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St. Andrew 13th century church

Welcome to the parish of Compton Bishop.

The parish of Compton Bishop is situated at the western end of the Mendip Hills in the county of Somerset, England. Contained within the parish are the hamlets of Rackley and Webbington. The village of Compton Bishop is enclosed within a pretty horseshoe shaped combe with its 13th century church, dedicated to St.Andrew, nestling beneath the hill known as Crook Peak.

Agriculture was the main employer of labour in Compton Bishop where for centuries grazing on the pastures and the hillside produced wool from sheep and milk, often turned into cheese from herds of cows. The village once contained a post office, school and, in the 19th and 20th century, a home for children at risk of Tuberculosis. Its narrow lanes, rich with wild flowers, are still bordered by attractive stone cottages.

Stretching away eastwards from Compton Bishop is Wavering Down beneath which is Cross the second village within the parish. By-passed now by the A38 road this village was once the hub of the coaching trade that used the Bristol to Bridgwater turnpike road. Three coaching inns served the travellers, two of these inns survive to this day, where wheelwrights, farriers, coachmen and ostlers earned their living from the age of coach travel.

In the 19th century the parish also contained the Union Workhouse. With the coming of the railway the coaching trade declined rapidly and market gardening and milk production returned the once bustling village to a quiet rural community.


I have been researching the history of the parish of Compton Bishop for nearly 18 years. In 1994 I published a book entitled 'The Story of Compton Bishop and Cross' (ISBN number 0 9523486 08) illustrated with maps and more than 50 photographs. The book provides local and family historians with an insight into the history of these two villages and is essential reading for those who want to understand the community in which their ancestors lived.

Please Click To Order A Copy Of The Book
Turnpike milepost

The Story is set against the background of historical changes that were taking place in England. Of particular interest for those connected with the area or interested in local history the book reveals a picture of the lives of the people who inhabited these two rural communities which were dominated chiefly by agriculture and, especially in Cross, by the coaching trade that passed along the Bristol to Exeter turnpike road. Three ancient coaching inns supplied refreshment to travellers including Samuel Coleridge, William Wordsworth and John McAdam. The book is a useful source for social history.


Over the years I have collected a large amount of family history information, including parish records, census and family trees, which I am willing to search for anyone whose ancestors, came from within the parish of Compton Bishop.

If you think I may be able to help please contact me :- email address margaretjordan@comptonbishopfamilies.co.uk. I make no charge for this other than postage and the cost of any photocopies.

Last Updated April 2005

Margaret Jordan

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