Quantock Online

Over Stowey

The village of Over Stowey consists of a half dozen dwellings clustered round the church but the wider parish extends for many miles across the East side of the Quantock Hills taking in the hamlets of Plainsfield, Aley, Adscombe, Friarn and Bincombe as well as many scattered farms and houses and a large part of the forest and moorland of the hills. There is no commercial centre because there is virtually no commerce - not a pub, post office or shop but we have some of the most beautiful and varied landscape in the southwest, many far-reaching views across the Somerset levels to Glastonbury Tor and the Mendips or across the Bristol Channel to Wales and all of it protected as a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Visitors come from far and wide to enjoy walking, riding and mountain biking.

The village Church contains several windows designed by Burne-Jones and made by Morris & Co which were installed during the Victorian restoration of the building funded by the Stanley family who occupied the vast and once magnificent gothic revival castle come folly come country house which was Quantock Lodge and later The Quantock School. The ruins of a twelfth century chapel stood in a field in Adscombe until, most unfortunately, the farmer decided to removed them several years ago.

William Holland was vicar of Over Stowey from 1779 until his death in 1819 and some of his diaries are published (in paperback) as 'Paupers & Pig Killers'. It is a picturesque account of the life of the village and an unusual insight into the opinions of an old fashioned High Church Tory of the time.

A later occupant of the Vicarage from 1887-1892 was W. M. Bottome whose daughter Phyllis Bottome became a popular novelist although now almost forgotten. She wrote about her childhood in Over Stowey in her autobiography 'Search for a Soul'.

"Over Stowey was the real home of my heart," she wrote. "The beauty of the waterfalls and streams, the deep red earth, the strong, wiry bracken, the lovely heather hills, the fragrant drenched woods, full of moss and ferns... We lay in a fold of the Quantocks under steep, red fields, the moor above us, and occasional white seagulls swooping over our bright earth."

With thanks to Tim Whittingham of Over Stowey for this article.

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