.’ She said: “It was supposed to be a happy day out but in fact turned to a tragedy when the aircraft crashed. Many children were left motherless, and husbands left without their wives. Only 39 survivors came home and some of them had a sense of guilt having survived but they were welcomed back. Local businesses, local people and social groups came forward to give them their support. Many were buried here in Abridge which serves as an important memorial to those who died.”

Soloist musician Bob Foster then played on his clarinet Pie Jesu (Pious Jesus) by Andrew Llyod Webber in what was a haunting and evocative performance – with many in the audience clearly moved. The hymn Judge eternal throne in splendour followed with the former mayor and current town councillor Mike Taylor reading Psalm 23 the Psalm of David, The Lord is my Shepherd, with the lines, ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.’

The Rev Ken Brown then addressed the congregation saying that despite the tragedy that some good had come out of the disaster by creating a greater sense of community in the town. The hymn Guide me, O thou great Jehovah followed with the famous lines Bread of heaven, feed me now and evermore, sung with a gathering volume by the family, friends, relatives, survivors and those like me who are new to the town but can vividly remember the disaster.

To give a sense of the magnitude of the affect the plane crash had on the collective national conscience you need to consider the way the Aberfan coal tip disaster or the Grenfell fire tragedy has had on people across the country and the world. As the Rev Ken Brown said the scars of 50 years ago are still raw but we need to keep the story alive and not let the memories fade so future generations can understand what happened.

Almost every family in the town knew someone who had died or was injured 50 years ago as well as those in Westbury-sub-Mendip, Claverham, Draycott, Uphill, Redhill, Wedmore, Weston-super-Mare and Bristol. The combination of young women and a wide catchment area of the passengers have led to the tragedy being so personal to those in Somerset in particular.

Cllr and Mayor Pauline Ham then unveiled a brass plaque memorial erected by the Axbridge PCC and the Town Council at the rear of the church to mark the anniversary. The words engraved included: “Many who died were members and friends of the Axbridge Ladies Guild with others from surrounding villages. Some are buried here in the churchyard.

There was then a touching moment as members of the congregation came forward to light a number of tea-lights or small candles in memory of those who lost their lives. From Axbridge some of the women who died were in their early 20s with several children amongst the dead including a boy of 7. A full if unofficial list of those who died was published by Peter Forrester in his book on the subject Wings over Somerset, with his list on this website

There were also words of comfort from the current priest in charge of the church the Reverend Alistair Forster while the organ was played by John Bodiley. The Lord’s Prayer followed with the final hymn I vow to thee, my country. As the congregation numbering several hundred slowly made their way out a collection was made for a fund to plant a memorial tree while single daffodils were available to lay on the row of graves of the victims in the churchyard. A reception was held in the town hall afterwards for friends and families to further talk and swap memories and news.

On a bright spring day with sunshine and sudden showers it was a moving and beautiful service with a great deal of thought put in by the organisers from the church and town council to ensure the right and authentic notes of remembrance were sounded. A sad day but also a day when the community of the town came together in solidarity for those who died and those who were affected. In good days and bad, Axbridge seems to always to be able to do the right thing.

Note: I’ve tried to quote the speakers but have also paraphrased them in the spirit of their words.

For more details about how and why the accident occurred there is plenty on this Wikipedia page:,108%20people%2C%20with%2037%20survivors.

For more on the church in Axbridge and for a list of the services visit

To join the Friends of Axbridge Church who raise money to protect and restore the 13th century historic building visit


Axbridge News: commemorations to mark 50 years since the Basle Air Disaster that left families in Somerset devastated

By Harry Mottram: For those born since and new comers to the town then it should be remembered that back on 10 April 1973 flying from Bristol Airport the Airlines Flight 435 crashed into the side of a mountain in Switzerland with the loss of 108 lives. Of those killed many came from Axbridge leaving a social scar that affected how the town developed socially in the late 1970s and 1980s.

 Many of the passengers on the charter flight were women, with members of the Axbridge Ladies Guild, as well as women from Cheddar, Winscombe, Congresbury and Yatton. It was supposed to be a shopping trip in the new age of international travel but turned into a disaster as the plane came down in a mountainside near the Swiss town of Basle. With snow falling the pilot became disorientated and after a failed attempt to land the airplane came down in a wood and crashed near the hamlet of Herrenmat about 10 miles from the airport. Those in the rear of the airplane mainly survived as the craft broke up and a major rescue operation got under way sparked by local residents.

The tragedy meant many families in the town no longer had a mother. As funds came in across the UK money was put aside to create a freezer centre in Meadow Street to provide meals for families and also a pre-school for families was set up – one of the first in the country. Much has been written about the tragic events since with TV and radio documentaries with this video giving some information about the tragedy:

A church service is planned on Easter Monday at 11am by the town council and parish church to mark the five decades since the disaster took place.


Axbridge News: crucial meeting in the town hall to hear nominations for the next mayor and deputy mayor – to continue a tradition dating back centuries

By Harry Mottram: Axbridge Town Council will decide on nominations for the next mayor and deputy mayor of the town at their meeting on Monday, March 13th, 2023, in the town hall.

The current mayor and town councillor is Paul Ham who has held the position twice previously and she follows in the footsteps of a long line of mayors and town officials dating back to around 1202 or earlier. Cllr Frankie Mitton is currently the deputy mayor. A Mayor Making ceremony is held in May in the town hall when the new officials are sworn in for a year.

The current position began in 1974 with Jack Todd who had a drapery shop in the High Street. That followed the then Conservative Government’s 1972 Local Government Act which introduced major changes such as introducing two tier levels of local government in Somerset and the abolition of the old urban and rural district councils. This ended Axbridge’s rural district council – which also removed the high status of the town – a position it had held since 1894 and before that due to its corporation and charters. This year Somerset reverts to the single unitary format – undoing some of the Heath Government’s changes to local government.

One of the most famous mayors of the town includes Richard Trew (1793–1874) who over saw many changes in the town in the 19th century including establishing a police station with his own money, building a school and founding the Axbridge Union Workhouse – that often misunderstood institution of part hospital, part orphanage, part social housing, part prison. And he was at hand when the future came to town in the shape of the railway.

A list of the names of recent mayors can be seen in the town hall. The photo is of the ‘chain gang’ on carnival day when various mayors from Somerset take part with our own mayor in the carnival procession.

Other matters to be decided at the meeting include a planning application for a house off Cheddar Road plus there is a chance for the public to speak and raise issues locally.

