Local Study

This is a study of Ashcott designed by Woodpecker Class. We have used geographical and historical skills to find out about Ashcott. We began by looking at the school and the village today and have then used evidence to find out what it was like in the past.

What can you see where the school is now?

In 1841 there was a census of the people in Ashcott.

This is a page from the 1841 census. It shows their name, age, job and if they are born in Somerset or not. In 1841 there were 498 people living in Ashcott. In 1849 there were 900 people. In 1841 nearly everyone was born in Somerset. Class 3 have looked at the census closely and found a lot of things. Click on the census form to look closer an you can find out some of the things that we discovered.

In this 1841 census who had jobs?

What did the people do that haven't got a job listed?

Do people still do these jobs today in Ashcott?

In 1841 most men used to work on the farm. There were a few jobs that worked with horses, such as saddler, blacksmith, shoesmith, coachman and farrier. Although some jobs are not recorded people were working all the time in jobs that were not listed. A third of the population in Ashcott was under 13 years old. There was one boy that was 11 and he was employed as a servant. Children started work much earlier than they do now.

This is a graph to show occupations of females over 13. The largest number of females were housewives in 1841. Independent meant that people hadn't got a job but had money.
All the jobs that are shown on this graph we still do now.
Women didn't have very many different types of jobs to choose from compared to men.
There were also 2 female servants of ages 10 and 11. One third of the people of Ashcott were 13 and under.

These are pictures of farm labourers working in the fields of Ashcott.

What do you think the man in the picture above is drinking?

Do we use the same type of equipment and machinery today?

This is Ashcott in 1904. There were a lot of orchards and fields but now houses have been built on them.

Can you find where the school is now?

This is aerial photograph of Ashcott. We have shown some of the important buildings in the village.
There used to be lots of orchards in Ashcott.
Can you see any now?


This photograph shows the first school that was built in the Ashcott as a poor house. The first school was opened on 29th of October in 1852. In 1854 the Head Master was Mr. William Oliver and his assistant was called Mrs. Sophia Edwards. The school was in the old poor house on the land called Parish Hayes.

Behind the ring 'O Bells and was owned by the Parish. It was a long two storey building. It was built originally to house the poor of the Parish. In the front of the building were gardens whic ran down to the back of the Manor House. The building was knocked down and replaced with the Pensioners' Bungalows.

The plaque was taken off the first shcool and can now be seen in the porch of the Village hall.

The second school was the National Board School built in 1874. Later on it became the Church Rooms and was used by the Parish Council in 1985. The school as knocked down and they built the Village Hall on the site. The plaque inside the porch came from the first school on Parish Hayes.

This is the plaque which was used in the first school

Now the village people use the Hall for parties, performances and different classes e.g table-tennis, badminton and Sunday School.

In 1874 a new purpose built school opened next to the church on what is now the site of the Village Hall. Mr. a. Crowther became the Headmaster. In his log book on the 22nd June 1874 he wrote about how he commenced his duties as Master of Ashcott Board School.

An extension was built in March 1876 and the infants joined the school. the parents used the building as a meeting room. The school was a model school and many people came from nearby to see the teaching methods. Originally it had one big room. There were evening classes for the farm laborers to help them learn to read and write.

Many parents had trouble sending their children to school because they had large families and in those days you had to pay to go to school. This was a problem because the people needed to find enough money.

Many children left school at the age of twelve. The headmaster would often close the school when children were away picking apples and blackberries or helping with haymaking. School was also often closed for weeks when children caught scarlet fever, measles, whooping cough and other bad illnesses. The conditions many of the children were living in at home were also very poor. Sometimes whole families were kept away from school for weeks until the infections cleared.

Click below to find out about his log book entry.

On June 2nd 1874 the Headmaster wrote in his log book that he had sorted out all the classes and their registers. There were only 28 children in the school. The headmaster wished that he could drill the children into discipline and order which he felt was very much in need.

He described the children as careless and messy. Their reading was bad and careless. Their Arithmetic was wretched and their writing and spelling bad.

By July 10th their behavior had improved.

This is actual photograph of the original page.

Click below to compare the 1847 and 1998 entries.

On 3rd July 1998 Mr. Dore wrote in the School Log about Wrong Trousers Day.
The children all wore wrong trousers and raised money for Leukemia Research.
The press took some photographs.

