The History Society holds events from September to May including talks and visits as well as some not-too-serious fundraising too.
Everyone is welcome to come along - see the 'Pubs and Clubs' page for details.
Here'ss a collection of photographs of Witham Friary kindly shared by villagers:
Here's a short film of Witham Friary taken in the 1950s by a regular visitor and found in 2012 in an attic in Maine, New England. Other towns shown include Frome, Bath and Huddersfield.
A brief history of Witham Friary
The village takes its name from the Witham charterhouse, a Carthusian Priory
founded in 1182 by Henry II, which had peripheral settlements including one
at Charterhouse and possibly another at Green Ore. It is reputed to be the
first Carthusian house in England. One of only nine Carthusian Houses, the
priory did not survive the Dissolution of the Monasteries. At the
dissolution it was worth £227; the equivalent of £52,000 today (2006).
Excavations in 1921 revealed buttressed wall foundations and building rubble
including glazed roof and floor tiles. It is a scheduled ancient monument.
Part of the priory now serves as St Mary's Parish Church. Although the
original building dates from around 1200 it was altered in a transitional
style in 1828, and then rebuilt and extended 1875 by William White in
"Muscular Gothic" style. It has a three-bay nave and continuous one
bay apsidal chancel, built of local limestone rubble, supported on each side
by four massive flying buttresses. The plastered interior is entered through
a Norman style doorway. Inside the church is a scraped octagonal font dating
from around 1450. The Jacobean pulpit contains medieval work and there is a
royal arms of 1660 at the west end. The stained glass windows contain
fragments of medieval glass, with those in the south being made by Sir Ninian
Comper. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed
The former Village Reading Rooms are in a thirteenth-century building which was
once a dovecot associated with the Priory. They are grade II* listed building
but are included on Mendip District Council Historic Buildings at Risk
Register. The village has older roots. A wealth of nearby tumuli is
indicative of ancient human settlement. An archaeological dig in 1985
discovered a neolithic axe and a Roman road. The village is mentioned in the
Domesday Book when it supported 11 villagers.
The former railway station at Witham was the end of a branch line through Shepton
Mallet, Wells, Cheddar and to Yatton. It was known as the 'Strawberry Line' because
it was used to transport strawberries from the Cheddar area. The station closed in
1963 although the main line to Exeter remains open. The nearest railway station is
Bruton. Part of the redundant line that ran to Shepton Mallet now forms the East
Somerset Railway. Between the East Somerset railway and Witham junction the line is
regularly used by freight trains transporting limestone from various Mendip quarries.
A fuller account of Witham Friary's history
Very kindly Mrs C Featherstone has produced a document which contains some really interesting history of Witham Friary. Read it here.
Click the link below to hear some reminiscences about Witham Friary from people who were born and brought up here.
Listen to their voices
Link to documents
There's a range of documents relating to Witham Friary here.
Witham Fiary in the nineteenth century
We also have 'Sketches of the History and Life of Witham Friary in the Nineteenth Century' by the Rev. E.B. Prince, Vicar of Witham Friary, 1909.
You can read that document here