Local History Overview

Local History Overview

History of the Parish of Meare

The Parish of Meare was once a few islands in a flooded area and although there is evidence of life over 3500 years ago with the discovery of the Sweet Track, little is known about the people who lived here. The excavations of the Meare Lake Village in the 1890’s provided evidence of the way the early Britain’s lived in this area.

The arrival of the Saxons in Somerset around AD 670 saw them granting the whole of this district to Glastonbury Abbey.

In the Doomsday Book 1084, Meare is described as an island with 60 acres of land. It was very important to the Abbey because of the fish in Meare Pool which helped to feed the Monks.

Under Abbot Adam of Sodbury the present Church of St. Mary’s and All Saints was built and dedicated in 1323. This was followed by the summer palace (now known as Meare Farm) for the Abbot of Glastonbury together with the Fish House.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII the Abbots Manor was handed to the Duke of Somerset and the village came under his control. His desendents were still paying rates for property in the parish up until 1755, when Lord Northumberland inherited the farm.

In 1762 it had become the property of Mr. Peter Taylor and in 1797 of Mr Shuckburgh- How. It is now owned by the Look family.

In spite of great poverty the population was increasing rapidly, in 1800 there were 753 inhabitants, fifty years later the number had doubled.

In 1843 the Meare Friendly and Benefit Society was set up. This was to provide financial help to the labourers in the Parish in case of accident or sickness.

The coming of the age of steam is shown in the 1881 census with the presence of a stationmaster, a railway clerk and a signalman listed.

The main employment in the Parish was farming and the peat industry, both of which are gradually declining in the 2000’s.

Meare School, with the bell tower and the headmaster’s house was built in 1840 and these buildings are now divided into three dwellings. The new school building is home to the present day Meare School.


If you are interested in finding out more about the history of the parish or in tracing family ties to the parish please contact Gloria McClurg (41@gloriamcclurg.plus.com) as she has a wealth of knowledge.


Image of Meare School

(content: G.McClurg, Image: S.Edwards)