Wedmore is a village and civil parish in the county of Somerset, England. It is situated on raised ground, in the Somerset Levels between the River Axe and River Brue, often called the Isle of Wedmore. It forms part of Sedgemoor district. The parish consists of three main villages: Wedmore, Blackford and Theale, with 14 hamlets including Bagley, Cocklake, Mudgley, Panborough and Sand. Wedmore has a population of 3,318 according to the 2011 census.
Its facilities include a medical and dental practice, pharmacy, butcher's, a village store with off licence, three pubs, restaurant, café and several other local shops. It is located 4 miles (6 km) south of Cheddar, 7 miles (11 km) west of the city of Wells and 7 miles (11 km) north west of Glastonbury.
Iron Age remains have been found in the area, and there are a number of Roman sites in the district.
The name Wedmore in Old English probably means hunting lodge and there was a Saxon royal estate in the area. Centwine gained control of the area in 682 and named it 'Vadomaer' after one of the Saxon leaders Vado the famous. After winning the Battle of Ethandun, Alfred the Great caused the Viking leader Guthrum and his followers to be baptised at Aller and then celebrated at Wedmore. After this the Vikings withdrew to East Anglia.
The Treaty of Wedmore is a term used by historians for an event referred to by the monk Asser in his Life of Alfred, outlining how in 878 the Viking leader Guthrum accepted Alfred the Great as his adoptive father. No such treaty still exists but there is a document that is not specifically linked to Wedmore that is a Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum. Alfred then left Wedmore to his son Edward the Elder.
Wedmore was part of the hundred of Bempstone. Earthworks from a complex of buildings, including a hall and chapel, surrounded by a moat have been identified. The site is believed to have been a bishops palace demolished by John Harewel in the 1380s.
In 1853 a hoard of 200 silver coins dating from the Saxon period was found in the churchyard. In 1988 a Saxon ring, made of copper alloy with a unique knot design, dating from the 6th or 7th century was found in the village by Tim Purnell. It has been authenticated by the British Museum and a modern copy made by local jeweller Erica Sharpe.
According to the 1086 Domesday Book, Wedmore/Wetmore was one of the holdings of the Bishop of Wells with 18 cottagers, woodlands, pasture and two fisheries.
In the medieval period Wedmore was the centre for the surrounding agricultural area, with weekly markets as well as a larger annual one. The market cross dates from the 14th century.
In the 17th century Dr John Westover built a mental hospital to which patients came from all over the West Country. This is believed to have been England's first private lunatic asylum. Apparently the doctor treated his patients compassionately, ensuring that they had luxuries such as playing cards and tobacco. He kept a record of the ailments of Wedmore people over a period of 15 years.
The Post Office dates from Georgian times, while the Old Vicarage was built at the end of the 15th century. The George Hotel was a 16th-century coaching inn. John Tonkin built a fashionable house, in the Italianate style, which is now the pharmacy.
In 1799 Hannah More established a Sunday School for children in Wedmore in the face of opposition from the vicar and local gentry.
Between 1881 and 1898 the Rev Hervey produced the Wedmore Chronicle which gives a picture of the people and area at the time.
The parish council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept (local rate) to cover the council’s operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny. The parish council evaluates local planning applications and works with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic. The parish council's role includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of parish facilities, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also the responsibility of the council.
The village falls within the Non-metropolitan district of Sedgemoor, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Axbridge Rural District, which is responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection, recycling, cemeteries, crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism.
Somerset County Council is responsible for running the largest and most expensive local services such as education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning.
The village is in the 'Wedmore and Mark' electoral ward. Although Wedmore may be the most populous area the ward stretches east to Mark. The total ward population as taken at the 2011 census was 4,796.
It is part of the Wells county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election, and part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.
It is situated on raised ground, in the Somerset Levels between the River Axe and River Brue, often called the Isle of Wedmore, which is composed of Blue Lias and marl.
