Monday, April 02, 2012

GUEST POST John Locke and Wrington

Lisa Harding is planning a series of blog posts on places with Liberal connections. She has kindly sent me the first one to publish here as a guest post.

John Locke and Wrington

Many people over the years have done a wonderful job of documenting the lives of some of the key figures in the history of Liberalism, yet there is so much more to learn for those who seek to explore further the lives of these inspirational people.

As an amateur genealogist and researcher of history I have a keen interest not only in those people but also in the places they came from. I hit upon the idea of a series of articles that looked not only at the people themselves but also where they came from. This has throw up other nuggets of history that often don’t get mentioned. 

The first person in the series I have been working on is the father of classic liberalism, John Locke. A well known (and documented) philosopher and politician he was born in a humble cottage (sadly destroyed in the 19th century) in the small village of Wrington in North Somerset a charming little place that not many people talk about as a place of much interest. Locke’s life coincided with some of the key events in English history such as the beheading of Charles I, the parliament of Oliver Cromwell, the Great Fire of London and the Plague. He also shares virtually the same timeline with another famous writer Samuel Pepys, but let us head back to the village of Wrington.

Situated just east of Weston-Super-Mare, Wrington has a relatively small population if just over 2,000. Dating back to Roman times there is also strong archaeological evidence to suggest that the village was, at some point, also occupied by the Saxons. The village’s most impressive building is the church of All Saints, a grade one listed building with its grand rectory (grade 2 listed) which date back to the 1400’s. There is a bust of John Locke from the early 1900’s and a rood screen dating back to the 1600’s. The cottage where john Locke was situated just by the north gate entrance to All Saints.

So far Wrington seems to be just like any other small Somerset town until you dig a little bit further under the surface. For example, did you know that Wrington has no main road? It all comes down to one lone Reverend, Doctor Henry Waterland who protested so strongly about how ‘his parishioners would be demoralised or the quiet of the ton destroyed by the stress of traffic’ from a proposed turnpike linking the village to Bristol that the plan was abandoned and no road built. The road instead was moved away from the village and today the only way to get to the village is be one a a series of narrow winding country lanes.

Wrington surprised many people who look beyond to see what else this sleepy village has to offer. There are extremely active community groups who work tirelessly to preserve the village’s history and heritage and that of its notable people. For those looking for refreshment there is the Golden Lion pub, an establishment which proudly proclaims that is one of the few remaining pubs that does not serve food and instead concentrates on a large and varied supply of real ales and lagers. For fine dining you have to go along and visit the Plough Inn where you can enjoy an a la carte menu made from local produce and suppliers.

I can’t help but think that john Locke would enjoy Wrington today if he were still alive. A vibrant community with deep roots in historical research and a deep desire to preserve it, Wrington is one of those hidden gems in the English countryside which, should you have the opportunity to visit, should not be missed.

No comments: