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The village of enmore lies 2 miles to the West of Bridgwater, just past Durleigh reservoir. The village has its own golf course, two public houses and is known as, "The cradle of free elementary education in the country". The school is believed to have been the first free school in the country. Part of the village surrounds the ancient church of St Michael's and part along the busy road from Bridgwater that leads to the Pines at the top of the Buncombe hill. On the road are the two public houses that serve the village. The first one you come to is The enmore Inn, just opposite the enmore golf course, there are a few houses but the main part of the village is further up the road where the other inn is situated that of the Tynte Arms. If you wish to view the church, turn down Frog lane and follow the lane which rejoins the main road just below the school.

Enmore is the home of the first free school, which was started by Reverend John Poole in 1810 and is still going strong today. It was such a good school that the teacher assistants were always being lured away to start similar ventures elsewhere. The Reverend John Poole was the nephew of Thomas Poole of Nether Stowey and a friend of Coleridge and Wordsworth. Today the school still has a very good reputation.

The Church of St Michael

It is not known when the first church was built on this site, but it is believed that there was a small Saxon church here. The Norman church was built between 1100 and 1135, all that now remains of this period is the South Doorway. During the 13th century the West doorway and tower entrance were added. The tower dates from the 15th century and from the top you have a fantastic view of the surrounding countryside.

The church had a very close connection to the Malet Family who lived next to the church and held the manor of enmore from the time of the Norman Conquest to 1681. In the chancel of the church there is a board commemorating the 22 generations of the Malets. In 1681 the property then passed to the Earl's of Egmont. The castle was sold in 1838 to Mr Nicholas Broadmead. One of the members of the Malet family was the Rev Will Malet who was the rector of enmore in 1473. The two helmets on either side of the Chancel arch belonged to the full war harness of the Malet Family, the small one dates from 1560-1580 and the larger one with the Malet family crest dates from about 1620. These helmets were originally black and believed they were adapted for funerary purposes. They were discovered in 1833 when part of the Castle was demolished, they were painted grey and hung in their present position for preservation.

In 1873 the church was thoroughly restored the North Transept was added, the old gallery at the West End was removed, the old oak screen was also taken down and given to the church at Huish Episcopi where it can still be seen today. The churchwarden accounts from the year 1725 give an insight into the history of the church clock and in 1796 James Coles of Nether Stowey was given the job of reconstructing it. The clock had a wooden face and a single hand, which travelled round the square dial, it was over 5feet across. It carried its message of time passing to the people of enmore until 1873 when it was completed reconstructed by a Bristol firm, when it was given it present face of ornamental wrought iron.

Enmore Castle

The manorial rights of enmore were given to William Malet, a friend of William the Conqueror, after the Norman Conquest. The Malets lived at enmore for twenty-two generations and left their mark on the local church of St Michael's. In 1681 the castle and lands passed into the hands of the Earls of Egmont. In the 18th century John Percival the then earl built his castle. It was a very unusual building, to quote Collinson:

"…A singular structure, a large quadrilateral embattled pile of reddish, dark-coloured stone, with semi-circular bastions at the corners and enclosing a spacious courtyard within."

The building had its own turreted gatehouse with dry moat, which was forty feet wide and 16 feet deep, and drawbridge. The stables were underground with an entrance, some distance from the castle, at the side of the hill. Most of this fascinating building was demolished in 1833 and what was left was converted into the present house.

Circular walk

The grounds of the Castle have an ornamental lake with small boathouse. There is a public footpath, which if you follow takes you to another imposing large house Barford Park. Neither the castle or Barford Park are open to the public, but both have public footpaths running though their grounds.

Next to the church, to the left of the drive, is a public footpath that passes enmore Castle, and from this path you have a wonderful view of both the castle and its lake. From the stile at the end of the lake follow the edge of trees. Then follow the hedge on the left, past the ditch in the middle of the field, and you will come to a path leading to a kissing gate (the gap is not visible from the centre of the field). After passing through the kissing gate go through the farm gate, which has a stream on the other side. The path now heads up to the top of the field - look for the large tree half way up. From here you have a lovely view of the surrounding countryside. At the top of the field there is a stile, cross the stile and head left towards the lane and Barford House. On reaching Barford House turn left along the drive for a short distance. Just past the end of the drive is a farm gate on the left, go through the gate. Here there are two footpaths, take the footpath to the right (marked Quantock Greenway). Head downhill in a south-easterly direction. Cross the bridge over the stream at the bottom of the hill and continue on until you reach a stile just behind enmore School. If you turn right here you will come out onto the main road or, if you turn left, you will come out near the church.

External sites about Enmore

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