South of Wedmore are the Tealham and Tadham Moors, a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest which form part of the extensive grazing marsh and ditch systems of the Somerset Levels and Moors. The water table is high throughout the greater part of the year with winter flooding occurring annually, by over-topping of the River Brue. 113 aquatic and bankside vascular plant species have been recorded from the field ditches, rhynes and deep arterial watercourses. A diverse invertebrate fauna is associated in particular with ditches that have a good submerged plant community. The water beetle fauna is exceptionally rich, with the nationally rare species Hydrophilus piceus and Hydrochara caraboides together with the rare soldier flies Stratiomys furcata and Odontomyia ornata. Good numbers of dragonflies and damselflies occur including the Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) and the Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum).
Along with the rest of South West England, Wedmore has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than the rest of the country. The annual mean temperature is approximately 10 °C (50.0 °F). Seasonal temperature variation is less extreme than most of the United Kingdom because of the adjacent sea temperatures. The summer months of July and August are the warmest with mean daily maxima of approximately 21 °C (69.8 °F). In winter mean minimum temperatures of 1 °C (33.8 °F) or 2 °C (35.6 °F) are common. In the summer the Azores high pressure affects the south-west of England, however convective cloud sometimes forms inland, reducing the number of hours of sunshine. Annual sunshine rates are slightly less than the regional average of 1,600 hours. In December 1998 there were 20 days without sun recorded at Yeovilton. Most the rainfall in the south-west is caused by Atlantic depressions or by convection. Most of the rainfall in autumn and winter is caused by the Atlantic depressions, which is when they are most active. In summer, a large proportion of the rainfall is caused by sun heating the ground leading to convection and to showers and thunderstorms. Average rainfall is around 700 mm (28 in). About 8–15 days of snowfall is typical. November to March have the highest mean wind speeds, and June to August have the lightest winds. The predominant wind direction is from the south-west.
The educational system in the Cheddar Valley consists of First schools for children between the ages of 4 and 9, two Middle schools (ages 9 to 13) and a Secondary School for pupils up to the age of 18 years. Children from Wedmore attend Wedmore First School, which was formed in 1876, Hugh Sexey Church of England Middle School in Blackford, and The Kings of Wessex Academy in Cheddar.
I.T. for the Terrified was started in Wedmore in 1999, as a community project so that volunteers could share their computer skills with the local community in a user-friendly and informal setting. In 2001 it moved to the rear of the George Hotel, and in 2009 it moved to a converted cow barn in the grounds of The Kings of Wessex School in Cheddar.
Historically, and apart from school services, Wedmore has been poorly served. The first regularly-timed daily bus service began in the mid-1980s — a regular service between Wells to the east and Burnham-on-Sea to the west. There is also a service between Glastonbury to the south-east and Shipham via Cheddar to the north.
The association, which was established in the late 1970s, consists of a voluntary committee which runs a Community Bus Service in conjunction with Somerset County Council. Known locally as the 'Wedmore Community Bus', it currently operates a return service from Wedmore to Bridgwater, Taunton, Glastonbury and Weston-super-mare, each town being served on one day per week. Each service is timed to leave Wedmore at about 9.30 am, reaching Wedmore on the return in the early afternoon.
The Church of St Mary is predominantly from the 15th century, although some 12th- and 13th-century work survives. The tower, which was built around 1400, with its set-back buttresses, includes triple two-light bell chamber windows; those to the centre are louvred, those to each side blank. It is a Grade I listed building.
There is a wall painting of St Christopher, that dates from the late 15th century or possibly early 16th. This is unusual as few late paintings survived the ravages of the two Cromwells, Thomas and Oliver. The painting features ships and a mermaid at the feet of the saint, odd additions redolent of the sea rather than a river, which are unique to this otherwise common subject of church painting.
Wedmore has a number of annual village festivals, a summer street fair, Wedmore by Lamplight street fair at Christmas, and a large Harvest Home and village parade on the playing field each year.
Wedmore is home to Wedmore Opera, who stage large scale classic opera in a specially designed and constructed marquee venue. In addition, Wedmore Theatre stages a range of amateur dramatic productions in the village hall.
Local people created and host the original Turnip Prize, a parody of the Turner Prize. Wedmore hosts the annual Wedmore Real Ale Festival.Gary Glitter, disgraced rock star, once had a country home in Wedmore.
Penelope Fitzgerald, Booker prize-winning novelist, poet, essayist and biographer was a weekend resident at Theale Post Office between 1981 and 1986 approximately
Jos Buttler, Lancashire and England Wicketkeeper.