Drawing of Rickford Chapel by Jo Buckland
Rickford is situated about a mile west of Blagdon at the foot of the Combe from which the Rickford Spring, known as the Rising, issues from the hillside to feed the Mill Pond. It is an attractive setting within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), nestling at the northern foot of the Mendip Hills. Despite being only 18 miles from Bristol, and fewer from Bristol International Airport, it feels very rural, set among farmland and woods stretching across the Wrington Vale, west to the Bristol Channel, north to the hills around Bristol and east to Bath. Its proximity to Blackdown, being the highest part of the Mendips, puts it on several popular walking routes for hikers exploring the many foot and bridle paths. The attractive old local pub, The Plume of Feathers, is popular with visitors and walkers, providing welcome refreshment and bed and breakfast. www.theplumeoffeathers.com
A mill pond has existed here for many centuries with a leat once flowing behind the more recent Chapel to the site of the mill. A small boathouse built over the leat can still be seen. The unusual Baptist Chapel, also known as Rickford Hall, was built in 1888, but closed in the 1960s. The building, part of the Wills estate is now leased as a Masonic Lodge. The old Mill House is close by, visible behind the Lodge in the photograph below. The remains of the boathouse are behind the pampas grass to the right.
The area surrounding the pond was landscaped by W.H.Wills of Coombe Lodge, Blagdon, in the late 19th century and the pond stocked with trout.
The Rickford Rising emerges from a chasm in the rocks in the wood, flows under the road and into the far end of this pond.
The pond is now much photographed with its lilies and tumbling waterfall. This feeds the brook which runs the length of the village before eventually joining the Congresbury Yeo and flowing out to the Bristol Channel through Woodspring Bay.
Close to the chapel, beside the road, is an old stone water trough.
A short distance from the Mill Pond is the Gauge House, built in 1895 by the Bristol Waterworks Company, beneath which are the regulating weirs controlling the flow of water into the brook, and the underground pipe to Blagdon Lake.
The village has a pump and two standpipes, now restored, dating from the late 19th century. The pump was used to fill the tanks of steam traction engines, and the standpipes to provide unpolluted water from upstream of the village - we know however that many villagers continued to draw water directly from the brook well into the 1940s.
The brook, from which many local properties get their watery names, runs the length of the main street.
Photographs taken in January and July
At the west end of the main street there is a twin arched footbridge over the brook, an old pump and a ford, navigable by high vehicles. This corner has a stone seat, stile and sign post constructed by local villagers to commemorate the Millennium year 2000.
The road turns at the bridge into a lane called The Batch which leads uphill to the main A368. Half way up the lane is an old spring fed, stone walled 'well.'
Historically the brook formed the boundary between the parishes of Blagdon and Burrington but local residents often found that this caused divisions when local issues were being considered. After a referendum in which residents voted to become part of Burrington Parish, the boundary was officially changed. This has made it easier for local issues such as planning permissions, the highway signs and restrictions etc. to be considered by one Parish Council. The Parish Church, Holy Trinity, and the village school are both in Burringon Square at the heart of Burrington village on the south side of the A368. Rickford spans both sides of this road with footpaths linking the two villages.
On the south side of the road there is a fairly steep climb up on to the Mendip hills. The initial road and turning off it are known as Rickford Rise. The photograph below, taken on a rather misty January morning from a short way up the hill, shows the view to the north across the Yeo valley.
Behind the Plume of Feathers, Leg Lane runs steeply uphill to a few houses and wonderful views.
View across Bourne Farm from Leg Lane
View across the fields towards Blagdon.
An alternative way back to the main street is via The Stocking, an old village footpath.
In times past the village had many local industries using the ready supply of fresh water from the spring. An excellent book 'Rickford - A History of a North Somerset Village', containing many old photographs and a wealth of information, was published by the Rickford History Group to commemorate the Millennium.
The book is now out of print but copies can be loaned. Contact 01761 462491 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Residents' Group set up in 2000 to improve the look of the village has worked hard to further several projects, including successfully campaigning to get all the unsightly overhead cables put underground, to manage the bank at the village entrance, plant bulbs, create a community apple orchard, grazed by a community flock of sheep, and arrange social events. The group is now known as the Rickford Community Association, (RCA).
A further publication was published in November 2014 to commemorate the outbreak of WW1. The book explores the lives of Burrington parishioners at the time and details the military service of local men and women. With the aid of a Heritage Lottery Grant and a local graphic designer we were able to produce a fully illustrated, high quality volume. Books are available at £8.00. Contact 01761 462491.