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Washford — Somerset, England

Washford is a small village in Old Cleeve and St. Decumans parishes in the Southwest of Somerset; and although it is best known as the location of Cleeve Abbey, there are many other attractions to occupy a visitors' stay.

WashfordCleeve Abbey is a well preserved medieval Cistercian monastery protected by the English Heritage. This site is one of the finest examples of an English cloister still in existence. The two storey building, the gatehouse; the 15th-century refectory with its angel roof; the unusual 'painted chamber'; and the floor of an earlier refectory with its 13th-century heraldic tiles all remain one of the finest examples of monastic cloister buildings in the country. The monastery was once surrounded by a moat with fishponds and was founded by William Earl of Ronmare 1186-1191. Being a poor monastery, not all of the buildings were completed during the l2th century, hence the 13th century dormitory and the 15th century refectory hall (with timber roof) which still remains intact. Additionally the tiled refectory pavement at Cleeve Abbey has been compared to the floor of the Chapter House at Westminster Abbey. During the Dissolution the cloister and out buildings were adapted to secular uses, insuring their survival. Even though the main abbey church did not survive, excavations have uncovered the church site with details of its architectural style. A visit to Cleeve Abbey offers an exhibition and a virtual tour relating the story of abbey life.

Washford Mill is of medieval origin and drew its power from a channel connected to the Washford River. During the 19th century a turbine was installed (1898). In recent times this structure has undergone extensive conversion and restoration. The historic 16th century mill has been converted for use as a tourist centre, and shops displaying traditional country trades and crafts. The renovated mill celebrated their formal opening in February 2001 with HRH. Princess Anne.

Washford Station is the home of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust museum. Here you will find a number of historic artifacts as well as the original signalbox containing a set of levers from a box on the old Railway. The steam-operated heritage railway with its historic locomotives, coaches and wagons will take you on a journey through ten unique stations located over a twenty mile scenic trip. The Washford station opened in 1874 and unlike a few of the other stations on this line, it is actually in the village it serves.

While in Washford be certain to visit Torre Cider Farm, where you can sample their cider while touring the farm and watching the method used to process their cider. Somerset County's cider making tradition was first mentioned in 1230, and has continued to thrive over the centuries due to the mild climate and rich soil, which lends to the production of high quality cider apples in Somerset.

Washford may be hardly more than a hamlet; however it is full of interesting sights to see, including the Tropiquaria, a wildlife park and tourist attraction that will amuse the young and old. Be certain while there not to miss the Washford Radio Museum which is part of the Tropiquaria. This BBC West Regional Transmitting Station was the first high-powered broadcasting station in the South West of England. The museum contains items of early BBC equipment, a collection of radios, radiograms and televisions; and describes its long history giving insight into radio broadcasting in Britain from the 1920's to its future in the new millennium.

And when you walk by The White Horse Inn, take note that this is a Traditional 17th century village freehouse. This historic building, in its beautiful riverside location is a privately owned hotel with a heritage rating.

Where is Washford?

Washford is located in north west Somerset along the A39 road between Carhampton and Williton. The nearest populated areas include Watchet to the north and Williton to the east.

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