This is from the clerk:

ON MONDAY 13 MARCH 2023 AT 7.30PM.
Members of the public are welcome to attend.

  1. Apologies for absence – to receive apologies and approve reasons for apologies, if
  2. Minutes of the Council meeting held on 13 February 2023 (available) – to approve as a
    correct record
  3. Declarations of Interest and to consider application(s) for dispensations
  4. Public Participation
  5. Reports from Police, County Councillors and District Councillor(s)
  6. Written reports from members representing outside bodies and attending meetings on
    behalf of the Council
  7. Planning
    7.1 Draft minutes of the Planning and Licences Committee meeting held on 20
    February 2023 (available)
    7.2 Houlgate Way – Revised Plans (Planning Application 02/22/00021/DT) – naming of
    roads and any update
    7.3 Planning Applications
    TO CONSIDER, AS APPROPRIATE (including considering any recommendations from the
    Planning application number: 02/23/00004/AGE
    Proposal: Outline planning permission with some matters reserved, for the erection of 2no.
    self-build dwellings (revised scheme).
    Location: Kattegat, Cheddar Road, Axbridge, Somerset, BS26 2DL
    Please click here to view this planning application on Sedgemoor’s Planning Online website
    Planning application number: 02/23/00006/AGE
    Proposal: Outline planning permission with some matters reserved, for the erection of 1no.
    self-build dwelling.
    Location: Kattegat, Cheddar Road, Axbridge, Somerset, BS26 2DL
    Please click here to view this planning application on Sedgemoor’s Planning Online website
    APPLICATION DOCUMENTS ARE AVAILABLE FOR INSPECTION ONLINE at (click proceed and type in application
  8. Administration and Finance
    8.1 Report of the Group – March 2023 (to follow)
    8.2 Scribe computer system – update on package options and costs
    8.3 Payroll administration – update and any further action
    8.4 Risk Assessment (available)
    8.5 Memorial Plaque – any update
    8.6 Community Table
    8.7 Monthly Financial Report – (to follow)
  9. Highways
    9.1 Report of the Highways Advisory Group – February 2023
    9.2 Demand Responsive Bus Service
    9.3 Highways matters – to report any urgent matters
  10. Cemeteries, Allotments and Open Spaces Advisory Group
    10.1 Report of the Cemetery, Allotments and Open Spaces Group – any update
    10.2 Chestnut Avenue – update on works
    10.3 Open Spaces matters – to report any urgent matters
  11. Leisure and Recreation (to include Changing Rooms)
    11.1 Report of the Leisure and Recreation Group
    11.2 Play Area and Public Conveniences Logs
    11.3 Town Maintenance Report (to follow)
    11.4 Container – Shortlands
    11.5 Changing Room – Plumbing and Heating service/maintenance
  12. Personnel and Protocol
    12.1 Draft minutes of the meeting of the Personnel and Protocol Committee held on 27th
    February 2023 (available)
    12.2 Mayor’s Banquet – 29th April 2023
    12.3 Air Disaster Memorial Service
  13. Strategic Planning Advisory Group
    14.1 Report of the Strategic Planning Advisory Group – March 2023
    14.2 Axbridge Town Council Vision, Mission, Values and Strategic Objectives
    14.3 Old Station building –update and way forward (available)
    14.4 Potential small projects
    16 New Somerset Council – SCC Consultation Notification – Somerset Council Statement
    of Community Involvement
    17 Nomination of Mayor and Deputy Mayor 2023/24
    18 General Correspondence, Consultation and Diary Dates (available) including Food
    Training Champion Opportunity
    19 Town Council Blog – any further items

Axbridge News is edited by Harry Mottram and is published for the interest of himself and fellow residents

Harry is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc

Mobile: 07789 864769


Axbridge News: Friends of King John’s Hunting Lodge announce spring talks including the history of lead mining on the Mendips

 MAR 9, 2023

The Friends of King John’s Hunting Lodge in Axbridge have announced a series of spring talks of interest to residents and those interested in local history in Somerset in general.

The events are:

March 15th – Lead Mining on Mendip. What the Romans & Victorians did for us .

Speaker- Steve Tofts

Venue Cross Memorial Hall at 2 pm  £5 donation to include refreshments

April 19th – The Story of Compton Bishop & Cross- an illustrated history of two interesting villages.

Speaker – Margaret Jordan

Venue – Cross Memorial Hall at 7.30 pm £5 donation to include refreshments

May 17th Peter Wickens Fry – a pioneer photographer from Compton House, Axbridge

Speaker  –  John Page

Venue – Compton House, Axbridge, Somerset

Numbers are limited at this event so please let us know if you are interested in coming along and further details will be sent out nearer the time.

For details of the Friends of King John’s Hunting Lodge and how to join visit

For more on Cross Memorial Hall visit


King’s Wood car park

Axbridge News: work to fell trees hit by ash dieback disease ends at King’s Wood as carpark reopens

By Harry Mottram: Those intrepid folk who venture up to King’s Wood will have noticed the work to fell trees affected by ash dieback disease is seemingly completed. King’s Wood car park and the walking routes through the forest were from closed 23rd January to 3rd March by the National Trust’s contractors while they cut down and removed trees hit by the ash dieback disease.

The Woodland Trust explain on their website: “Ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) is a fungus which originated in Asia. It doesn’t cause much damage on its native hosts of the Manchurian ash (Fraxinus mandshurica) and the Chinese ash (Fraxinus chinensis) in its native range. However, its introduction to Europe about 30 years ago has devastated the European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) because our native ash species did not evolve with the fungus and this means it has no natural defence against it.”

“The fungus overwinters in leaf litter on the ground, particularly on ash leaf stalks. It produces small white fruiting bodies between July and October which release spores into the surrounding atmosphere. These spores can blow tens of miles away. They land on leaves, stick to and then penetrate into the leaf and beyond. The fungus then grows inside the tree, eventually blocking its water transport systems, causing it to die. The tree can fight back, but year-on-year infections will eventually kill it.”

They go on to say the disease will kill 80% of ash trees meaning a major change to the look of the countryside – and the small numbers that are resistance to the disease will take 50 years or more to replace the lost trees.

King’s Wood is considered ancient woodland as it predates 1600 with some trees hundreds of years old. In nearby Slader’s Leigh there is a willow that is dated to 1200 – more than 800 years old. The woods include small-leaved lime, oak, beech, field maple, ash, whitebeam, hazel and guelder rose. In the spring there are bluebells and wild garlic giving off an aroma that heralds summer. Within the 38 acres I’ve seen roe deer, foxes, a badger, squirrels of course and rabbits. So far the Beast of the Mendips has not shown up.

