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National Gazetteer (1868) - Frome

"FROME, (or Frome-selwood), a parish, market town, and parliamentary borough, in the hundred of the same name, county Somerset, 12 miles S. of Bath, 24 S.E. of Bristol, and 107 from London by the turnpike road, or 115 by the Great Western railway. It is situated on high ground in the vicinity of the river Frome, which flows through the lower part of the town, and is crossed by a bridge of five arches. It was formerly a part of the ancient forest of Selwood. The place is of great antiquity, being first historically mentioned near the end of the 7th century, in the reign of Ini, King of Wessex, though, from remains of a villa and other traces, it seems to have been a Roman station. In the early part of the 8th century a monastery was founded here by Ini's brother, Aldhelm, afterwards Bishop of Sherborne, and Alfred the Great gained his final and complete victory here over the Danes. After the dissolution of the monasteries the demesne came to the Fitz-Bernards, from whom it passed through several hands to the Thynnes and Boyles.

The town of Frome is clean, and its position healthy, though the streets for the most part are narrow, and the houses built without much regard to order or regularity. It contains two banks, savings bank, literary and scientific and mechanics' institutes, union poorhouse, and men's hospital. The borough returns one member to parliament, and is governed by a bailiff, constables, and tythingmen. Petty sessions are held here, and there is a police station at the court-house. The town is lighted with gas, and has a good water supply. Woollen cloth, silk, and edge tools are manufactured, also card making, iron founding, and ale brewing are carried on. The parish contains an area of about 7,000 acres, with a population of 11,800. Frome is the head of a new County Court and superintendent registry districts, and of a Poor-law Union, embracing 28 parishes. It gives name to a deanery in the archdeaconry of Wells. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Bath and Wells, value with the curacy* of Woodlands, £720, in the patronage of the Marquis of Bath.

The parish church, dedicated to St. John, is a handsome and ancient structure. It has four chantry chapels, two porches, square tower surmounted by a beautiful spire of an octagonal form, and a chancel of rare beauty, with richly carved oak stalls and stone screen. The whole building is at present (1864) undergoing complete restoration. It contains a monument to Bishop Ken, who was buried in the churchyard in the year 1711. Glanville, who wrote the "Book of Witchcraft," once held the living. There are two district churches, viz' Christ Church and Trinity, both perpetual curacies,* value £150, in the gift of the vicar; and two chapels-of-ease, one called the Woodlands, the other St. Mary's, consecrated in the year 1863.

The parochial endowments are considerable. Leversedge's almshouses for widows were founded in the reign of Edward IV. by William Leversedge, which now have an income from various bequests of nearly £400 per annum. Steven's hospital for men and an asylum for girls has a yearly revenue of about £760, and the charity school for boys has endowments producing nearly £400. There are some smaller charities for the poor and for apprenticing children. The Independents, Baptists, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, Reformed Methodists, and Roman Catholics have chapels, and the Society of Friends a meetinghouse. There is a free grammar and a blue-coat school, also National, British, and infant schools for both sexes, besides denominational schools in connection with the principal places of worship. In the neighbourhood are remains of the old monastery, also of two other religious houses long since gone to ruins. The ancient seat of the Leversedges, Vallis House, is now a farm-house. The Earl of Cork and Orrery and the Marquis of Bath are lords of the manors. The market days are Wednesday, chiefly for grain and live stock, and Saturday for poultry and dead meat, the last Wednesday in each month having a larger supply and greater attendance than the other days. Fairs are held on the 24th February and the 25th November for cattle and cheese.

"EAST WOODLANDS, (and West Woodlands) hamlets in the parish of Frome, county Somerset, 2 miles from Frome. This district, called "The Woodlands," is situated on the northern border of Bramble Forest. The church was built by Thomas Viscount Weymouth, and endowed by his brother with about £90 per annum.

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson 2003]

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