A History of Evercreech
NEW ADDITION: World War One and Two Memorials.
HISTORY OF EVERCREECH
In 1066 when William the Conqueror initiated the Doomsday book the Manor of Evercreech was held by the Bishop of Wells and a presbyter who held land in the parish was charged with the duties of parish priest. It is also clear from earlier documents and later excavations that there was a settlement and some place of worship here probably in the Bronze Age, Roman times and certainly in Saxon times.
The actual position of the old Manor house is not known but it was in existence in the 14th century but it appears by the 15th Century the Bishops rarely visited their house in Evercreech and it was demolished. It is possible that the stones from the old Manor house were used to build a Parsonage which is shown on the 1774 map of the village next to the Bell Inn. There also may have been a Priory building of some sort in the village before the fourteenth century as the living of Evercreech had been given to the Priory of St John at Wells in 1231 but details are very sketchy and proof difficult.
Evercreech House that can be seen today was built much later in 1777 by William Rodbard and owned later by the Sherston family. Now sadly only the house remains the grounds, stables and orangery disappeared under the new development of the Cedars.
There must have been a place of worship here in Saxon times as the body and tower of the church appear to have been built onto an older chancel in the 1400’s. Unlike the manor house the Church has survived and been extended over the years. A decorated ceiling added in the time of Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset in 1548. The ceiling remains today and is much admired by visitors.
Opposite the church today can be seen the fine old village Cross which dates back to the fifteenth century when it was in the churchyard. It was moved to it’s present position in 1781 when it is recorded in the church wardens notes “Paid John Gullick for moving and setting up the Cross £1. 10s. 0d”!!
A Methodist meeting room was built in 1826 followed by a chapel in 1872. Sadly this closed in 2003 and is now a private house.
Evercreech was essentially a village that served the agricultural area in which it evolved. A village clustered round the church and ale houses (of which there were, in 1750’s, too many according to the Vestry!) The villagers worked the land or provided services for the farming community.
It was not until the late eighteenth century and the advent of Silk Mills in the area that occupations changed. Albions Silk Mill on the outskirts of the village on the edge of Milton Clevedon was in production by 1788, Wards Silk Mill in Shapway Lane by 1792 and later Kemps opposite this in 1861. These mills provided work for the inhabitants of Evercreech and surrounding villages and as a result the population rocketed from about 900 in 1800 to 1400 in 1830.
There has been a school in the village since at least 1735 when a wealthy widow Susannah Hayward left £100 for the benefit of the poor in Evercreech some of it to be spent on teaching poor boys to read and write. The boys to have school books, a new coat at Christmas and a bible when they left school. From this what was called a Blue Coat school seems to have grown and was still around in Victorian times.
A Sunday school was set up in 1829 by the vicar Rev John West and by 1842 this had become the National School. With a large rise in population by Victorian times this school became too small and a new school was built opposite the church in 1854 this is where children were educated up until 1990’s when the new School was built at Maesdown.
The advent of the railway brought another change, Evercreech Junction was opened in 1862 and Evercreech New Station in the village in 1876. By this time the Ward’s and Albion Silk Mills had closed their doors only Kemps remained in production until about 1919 producing goods mainly for London Businesses.
The railways produced not only jobs but means of transporting goods quickly.
In 1891 a Manchester businessman a Mr Hargreaves started a creamery in farm buildings of Batts Farm. Round about the same time a Messrs C and G Prideaux who had begun as railway porters and then realised they could transport milk by rail to London started up a business in Motcombe Dorset. They gradually developed a string of Milk Factories along the railway line and in 1900 bought Hargreave’s site in Evercreech. This business eventually joined the Unigate group trading first as St Ivel and still trades today as Uniq.
Other small businesses appeared and sadly disappeared over the years Edwin Allen’s Mineral water business, Alan Feavers Coal and Cattle feed Business, Creech Motors and the Enfield Works to name a few. The demise of the railway in 1966 also changed Evercreech.
Though we still have a trading estate in Leighton Lane with several small thriving businesses and the Uniq factory Evercreech is now predominately a commuter village for the bigger towns of Bath, Bristol , Yeovil, Frome and even Wells and Shepton Mallet.
However as in the past it has a thriving and dynamic community and welcomes visitors!
The Evercreech and District Local History Society have published several books on the Village including;-
A Short History of Evercreech.
St Peters Church Evercreech.
The Silk Industry in Evercreech