Axbridge News is edited by Harry Mottram and is published for the interest of himself and fellow residents

Harry is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc

Mobile: 07789 864769


The work in Jubilee Road, Axbridge

Axbridge News: gas pipe work in Jubilee Road set to last into March as the network is upgraded in readiness for hydrogen and biomethane

By Harry Mottram: Wales and West Utilities are currently updating gas pipes in Jubilee Road in Axbridge with the work scheduled to last until March 9, 2023.

A set of two way traffic lights have been installed along with ramps and pedestrian diversions.

Residents should have received letters informing them of the work. The utility firm state on their website:

  • You’ll notice signs and safety barriers being set up before we start work.
  • Our colleagues are really friendly, so please ask them if you have any questions.
  • We want to cause as little disruption as possible and so we use the latest technology to help with this.
  • We will put in the hours to get the work done as quickly as possible. 
  • There may be traffic lights which result in delays, but we’ll work hard to keep the traffic flowing and the roads safe. 
  • We try to keep digging to a minimum, but you’ll probably see a few holes in the road or pavement.

In their Twitter feed they said: “We’re ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. Call freephone 0800 912 2999, or contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or” 

The work is replacing old often metal pipes that sometime date back decades or even to the 19th century with plastic ones with new hydrogen-ready pipes, to reduce the amount of natural gas ‘leakage’such as methane natural gas that escapes into the air.

The change is nationwide and first began back in 2002 after the Health and Safety Executive identified a potential safety risk from gas leaks from older gas mains pipes. In Old Church Road in Axbridge there have been numerous leaks over the years – partly caused according to workmen by traffic impacting on the ground above the pipes.

The other reason is gas in the future will change to hydrogen and biomethane which have a much smaller impact on global warming. The nationwide programme will “deliver the world’s first zero carbon gas grid by moving Britain’s gas network infrastructure from delivering methane-based natural gas to zero carbon hydrogen and biomethane.”

There is plenty more information about gas and what is happening with Wales and West Utilities on their website at

Axbridge News is edited by Harry Mottram and is published for the interest of himself and fellow residents

Harry is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc

Mobile: 07789 864769


Amber Hill

Axbridge News: update on Shute Shelve Tunnel on the Strawberry Line from Amber Hill of The Mercury

By Harry Mottram: The Weston Mercury’s Amber Hill has given more details of the lights in Shute Shelve Tunnel in a piece on the newspaper’s website.

She wrote: “The lighting upgrade was carried out by Centregeat on the council’s behalf. This work was funded by Bristol Water as part of planning conditions for when the company used the tunnel as part of their Southern Resilience Scheme.”

She also confirmed that the lights would be switched off at night so as not to disturb the bats that roost in the former railway tunnel.

The lighting is the work or a number of groups. Centregeat is a privately-owned company based in  South Wales and have been supporting critical infrastructure since the 1970s. Their work includes traffic signals, public street lighting and engineering work. Bristol Water who operate Cheddar Reservoir ran their pipe line through the tunnel and have paid for the initial work while North Somerset Council have undertaken maintenance work.

Shute Shelve tunnel is 165 metres long and was designed by Chief Engineer, Francis Fox of the Cheddar Valley and Yatton Railway in 1859 linking Wells to Yatton although the entire line took another ten years to be completely open. It closed to passengers in 1963 and to goods in 1964.

 The north half of the tunnel is brick lined, but about midway it reverts to unlined rock for the southern half, marking a change in the underlying geology from sandstone to limestone. 

Axbridge News is edited by Harry Mottram and is published for the interest of residents

Harry is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc

Mobile: 07789 864769


Axbridge News: updates on the lights in Shute Shelve Tunnel


 FEB 19, 2023

By Harry Mottram: Opened in 1869 and closed in the Beeching cuts of the 1960s the former Cheddar Valley Railway connected Wells to Yatton but is best known today as the Strawberry Line cycle path and walkway. Located between Axbridge and Winscombe is the 165 metre long tunnel which in 2016 was closed for several months while Bristol Water put in a pipeline in the floor of the tunnel. Reopened more than a year later the tunnel now features daytime lighting installed by the utility which has made that part of the cycle path more attractive for families and females in particular.

Independent district North Somerset Cllr James Tonkin who is on the Strawberry Line Management Committee said the lights go off in the evening to protect the habitat of the bats who live there – but he would see if the lights could stay on later into the evening. One of the issues has been child and female safety in the unlit tunnel so having the lights installed has been welcomed.

Cllr Bridget Petty of who represents Backwell for the Green Party said: “I’m Green Party Councillor in North Somerset and have family based in Axbridge. We have walked to the tunnel for years,  since kids were in buggies, and also with my parents. After a local resident raised concerns about the lights being out in the tunnel, I was happy to champion and follow up on trying to help resolve this through my work at the council. This week visiting the strawberry line, it’s fantastic to see the lights up, I’ve seen runners, walkers, families and cyclists all enjoying the route. So great to hear a local mum say ‘it’s amazing’ as pre-schooler cycled through.”

Joe Tristram said: “In my new role as a local Green Party activist I’ve been working with N Somerset Council officer Paul Hillman for nearly a year to pull together the needs of the various user-groups from bats to cyclists. It’s been really pleasing in the last month to see so many people using the tunnel. In its previously unlit state anyone who did use it went through quickly and with some trepidation. I especially enjoy seeing families with young children on their bikes and scooters, completely relaxed in a place they couldn’t use before.”

Bristol Water’s pipeline was part of their £27 million Southern Resilience Scheme which saw pipes running from Somerset to North Somerset to ensure continued water supply.


Axbridge News: Annual Assembly set for Monday, March 6th, 2023, when the town’s organisations give their presentations

 FEB 21, 2023

By Harry Mottram: Axbridge Town Council has announced that the town’s Annual Assembly meeting is to be held on Monday 6th March 2023 at 8pm in Axbridge Town Hall.

The annual meeting is open to all residents of Axbridge and involves the presentation of reports from the Town Council, the County Councillor, the District Councillor, the Police, and the School Governor. It also gives the opportunity for local organisations to update residents on their activities and enables organisations including the Town Council, Town Trust, and Parochial Charities to present their accounts.

