National Gazetteer (1868) - Wookey


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"WOOKEY, a parish in the hundred of Wells-Forum, county Somerset, 2 miles W. of Wells, at the foot of the Mendip hills. The parish includes the ecclesiastical district of Henton, and the hamlet of Wookey Hole, which latter derives its name from a limestone cavern, the entrance to which is narrow, but within it are several apartments, one 80 feet high, and another 120 feet long. From the innermost chamber a stream of water, the primary source of the river Axe, gushes out in an impetuous torrent, turning several paper and flour mills. In the gravel in and around the cavern the remains of the rhinoceros and other extinct animals, together with those of man, have been found, and in the time of Henry VIII. a plate of lead was discovered bearing the name of the Roman emperor Claudius.

The land is chiefly in pasture, being occupied by dairy farms, producing Cheddar cheese. The Bishop of Bath and Wells had formerly a palace on the site now occupied by Mellefont Abbey, and at Castle are traces of Fenny Castle fortification, mentioned by William of Worcester as in ruins in his time. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Bath and Wells, value £300, in the patronage of the bishop. The church, dedicated to St. Matthew, contains an ancient font, monuments to the Clarke, Piers, and Salmon families, and an organ presented by Thomas Weare in 1848. There is besides the district church of Henton, dedicated to Christ, erected in 1847. The register commences in 1565. The Bible Christians have a chapel at Henton. There are National schools for boys and girls. The church lands yield about £67 per annum, and the poor's lands £40."

"HENTON, a hamlet in the tything of Yarley, and parish of Wookey, county Somerset, 4 miles S.W. of Wells."

"YARLEY, a tything in the parish of Wookey, county Somerset, 4 miles S.W. of Wells. It contains the hamlet of Henton."

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