Carhampton, Somerset

Carhampton, Somerset

infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 51.173053
longitude= -3.424664
official_name= Carhampton
population = 992cite web|url=|title=Parish Population Statistics|work=ONS Census 2001|publisher=Somerset County Council|accessdate=2008-07-03]
shire_district= West Somerset
shire_county = Somerset
region= South West England
constituency_westminster= Bridgwater
post_town= MINEHEAD
postcode_district =
os_grid_reference= ST005425

Carhampton is a village and civil parish in West Somerset, four miles to the east of Minehead.

Carhampton civil parish stretches from the Bristol Channel coast inland to Exmoor. The parish has a population of 992 (2001 census).


Iron Age occupation of the parish is evident from the remains of Bat's Castle hillfort and associated earthworks. Archaeological excavation in the mid-1990s suggested the existence of early Christian settlement and burial to the east of the village. Carhampton is thought to have been the centre for a Saxon royal estate. The king and his court would locate temporarily to Carhampton as part of a visiting circuit. One function was that officials of the royal court operated from Carhampton to collect taxes from surrounding estates. The village was subject to Viking raids. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles state that, in 836, King Egbert fought the crews of 35 ships at Carhampton. With the Danes in possession of the battlefield, the Chronicles recount a great slaughter.

Earl of Carhampton

The title of Earl of Carhampton was created in the Peerage of Ireland in 1785, but became extinct upon the death of the 3rd Earl in 1829. The earls bore the subsidiary titles of "Viscount Carhampton" (1781) and "Baron Irnham" (1768), both in the Peerage of Ireland. The Lutrells arrived in England in 1066, with William the Conqueror's army at the Battle of Hastings, acquiring estates as reward for services to the Crown.


Carhampton is associated with the Arthurian legend of Saint Carantoc. Carantoc is said to have slain a serpent that was terrorising the inhabitants of "Carrum" (Carhampton). On victory, Carantoc was granted by Arthur the right to build a monastery in the village.


Carhampton is famous for its wassailing celebration which was started in the 1930's by the Taunton Cider Company. Wassailing in Carhampton takes place on January 17 in the orchard of the Butchers Arms Pub. This is preceded by a smaller event in the Community Orchard in the centre of the village next to the pub. The villagers from a circle around the largest apple tree, hang pieces of toast soaked in cider in the branches for the robins, who represent the 'good spirits' of the tree. A shotgun is fired overhead to scare away evil spirits (Christian 1972).

;Carhampton Wassailing Song

:Old apple tree, we wassail thee,:And hoping thou wilt bear:For the Lord doth know where we shall be:Till apples come another year.: :For to bear well, and to bear well:So merry let us be,:Let every man take off his hat,:::And shout to the old apple tree!:Old apple tree, we wassail thee,:And hoping thou wilt bear:Hatfuls, capfuls and three bushel bagfuls:And a little heap under the stairs,:Hip, Hip, Hooray!


* Christian, Roy (1972). Old English Customs. Pub. David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-5741-7. P.113.

See also


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