There is also a meeting of the council at the beginning of the evening with the usual reports including any updates which may be of interest including planning matters, school matters and police matters.

For the agenda visit the Town Council’s website –

For those interested in the plans to build homes off Houlgate Way and the town council’s views on the matter then in the minutes of the Town Council meeting of December 12th 2022 under Appendix A there is plenty of food for thought – repeated below.

Axbridge Town Council’s Response – Houlgate Way Reserved Matters
application 02/22/00021/DT
RESOLVED: that Sedgemoor District Council be advised that Axbridge Town Council
objects to the above-mentioned application on the grounds of appearance,
landscaping, scale and layout as set out below.
In any new planning application, Axbridge Town Council would expect the
development to be of a high quality design and energy efficiency, with an appropriate
and inclusive mix of affordable housing. Furthermore, it would expect the development
to meet high standards for traffic management and parking, whilst looking after the
environment and wildlife. These aspects should all, at the very least, be in accordance
with both the Local Plan and the Axbridge Neighbourhood Plan.
This is particularly important for such a large development, in a prominent gateway
position into the Town, abutting a conservation area and close to listed buildings.
A public meeting was held on 7 December 2022 attended by approximately 50
members of the public. The meeting was constructive, focusing on the reserved
The Town Council consider the application, as it stands, falls short of these general
requirements and objects to the proposed development as follows.
• The appearance and design of the dwellings should include a variety of
features to truly reflect the vernacular within the nearby conservation area;
there should be a wide variety of materials, features and a mix of muted
colours to reflect both the importance of the setting (which is a gateway into
the Town, bordering the conservation area and close to listed buildings) and
work with the neighbouring countryside. The Town Council supports the preapplication advice given by the planning officer in respect of the design and
materials for the dwellings.
• The new dwellings should meet higher levels of energy efficiency – this
should include solar panels and electric charging points for all properties, with
infrastructure put in place for ground source heat pumps.
• The proposed play area is of a sub-standard quality and the Town Council
supports the comments made by the Parks and Open Spaces Team (18th
November 2022) in terms of the concerns relating to the basic features, the
materials proposed and longevity of the site. The play area, and public open
space, is an important aspect and should be of better quality and well
managed now and in the future. (The Town Council would seek clarification
as to how these areas are going to be both managed and financed.)
• The Town Council seeks assurance that the quality of the street lighting will
match those currently in place in the Town.
• Clarification is sought on the reference to 27 “bird houses and bricks” – in any
event, there are insufficient numbers of bird boxes and bee bricks and these
should be increased to promote biodiversity.
• Given the location and scale of this development it is vital that existing
hedges and trees are retained as much as possible (a development in
Cheddar has seen hedging repositioned rather than removed) and better
landscaped, including protecting the conservation area to the north side of
the site (abutting Compton Lane, in front of Compton House – which is a
listed building). The Council supports the comments made by the
Conservation and Landscaping Officers on this matter when responding to
the outline planning application 02/16/00030 (letters dated 20th November
2017 and 30th July 2019 respectively) and does not feel this had been
adequately addressed.
• The proposal indicates that the pumping station would be surrounded by a
high metal fence. This is close to two of the properties and seems an
insufficient and unsightly method of screening this facility. There is also
concern that this facility will be noisy – affecting nearby properties.
• The proposed development is predominantly 4 bedroom dwellings. The
Council considers that there should be a bigger variety in terms of the size of
the homes. Larger dwellings do not help those starting out, or those wishing
to retire, and smaller 1, 2 and 3 bedroom dwellings would make the
development more affordable and provide more room for parking without
detrimentally affecting green spaces.
• There does seem to a reasonable spread of housing sizes in relation to the
affordable housing dwellings – the response of the Affordable Housing Officer
is awaited.
• The illustrative plan within the outline planning application provided a better
layout for the dwellings, in terms of spacing, mix and integration of properties.
• The position of the affordable dwellings is of concern, being ‘stuck’ at either
end of the site. The Town Council would expect these to be better integrated
within the development.
• The Council is concerned about the position of the pumping station. It is very
close to properties.
• The parking standards are not met – with insufficient parking being provided
for the number of dwellings planned. This is not in accordance with policy.
The assessment of the parking need is based on the 2011 census which is
• Parking is one of the most difficult issues in the Town and so the new
development also needs to address the issue of the car parking places lost
due to the long length of double yellow lining to be introduced on Houlgate
Way for visibility at the site access points.
• The small car park area intended for visitors is not accessed directly from
Houlgate Way as expected, but only through the housing estate and via, as
far as the Council is aware, a private road (shared access, not public
highway). Its hidden position will not be accessible/used by the public/visitors
to the Town and the provision of sufficient parking is vital to the Town’s
sustainability. The location and size of the proposed parking area is not
• Since the online planning application was approved, the bus service has
been greatly reduced (there is no longer a bus service to Weston-superMare) and the remainder of the bus route to Wells is seriously under threat.
This greatly limits the travel options of those living on the site, further
exacerbating the issues with traffic, car ownership and parking.
• The introduction of the double yellow lines and the proposed layby areas will
result in an increase in speed along Houlgate Way which is a major concern.
This issue is not addressed in the application.
• The play area should be sited away from a busy road for health and safety
• The proposals should include/offer improved public footpath links to Cross
(alongside Cross Lane).
In addition, the following concerns associated with the application have been raised
by the community which we wish to bring to your attention. (They are shared by the
Town Council).
• Tier 2 classification – the Tier 2 allocation is queried given the loss of
amenities such as the bus service to Weston (and the threat to the remaining
part of the service) and the imminent loss of the only local bank in Cheddar.
Can this be revised?
• Infrastructure – the development will result in an increase of approximately
10% of the population bringing increased pressure on local services and
infrastructure (school, doctors, dentist, sewerage and drainage).
• Sewerage, drainage and flooding – there are serious concerns that the
systems in place/proposed are not robust enough to address the increased
loads on them and need major work undertaken before the development
takes place. There will be serious issues if the sewerage system and water
systems are not enhanced, and flooding is of concern, given the position of
the site and previous experiences. The Town Council seeks assurance that
the authorities involved (including Bristol Water and Wessex Water) are
satisfied that with the arrangements, that works will be undertaken to address
the issues and ensure that the systems are robust, and that all works will be
carried out in accordance with the S106 agreement.
• Travel and Connectivity – further clarification/information is sought on travel
coordinators, travel vouchers and improvements to connectivity
• Proximity of the Chicken Sheds and Gas Powered Facility – the proximity of
these facilities to the siting of the proposed dwellings is of concern in terms of
both health and environmental issues (noise, dust, smell and contamination).
The plans showing the fall out from the gas powered facility appear to overlap
the development site.
• Construction concerns – there are concerns relating to the parking of
construction and workers’ vehicles during the construction process and
health, and environmental issues (dust, contamination). The Town Council
seeks assurance that these are addressed in a construction plan.
• Street Naming – the Town Council (and community) would welcome the
opportunity to put forward street names for the development.
• Delivery of the development – there is some concern that the developer will
not deliver on their plans, conditions and promises – exacerbated by the fact
that the developer sign is larger than the permitted size and mentions only 4
and 5 bedroom dwellings, together with the unauthorised removal of the
hedge and lack of parking provision. Monitoring by the planning authority is
• Community Infrastructure Levy – The Town Council seeks confirmation as to
the amount of the Community Infrastructure Levy to be received by the Town
Council – the form on the website is blank.
The Town Council is still receiving comments on this application and will bring these,
and any further matters raised, to your attention during the application process.