On the 6th July new reception children joined Class 1 in the morning.

On the 8th July 1998 the whole school (minus class 4) visited the animals in the Country Farm Park and played on Brean Beach.

On 10th July Class returned successfully from Kilve. A good week was had by all.

This is the third Ashcott school which was built on what is now called School Close. In the previous school there were many infections caused by the outside toilets. It was decided to build a new school for the children. The new site was found at the western end of the High Street. It cost 2 thousand pounds.

It was opened in 10th December 1910 and the Headmaster was Mr. Crowther. He retired and was replaces by Mr. Ireland. He was replaced by Mr. J King who remained Headmaster till the mid 1950's.

In 1939 most of the village's young men went off to fight in the Second World War. The village welcomed all the evacuees who came to the village. The children from London came with their own teachers.

In 1960 many changes were made to the school such as new kitchens, inside toilets and offices.


Ashcott used to have lots of farms. Many of these have disappeared and the buildings knocked down or used for something else. A lot of the orchards and fields have been used to build more homes.

How has farming changed? Why do you think many Ashcott farms disappeared?

Find out about some of the Ashcott Farms by clicking on their names below:

There are two photographs of the Edmund's Farm at the bottom of the Farm Hill. One was taken in 1939 and the other was taken in 2001.

The old picture shows a farmhouse with a thatched roof. It was nit very comfortable but looked very beautiful. It was knocked down in the early 1940's and replaced with a barn because there was a large problem with rats. A brick house was built in it's place on the opposite corner of Farm Hill.

The farm is now much bigger and part of the old roof can still be seen under the galvanised roofs.

Hill Farm used to be part of the Luttrel Estate. It was called Payne Farm. The people that owned it now live at Dunster Castle. Hill Farm is about 200 years old. It used to be a big farm but now it is two semi-detached house. The name Mr Hobbs can be seen on the shed wall. He was the last to farm at Hill Farm. In the building there are some old fireplaces and the metal gate was taken to make weapons in the 2nd World War. The dairy is still there but is used as a shed. There were lots of orchards and the apples were used for making cider. This was giver to the farm labourers to drink when they were working. Opposite the farm there is a grass area. There used to be a wooden stage on this area where the milk churns were put for collection.

This is a picture of Charity Farm. It is in the High Street near to the Manor House. On maps dated 1796, 1886 and 1904 Charity Farm was called Poor Estate Farm. On a 1985 map the name had changed to Charity Farm. When the owner of Poor Estate Farm died he left the farm and all the proceeds to local charities. There is still now a charity called the Miles Hurman Charity. This Charity supports local people in the village who are in need.

Other Buildings

These are photographs of the same house. In 1950 it was Gertie Dogde's shop in the High Street. It was not just a sweet shop. They sold other things as well. In 2001 it is the Acreman family's home and is no longer a shop. The shop was not very big and felt very dark with a flagstone floor and also an L shaped wooden counter. Behind this there were large sacks like flour, rice, sugar, porridge oats and salt. The shopkeeper weighed the food out on the scales then put it into a paper bag.

What differences can you see in the two photographs?
What has changed?

It stands on the land on the corner of Middle Street.

It is now different because it is divided into two different houses. At the end of the Manor House there was a barn with a steam traction engine in it, this is now called the Coach House.

It was bought by Mr Labdon, the baker, in 1902. He put a new oven in the servants quarters and turned it into a bakery. The oven is still there today. Mr Labdon had his bakery in Broom House and he collected water from the village pump. In 1900 a row started with his neighbours and the Parish Council said that the water belonged to all the villagers. He left Broom House and moved to the Manor House. In 1933 he sold the Manor for £400 to Mr Henry Davey, a peat merchant. He divided the house into two propertied. The Mulberry house was on the right and the Manor on the left hand side. Mulberry house was named after the Mulberry tree in the front garden. The Mulberry was planted to feed silk worms, but it was useless because it had red mulberries but silk worms like white mulberries.

