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Fitzhead

Parish Council

Fitzhead is a small, attractive rural village set in beautiful rolling countryside about 10 miles west of Taunton, Somerset.  We are surrounded by Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty - the Quantock Hills and the Blackdown Hills - and are close to Exmoor National Park and the coast around Minehead and North Devon. The village has about 250 inhabitants and is roughly divided into areas known locally as Higher Fitzhead, Central Fitzhead, and West Fitzhead. We are an active, friendly community and enjoy a get-together at events organised within the village. The parish council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept 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 also 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 and environmental issues are also the responsibility of the council. The village falls within the non-metropolitan district of Somerset West and Taunton, which was established on 1 April 2019.

Upcoming Events

The next Parish Council Meeting will take place on Wednesday 11th August 2021 commencing at 7.15pm in the Tithe Barn, Fitzhead.

A History of Fitzhead

Neolithic

The earliest known history of the Fitzhead area dates back to Neolithic times (around 4000 BC) and evidence of occupation has been found from the Stone Age, the Bronze and Iron Ages through to Roman times.

Saxons

After the Romans left the Saxons founded Wiveliscombe and Fitzhead, and in 1049 Edward the Confessor granted the Manor and the ancient Hundred of Kingsbury to Gisa, Bishop of Wells, last of the Saxon Bishops.

Normans

The Bishop retained these lands after the Norman conquest in 1066, and in 1085/6 Wiveliscombe & Fitzhead is listed in the Domesday Book. It was originally called Fyfhide which means five hides - a hide being about 100 acres.

The Church

The churchyard has a 14th century cross. It was restored in 1908. The lantern consists of a four-sided sculpture; a carving of the Crucifixion, a seated figure of the Virgin and Child, a figure of St James (Patron Saint of the church) the Great and the figure of a bishop.

Farming

Fitzhead has been a farming village for centuries. The 15th Lord Sommerville introduced Merino Sheep from Spain into Britain and invented the double furrow plough. He established farms at Dean Farm and Manor Farm to test the most economical and profitable ways of farming and cultivating the soil.

Amenities

In the past the village had its own smithy and a forge, and red sandstone and limestone were quarried. It also had a school (dating back to 1787), a shop, a butcher’s, an old Post Office, a Petrol Station, 3 shoemakers, and at one time there appear to have been about 7 pubs in Fitzhead!

Fitzhead in Photos

St James' Church was originally called St Mary Magdalene. The exact date of the church is unknown. The style is Early English. The oldest part is the 15th century tower; the remainder of the building was pulled down in 1849 and the nave and the chancel rebuilt in the same style from the old materials. A vestry was added in 1863 and the north isle in 1887. In 1849 the 15th century Rood Screen was placed at the west end of the church, but in 1900 it was returned to its correct place at the entrance to the chancel. The well-known church architect, Mr F Bligh Bond, FRIBA, writing of the "unique" screen at Fitzhead, says that it "could not be matched anywhere, the wonderful groining and tracing being equal to the work on the Henry VII Chapel at Westminster". The most striking feature is the great gap in the centre. The Old Vicarage was originally sited on the North West side of the churchyard, but this was pulled down in 1903.