The view from the top of the site looking down with Houlgate Way on the left

Axbridge News: the clock is ticking to register a comment on the Houlgate Way proposed housing development

By Harry Mottram: Sedgemoor District Council’s planning department has said anyone wishing to make a comment on the proposed Bellway Homes development in the town have until February 15, to do so.

The land to the south of Houlgate Way could see 53 new homes constructed with 30% of them listed as affordable housing. Previously it had been for outline planning permission since the plans were submitted again in November the proposal is for ‘Approval of reserved matters, for appearance, landscaping, layout and scale for the erection of 53no. Dwellings (30% affordable housing).’

It is understood that Houlgate Way may lose 18 parking spaces on the road along with the felling of two mature trees to make way for the development.

To register a comment, visit the Sedgemoor District Council Planning Portal and key in the Application Number 02/22/00021. You must include your name and address and your comments will be in the public domain.

The proposed planning application was in 2020 when councillors in Bridgwater voted it through by a margin of 10-2. It was opposed by Cllr Mike Murphy of Burnham-on-Sea who said having 125m distance between the farm and the homes was unacceptable. He said: “Would the planners accept a proposal to build a chicken farm next to a housing estate? No.” He demanded a site visit before any vote which was ignored. Cllr Revan of North Petherton also opposed the plans at the vote in 2020.

District Cllr Liz Scott raised the issue of extra traffic and the loss of parking spaces in Houlgate Way as well as the ‘high visual effect’ the development would have on the town especially in relation to the Grade II listed Compton House which would be next to the new estate. She raised the issue of land drainage and of a footpath as well as saying that under a Tier 2 settlement all the requirements had to be met which she said had not on a number of levels listing a number of points – all rejected on technicalities by the planning officer.

The then mayor of Axbridge and town councillor Barbara Wells also spoke against the plans. She said at the time: “The offer of a public car park accessed seemingly via the estate to balance the loss of at least 18 on road parking spaces in Houlgate Way will not help with existing parking issues in the Town.”

One of the main objections is the site is outside of the Axbridge settlement boundary and is not allocated for housing within the council’s Local Plan, which runs until 2032. Another issue is the site since 2020 has been sold to Bellway by Hannick. Bellway are based in Newcastle upon Tyne and are marketing the Houlgate Way development as Lavender Rise with a selection of four and five bedroom properties – the firm is also behind the current development at Helliers Lane in Cheddar.

Sedgemoor District Council will cease to exist on April 1 when there will be one unitary council – Somerset County Council.

Follow Harry Mottram on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linked In and other social media sites. There is more at


Axbridge News: David Eagle’s musical comedy show Flying Solo comes to the town on February 25th

David Eagle is a multi award winning comedian and musician. He is a member of the folk band The Young’uns, three-time winners at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, and have played major festivals all over the world including a joint gig with Billy Bragg at Glastonbury. In 2018 David began performing stand up and in that time has appeared on BBC Radio 4 and was crowned New Comedian Of The Year by Nottingham comedy Festival, Bath Comedy Festival, and Leicester Square Theatre.   David is blind and his stand up often explores how this leads him into numerous surprising, hilarious encounters and misadventures. Armed with an accordion, he punctuates the jokes and stories with the occasional comedy song, one of which was written about in the Guardian as “a comic tour de force.” From his years playing folk clubs, comedy clubs, theatres, arts centres and festivals, David is a versatile personable performer able to engage a broad range of people with his irreverent brand of music and comedy. 

Axbridge Town Hall, Somerset, BS26 2AP

Sat 25th February 2023 7:30PM

Tickets available to book:


Pictured is one of the starters provided in December’s supper – at Lion House

Axbridge News: the progressive supper joins up with Axbridge Action Group at the AGM

At Axbridge Action Group’s AGM held in the Lamb Inn on Monday, February 6th, 2023, committee members of the annual charity progressive supper applied to join the action group and were accepted.

The action group has been going for around 20 years and is an umbrella and coordinating group for the Heritage Trail, the Streets of Axbridge and the Axbridge Good Neighbourhours Scheme.

On the action group’s website they state: “The Axbridge Action Group (AAG) is an established group of local people who care passionately about Axbridge and what it means to our residents. We are looking for likeminded residents to join our group and get involved with helping to support ideas and projects that can improve our everyday life.”

The Progressive Supper has been run for several decades by different residents and is now operated by Zoe Hebden, Kirsty Edwards, Harry Mottram and Margaret Cowie with help from Sarah Boundy at Acutabove. The next one is slated to take place on Saturday, December 2, 2023. The event has its own Facebook page for more updates and news.

Last December the supper raised £2,000 for local charities – who were each given £500. They were Axbridge Heritage Trails, Axbridge Carnival, Axe Valley Mens’ Shed and Cheddar Valley Plus Foodbank.

You can follow the progressive supper on their Facebook page.

The AAG has a website at


Axbridge News: Charities get funding boost from the town’s annual progressive supper

The Axbridge Progressive Supper held on Saturday, December 3, 2022, raised £2,000 for local charities. The Committee behind the event of Zoe Hebden, Kirsty Edwards, Paul Hughes, Harry Mottram and Margaret Cowey donated £500 each to the Axbridge Heritage Trails, Axbridge Carnival, Axe Valley Mens’ Shed and Cheddar valley Plus Foodbank.

