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The Dark and Middle Ages

The Dark Ages

Let’s wind the clock back to 1065 AD and take a look at Bridgwater. There is no bridge, just a few simple houses lie scattered around on the higher ground at Hamp, Durleigh and Wembdon. And there, where we are used to seeing St Mary’s Church is a l...
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The Middle Ages

Prior to the arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066, Harold was on the throne and Bridgwater, still called just Bryj, was just one of many communities which came under the lordship of the Saxon Merleswain. Merleswain wasn’t even a local man. He was t...
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William Brewer

The turning point for Bridgwater came in the year 1200 with  King Johnon the throne.  In earlier years, Brewer had been instrumental in delivering the ransom money which paid for the release of Richard the Lionheart whenhe had been incarcerated in Ge...
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Bridgwater Charter

John, by the Grace of God, et cetera.  Know ye that we have given and granted, and have confirmed, by this present charter, to our beloved and faithful William Brewer, that Bridgwater shall be a free borough and that there be a fre...


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Bridgwater Castle

Bridgwater Castle was an impressive building for its day covering 10 acres, big enough to support 2-3,000 troops in times of strife.  It had walls 12 to 15 feet thick and was surrounded on three sides by a 30 foot moat, the fourth side being the river.  The...
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Town's Mediaeval Layout

Although the entrances to the town were gates, one at each point of the compass, the town was not walled. Rather it was contained within a series of ditches, rows of houses and the Durleigh Brook. Within the rough oval shape were contained the following...
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St Mary’s Church

The parish church of St Mary the Virgin is certainly the oldest building in the town, largely built in the Early English style but mixed with Decorated and Perpendicular. Internally, the archway leading to the tower appears to be Early English and from...
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St John's Hospital

It wasn’t only the Bridgwater castle which William Brewer left as a legacy. Apart from an abbey at Dunkeswell and a castle at Torquay, in 1216 he built the hospital of St John the Baptist in Bridgwater. This was an Augustine Priory which served the n...
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Wat Tyler

In 1380, Thomas, the master of St John’s, complained that William Blacche, a tanner, John Thomas, a carpenter, John Kelly, a hosier, and many others, attacked St Joh...
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Grey Friars

Around 1230, following in his father’s footsteps, William Brewer’s son, also William, who served with distinction in the crusades, opened the Grey Friars’, or Friar Minor’s, Franciscan priory in Friarn Street. The land had been donated in 1246 and the...
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