top of page


Athelney Mud Huts - See HERE

Listed Buildings

    There are 21 listed buildings (or parts of buildings) in the village. Apart from the Parish Church (Grade I) all are listed as Grade II:
    Parish Church; Baptist Church - Former Stables; Unknown Monument in Churchyard; Crossway Farmhouse; Churley Farmhouse; Sturts Farmhouse; Woodhouse Farmhouse; Dyke's Farmhouse; Frog Lane Farmhouse; Slough Farmhouse; Barn 30m west of Slough Farmhouse; The Laurels, Meare Green; Jessamine House/Long Cottage; Curload Farmhouse; Woodhill Farmhouse; Poplars Farmhouse, Meare Green; Lane End Farmhouse; Withy Boiler, Lovells Farm; Barrington Monument; Stocks in the Churchyard

    Details of some can be found HERE

Another Listed Building, not in the Parish, but very much a part of the village scene is the Burton Pynsent Monument at the top of Red Hill.      Details HERE

Style & Materials

Woodhouse Farm

Withy Boiler, Lovells Farm

    There is no vernacular style that can be assigned to the village buildings. Most of the houses in the centre of the village are estate type, built later than 1970. The oldest cottages and houses are cob or stone, and some still have their original thatched roof, but many have been replaced with tile. Later dwellings, built in Bridgwater '21-holer' brick, are also mainly roofed in clay tiles, either pantile or double Roman. There are few slate roofs in the village. Several 19th century cottages were built on the edges of, or as encroachments on, the common lands of the village.

    The oldest farmhouses are generally scattered around the parish. These are interspersed with the houses of withy growers and processors, who would haul the willow back from the moors. One boiler chimney is still visible.

    The early history of one house, The Mardy, can be seen HERE

The Moors

A large area of the village is barely above sea level, but has been drained over the centuries, with the rivers banked to help prevent flooding. Read more HERE

Aerial Photos - Click HERE


The Athelney Mud Huts


The Tone, between Turkey and Stanmoor Bridge, is not a river to fall in love with at first sight. It is not like other Somerset rivers. Not the rushing waters of the East Lyn, or the gentle bubbling of the Barle. Here, the Tone is a drain, and unless a spring tide is up it has steep muddy banks. But if you live there it is ‘The River’. It is part of your everyday life. You cannot escape it. Also, for the early settlers of the river bank it was about the only possible means of owning your own home.

Between the river and the road was the ‘Ward-wall’, a bank built under a government award, in order to hold back the waters of the Tone from the lower land in Stanmoor. The landowners of the parish had responsibility for different sections of the wall and had to make any necessary repairs at their own expense. It was not surprising, therefore, that they turned a blind eye to individuals and families who built cottages on top of the bank, and then took on the maintenace of their section. These would sometimes have started life as simple mud huts, thatched with sedge from the rhynes (drainage ditches). The men were often boatmen, so a few steps would be cut in the bank to access the water. In time, brick walls were built around the house, a hedge was put to the road. A piece of ground the other side of the road was acquired for a garden, and fruit trees were planted. The holding was then passed to the next generation.


Figure 2 shows the area around Athelney Bridge in 1840. The occupiers of the properties were:


1295 James Mitchell

1296 Mathias Palmer

1297 Robert Wollon

1298 John Sharman

1299a, 1300 & 1301

John House (Tailor)

1303 James Kearle

1304 Philip Russell

1305 Mary Smith

1306a A Brewer

1307 Thomas Smith

1308 William Palmer

Walter Raymond, the Somerset Victorian traveller, wrote about his visit to the Athelney river bank in his book, ‘Idler out of Doors’, 1901. He recalled meeting a woman who lived in one of the cottages and she related the story of the building: “ ’twere gramfer what first builded a house here, sure ‘nough. You zee ‘twere like this. They had a-begun to stop it by gramfer’s time like. If you did but put up a rabbit hutch on fresh groun’, they did come an’ pull it down avore ‘t were up like. But gramfer he were too many vor ‘em. The wold man, he builded a little house o’ the river-mud, there on the bit his brother had a-tookt in avore. There ‘pon a spring-tide one night, he heaved un up ‘pon apple poles, an’ brought un over river ‘pon the barge, an’ clapped un down right there-right, an’ lighted up his vire avore light, an’ lived in un vor years, zo he did.” The woman then explained to Walter Raymond that the family built a brick wall a foot or two outside the mud hut and cleared out the inside, so that when she married into the family she and her husband were owners of a brick cottage. Also, because it was on the Ward-wall, they paid no taxes. The only problem was the damp. As the woman said: “But lauk! ‘tis zo wet.”


Another Victorian, Henry Laver F.S.A, visited Athelney from 1846 to 1850. He gave a paper to the Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society in 1909 describing what he remembered of the Athelney mud huts. He noted that the people who lived in the huts were mostly employed making clay pipes. “They had a healthy appearance, and dressed as comfortably and as tidily as any other working-people in the district.” He likened the huts to those that might have been found in Bronze Age Britain, and went on to describe their structure:

“Their mode of erection was this. First a hole was dug in the ground of the size of the proposed hut, and the soil thrown out in this operation was piled up around the excavation, but a portion of the space set aside for the proposed hut had only the top spit or so removed, thus leaving around the space of the excavation a raised border to form a sitting or sleeping bank in the finished hut, the rest of the space being removed a foot or two deeper. There was a space, at one end usually, left on the same level as as the sleeping or sitting banks, and this formed the hearth.


“The sides of the hut were raised by a very strong and rough wattle or basket-work and daubed with clay on the outside. A space was left for a door, but none for a window. The chimney, being broad and low, let in a sufficiency of light, when for any reason, it was necessary to close the door in the day-time.”

bottom of page