In 1965 there was a Post Office and shop owned by F.W. Cox it is now called Londis. On The Batch in front of the shop there was a bench given by Etonhurst nursing home. They put the seat there for people to rest on when they visited the Post Office. It was vandalised but replaced more recently. The two men in the photo outside the Post Office are the Postmaster Mr Eric Cox and Mr Hobbs who had a farm in the High Street opposite the Ring O' Bells. In the left hand corner you can see a motor cycle belonging to the Ashcott Policeman. The Police Station was in Middle Street.

Ashcott Railway

The railway was built between Ashcott and Meare. The railway was opened in 1854 because more people needed to travel and needed a job. It was used to carry freight eg. leather, coal, cattle, cattle cake, milk, timber and cider. It also carried passengers. The main passengers went from Highbridge Market to Burnham on sea. There was a big crash in 1949 on the 19th August.

The railway linked the the Bristol Channel and the English Channel. Ashcott and Meare station changed somerset from a farming area to an industrial one. They did not just rely on the farmers. This railway employed a lot of people.

There were big gates that opened and closed. The gate people were very strict. sometimes the gates were closed for 20-30 minutes.
How did they raise enough money to build the railway? Cirrus and James Clark gave the men that were building the railway all the money that they had managed to persuade from the businessmen and industrialists. The railway closed in 1966.

Click below for more information on the crash.

On the 19th August 1949 the 8.00 am train from Glastonbury to Bridgwater collided with the Eclipse peat companies petrol engine which broke down as it was going over the crossing. The peat train came off the tracks and sank into the peat. They had to get a crane to pull the train out but they could not manage so they cut the train into smaller pieces so it was easier to pull out. It was a big tragedy and it was talked about for many years.

This is a picture of the crash in 1949.

Ham Wall was once a railway, but now it is a Nature Reserve. You can visit it by Ashcott Corner, between Ashcott and Meare. When the workers dug the peat they let it fill with water so birds and other creatures could use them. . There are different habitats for the different birds.

The sidings were where the car park is now, so people can park their cars there when they visit. You then cross the road to walk along the old track.

Where the track was is now a walk through for visitors. As you walk along you can see some signs of the old railway.

Plants and trees were planted on the Reserve to create different habitats, you can see hedgerows, trees, reed beds, pools and open moorland. In 2002 the Wildlife Explorers made some sculptures and you can see them around the reserve.

To find out more about the creatures click below.

At Ham Wall there is a Nature Reserve. A lot of creatures live there. There are habitats for birds, mammals, dragonflies, water creatures and m any others.

Birds: When Class 3 went on their trip to Ham Wall they saw lots of birds. Some birds live in the hedgerows and others live on the water. There are a lot of birds around. In the hedgerow we saw starlings and chaffinches. We saw a kestrel which is a bird of prey.

On the water we saw swans, coots, moorhers, cormorants, herons and a great crested grebe.

We did not see a bittern but we are hoping that they will come back to Ham Wall.

A lot of Mammals live at Ham Wall.

The Mink is an otter like creature that eats eggs, fish, water voles and ducklings. This ruins the habitats for other animals.

Otters live in water, but can walk on dry land. Otters are furry and hunt at night. They are carnivores and belong to the weasel family. They are about 75 cm with a long body, tail and short legs. Otters live on the banks of lakes and rivers, and also by the sea.

Badgers are closely related to weasels.They are about 70cms long. A badger builds a tunnel underground where it lives with its family. They come out at night to feed on worms, small mammals, fruit and nuts. Badgers can't see very well.

Deer are among Europe's largest wild animals and usually live in herds. Roe Deer can be seen on the Moor.

Foxes hunt rabbits, small mammals, birds and poultry. They normally live in a farmyard or in a wood. They are usually about 75cms from head to tail.


At Ham Wall you might also find these creatures: dragonflies, frogs, butterflies and different fish: rudd, pike, sticklebacks and eels. The Dragonflies colours are mostly green and blue. Their size is about 13cms. They are very beautiful but start life off as nymphs in the water and are very ugly.

Frogs are cold-blooded creatures called amphibians. As tadpoles they breathe with gills like a fish. As a grown frog they breathe air.

What will Ham Wall be like in the future?
Most of us think that Ham Wall is going to turn into a larger Nature Reserve but we think they might have the railway running through it again.
Some of us think that things will stay more or less the same.
A few think that the trains will come back but that the Nature Reserve will remain.