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Shapwick, Somerset

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Title: Shapwick, Somerset  
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Subject: Indract of Glastonbury, Sweet Track, Hundred of Whitley, Francis Rolle, Peat extraction on the Somerset Levels
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Shapwick, Somerset

Stone building with square tower
Church of St Mary
Shapwick is located in Somerset
 Shapwick shown within Somerset
Population 536 [1]
OS grid reference
District Sedgemoor
Shire county Somerset
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district TA7
Dialling code 01458
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Devon and Somerset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Bridgwater and West Somerset
List of places

Shapwick is a village on the Polden Hills overlooking the Somerset Moors, in the Sedgemoor district of Somerset, England. It is situated to the west of Glastonbury.


Shapwick is the site of one end of the Sweet Track, an ancient causeway dating from the 39th century BC.

In 1998 a hoard of 9,238 silver denarii (the second largest hoard ever found from the Roman Empire, and the largest in the United Kingdom) was discovered in the remains of a previously unknown Roman villa near Shapwick.[2] Following a Treasure Inquest in Taunton, the hoard was valued and acquired in its entirety by Somerset County Museums Service for the sum of £265,000.[3] It became known as the Shapwick Hoard.

The parish of Shapwick was part of the Whitley Hundred.[4]

Due to the plan of its roads and streets academics have described it as a "typical English village".[5] Shapwick originally belonged to East India Company.[9][10]

Shapwick is one of the nine Thankful Villages in Somerset — those that suffered no casualties in World War I.


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 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 (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 Bridgwater Rural District,[11] which is responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and 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, highways, public transport, fire service, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning. Policing is provided by the Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

It is also part of the Bridgwater and West Somerset 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.


Shapwick Heath is a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest and national nature reserve[12] It is a former raised bog lying in the basin of the River Brue. The site supports a diverse community of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. National rarities are the Large Marsh Grasshopper (Stethophyma grossum) found on Sphagnum moss bogs, the Greater Silver Diving Beetle (Hydrophilus piceus) and the Lesser Silver Diving Beetle (Hydrochara caraboides) which is now confined nationally to the Brue Basin Peat Moors.[13]

The adjoining Shapwick Moor has been purchased by the Hawk and Owl Trust and will be their first reserve in south west England. The land will be farmed traditionally in order to recreate the habitats of the past.[14] The management plan for the site is being overseen by Natural England. The first steps in the creation of the nature reserve are to reseed the land and then reintroduce Devon ruby red cattle cattle to the site. The priority is to encourage wildlife, not human visitors and there will be no visitor centre or permanent structures, but a public footpath which crosses the site will be improved and hides built along the footpath at key vantage points.[15] Birds identified at the site include: buzzard, sparrowhawk, kestrel, hobby,[16] Red kite, barn owl, lapwing, pheasant, cuckoo, woodpecker and skylark.[15]

Religious sites

The listed building.[18]


Shapwick is home to Shapwick School which was founded in 1974 in Glastonbury, but moved into the village in 1984.[19] It is a special school for children aged 8 to 18 with dyslexia. Pupils aged 13 to 18 are based at Shapwick Senior School in the village, while those aged 8 to 12 are based at Shapwick Prep in nearby Burtle. In November 2010, the school was featured in November a BBC Three documentary Kara Tointon: Don't call me stupid about actress Kara Tointon who suffers from dyslexia.[20]


Shapwick railway station was a station on the Highbridge branch of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. It opened in 1854 and closed in 1966.

Notable residents

It was the birthplace of Australian politician Henry Strangways in 1832 and Girl Guide leader Joan Marsham in 1888.

Churchill Julius, later the first Archbishop of New Zealand, was briefly Vicar of Shapwick in the 1870s.

Shapwick in popular culture

In 2012, the musician Jon Brookes (aka 'The Advisory Circle' of the Ghost Box record label)[21] released an electronica album entitled 'Shapwick' (on the Clay Pipe record label[22]) based on "an imaginary impression of" the village and its surrounding countryside, following an unplanned car journey through the area one autumn evening: "I felt a certain energy around the place. The images created by the trees in the dark conjured inspiration and it struck me that an album could be based on an imaginary impression of this area. I had already recorded some pieces that were in search of a home and the idea formed within seconds."[23]


  1. ^ "Statistics for Wards, LSOAs and Parishes — SUMMARY Profiles" (Excel). Somerset Intelligence. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  2. ^ The Shapwick Coin Hoard, Somerset County Council website
  3. ^ "The Shapwick Coin Hoard and Photos". Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  4. ^ "Somerset Hundreds". GENUKI. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Ashton, Mick. "AD 900 - The Origins of the English Village". Current Archeology. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  6. ^ a b  
  7. ^ "Shapwick Manor". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  8. ^ "The Granary and Shapwick House Hotel". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  9. ^ Dunning, Robert, History of the County of Somerset, Vol.8, 2004, pp.160-179
  10. ^ Burke's Landed Gentry, 1937, p.2217, pedigree of Templer of Lindridge
  11. ^ "Brdigwater RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Shapwick Heath NNR". Natural England. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  13. ^ "Shapwick Heath". English Nature. Retrieved 2006-08-19. 
  14. ^ "Latest News". Chris Sperring. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  15. ^ a b Adler, Mark (November 2007). "Where wildlife rules". Mendip Times 3 (6): 7. 
  16. ^ "Shapwick Moor Newsletter — May 2007" (Word). The Hawk and Owl Trust — North Somerset and Bristol Group. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  17. ^ Dunning, Robert (2007). Somerset Churches and Chapels: Building Repair and Restoration. Halsgrove. pp. 35–38.  
  18. ^ "Church of St. Mary". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  19. ^ "The Development of Shapwick School".  
  20. ^ "TV star Kara Tointon films documentary at Shapwick School". Bridgwater Mercury. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  21. ^ "Ghost Box Records". Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  22. ^ "Clay Pipe Music". Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  23. ^ "Café Kaput". Retrieved 2012-08-15. 

External links

  • The Shapwick Project, Somerset: A Rural Landscape Explored (2007) edited by Dr Chris Gerrard and Professor Mick Aston
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