The Progressive Supper is a community charity event in which couples taking part sit down to a three-course meal with each course in a different home in the town – meaning much walking in between. The courses are chosen at random with most who take part preparing and serving a course to mystery guests. As an event it dates back decades and is a popular way of unexpectedly getting to know new people in the town. The next one is on Saturday, December 2, 2023. The event has its own Facebook page for more updates and news.

The Heritage Trails was set up to give visitors a tour of the town’s historic buildings plus a fun family trail for younger visitors and residents. The project was aided by Neil Barnes at Enable and pioneered by the work of Margaret Cowie, Caroline Harris, Paul Hughes, Nico Mann, Barbara Wells and John Page. There is more information at their website at

Axbridge Blackberry Carnival is one of the town’s big events marked in the calendar each year to coincide with a visitor of a fun fair in the town square. It is an afternoon and family friendly procession with the next one to be confirmed on a Saturday in September. Robin Mace is the chairman of the carnival and received the cheque from the progressive supper committee. The carnival has a Facebook page at

Axe Valley Mens’ Shed based in Cheddar about social connections and friendship building, sharing skills and knowledge. Members created the railway carriages and sedan chair used in the Axbridge Pageant along with several other intricate pieces of carpentry and carving for communities in the area. For details of how to join visit and see their Facebook page with photos of their project at Shortlands.

The foodbank in Cheddar is a vital resource for those struggling during the Cost-of-Living Crisis. Trustee of the foodbank Penny Cooke said the Cheddar Valley Plus Foodbank at Unit 8, Wessex Business Park Cheddar, welcomed those who seek help in putting food on the table. To enquire about how to obtain a food parcel, or to make a food donation, please contact the foodbank by phone on 07922 309369, or by email at visit


Axbridge Heritage Trail. Pictured from left: Zoe Hebden, Kirsty Edwards, Caroline Harris, Barbara Wells, Nico Mann and Margaret Cowey with the cheque from the Axbridge Progressive Supper Committee for the Axbridge Heritage Trail

Axbridge Carnival. Pictured from left: Kirsty Edwards, Zoe Hebden, Carnival Chairman Robin Mace and Margaret Cowey

Axe Valley Men’s Shed. Pictured are Kirsty Edwards and Zoe Hebden presenting a cheque to John McQueen of the men’s shed

Cheddar Valley Plus Foodbank. The Progressive Supper Committee present a cheque to Penny Cooke (centre) of the Cheddar Valley Plus Foodbank


Axbridge News: the chamber of commerce appoints a new secretary in Nigel Scott

The Axbridge Chamber of Commerce has seen a changing of the guard with the town crier Nigel Scott taking on the role of secretary.

Membership secretary is Pat Filer of The Parsonage, Parsonage Lane, Cheddar Road, Axbridge, Somerset BS26 2DN. Tel (01934) 733078

Richard Helps of the Post Office is chairman and Mike Sartain continues as treasurer

Follow the Chamber on Twitter and Facebook

And at


The Axbridge Pageant will next take place in August 2030

The Axbridge Pageant is a community event that has been performed regularly since 1967 when a celebration of the town’s history was first held in the town square. Since then it has been held in 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010. Due to the Covid Crisis it was postponed from 2020 to 2022.

The Axbridge Pageant is set to take place at 3pm daily over the Bank Holiday Weekend, Saturday-Monday, August 27-29. 2022.

For more news, features and photos on the pageant visit


The Axbridge Anthem

Written for the Axbridge Pageant 2022

Will you come gather,
Cornflowers and lavender?
Hazelnuts and blackberries,
And sweet juicy strawberries?

We’ll hook down the sloes,
Where the dark rhynes do flow,
Take fruit from the apple tree,
And honey from the honey bee.

We’ll splash in the clay pits,
And frighten the linnets,
Scratch our bare knees,
In brambles and trees.

And gather bunches of pinks,
On high Mendip ridge,
Buttercups and rosehips,
In the hedges of Axbridge

And give them to mother,
Aunty and brother,
From the places we roam,
In our blue lias homes.

Celtic, Roman, Tudor, Dane
Saxon, Norman, Worker, Thane
Soldier, Teacher, Farmer, Maid
Servant, Landlord, Mistress, Slave

Mother, Father, Cousin, Bride
Ancient, Baby, Adult, Child
We are Axbridge first and last
We are the future, the present and the past.

Harry Mottram


The Annual Axbridge Progressive Supper features three course meals at different locations in the town

Axbridge News: The annual Progressive Supper has been provisionally planned for Saturday, December 2nd, 2023.

The annual charity dining event attracted more than 150 people last December raising £2,000 for local charities. These were: The Axbridge Carnival, The Axe Vale Men’s Shed, The Axbridge Heritage Trail and the Cheddar Foodbank. The presentation of cheques will take place on Saturday, February 4th, at The Farmers’ Market.

Subject to change The Annual Progressive Supper has been provisionally planned for Saturday, December 2nd, 2023.

For more on the supper visit


Fig 1 The Lamb and Flag flying on the Town Hall Balcony

The Axbridge Flag

Alan Mortimer of Axbridge Town Trust writes: Last year the Town Trust purchased a new flag with the “Lamb and Flag” logo in black on a white background and asked permission from the Town Council if this could be adopted as the “Axbridge Flag” to be flown on special occasions such as new year (as it was this last new year period) as well as local events in the square including the Pageant. The Town Council has agreed to adopt the flag.

The Trustees have created here a brief history behind the symbol produced by Trustee John Page who was seconded to the Trust by the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society (SANHS) specifically for the historical artefacts owned by the Town Trust.

Recently Axbridge acquired a new flag through the auspices of the Axbridge Town Trust, a charity setup in 1889 to acquire the assets of the Axbridge Corporation, which had been dissolved by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1883. It is now flying on the balcony of the Town Hall alongside the Union Jack (Fig. 1.), with the blessing of the Axbridge Town Council, who have accepted it as the town flag.

Fig 2 Modern Axbridge motif

Displayed on the flag is the motif which Axbridge has used since at least the Tudor period, but probably from even earlier, in the late medieval period (Fig. 2). It features the lamb and flag, or Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), as it is also known (sometimes it is also referred to as the Paschal Lamb). It also contains a legend (the words around the edge), which states “Communitatis Burgi de Axbridge S(iggilum)” (The seal of the Community of the Borough of Axbridge).

