Minehead - Carhampton - Conygar Tower - Minehead

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Carhampton is a village and civil parish in Somerset, four miles to the east of Minehead. Iron Age occupation of the parish is evident from the remains of Bat's Castle hill-fort and associated earthworks. Archaeological excavation in the mid-1990s suggested the existence of early Christian settlement and burial to the east of the village. The village is thought to have been the centre for a Saxon royal estate. The king and his court would locate temporarily to the village as part of a visiting circuit. One function was that officials of the royal court operated from Carhampton to collect taxes from surrounding estates. The village was subjected to Viking raids. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles state that, in 836, King Egbert fought the crews of 35 ships at Carhampton. With the Danes in possession of the battlefield, the Chronicles recount a great slaughter.

The parish Church of St John the Baptist dates from the Perpendicular period, but was extensively restored and the north wall rebuilt in 1862-63. The tower was rebuilt between 1868 and 1870 and the vestry was added. It is a Grade I listed building. Carhampton is famous for its wassailing celebration which was started in the 1930s by the Taunton Cider Company. Wassailing in Carhampton takes place on 17th January in the orchard of the Butcher's Arms pub. This is preceded by a smaller event in the Community Orchard in the centre of the village next to the pub. The villagers form a circle around the largest apple tree and hang pieces of toast soaked in cider in the branches for the robin, who represents the 'good spirits' of the tree. A shotgun is fired overhead to scare away evil spirits.

Carhampton Wassailing Song:
Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
For the Lord doth know where we shall be.
Till apples come another year.
For to bear well, and to bear well
So merry let us be,
Let every man take off his hat,
And shout to the old apple tree!
Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear hatfuls, capfuls and three-bushel bagfuls
And a little heap under the stairs,
Hip, Hip, Hooray!

The Conygar Tower is a folly built as a landmark for shipping in 1775. In the 16th Century the sea came up to Conygar Hill, near Dunster, which had a harbour, and Minehead Bay was a forest. The 60ft high Conygar Tower crowns the hilltop and dates back to 1775. At this time the wood was designed as a 'pleasure ground' and would have included the tower, rustic seats at strategic viewpoints, 'ruined' arches, a summerhouse and a statue of Neptune that could be seen from the sea.

England - South West England - Somerset - Countryside

Features

Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Cafe, Castle, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, River, Sea, Tea Shop, Toilets, Woodland

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Accommodation
Distance away
5 Miles
21.8 Miles