Weston-s-Mare Church Records
Mary Mason. B. A.
“The church, which is dedicated to St. Martins, is a neat Gothic structure, consisting of a nave, a chancel and north aisle: at the west end is a low tower, surmounted with a small spire, and containing a clock and six bells.
The village of Worle is not unpleasantly situated, it has a compact appearance; the dwellings are neat and comfortable, and a prospect from them opens over the moors to the Mendip-hills.” Rev John Collinson. 1790.
The village of Worle was built around the parish church of St. Martins and surrounded by open fields. It was a small village but much bigger than Weston near Worle at the turn of the nineteenth century.
Since the 1950’s Worle has developed into a very large community. The friendly village atmosphere has long since disappeared and the old centre has been swallowed into the expanding area. More houses, supermarkets, schools and churches have been built, to support the new population and the old village has long since disappeared.
Weston was just a small fishing village when Collinson wrote his ‘History of Somerset’ in 1790. It has grown to its present position owing to the coming of the Railways in 1841 and the emergence of holiday resorts that placed Weston as a favourite place to visit.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel built the railway link between Bristol and Weston and trains began to run daily between Bristol and Weston in the 1850’s. Weston’s population doubled in size at this time, changing a small fishing village of around 100 people to a fashionable resort.
The town was enhanced in 1826 by the esplanade sea wall, which was lengthened by 1885 so that the wall way extended from Anchor Head to the Old Royal Hospital.
The construction of the Old Pier linking Birnbeck Island with the mainland, allowing paddle steamers to berth, was completed by 1867 whilst the Grand Pier which included a large pavilion and theatre, was opened in 1904.
On the summit of the hill above the village of Worle is a vast Roman encampment of a circular form, called Worle-berry, strongly fortified in some parts with one and in others with two and three ditches, and a rampire of heaped stone in many places twenty feet in height. This was the last fortification the Romans had in this district westward, and if not the strongest, yet the most convenient they had in all these parts for surveying the motions of the enemy, and was probably one of the Castra æstiva. The brow of Worle-hill is here capped with rugged rocks of grey limestone.
Weston-super-Mare, initially known as Weston near Worle.
The Rev. John Collinson, F.A.S who was vicar of Long Ashton, wrote of Weston in the late eighteenth century:
“ Weston-super-Mare lies upon the Channel northward from Uphill, on the opposite side of that rich moor, the skirts of which towards the sea are, as before related, so covered with drifts of sand. It is situated at the western end of that immense ridge of rock called Worle-Hill, and on its southern acclivity, commanding a beautiful prospect of land and water. The extreme point of this hill juts into the sea, forming a headland known to mariners by the name of Anchor-head, where a huge disjointed rock, called Bearn-Back, is wearilessly combated by the waves, which in storms rage against these shores with uncommon violence.”
Worle is mentioned in the doomsday book: “Walter de Dowai holds of the King, Worle. Edgar held it in the time of King Edward, and gelded for six hides and a half.”
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