That legend is interesting, as, in 1557 Axbridge acquired a royal charter, which turned it into a Corporation. Prior to that time it had no formal corporate status, though Domesday Book did record that it had thirty-two burgesses, who must have been originally formed sometime in the tenth century. Whilst it does appear to have had some form of independence since that time, it was not until the early thirteenth century that it acquired full independence from the royal estate at Cheddar.

King John (1166-1226)

It was in 1204 that King John gave the whole of his Cheddar estate to the Archdeacon of Wells, who then sublet Axbridge to Thomas Wallensis two years later. However, it may well have been the Archdeacon who organised the erection of the first church in Axbridge. That church acquired a dedication to St. John the Baptist, who, when he saw Jesus, is credited with the saying, “Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.” This was a time when Axbridge had begun to establish itself as a local centre for the woollen industry. So, it does seem likely that both the dedication of the church, and the emblem adopted by Axbridge, were heavily influenced by that very profitable industry, though no example of the lamb and flag is known to exist from as early as the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries.

Fig 3 1579 seal

One of the earliest known versions of the lamb and flag appears on a seal from a document of 1579 (Fig. 3). Although this is after the charter of 1557, which definitely gave Axbridge the right to use a seal, it is a far less sophisticated version and looks as though it is a medieval design. It may well be an old seal being reused by someone who has no seal of their own. Whether it belonged to the Guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which ruled Axbridge until the Charter of Incorporation, is uncertain, but a possibility.
Unfortunately, it is not possible at the moment to check out a deed of 1420, which is listed in the catalogue as having “one pendant seal, lamb and flag,” as the Record Office in Taunton is closed during the pandemic. However that clearly signifies that lamb and flag seals were being used on documents in Axbridge for a long time prior to the 1557 charter.

Fig 4 The foot of an Axbridge Mace

Unfortunately, most of the deeds held in the Axbridge Archive do not have the seal of the Corporation on them. This is because their seal would be on the copy deed held by a lessee, whilst the lessee’s seal would appear on the ones retained by the Corporation. However, there are some clues as to how the lamb and flag motif developed over time, from the crude version (Fig. 3), through two examples engraved on the feet of the Axbridge seals, which were granted to the Corporation in the third royal charter of 1623 (Fig. 4), a 17th century picture, currently in the King John’s Hunting Lodge Museum (Fig. 5), and some more recent versions from the eighteenth and nineteenth century (Figs. 6 and 7).

Fig 5 17th Century Picture

Noticeably, the lamb on the 1579 seal faces in the opposite direction to that of all the remaining versions, the cross differs substantially and the flag is much smaller and rather difficult to see. It also has its leg under its body, supporting the pole.

By 1623 (Fig. 4) the lamb faces to our left and the flag is a bifurcated banner with the lamb holding its pole in an outstretched foot, at the top end of which the cross is of a different style. The lamb is standing on a cross-hatched ground surface and has a rather flattened halo, which cannot be seen in the earlier version.

Fig 6 Seal on witness statement in 1759

This is very similar, in many respects to the lamb shown in the museum picture (Fig. 5), though the cross here is plain and the banner no longer has the cross of St. George on it, but is now plain. Overall this is a far superior rendition, with a much larger and more pronounced halo. The major difference between the two, however, is what the lamb is standing on. On the foot of the mace it may not have been simple to show anything other than the cross-hatching displayed, but in the picture the lamb is now standing on a large book, which may well be a Bible, which has two prominent clasps across its long opening side. As early books were made of parchment, which had a strong tendency to absorb moisture, it quite often happened that the pages swelled up until it was impossible to close the book properly. To counteract this the clasps were used to hold the book firmly closed so that no moisture could get in and that which was acquired by the book when it was open, would be squeezed out. As parchment fell out of fashion when paper became the dominant material for books, clasps were no longer needed, as paper was not so absorbent. That had largely happened prior to the eighteenth century and this picture has been dated by experts to the seventeenth century.

Fig 7 The Large Axbridge seal

Another version of this lamb and flag can be seen on an octagonal seal, which is attached to a document dated 1759, so is probably quite an old seal by that time. Here the cross is similar to that of the one on the mace (Fig. 4) and the banner does have the cross of St. George upon it. In this case it is the octagonal shape of the seal border which is very rare and the legend around the edge merely states, “Borough of Axbridge,” in English. As it appears on a document which is stated to be a witness statement, is almost certainly the one that is used by the Justices of the Peace, rather than the Corporation itself.

Fig 8 The small Axbridge Seal

Two matrices (a matrix, or die, is the tool used to make the impression) still exist for Corporation seals. The larger one (Fig. 7) shows the lamb standing on a small mound, whilst the smaller one (Fig. 8) shows it standing on a field of grass. Both show the inverse of the seal, but a copy of the large one is available on a document (see Fig. 9). These are closer to the imagery shown on the modern Axbridge flag, except that today the leg of the lamb is draped over the pole, rather than resting on it (or holding it?) as formerly. All of them do have a major difference from all the earlier versions in that they now have the lamb looking over his shoulder, instead of looking forward.

Fig 9 The large Axbridge seal

All of this means that, whilst Axbridge has retained the lamb and flag as its symbol for possibly over eight hundred years, there has been quite a lot of variety over time. So, do have a look on the balcony of the Town Hall and enjoy the Axbridge flag flying alongside the national flag.

John Page

Axbridge Town Trust


The Axbridge Town Trust was created by the Charity Commissioners in 1889, defining its objectives and listing the assets to be held by the Trustees. The Trust manages the remaining assets of the former Incorporated Borough of Axbridge, which was created under Royal Charter in 1557. Prior to that Axbridge had flourished as a busy market town since it became a burh (a fortified place) under King Alfred the Great.

Axbridge lost this corporate status under “The Municipal Corporations Act, 1883,” which sought to eliminate small boroughs from having responsibility for civil and criminal jurisdiction, exclusive rights regarding trading, jury exemptions and various other ancient privileges.


Today the Axbridge Town Trust retains many of the assets it was given over a century ago.
Major assets include The Square, the Town Hall, certain smaller properties and pieces of land and various artefacts. Many of the artefacts are managed by other bodies on behalf of the Trust. These include the local museum (King John’s Hunting Lodge) and the Somerset Record Office, now located in the new Somerset Heritage Centre.

Meetings & Contacts

The Axbridge Town Trust meets on the first Monday of every other month (February, April, June, August, October and December) to manage its properties and to preserve, and facilitate use of, the heritage artefacts it has inherited.

Although meetings are held in private, any matters falling within their scope of responsibilities can be raised directly with any of the Trustees, or through the Clerk.


There are a total of 10 Trustees.  The first four are Co-optative Trustees {C} and the next six Representative Trustees.

Details are shown for the sixth Trustee (the current Trust Chairman), the Town Hall Manager and the Town Trust Clerk.

Five Representative Trustees are elected to office for a term of five years through the Vestry of the Parish of Axbridge.

A sixth is elected through the Archaeological Society of Somerset (ASS).

The Co-optative Trustees must reside in or near Axbridge or carry on business in Axbridge. They are appointed for seven years and are elected by the other Trustees.

Each Trustee can be re-elected by the other Trustees at the end of their Term.

Visit the Town Trust website for further information


Axbridge News: Old Church Road and Meadow Street to be closed for four weeks for repairs to building

Temporary Road Closure: ttro400585SE – Old Church Road, Axbridge
Dear Sir/Madam,
Please follow the link to view the above road closure; and the link for the Notice 2:       
The order becomes effective on 27th October 2020 and will remain in force for eighteen months.

The works are expected to commence on 2nd November 2020 and last for 28 days to enable Mahoney Contracts to carry out urgent roof works on grade 2 listed buildings.

For any further information about this closure please contact Mahoney Contracts on (01253) 313828, quoting reference: ttro400585SE – Old Church Road, Axbridge.

Please note that should you require to view a closure which is more than two weeks ahead you will need to Register for free with www.One.Network

Kind regards

Ellen Flynn
The Road Closure Team
Contact Centre Tel: 0300 123 2224
Traffic Management, Road Safety and Parking Services
Somerset County Council
County Hall


Press Release from the Axbridge Neighbourhood Plan

Axbridge Neighbourhood Plan Reg.14 Press Release 

Axbridge Town Council invites representations on the draft Axbridge Neighbourhood Plan. 

The Plan can be downloaded at content/uploads/2020/03/Final-plan- content/uploads/2020/03/Final-plan-VERSION-4.pdfVERSION-4.pdf 

Feedback should be sent to Alan Wells, Chair of the Axbridge Neighbourhood Planning Group at Paper submissions should be sent to Alan at 49 West Street, Axbridge, BS26 2AA. 

Please ensure that your feedback is with Alan by 20th June 2020. 

The Plan is wide ranging with sections on Housing and Development, Community and Infrastructure, Historic and Natural Environment, Transport and future aspirations for our town. 

This consultation is part of the pre-submission consultation and publicity under The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012. Specifically regulation 14.

Axbridge Town Council Blog Post, 17th April 2020

The Coronavirus outbreak is clearly having a major impact on residents, businesses and visitors in Axbridge.

During this time the Town Council remains committed to maintaining services and advocacy for townsfolk.  Although we will not be delivering printed copies of OYEZ! during this time, we will be maintaining regular blogs on this website to keep residents informed with Council business and other useful information.

As always – if you would like to contact us to request more information, ask a question or raise a concern please do so through email or post to the Town Clerk. We’d love to hear from you and understand what you’d like us to prioritise or raise any concerns you may have.


  • Full Council Meeting Monday 20th April 2020 will be undertaken on Zoom video conferencing platform and is open to the public and members of press using this link.
  • Online Council Meetings –  We warmly welcome residents to join us at online Council meetings and to enable business to be conducted efficiently we would ask attendees to take on board the following guidance:
    • Agenda – agendas for the meeting are available on this link.  Please familiarise yourself with the agenda ahead of the meeting, in particular noting agenda item for public participation.
    • Public participation – please keep public participation to the allotted agenda item, follow the guidance given to you by the chair and be respectful of others at all times.
    • Use your full name – when joining a Zoom call the system asks participants to provide a name.  Please use your first name and surname, so it is clear to Clerk who is taking part.
    • Unmute only when needed – we politely ask attendees to mute their lines when not speaking, whilst the Chair has the facility to mute the lines of others we would prefer this to be done on a courtesy and voluntary basis.
    • Arrive on time – the Council meeting will commence at 7.30 and we ask participants to arrive on time.  We may choose to lock the meeting to new participants after 15 minutes if appropriate.
    • Bandwidth management – ideally we would like all participants to keep video switched to on so that we can see and converse with each other in as normal a way as possible.  However you may find that if your internet speeds are severely limited this will disrupt the overall call quality – in which case it is recommended that you use the ‘Stop Video’ function to reduce bandwidth required.
    • Bear with us – conducting Council meetings via video link is new to us, so please bear with us if we encounter any technical or user error issues.
  • Updated Information on Coronavirus – our web page for Coronavirus information has been updated and is where you will now find; local authority helpline information, links to grant applications for Coronavirus response & recovery and a lot more.

We appreciate this is a difficult time for all of us as social distancing is set to continue and cases of Coronavirus continue to rise across the UK.  However as we all know Axbridge is built on its strong community spirit and the care we have for one another, which will carry us through this.  Please continue to observe government and NHS advice, wash hands regularly and stay at home.

Cllr Andy Corp – Website Editor.


The Coronavirus outbreak is clearly having a major impact on residents, businesses and visitors in Axbridge.

During this time the Town Council remains committed to maintaining services and advocacy for townsfolk and have had to adapt our procedures in the following way:

  • Council will not meet at the Town Hall for monthly meetings or in committee until the health guidance permits meetings outside of family groups once more.
  • Instead, the Council will replace monthly meetings, committee meetings and advisory groups with online Council conference calls.  Residents are invited to join public meetings online and a link will be provided on the Council Meetings page  alongside agendas and minutes of meetings.
  • We urge residents to communicate with us through email, post to the Town Clark. We’d love to hear from you and understand what you’d like us to prioritise or raise any concerns you may have.
  • Deliveries of printed Oyez! will cease until it is safe to resume. However, residents should rest assured that if we have news we need to get to all residents, we will resort to print and delivery to ensure that everyone gets the information they need.
  • We will keep residents updated through regular blog posts here. Please do share information with friends and neighbours if you are concerned that they do not have access to the internet.
  • We ask all residents to read, listen to and abide by the guidance provided by the Government, NHS and Public Health England and to maintain social distancing at all times.  More advice can be found on the Coronavirus Information page. We know this is particularly difficult for parents, but it is important for all of us in the community to keep each other safe at this time.  If we identify groups of people who are ignoring the regulations they will be reported to the Police and we encourage other residents to do likewise.

At these challenging times, we wish you all the very best – together we will get through this.

Cllr Andy Corp – Website Editor.